What better way to welcome the new year than with a collection of bright and shiny party gadgets?
You can handle the basics: Flare pants. Sequin dress for the ladies (and some of the gentlemen). Hair gel. Beer. Breath mints.
But Wired's Gadget Lab has the electronic tools that will make this a truly 21st century event. Whether you will live it up on Times Square, throw your own block party or merely make a drunken nuisance of yourself in a subway car, here are 11 cool gadgets that can help you pass the last few hours of 2008 in high-tech style.
So your New Year's Eve resolution is to quit drinking (for the 10th year in a row) but you want to have a blowout before you give it all up. Too bad you had to drive to the party. Before you get back into the car at 4 a.m., fish out the $100 Alcohawk digital breathalyzer and do a quick test. Above legal limit? Taxi!
This beautiful piece of hardware is pricey ($800), but it's all you need to create a mobile disco. The Pacemaker has two digital "decks" that let you scratch, bend and tweak your tunes to create a party and sell tickets. It comes withextensive mixing functionality, allowing you to change the pitch and cross=fade, and it has 120-GB hard drive.
Clearly karaoke is not your thing. That's why you may want to put a bag over your head when you sing, or do the digital equivalent of it and get a soundproof microphone. This rather uncool-looking device muffles your singing and lets you belt out Ricky Martin's "She Bangs" without letting everyone know you're more like William Hung.
Shy guest coming to your New Year's Eve party? Rent this booth so they can party in private -- sort of. Los Angeles-based artist Nick Rodrigues has created an iPod-shaped booth called Porta-Party that you can walk into. Shut the door, crank up the music and start grooving. The best part is the exhibitionist aspect: The iPod-like screen on the booth shows a video of what's happening inside. Get ready to put on a show!
Why risk starting the new year with first-degree burns? If you have a place to set off some pyrotechnics, get the remote fireworks launcher. With a wireless remote you can set off up to five different fireworks at one time. Burn, baby, burn!
A disco mirror ball is a must-have for a New Year's Eve party. What else will you point your upraised hand toward when "Stayin' Alive" comes on? But ordinary mirror balls are so ... ordinary. Buy a mirror ball and soup it up with some LED to make your party even more disco-licious.
The name suggests a centerpiece shooting a fountain of Martinis or Manhattans high into the sky. The Cocktail Fountain is not quite that, but it promises to deliver cascades of alcoholy delight directly into cups, which is almost as good. It's the adult version of the chocolate fountain.
Some people just talk about painting the town red. Others actually do something about it. LED throwies are little blobs of LEDs, stuck together with a battery and a rare-earth magnet that can be thrown and stuck to any ferromagnetic surface in your neighborhood. They're cheap and easy to make. Throw a few to see where they stick, and light up the city.
Party lighting could mean candles and Christmas lights. Better yet, how about some glowing creatures that look like cousins of Casper the Friendly Ghost? They come in four moods -- chipper, peppy, dizzy and gloomy -- which will probably reflect your mood cycles through the evening. So bring on the kaleidoscopic critters, add the mirror ball, the pocket DJ system and the cocktail fountain, and it will be one helluva party.
Need a party attraction? How about a dancing egg that flashes and rolls to the beat of the music it's emitting from its own flapping speakers? The Rolly dancing robot from Sony may be entirely useless, but it's good for a few laughs. It could be an icebreaker, too: If everyone is standing in the corners, roll this out on the dance floor and watch the crowds follow.
New Year's Eve can see more cops per square foot in your town than a drug bust on a Baltimore street. Even going 55 miles an hour in a 50-mph zone is enough to get the red and blue lights flashing behind you. Before you hop into the car, turn the radar detector on and give yourself some advance notice about upcoming speed traps. A warning though: Radar detectors are illegal in some states.