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Still more credit card gadgets and gizmos you cannot live without

Jeremy Simon

The small size and convenient shape of a credit card hasn’t gone unnoticed, with inventors and innovators working to shrink various devices down to pocket-sized perfection.

Consider the following wallet-ready calculators, Best Buy gift cards with built-in audio speakers and PIN pads — all resembling plastic payment cards and all easily portable.

credit card calculator.JPGCredit card-sized calculator multiplies the awesomeness factor
If you didn’t believe pocket calculators could get any cooler, prepare yourself for this credit card-sized version.

“Perfect for pocket or purse, the Credit Card Solar Powered Calculator designed by Sam Hecht is always ready to go,” says Web site PureModern. “The slim form factor mimics the size and shape of a standard credit card, and the raised numeric keys allow for a tactile feel during operation.” Like I said, awesome.

But don’t just take my word for it: What appears to be the magnetic stripe is actually just a disguised solar panel and the calculator’s display, explains Mark’s Technology News. One question, though: If solar power is needed, does that mean you can’t calculate the restaurant bill by candlelight?

Ode to the musical Best Buy gift card
Hopefully that last item got you pretty excited because this next one is something of a letdown.

In our fast-paced world, what was new yesterday is practically prehistoric today. Such is the case with Best Buy’s gift cards that double as audio speakers. They debuted in time for holiday season 2008, but judging by an outdated link, the product seems to have been taken off the Best Buy Web site.

The extinct gift card audio speaker was apparently a wondrous beast. According to a Nov. 2008 posting by CNet, Best Buy $50, $100 and $200 gift cards came “with a built-in mini-headphone (one-eighth-inch) jack, connecting cable and speakers. Why? Because they can! Plug any MP3 player into it and you’ll be able to rock some tunes around the Christmas tree. And you know they’ll sound awesome.” Apparently, I’m not the only one who gets worked up over credit card-sized gadgets!

Check out this advertisement from Engadget for an idea of what we are all missing.

Security in the form of a credit card keypad
If the credit card-sized calculator made you painfully aware that your standard plastic doesn’t offer the opportunity for any button-pressing, you’ll appreciate the credit card that comes with its own built-in security keypad.

Think of it as an ATM security PIN pad in your credit card. According to a report in the U.K.’s Daily Mail (hat tip: CrunchGear), “Each card, identical in size and shape to current ones, has a 12-button keypad and a display powered by a battery that lasts up to three years.” The keypad is used to input the cardholder’s PIN each time they make a purchase online, the Daily Mail reports.

“The card then displays a security code, which must be entered into the Web site. If the code is authorized by Visa’s servers, the purchase is approved,” the Daily Mail reports. If not, one can assume a potential fraudster (or keypad-challenged cardholder) gets turned down. The paper says MBNA will test the cards in Britain in early 2009.

Elsewhere, Bank of America in November announced the planned roll-out of its SafePass card, “a wallet-sized card that will generate a one-time code when the customer presses on a button embedded in the card.” That would add another level of security for online banking. While SafePass was scheduled to be introduced in late 2008 for BofA’s online brokerage clients, the bank said the SafePass card would be available for consumer and small business customers in 2009.

Seems pretty dull after the excitement of a calculator, now doesn’t it?

See related: More wacky, wonderful payment card innovations and gadgets, 15 of the coolest (and weirdest) credit card gadgets and accessories, New from Korea: credit card / USB combo, Credit card-sized pocket light fits in your wallet, Criminal Charges, Volume XXIX: Complex crimes

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  • I find the calculator amazing. But yeah, if I keep it in my wallet I won’t be able to use it asap. But still, it’s cool.