Outdoor cooking during the summer is great, but cooking with an open flame on the deck or porch of an apartment or condo is unwise, particularly on windy days. It's actually illegal in some jurisdictions.
Laws banning barbecuing or grilling on combustible decks usually say that gas- and charcoal-fired cooking devices must maintain a distance of 10 feet from combustible construction. Single-family dwellings and structures protected by an automatic sprinkler system are usually excluded.
Unfortunately, even when laws are on the books, you still see people grilling with open flames on balconies in apartment complexes, often leaving them unattended. As a result, structural fires caused by outdoor cooking reach their peak during the summer months.
Char-Broil, inventors of TRU Infrared, has a better way to enjoy outdoor cooking on decks and porches, but more about that later. The company's tour de force is its patented grilling technology that results in a 30-50% higher moisture retention rate range than conventional grills.
Char-Broil's grills typically generate a minimum of 65% infrared heat (some as high as 75%) spread evenly across the entire cooking surface. A patented design limits hot air that comes in contact with the food, virtually eliminating flare-ups and reducing cooking times.
This is good news for lovers of gas grills, but the company also makes the compact Char-Broil Patio Bistro electric grill that uses the same technology and is perfect for apartments, condos, balconies, and smaller patios.
The Bistro plugs into any 120-volt outlet and has a 240 square inch porcelain-coated primary cooking surface, plus an 80 square inch raised secondary cooking surface. A precision dial gives you complete command over the 1750-watt electric burner.
The unit is large enough to accommodate 8 to 12 hamburgers and features a temperature gauge for at-a-glance temperature monitoring, a cool-touch handle, easy-to-clean porcelain-coated grill body, and a storage grate to keep your tools close at hand. The compact unit measures 24.4w x 25.2d x 38.2h inches and weighs 54 pounds.
If you live in an apartment or a condo where open-flame grilling isn't allowed, the Char-Broil Patio Bistro electric grill will let you cook on a balcony or porch safely with flavor approaching food cooked on a charcoal grill. The unit lists for $139. For more information, visit CharBroil.com.
Pocket size 4G/3G router adds versatility to air cards
For users on the go, a 3G/4G USB modem is one of the most popular ways to access the Internet. Resembling an oversized USB thumb drive, a USB modem can be quickly moved from one PC to another, using power derived from a USB port as its sole power source.
Sharing Internet connectivity provided by a 3G/4G USB modem, however, is difficult. For this reason, many road warriors opt instead for a "mobile hotspot," such as a JetPack from Verizon Wireless, which support multiple devices simultaneously.
Mobile hot spots also have a drawback They are usually designed for a single purpose. If you need a conventional wireless router to share an WAN connection, you have carry that around too.
The new TP-Link TL-MR3040 portable battery powered 3G/4G wireless N router is the best of both worlds. When paired with a 3G/4G USB modem (LTE/ HSPA+/UMTS/EVDO 3G/4G USB modem compatible), the unit can broadcast a wireless signal at up to 150Mbps, providing Internet access for up to five (5) devices simultaneously.
Furthermore, the device is powered by an internal 2000mAh battery, so it's capable of servicing a shared network at 150Mbps for up to 4 hours. The unit can be powered by its included AC adapter or by connecting it to a USB port.
With both an Ethernet and a 3G/4G USB port, the TL-MR3040 can use either a conventional WAN connection or a 3G/4G wireless as a network uplink. A physical switch on the unit allows selection of one of three operation modes (3G/4G Mode, WISP Mode and AP Mode), without having to rely on a web-based interface.
The unit lists for $59.99. For more information, visit TP-Link.com.