Between a Rook and a Hard Place

Garry Kasparov was a world chess champion with a unique gift for the game that became evident even as a child. He reigned as the world champion from 1985 until 2000.

Deep Blue was a chess playing supercomputer developed by IBM and backed by a human team of programmers and a chess expert.

On this day in 1996, a six-game match of man vs. machine began. By the end of game one, a computer claimed victory for the first time. Ultimately, man would prevail with Kasparov taking the match 4-2 over the eight days of play.

A year later, a six-game rematch resulted with the computer prevailing. Some chess experts say Kasparov came into the match overconfident. Others say the computer’s capabilities had advanced over the year, and still others say the humans from IBM manipulated the computer to assure a win. Either way, IBM’s stock price surged 15% after the contest.

Nearly 20 years later, we can play chess games against our smartphones and tablets, but the game retains a stature of nobility and civility when played by two human opponents, face to face.12025_300x300

To that effect, we recommend The Barrister’s Chess Set. This set reassigns courtroom adversaries to the jurisprudence of the chessboard. The prosecution and the defense are represented by characters of law such as a bewigged judge, blind Lady Justice, attorneys, bailiffs and a partial jury. The board mimics the raised bench and jury box of a courtroom. It’s the perfect unique gift for the legal eagle in your life.

11951_300x300The games of Kasparov vs. IBM were played with standard time limits. You may prefer games of indefinite length. This is the chess set that mounts vertically to a wall, allowing for weeks-long play without interruption. An included “last move” marker signals to an opponent when it’s time for an equally crafty counter. This magnetic chess set is another option for deft vertical play and moves easily to a tabletop, while the magnetic pieces ensure the evening’s last move is preserved.

73077_300x300You may find yourself ready for tournament play. No doubt, at the tournament, you will be doing a lot of sitting, so we recommend bringing along The Portable Gel Seat. Unlike bulky seat cushions, this compact gel-filled cushion weighs only 2.5 lbs, folds in half, and is easily portable due to its integrated handle. Your level of concentration is sure to be improved!

Unique Gifts of Sweetness for Your Valentine Sweetie

According to a major U.S. polling firm, the week of Valentine’s Day is # 1 for sales of chocolate. Consider these statistics:

  • Americans spend about $350 million on chocolate during the second week of February.
  • Nearly 60 million pounds of chocolate will be purchased. Almost twice as much chocolate candy tonnage is sold during the week of Halloween, so evidently we’re buying higher-quality treats for our sweeties this month.
  • The top day for chocolate sales is expected to be Feb. 13 – if you haven’t bought anything for your valentine yet, you have plenty of company.

And if you’re still in need of completing your shopping duties, we have several suggestions for unique gifts of sweetness that will make your Valentine’s Day a piece of cake:84577_300x300

Speaking of chocolate, this Fondue Fountain sends melted chocolate cascading down its two tiers, turning dessert into entertainment. A crowd-pleaser seen at banquets and buffets, this home version animates traditional chocolate fondue by inviting guests to dip fruit, cheese, pretzels, and other snacks into the rippling streams.

84596_300x300Some would say it’s not all about the chocolate, although we may beg to differ. But here’s a nifty device that will let your sweetheart make authentic homemade Twinkies in minutes. The electric griddle cooks six cakes at a time in molds made to resemble the classic oblong Twinkie shape. The included recipe book also has instructions for chocolate and red velvet Twinkies, which themselves could make for unique gifts for Valentine’s Day.

84781_300x300February’s cold weather is no deterrent to true ice cream fans. This unique volley-ball-sized ice cream maker shakes, rattles, or rolls to churn a delicious frozen confection. Simply place ingredients into the ball’s sealed compartment and ice and rock salt into a second compartment. The ball can be shaken, tossed in place, or rolled back and forth to churn the mixture. Only 20 minutes of play yields up to one pint of rich, creamy ice cream.

More ideas for unique gifts for Valentine’s Day are available on our online gift guide. Narrow down your choices by the recipient’s gender, interests or your desired price range.

Unique Gifts for Her Ensure a Happy Valentine’s Day

Don’t be that guy…you know the one. It’s the morning of February 14 and he still hasn’t found a Valentine’s Day present for the special woman in his life.

We have several suggestions for unique gifts for her that will wrap up your shopping as quickly as you can say, “Hello, Hammacher Schlemmer”.77833_300x300

This wall-mounted, illuminated cabinet keeps up to 104 pieces of jewelry organized and easily accessible. Available exclusively from Hammacher Schlemmer, the armoire has six LEDs that cast bright light inside the cabinet, and the exterior of the door has a mirror so she can admire her look while wearing the unique gifts of jewelry you’ve given her in the past.

86074_300x300Tap into her artistic side with The iPad Pen. It’s a stylus that makes drawing and taking notes on an iPad seem as natural as writing freehand with pen and paper. The pen works with a free app and an included wireless infrared receiver, transforming an iPad into a blank sheet of writing paper. Her work is saved as editable jpg images on the tablet.

79218_300x300If your lady likes a touch of luxury, this beautiful, soft robe is made from 100% washable cashmere, offering the warmth of wool without roughness or scratching for the softest hand available. The patented knitted technique and proprietary treatment used ensure the fibers will withstand machine washing. Exclusive to Hammacher Schlemmer, it’s a unique gift that will be appreciated every morning.

Need more ideas? Our online Gift Guide will give you suggestions sure to please that special woman.

Find Unique Gifts for Him this Valentine’s Day

The year’s most romantic holiday is in the offing. For Valentine’s Day, we have a few suggestions for unique gifts for him that will be sure to please and will ensure you’re thought of fondly each time they are put to use.79622_300x300

This Pajamas Warming Pouch warms PJs—or towels, gloves and hats—for cozy comfort. The pouch has integrated heating elements that reach 118 F degrees and a thermal satin interior that retains heat, resulting in toasty warm pajamas in just 10 minutes.
And to put in that pajama warmer, we recommend The Gentleman’s Genuine Irish Flannel Lounge Pants, perhaps paired with The Genuine Irish Flannel Robe. These are the men’s lounge wear made in County Donegal, 86543_300x300Ireland, from the world’s softest flannel. Available exclusively from Hammacher Schlemmer, these cozy garments are made from flannel that is napped on both sides, resulting in unparalleled warmth and softness.

With all this pajama-clad comfort, your Valentine may need a really great alarm clock to entice him out of bed in the morning. The Best Projection Clock earned The Best rating from the Hammacher Schlemmer Institute 86241_300x300because it provided the most accurate display of time and temperature. The Best model’s accuracy is provided via a radio signal from the Atomic Clock in Boulder, Colorado. Available only from Hammacher Schlemmer, the clock projects time, alarm, temperature at the two sensors’ locations, along with weather forecast icons.

Our customizable Gift Guide can help you find and select even more unique gifts to please a husband, son, brother, or friend this Valentine’s Day.

Paws-itively the Best Pampering for Your Pooch

During these cold, dark days of winter, who doesn’t like to spend extra time in a warm, cozy bed? That goes for your faithful canine companion, too.

These are products that give us paws. The pampered pooch in your life will certainly appreciate these unique gifts for extra canine comfort.84252_300x300

The heated dog sofa allows pets to relax in warm, luxurious comfort. A removable heating pad inside the cushion has dual thermostats that generate 102° F radiant warmth, providing a cozy, dedicated location for pets that also helps soothe sore joints in older, arthritic canines.

12378_300x300The Nightstand Doghouse provides integrated sleeping quarters for a furry friend. The dog house nightstand blends into bedroom decor and has a door that provides a dog access to its own sleeping space, giving it the unique gift of a secure feeling from being crated. The slatted door panel makes sure the dog remains in its sleeping quarters or it removes so the pet can come and go as it pleases.

79686_300x300For older, arthritic or smaller dogs that have a hard time getting up on the bed, The Pet Ramp and Staircase offers a ramp that converts into a two-step staircase in seconds, providing a means to reach sofas or beds without exerting undue stress on joints and muscles. The steps fold down to form a 30° ramp that allows pets to ascend and descend safely.

Man’s best friend offers you unique gifts of unconditional love, companionship and joy. Pay back your four-legged friend with comfort today.

And the Winner Is…A Unique Gift for Better TV Viewing

The 2015 awards show season is in full swing! Now is a great time to update your home entertainment options with unique gifts that will help you make the most of all the red-carpet entrances and the timely jokes from the ceremonies’ hosts.84896B_300x300

Here are notable awards broadcasts you won’t want to miss over the next few months:
Screen Actors Guild Awards – Sunday, Jan. 25. Broadcast on TNT and TBS. This ceremony honors theatrical motion pictures, actors, television and stunt ensembles.
Grammy Awards – Sunday, Feb. 8. Watch on CBS as the recording industry recognizes performers and song writers from all genres of music.
Academy Awards – Sunday, Feb. 22. To many people this is the flagship of the awards season; this year’s Oscar winners will be announced in a broadcast on ABC.
Kid’s Choice Awards – Saturday, March 28. Nickelodeon will air its annual awards ceremony for the younger set.
Tony Awards – Sunday, June 7. Tune into CBS as the theater industry recognizes achievements on Broadway.

Hear precisely who wins each award with The Voice Clarifying TV Speaker. This wireless speaker features an advanced microchip that amplifies human speech frequencies above background noise so that spoken words are clearly audible. The speaker has its own volume control, and a headphone jack for private listening.

Can’t be home to watch the event? No problem, this Portable Smart TV is a tablet that features a built-in digital TV tuner and antenna to receive free, over-the-air high-definition broadcasts and display them on its 7″ screen. This tablet also accesses the Internet via Wi Fi.

Some of the most popular awards shows go on till the late hours of the evening. A unique gift for viewers who prefer to watch from the comfort of bed, The TV Listening Headband has integrated ultra-thin wireless speakers and is comfortable enough to be worn as you rest your head on a pillow. Developed exclusively by Hammacher Schlemmer, the soft fleece headband’s stereo speakers receive audio from a Bluetooth transmitter that connects to your TV.

So pop the popcorn, dim the lights and get ready for a night with your favorite stars from film, stage, and music!

Finding Fun in the Frosty Flakes

You can curse the slippery driving and icy walking a snowfall causes. Or, you can enjoy the unique gifts of a four-season climate and find a way to have fun in the snow. Here are some ideas – for outdoors and indoors – to make your winter more enjoyable.86473C_300x300

Extreme sports enthusiasts often love both snowboarding and mountain biking. This unique gift for snow-loving shredders attaches to a bicycle’s front tire to combine both sports for joy rides down the slopes and smooth pedaling on snow-covered trails. Riders who crave an even bigger adrenaline rush can clip a second board on the rear wheel for double the glide down the slopes.86520_300x300

If it’s too cold to be outdoors where you are (or too warm to snow), these puffy, plush snowballs satisfy the urge to hurl frozen handfuls without actual wet, messy snow. They are soft to the touch (and to Mom’s collection of display plates), but also have a satisfying “crunch” texture when squeezed, much like the real thing.

11976_300x300Incidentally, after the outdoor fun is done, you might want to have one of these just inside the door. This is the low-profile doormat that holds 12 pints of water per square yard, keeping entryways free of melting snow, providing you with the unique gift of clean, dry floors in the foulest weather.

Germ Fighters Help Preserve Wellness During Flu Season

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the incidence of influenza in the U.S. is showing elevated activity. Those 65 and over are particularly vulnerable, although certainly no one of any age enjoys being hit with a virus.

We have some suggestions for unique gifts that may help combat cold and flu germs and make your winter healthier and more comfortable.86978_300x300

This wall-mounted germ-eliminating air purifier eliminates up to 99.9% of airborne bacteria, mold, viruses, pet dander, dust mite allergens, and pollen without cluttering floor space. The air purifier uses convection to draw in airborne impurities and an internal ceramic heating element instantly eliminates airborne nasties without relying on chemicals.83896_300x300

Another solution is this air and surface sanitizer that eliminates mold, viruses, and bacteria from larger spaces, up to 1,000 sq. ft. The device uses a NASA-developed technology for purification aboard space shuttles: ultraviolet light combined with a nickel catalyst to emit safe catalytic molecules that destroy up to 99% of mold and bacteria on surfaces. This technology makes this purifier a great unique gift for any time of the year.

81995_300x300Keeping your mucous membranes moist can help fight off a cold and provide more comfort if you’ve been stricken. This ultrasonic warm mist humidifier provides more than 12 hours of humidification and increases air moisture in areas up to 900′ sq. In tests performed by the Hammacher Schlemmer Institute, the unit increased humidity 133% faster than lesser models and operated for 12.36 hours on a full tank.

It’s also not too late to get a flu shot, and this ounce of prevention aided by a purifier in your home and office can help you have a healthier winter.

Space Heaters Help Your Furnace Battle Arctic Blasts

All these negative numbers…it’s either a golfer’s dream game or the nightmare of January weather. Until we can hop that plane headed for West Palm Beach, our reality is bound by the throes of this year’s first real arctic blast.

Your furnace can be forgiven if it can’t quite keep up with the frigid temperatures. Supplementing with a space heater in your most-used rooms will give your family the unique gift of cozy warmth on the coldest days, while relieving some of the strain on the furnace.76892B_300x300

This small-yet-powerful heater warms a room in just seven minutes, thanks to a vortex circulation system that continually distributes warmth more efficiently across a wider area to eliminate cold spots left by regular heaters. The Vortex heater is not intended for use in bathrooms, so if that’s the room you want to warm, we highly recommend this bathroom heater. It earned The Best rating in81374_300x300 tests by the Hammacher Schlemmer Institute because it heated the bathroom the fastest and produced the most consistent heat from floor to ceiling.

The Best Tower Heater earned The Best rating from the Hammacher Schlemmer Institute because it warms room up to 300 sq. ft. fastest and was easiest to operate. This heater has an adjustable thermostat that can be set with a remote control and the simple oscillation and tilt functions provide precise heat 86519_300x300distribution.

Winter weather should not put a stop to hobbies best engaged in while working in the garage. The Air Circulating Garage Heater uses a two-speed fan to circulate air while warming the entire space—even while providing spot heating right where you want it. The durable housing makes this heater ideal for the bumps and knocks expected in a workspace, and a tip-over sensor turns off power automatically if the unit takes an 87070_300x300unexpected tumble.

The first day of Spring – and nature’s unique gifts of warmth, sunshine and longer days – is still 70 days away. In the meantime, make sure your space is warm and comfortable with an efficient space heater.

Make the Resolution for Fitness in ’15

Could 2015 be the year you finally keep your New Year’s resolutions for exercise and weight loss? With realistic goals and a solid plan, you can soon be on your way to a fitter, healthier you, a unique gift for a better life.

Sticking to your goals may be easier with a bit of assistance. We have a few suggestions that will help you track your progress and make working out more fun and more convenient.

83741A_300x300Monitoring your progress has never been easier than with the Fitbit Wellness Monitor Wristband. It automatically tracks daily movements and sleep cycles to help determine if you are getting enough exercise and sleep. It automatically uploads the information via Bluetooth when it’s within 15′ of a compatible paired device. Data can also be synched into popular fitness apps such as SparkPeople and Lose It!

86755_300x300Amp up your activity with these Full Body Workout Poles. Their patented built-in suspension provides an upper body workout as you walk. Each stride taken with these poles provides upper body resistance that burns up to 77% more calories than walking alone and works up to 90% of the body’s muscles while enhancing balance, posture, and coordination. The poles make an ideal and unique gift for anyone who loves walking or cross-country skiing.

83905_300x300Prefer working out at home but lack space for the equipment? This is the walker’s motorless treadmill that folds to only 14″ high for unobtrusive storage in a closet or against a wall. Resistance is created by magnetic force, eliminating the need for AC power and allowing set-up anywhere in a home. The treadmill surface adjusts to four different incline heights, heart rate sensors are built into the handlebars, and it has eight levels of resistance.

So procrastinate no longer! Make your plan and get your device and equipment today and the unique gifts of fitness and health can be yours this year.