Holiday Buyer's Guide 2005

Can You Imagine Plasma Mug

Some gift ideas are inherently goofy, and this is a member of that species. The Plasma Mug induces an orange plasma between the walls of an evacuated, double-walled glass mug. This creates an eerie orange glow (best appreciated in low light) at the bottom of the mug while it's sitting on its electric coaster. When you touch the mug to pick it up, you'll also see fiery traces if a finger touches the outside wall of the mug.

Your reviewers got quite a kick out of holding their fingers against the mug to see how many traces we could provoke between its inner and outer surfaces. This brought to mind another odd pursuit from childhood: the game of Twister, which involves multiple persons in crazy contortions, though this variant simply involved touching down as many fingers as possible and moving them slowly around.

In another nod to Christmas tradition, this was the first product we reviewed that also reminded us of a favorite torment for Dads and Moms on Christmas eve. The electric coaster for the plasma mug needs power (necessary to induce the currents between the mug's walls that cause the plasma itself to manifest). And while one can purchase an optional, 12V 250 mA power supply to plug into this puppy, the base also holds 8 (yep, count 'em, 8) AA batteries. And, as the old saying goes where so many toys are concerned, "batteries not included!" A quick trip to the nearby grocery store soon took care of that deficit and we oohed and aahed over the plasma shortly after inserting the batteries and flipping the on/off switch.

Our only beef about the whole shooting match is that the capacity of the mug is a relatively small 8 ounces or so. When we drink coffee or tea, we tend to prefer something bigger to pour it into. On the plus side, the electric coaster does seem to have a mild warming effect, but it didn't really seem to be enough to keep our tea or coffee hot over an extended period of time.

At $24.99, this mug is somewhat pricey for a novelty gift, but you can be pretty sure there won't be too many of these under the tree or more than one in anybody's stocking. Check out the Mugs & Glasses page at to order one for yourself or somebody else on your Xmas list.

Ed Tittel

Ed Tittel is a long-time IT writer, researcher and consultant, and occasional contributor to Tom’s Hardware. A Windows Insider MVP since 2018, he likes to cover OS-related driver, troubleshooting, and security topics.