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Be the Master of Your Cubicle's Climate

These days, most offices are properly warmed and cooled to create a pleasant indoor climate.

In theory, you should always be comfortable (at least temperature-wise) while you're at your desk.

The key operating phrase here is "in theory".

Office temperatures are never perfect for everyone. There's always someone who is freezing cold unless it feels like a tropical rain forest indoors. Then there are your co-workers who would prefer to eschew central heating altogether -- wear two extra sweaters and a parka at their desks -- rather than being overheated.

Never is everyone satisfied.

Photo credit: Herman Miller




Luckily, Herman Miller (MLHR) now has a solution to this burning (freezing?) problem. The keepers of the ubiquitous Aeron office chair, along with designs from the likes of Charles Eames and George Nelson, have come up with a device for the climate-challenged. They call it C2 from their "be collection."

C2 is a personal heating and cooling device that sits on your desk. Its shape reminds me of a short, squat version of the iconic Ericophone telephone handset from the 1950s.

C2 Mini Climate Controller: So Cool, So Hot

In Herman Miller-speak:

"C2 climate control is an innovative comfort device that enhances an individual's personal climate experience. Through its patented technology, C2 allows users to adjust their personal air temperature and benefit from enhanced air quality provided by its Greenguard-certified particulate air filter."

Now that's some high-class hype for a $300 personal fan system!

C2 is small (9.5 inches high and 5.5 inches wide at the base) and very, very cute. It comes with a dual-voltage (120-240v) power supply brick, which allows C2's use all over the world. All you do is plug it in, and installation is complete.

There are only two controls to fiddle with: an on-off-heating-cooling switch and a fan speed control. Both need only the lightest touch to change settings.

Using the C2 is a breeze (pun intended). Press the button down for two seconds, and it glows red for hot or blue for cold. Tap the button to switch between the two. Another long press turns C2 off.

Place the device six to 18 inches away from your face, aim the C2's air flow where you'd like it to go, adjust the fan speed by sliding your finger up or down and you're all set. It turns itself off after four hours of use.

C2 propels warmed or cooled air wherever you aim it. Not lots of either one, but more than enough for you to feel it. You should also know C2 has a vent on its back which moves air away from you.

If you're being warmed, C2 blows the same amount of colder air away from your position. And vice versa. So, don't expect it to warm or cool a larger space than exactly where you aim it.

You should also know that C2's fan is not silent. Noise increases in direct proportion to fan speed. If you keep C2 very close to your face, you may want to keep the fan speed low unless you like hearing blowing wind noises while you're on the phone.

As a heating and cooling unit, C2 does exactly what it claims: it is a terrific device for slightly cooling and heating the microclimate directly in your personal zone.

It's not a space heater. Do not expect it to keep a number of people comfortable at the same time.

Overall, I think C2 fits the bill perfectly.

As for that bill, $300 is steep, but this is a Herman Miller design and, as with all their other products, you should expect the highest quality. That comes at a price.

Usually, with its items, you get what you pay for.

With 34 years experience as a journalist -- the last 27 with NBC -- Gary Krakow has seen all the best and worst technology that's come along. Gary joined MSNBC.com before it actually went online in July 1996. He produced and anchored the first live Webcast of a presidential election in November 1996. With a background as a gadget freak, audiophile and ham radio operator, Krakow started writing reviews for both Audio and Stereophile Magazines in the 80s. Once at MSNBC.com, Krakow started writing a column to help feed his personal passion for playing with gadgets of all types, shapes and sizes. Within a short time, that column became a major force in many electronics industries -- audio, video, photography, GPS and cell phones. Readership soared, and manufacturers told him they had actual proof that a positive review in his column sold thousands of their products. Many electronics manufacturers have used quotes from his reviews in their sales literature as well as on their Web sites. There have also been a few awards too, including Emmys in the 70s, 80s and 90s.

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