The diminishing size of gadgetry is about as certain as Moore's law, and is generally good for us. But for some, size is an obsession, and smaller is always better. This is what they've wrought:
Smallest CRT TV
Although smaller CRT screens can be had (such as those used in old camcorder viewfinders), they won't hook up to your Wii. This 1.5-inch TV will actually connect to A/V equipment via standard RCA cables. See the video for the tiniest game of Wario ever. Strangely, this little marvel came as part of a miniature living room diorama.
It's the world's smallest Linux PC, or else it's very close. Smaller than the Gumstix, smaller than the SpaceCube, the PicoTux is horrendously underpowered, has
three connectors: a 5.5v DC input, ethernet jack, and serial port. But none of that matters, because this is pure novelty rendered in silicon and metal.
Smallest 35mm Camera
Anyone can make a tiny digital camera, but matters are a little more complicated when you have to accommodate a 35mm strip of film. The Rollei was built in 1962, and remains one of the smallest fully operational standard film cameras ever made. How small is it? That's it next to a regular roll of film, inset. Small by 35mm standards, but probably gargantuan to you and your digicam-addled mind.
Smallest Combustion Engine
Sensationally hailed as a battery replacement a few years back, this tiny little butane-powered combustion engine was developed at the University of Birmingham. It promptly fell off the map, probably because people stopped listening to its maker after he suggested using one of these carbon emitters in a pacemaker. Seriously.
Smallest Fuel Cell
Speaking of battery replacements, here's a plausible one: this 0.7 volt, 3mm fuel cell created at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign won't do your iPod much good, and actually carries less charge than your average button cell watch battery. But as a proof of concept and a sign of better things to come, this self-contained speck of a fuel cell is thrilling.
Smallest Optical Mouse
Our own John Mahoney put it best when he said of the Z-Nano, "the threshold of practicality here has been violated." Indeed it has. The Z-Nano may be the only mouse you could buy that would be less comfortable than your netbook's touchpad.
Smallest Hard Disk Drive
I'm sure there was a time when making teensy hard drives seemed like a great idea. It was a time that spawned such wonders as the Microdrive HDD-in-a-CF-card, and which culminated in this, Toshiba's .85-inch, 8GB hard drive. As for why they never got any smaller, well, last month I purchased a 16GB Compact Flash card for $24. So.
Smallest Production Car
The smallest production car ever, the Peel P50 was manufactured on Britain's Isle of Man for an original price of £199. That was in 1962. The P50's salient features, not to mention its size, are best illustrated on your left, by Jeremy Clarkson's ill-fated test drive on Top Gear.
A 5.5cm long Swiss revolver that fires actual 2.3mm (that'd be about .09 caliber) bullets at over 300mph, the SwissMiniGun is Guinness-certified. It's illegal to import due to being technically unclassifiable under US law, and it's said to be fatal. Possibly just as a choking hazard.
There are smaller UMPCs out there, but they're a nigh-on impossible pain to use, and most of them run custom-built Linux distributions that can make simple tasks a chore. The UMID mbook doesn't sacrifice much for its size—it's Atom-powered, runs XP, has a full keyboard and even a webcam—it's just scaled down. How far? Well, that screen you see there, that's 4.3 inches.