Putting high-tech gloves to the test

December 29, 2008, 11:08 PM UTC

Thumbs up to texting! We Americans sent and received 385 billion text messages versus 295 billion phone calls in the first half of this year, so say the folks at the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association. It’s the first time that texting surpassed talking.

Which poses a problem for many of us: throbbing thumbs. Don’t laugh. Here in New York City, where the average December temperature is about 45 degrees, the winter wind and dry indoor heat ravage perfectly youthful hands. Tiny cuts at the cuticles afflict more women than men, doctors tell me. Can I type? Yes, but clumsily, with Water Block Plus Band-Aids double wrapped around my fingers and Vaseline Intensive Rescue Moisture Locking lotion slathered 25 times a day. Can I text? Don’t even try me!

So I began my quest for the best of the bunch of high-tech gloves that you might have read about lately: Special pads on the fingertips allow you to operate iPods and BlackBerries while keeping your fingers toasty warm.

The quest turned out to be an ordeal. The first pair of gloves I ordered were called Tec Touch from Baltimore-based Web retailer 180s. These gloves come only in men’s sizes (why is that?), but I was wooed by the site’s claim that the gloves’ Silicon gel pads would allow me to use them with my iPod Touch. I paid $50 for so-called  “Digital Tec-Tility.” The gloves utterly failed my touchscreen test. And would you believe that when I packed them up to send back to 180s, I somehow got them mixed up with my trash? I promptly tossed them down my building’s garbage chute. I threw $50 away.

The hunt went on. At Tyd, an activewear store in Woodcliff Lake, N.J., my friend Lisa Clucas stumbled upon a throng of shoppers practically fighting over an arrival of another type of high-tech gloves. These too bore the 180s label but were called “Puffy Quilt,” with conductive fabric finger pods. Lisa bought them for $40 and gave them to me for Christmas. No go. They don’t work with iPhones or iPod Touches — as I see the 180s site discloses, though the Tyd saleswoman said they do. Puffy Quilts went back to Tyd.

The winner: Tavo gloves (pictured above). And at $30, they’re the cheapest too. After my first two failures, I ordered these gloves from Amazon . They arrived yesterday. The special pads on the tips of the index finger and thumb allow me to dexterously operate the touchscreen of my iPod Touch. They work with an iPhone and Blackberry Storm and other touchscreens too.

Tavo’s a real find. Now, if only Johnson & Johnson would invent Band-Aids that fit snugly over fingertips, I could make it through winter, I think.