Tech Tools: Our hits and misses from 2013
Smartphones, doodles, pillows and ... potties
Hit or miss? The Ostrich Pillow.
Samsung Galaxy Note 3, €650
Like it or not, the large screen smartphone appears to be here to stay. And there are so many reasons to love them: big screens that help you work; that allow you watch movies on the move; the fact that you won’t lose it under a credit card. Samsung’s Note 3 is the best yet from the South Korean phone maker. Not only does the Note 3 look sleeker than its predecessor, but it also has an improved chip and some of the snazzy technology Samsung introduced to its S4. The screen is pin sharp with vivid colours. Samsung.com
Google Chromecast, $35
If you could turn your old flatscreen TV onto a smart(er) one for under €40, would you? Google is betting you will. The Chromecast is a cheap device that plugs into your TV’s HDMI and USB ports, and will allow you to access internet based services such as Netflix or YouTube on the TV. It’s controlled by your existing smartphone too, so no need to have another remote control to lose. It may be limited in what will “cast” right now, but you can be sure there will be more to come. Plus, at that price, who could turn it down?
Fitbit Flex, €100
Wearable technology is big – and set to get bigger if future plans are anything to go by. The Fitbit Flex has a decent battery life, wireless synching with your smartphone and will do everything from track your movement to measuring how long – and well – you sleep. It gives you a visual indication of how far you are away from your target too, through some tiny lights. It’s all very subtle. The band itself may not be the most attractive in the world, but you can swap it if the mood takes you. Fitbit.com
The iPotty, $32
Unveiled in January, the iPotty falls into that category of “Why? Just why?” It’s essentially a plastic child’s toilet with an iPad stand attached, so you can keep your child entertained while they learn that even two minutes on the toilet should be spent playing Candy Crush. There’s a splash guard (urgh) and a touchscreen protector to save your iPad from messy hands. If there’s anything more perilous than handing your toddler your iPad, it’s handing your toddler your iPad while they’re on the toilet. Don’t. Amazon.com
On the face of it, this seems like a good idea. After all, 3D printing is the technology of the moment. And this pen is cheap, looks easy to use, and promises to bring your creations to life. But in practice, the 3D pen seems messy and imprecise. Your “creations” may not turnout quite how you’d like (try drawing with a hot glue gun), but a bit of artistic talent and a lot of practice helps. Plus melting plastic doesn’t smell great. Still, it’s a start. Perhaps wait for the next version to hit the market though. the3doodler.com
Ostrich Pillow, €78
Frequent traveller? Like your naps on the move? Don’t mind swaddling your head? Then the Ostrich Pillow is for you. Possibly the oddest looking contraption you’ll ever use in public, it’s a pillow that wraps around your head, giving you a bit of extra padding and blocking out the light. If you like that sort of thing. On the other hand, it’s also a rather expensive way to ensure that everyone gives you a wide berth. And it looks a little claustrophobic. Firebox.com