So Long And Thanks For All The Gadget News

Hello Gadget fans.

I just wanted to post a bit of an update to let you all know what’s happening with  Thanks to a really great opportunity (a change in my day job) I’m putting my other career of professional gadget reviewer on hold.

It has been an amazing eight years of carrying out the best job in “techie television”, ever since I got a phone call out of the blue at Media360 asking me if I’d like to come in to TVNZ and audition for a contributors role on Breakfast.

All I wanted to do was see if I could do one appearance on live television, and that first segment with Paul Henry was a mega drama.  I found out that Murphy’s law applied to tech.  It could go wrong and it did go wrong. That complicated “pimp my PC” segment gave me the heebegeebees; setting up monitors and a mouse and a hard drive while Paul Henry laughed at me as the clock ticked down the seconds to us going live.

But we did go live and Paul was brilliant at making sure I didn’t completely fail my first live television interview.  I passed the audition and I was invited to become a regular contributor.

I then had another goal of completing three, five minute segments so I could say I got my fifteen minutes of (Breakfast Television) fame.

I got that and much more.  Almost every fortnight for more than eight years, I was able to choose three cool products to take on TV to “show and tell”.  I did this alongside great talent like Ben Gracewood and Tee Twyford until they moved on and left me to it.

In my time on Breakfast I’ve covered just about every flagship phone released in that time, many many tablets, multiple laptops but also the fun stuff that really made the segment work on TV, golf trolleys, drones, robotic tele-presence machines, you name it.

I’ve also learned how PR works.  The loan products, the overseas trips to attend product launches, the schmoozing, the really cool exclusive events which I was invited to as a C list celebrity.  It all served to educate me about the latest in technology.  I’ve been lucky enough to be in contact with many very good PR people in this time and really appreciate the work they do to get publicity for their clients.

I couldn’t have done what I’ve done without the support of Nigel and the team at Mediacom.  They are a great bunch and have always found ways to let me fulfill my gadget duties without affecting the great service we offer our clients.

So as I put this part of my media career to one side I wanted to say a few thanks.

Thanks to the viewers who have taken the trouble to watch the segment and share their enjoyment, particularly the ones who have got in touch to say goodbye in the past week.

On that, thanks to the lovely couple who bumped into my wife and I at a Melbourne hotel during the Melbourne cup a couple of years ago and made sure Helen took a few photos of me with them.  I loved your enthusiasm (don’t worry guys, even though she was late for the coach Helen still managed to catch her flight on time).

Thanks to all of the hosts who let me come on every couple of weeks and get excited about the latest new tech (Paul Henry, Pippa Wetzell, Corin Dann, Alison Pugh, Petra Bagust, Rawdon Christie, Toni Street, Nadine Chalmers-Ross, Sam the Weatherman and the guest hosts) and the production team and assistants. And thanks to the editors who accepted my monthly contributions to their magazines.

And of course thanks to my understanding wife and usually embarrassed (but secretly proud) children who are now delighted they’ll see more of me at home (yeah right!).

I may be stopping the professional appearances but I will keep the blog online in order to chat about any new technology (or related topics) that catch my fancy.

So to paraphrase Douglas Adams, and in homage to the technology industry, so long and thanks for all the tech.  Apple, Samsung, LG, Microsoft, Panasonic, Huawei, HP and everyone else – I am still keen to see what products you and the rest of the industry produce to help us live our dream of living in the future.



What Day Is Fathers Day? Gadget Gifts for the Kiwi Dad this Sunday.

It is Fathers Day this Sunday, so, if you haven’t already done it, you might want to hit the shops to get Dad some socks.

Better yet, if your budget can stretch to it, why not buy him something he might really want – like the latest in Techie Toys.

To give you just a taste of what’s out there this year here’s a small selection of (relatively) affordable gadget gifts.

iPhone Toting Dad: Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt with Apple Homekit Support from Price $489.00

So you’ve left the downstairs door unlocked – no problem Dad, just say “Siri, lock the front door” and that will happen. The Schlage lock can but unlocked with a key, a 4 digit pin number or an Apple device. One of the strongest, most intelligent Bluetooth – enabled locks available, the Schlage Sense Smart deadbolt gives you the option to enter your home with an access code on its illuminated touchscreen or by using your iPhone.


Rocking Dad: The Fugoo Tough Speaker RRP $367.00

Barriers are meant to be broken, your Bluetooth speaker isn’t. Introducing FUGOO Tough – the best rugged, waterproof Bluetooth speaker available. Crafted from fibre-reinforced resin and solid aluminium, FUGOO Tough is ready for anything. Plus, with 40 hours of battery life and Siri/Google Plus integration, these 360-degree speakers have no limits.


Hungry Dad: BBQ Top Pizza Oven from Noel Leeming $129.99

Turn your BBQ into a Pizza Oven. Works with Gas or Charcoal BBQs. Make it healthy, quick and delicious with the FIRE BOX. The BBQ Pizza Oven fits on top of most BBQ’s. The removable pizza stone is in contact with the griller. It is easily cleaned and makes up 12″ size pizzas. No assembly required simply remove all packaging and place on the BBQ.



Hipster Beard Dad: Phillips Shaver with Vacuum Built In from Noel Leeming. $128.99

Trim your beard, moustache and sideburns while keeping tidy with this trimmer. Its powerful vacuum catcher cuts hair as you go along, giving you a mess free trim.

Integrated vacuum system: Captures up to 90% cut hair for less mess to clean up. Innovative Lift & Trim system – even trim in less strokes. 20 lock-in length settings from 0,5-10mm with 0,5mm precision.


Driving Dad: PowerAll Deluxe Jump Starter and Power Bank. RRP $219.95.

A portable powerbank that can not only charge all of your portable electronic devices, such as smart phones, tablets, camcorders, GPS unit etc., it also has two jumper cables to start your car battery in a matter of seconds. Keep it in the glove box at all times and you can use it multiple times (Up to 20x on a full charge). It’s so easy and convenient to use that every driver should keep one at all times.  It even has an Emergency LED Flashlight.  Available from retailers like Mitre10, Repco and Hunting & Fishing.


And to finish off, let’s remind ourselves of the iconic New Zealand Fathers radio funny.  If the answer is Sunday, what is the question???


All prices correct at time of publication. Products subject to availability.

Heineken App Shows You Where the Fun Is (Pokemon’s not included)

Heineken LIVE is a new app that brings your city to life, unlocking a world of exclusive rewards and possibilities.

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Heineken recently demonstrated their cool new experiential assistant with a “tiki tour” of some of Auckland’s hottest spots.

Heineken Live is designed to act as a virtual Wing Man, showing you where the best and most active bars are, and offer you “money can’t buy” experiences along the way.

After downloading the app in a trial capacity, I ended up having an amazing night, making my way around central Auckland to a series of curated events.

The evening showcased some of the functionality of the app and the types of experiences its users may get in the real world.  For example? Well my first notification from Heineken Live told me I had an Uber voucher and it gave me a destination to head to.

After meeting up with the Heineken crew at a bar in the Viaduct, my app buzzed to let me know my boat was ready.  That’s right, we had a launch ready to take us on a tour of the harbour.

After the harbour tour the app buzzed again to tell us there was a chauffeur waiting to take us to an exclusive event in a Warehouse near the edge of town.  There, Dominic Bowden launched the app officially and outlined the experiences Heineken had in store for real users of the app.

Imagine being in a bar and getting a notification that there was a helicopter outside ready to whisk you to a party at an exclusive island resort? You may laugh but with a large promotional investment behind it, the Heineken Live app could actually deliver an experience like that to its lucky kiwi users.

If you are over 18 and know the rules about drinking responsibly, you can download the app from here.

About Heineken LIVE

  • Heineken LIVE is a new technology platform that rewards people for getting out and visiting Heineken venues with money-can’t-buy experiences via smartphone
  • Heineken LIVE celebrates what makes cities around our country so unique, while bringing a taste of some exciting global experiences that Kiwis are looking for in New Zealand.
  • Heineken LIVE is the first app of its kind in New Zealand, using the combination of iBeacon and smartphone GPS technology to reward users in real time.
  • The more Heineken LIVE users get out and explore their city, the more offers, rewards and experiences they may receive with over $500,000 worth of prizes in 2016.
  • The technology has been developed in New Zealand and Kiwis will be the first in the world to trial the app.

For Your Eyes Only – Samsung’s Note 7 Keeps Private Files Private

Update: Since this story was published on the 3rd of August Samsung has issued a recall of the Galaxy Note 7 due to the battery catching fire in a number of cases.  All Galaxy Note 7 owners are requested to stop using the phone and return them to their retailer for a replacement.

Read more about this at the Verge here, and read the product safety replacement at Samsung NZ’s website here.


Original Post:

The new Samsung Galaxy Note 7, announced this morning, is the first Samsung smartphone with an infrared iris scanner.

Not only does that mean you can unlock your phone just by looking at it, you can also use this security setting to hide content – think files and photos – from anyone else who picks up the phone.

As well as increased security the Note 7 features water resistance (to IP68 level) and the always useful S Pen/stylus.

The large screen phone will ship with a complementary 128GB SD card in New Zealand when it is launched on the 19th of August.

As it is the first Note with a USB C connector, Samsung will also throw in a USB C cable and a Micro USB to USB C converter which is a nice touch.

And just in case you were wondering, there was no Note 6.  Samsung have chosen to leap a model number from the 5 to the 7, to bring it more into line with their other famous phone, the Galaxy S7.

01_Galaxy Note7_black

Here are some additional key features as noted in the Note 7 launch press release:

S Pen: Quickly and Easily Bring Ideas to Life

The enhanced Galaxy Note7 S Pen is more than just a writing tool – it is the gateway to getting more done efficiently and accurately. Users can bring ideas to life the moment inspiration strikes, without unlocking the screen, by using Screen off Memo and simply pinning the memo to the Always On Display. The S Pen also gives users the ability to easily create and share GIF animations with Smart Select. In addition, the new Air Command functions, including Magnify and Translate, enable users to zoom in on the screen or convert languages with a simple hover of the S Pen. It is even easier to access the best of the S Pen’s creative abilities with Samsung Notes, a new unified app allowing users to jot down handwritten notes, draw, or edit memos from one location.

The new S Pen writes with ease and precision. The smaller 0.77mm tip and improved pressure sensitivity provides a real pen-like experience. With the peace of mind that IP68 water resistance1 provides, the Galaxy Note7 lets users jot down their thoughts without interruption, even when the screen gets wet.


Advanced Security: Now in the Blink of an Eye

Samsung understands the importance of keeping content on users’ phones protected. Coupled with Samsung Knox, an industry leading security platform, the Galaxy Note7 provides heightened security and privacy, with highly advanced biometric authentication, including fingerprint scanner and iris scanning technology. The Galaxy Note7 offers more authentication options that can be used interchangeably depending on how people use their phones, wherever they are, or whatever they are doing.

The Galaxy Note7 instils a new level of user confidence with Secure Folder, a separated folder that adds an extra layer of authentication to keep private and personal information safe.


Best-in-Class Entertainment

The phone is one of the most important screens in a user’s life because it’s with them all of the time. The Galaxy Note7 features a gorgeous, curved 5.7-inch QHD Super AMOLED screen delivering a bold and immersive picture on a smartphone. It is ready to stream HDR video, enabling a cinema-like experience, including brighter colours and a deeper black, which ensure users get the full experience that the filmmaker intended.

By pairing the Galaxy Note7 with the new Gear VR powered by Oculus, users can experience premium virtual reality almost anywhere. Galaxy Note7’s incredible Super AMOLED screen and powerful processor delivers an ultra-immersive experience. The vast and ever growing library of apps, photos, games and more, puts users in the centre of the action. Whether it’s next level gaming or journeying to places users have never been before, there’s always something new to discover.

For people who live to create, tell stories and transport people to entirely new worlds, the Galaxy Note7can be used with the new high-resolution (3840×1920) Gear 360 camera, to capture, edit and share 360-degree images videos on the go. These memories can then be shared with friends via platforms including YouTube 360 and Facebook, and can be relived with the ultra-immersive Gear VR.


Galaxy Foundation with Refined Craftsmanship

With Galaxy Note7, Samsung continues to defy boundaries of engineering to perfect the user experience through innovative design. Every edge, surface and detail of the device’s design has been refined to provide a comfortable grip, easier one-handed operation, and durability with Corning® Gorilla® Glass 5. Although the Galaxy Note7 features a large-screen size, the unique front-to-back symmetrical dual-edge curve remains balanced and light with the sleek feel users have come to love from the Galaxy series. The curved screen lets the Galaxy Note7 add the powerful Edge Panel for one-tap user access to applications, news and functions.

The Galaxy Note7 is equipped with the advanced camera introduced on the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge. The dual-pixel sensor technology, wide aperture and fast auto focus, work together to create sharp and beautiful photos even in low-light environments.

In addition to 64GB2 of internal memory, the Galaxy Note7 offers expandable storage and microSD support up to 256GB. The Galaxy Note7 is equipped with a 3,500mAh battery, easy Power Management UX through Smart Manager, and charges quickly using the new USB Type-C port. Recharge the Galaxy Note7 wherever wireless charging is available.
Creating a Phone+ Ecosystem of Connected Experiences

 The Galaxy Note7 is more than just a smartphone; it’s a connection point to Samsung’s ecosystem of devices, software and services. Users can monitor their fitness activities on the Gear Fit2 and track their data through S Health 5.0.3 In addition to accurate and robust fitness tracking and measurement, the new S Health enables users to stay connected to family and friends, by sharing fitness updates or competing in friendly challenges with one another.

Pair the Galaxy Note7 with the new Gear VR powered by Oculus and experience premium virtual reality almost anywhere. The Galaxy Note7’s incredible Super AMOLED screen and powerful processor delivers an ultra-immersive experience.

The Galaxy Note7 supports the new Gear 360 camera, so users can capture and share their own 360-degree videos on the go.

For additional product information, please visit



Three Cool and Unusual Gadgets from Around the World

I’ve been overseas for a short while but for me, any trip is an excuse to hunt out some cool and unusual gadgets.

From a new digital friend to help around the home, to a frankly quite scary money box, here are some of my globe hopping gadget purchases.

Amazon Echo (country of origin, USA)

Price $180 USD at or Best Buy – (approx. $230 NZD)

What can it do?

  • Plays all your music from Prime Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and more using just your voice
  • Fills the room with immersive, 360º omni-directional audio
  • Allows hands-free convenience with voice-control
  • Hears you from across the room with far-field voice recognition, even while music is playing
  • Answers questions, reads audiobooks and the news, reports traffic and weather, gives info on local businesses, provides sports scores and schedules, and more using the Alexa Voice Service
  • Controls lights, switches, and thermostats with compatible WeMo, Philips Hue, Samsung SmartThings, Wink, Insteon, Nest, and ecobee smart home devices
  • Always getting smarter and adding new features and skills–over 1,500 added since launch, including Domino’s and Uber


What is it?

It looks like a WiFi connected speaker (which it is) but it’s capabilities go far beyond that. The Amazon Echo is actually the voice activated assistant that can help you control your smart home.

Alexa is the word you say to get the Echo’s attention. Say this “wake word” and tell echo what you want to do.

It’s all beginning to sound a bit “Siri” now isn’t it? Well Alexa has been judged to be smarter than Siri (technologically speaking) and it’s her integration with your home that delivers the greatest potential.

Here are just a few of the things you can ask Alexa.

Alexa, set the alarm for 7 am.

Alexa, what’s the weather in Auckland New Zealand?

Alexa, how old is Taylor Swift?

(if you have supported gadgets like the Philips Hue light range) Alexa, Dim Hue lights to 30%

Alexa, Wikipedia the All Blacks.

Alexa, play my Coldplay playlist from Amazon Prime.

Alexa, buy the new Harry Potter book and send it to me (this is Amazon after all).

With an August lock and the new August Home skill for Alexa, you can use your voice to lock your doors or check the status of your locks.

Once your devices are set up, enable the August Home skill and link your account.
Then just ask:

  • “Alexa, ask August to lock the front door.”
  • “Alexa, ask August to check the status of my lock.”

Released first in 2014 the Amazon Echo is still not officially available in New Zealand and Alexa is very US-centric (traffic alerts, news and weather are all linked to US zip codes).

In the US if you are an Amazon Prime subscriber and are running out of an everyday item like soap powder you can say “Alexa, order Tide laundry powder” and it your oder will be delivered the same or next day.

Having said that about it being very American-centric, I expected it to be much more difficult to get her to work in NZ (you used to have to fake your IP address, jailbreak phones to download apps etc.) but after a bit of mucking around I found I was able to control it through my home computer’s web browser.

If you do buy one, be prepared to treat it is a gadget experiment, tinkering with the settings (you will also need a plug adapter as it only ships with a US power connector.)



Secrid Mini Wallet (Price 65 Euros in Dublin or $100 NZD. Country of origin, Holland)

Keeping your funds protected while you are traveling is a high priority.

The Secrid Wallet not only keeps your cards in one place, the Dutch designed wallet is a sophisticated card and money holder that prevents your tap and go cards from being scanned and your payment details stolen.

Plastic cards have a hard time, they get bent and become brittle in your pocket. In particular, RFID/NFC cards are not safely stored in a regular wallet. RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) or NFC (Near Field Communication) cards have a chip and an antenna for wireless communication. These cards, such as the public transportation pass, new credit cards and admission tickets, can be activated, selected and copied from up to many metres away, without you noticing. The Secrid Cardprotector works as a firewall in your wallet.

To safely use an RFID/NFC card, you slide it out 3 cm from the Cardprotector; the sensitivity for the radio signal is then substantially reduced, but still sufficient for contact over short distances. By minimising the time duration and signal strength, you remain outside the reach of digital pickpockets.

The Secrid Mini Wallet can hold up to five bank cards and slide them out with a flick of a switch. It also has a pocket for old fashioned notes and coins.

It’s definitely my favourite wallet of the past few years (even if I’m not paranoid about my RFID cards being scanned by e-pickpockets).



Facebank (country of origin, Japan)

Price $40 (USD) approximately $55 NZD


From AC Gears – possibly the best gadget shop in Manhattan, comes the Facebank.

Never mind Facebook. How about Facebank? Because Facebank really does what it’s supposed to do – a bank with a face that takes any change you feed it. Designed by Japanese designer Takada and shown on TV, this is the world’s first interactive bank that can “eat” up to 30 500 yen coins (quarters, 50c pieces etc). The eyes of the FaceBank are actually sensors. Activate the FaceBank by waving at it and it will eat your coins! A great gift idea to freak out your guests. Available only in Japan in blue, red, and white. Another gizmo first available from AC!


All prices correct at time of publication. Products subject to availability.

Three Headphones in One – British Kickstarter Campaign Redefines the Audio Experience

volant soundA new British tech startup is hoping to reinvent audio devices; starting with their unique 3-in-1 headphones, launching on Kickstarter on the 30th June.

Volant Sound’s headphones combine three audio devices into one, allowing the versatility of earphones, the comfort and sound quality of headphones and the freedom of Bluetooth; giving you a solution for every listening occasion.

Many consumers listen to headphones for 4 hours every day and own 3-4 pairs of headphones and earphones for different listening scenarios. This device is designed to completely simplify the selection into one product for endless uses. Think earphones to commute, headphones to work, earphones to exercise and so on.

Volant headphones allow you to switch between earphones, wired headphones and Bluetooth headphones. The patent pending switch mechanism automatically redirects sound signal from the earphone speakers to the headphone speakers when inserted under the unique sliding wings.

The collaboration has been completed with multi award winning London design consultancy Therefore Design.  Dreamt up by Joshua Church, a 25-year-old British entrepreneur, Volant Sound designs patent pending innovations that bring versatility to modern day listening.

Volant headphones are striving to be more than just another quirky Kickstarter campaign; with three products in the pipeline and a handful of patents at their disposal, Volant is the audio underdog to keep an eye on.

Upmarket gadgets for the modern home

Running a dinner party is not just a chance to show off your cooking skills, you can also show off the latest upmarket gadgets.  Whether it’s preparing the setting with the latest flash vacuum cleaner or impressing your friends with your vintage wine collection we have the three cool gadgets to help you keep up with the Jones’s.

The upmarket gadget that appears in Michelin Star Restaurants in Europe is now appearing in the best restaurants in New Zealand.

Coravin Model Two is a revolutionary new wine access system that has been featured in Viva Magazine, Cuisine Magazine, GQ, Vogue, Wired and other publications as a game changing invention that allows the user to access wine by the glass without having to open the whole bottle. It was just launched in New Zealand in March, and is already being used to serve wine in restaurants such as The Grove, Whitebait, The Northern Club, Stafford Rd Wine Bar, and many others.

The Coravin is only intended for use on bottles of wine with a cork – not screw tops.  While New Zealand leads the way in screw caps, the majority of the world’s fine wines – particularly European, are stopped with corks.

With this device you can dust off an old bottle that you’ve been saving and pour a small glass, keeping the cork sealed and the wine preserved.  When you extract the needle, the cork reseals.

Why use Coravin?
· Flexibility and Freedom: The ability to taste different wines in the course of an evening without having to have all the bottles open. Match tasting menus or seasonal dishes, offer guests a glass of their preferred wine of choice without a Chardonnay drinker having to drink a Sav because its open – or enjoy a glass of white while cooking then switch to red if you’re serving meat for a main.
· Quality: Each glass is served in perfect condition. You might just want one glass, but all the more reason to have one glass of something really good, not open something cheap just because its only Tuesday night and you have cross fit the next day and won’t want to drink afterwards.
· Waste Reduction: No more drinking the rest of the bottle so it doesn’t get wasted, or letting it oxidise and throwing it out.

Price: $675. The Argon capsules cost $20 each, enough for 18 glasses.
Importers website:


The vacuum that self rights when toppled.

Machines that tip over, and are awkward to manoeuvre. Bins that are messy and fiddly to empty. Hoses that can get in the way, and tools that can disappoint. Some barrel vacuum cleaners can be cumbersome and frustrating. So Dyson engineers set out to solve these problems. The result: The Dyson Cinetic Big Ball vacuum.

Conventional vacuums fall down and stay down. The Dyson Cinetic Big Ball barrel self-rights when toppled. Dyson engineers made this possible by assembling the vacuum’s components in a spherical array, with the heaviest nearest to the floor. Placing them inside a curved body with a low centre of gravity means that whenever the vacuum is displaced, gravitational forces will automatically return it to its upright resting position.

36 Dyson Cinetic™ tips separate the microscopic dust that can clog conventional vacuums. Vacuums with Dyson Cinetic™ science do not lose suction, and capture dust, dirt and microscopic particles down to 0.3 microns in size. And the dust separation is so efficient that there’s no need to wash or replace a filter.

Available from electrical stores nationwide.

Price, from $799, the “Animal” version shown costs $1099



Whether it`s naughty ice cream or virtuous sorbet – this machine makes 1.14 litres (2 pints) of your favourite home made dessert in less than half an hour. Comes with large feed, stainless-steel bowl and recipe book full of tempting ideas. Why not use yoghurt or fromage frais as a base for your favourite flavour low calorie ice cream?
Requires pre-freezing in a four star freezer for 12 hours.

Price: $329