Pimp-out your student flat with these extravagant and essential gadgets

Summer recess is over and tertiary students are heading back to student digs all around the country.  But being in a flatting situation doesn’t mean you always have to rough it.

Today we are looking at some blinging gadgets that will impress the savviest students for the year ahead.

1. Selk Bags from AstromanCollectibles.com

Price: $225
Gadget Guy Rating: 4 out of 5.
Website: http://www.astromancollectibles.com/

The Selk’bag Sleepwear System is the ultimate sleeping bag providing superior comfort, mobility and warmth for camping, backpacking, and indoor use.

Inspired by the Selk’Nam tribe from Tierra Del Fuego, Chile, A Selk’bag is essentially a wearable, human-shaped sleeping bag. Customers love them for their comfort, warmth and versatility and the fact they can experience these qualities virtually anywhere, awake or asleep.

How best to describe the Selk Bag? You could call it the ultimate sleeping system for people on the go, or the best way for students to keep warm when the flat heating bill hasn’t been paid. Or you could look at it as the ultimate onesie.

Local enthusiast Joe Roper has managed to source some Marvel themed Selk Bags. His website http://www.astromancollectibles.com/ has bags in the shape of some of the most popular characters, from Captain America to the Hulk, and Iron Man to Spiderman.

Take your pick and rug up for the impending cooler Autumn days.

2. Google Chromecast 2 and Chromecast Audio
Price: $69 each.
Gadget Guy Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Website: http://www.google.com/intl/en_nz/chromecast/

Since Chromecast first launched in New Zealand in 2014, plenty of Kiwis have enjoyed the ease of casting movies, shows and music from their phones straight to their TVs.

However the next generation of Google’s cool device is available, and it’s brought a friend – the Chromecast Audio.

The new Chromecast improves on the original with a rounded design and a built in lead which makes it easier to plug into HDMI ports on a TV. That of course is the premise of the Chromecast, plug it into any TV and it instantly adds smart TV functions to even non-smart TV’s.

It supports the latest Wi-Fi standards and adapts more easily to changing Wi-Fi conditions in your home, so you get higher quality video with less buffering. They’ve added two new colours so you can cast in style while watching content from your favourite entertainment apps including Nefflix, Lightbox, Fanpass, Neon TV and YouTube.

The audio version is an affordable way to stream your music to your existing speakers. It’s the perfect upgrade to your bluetooth speakers, home theatre systems, table-top radios, bookshelf speakers, desktop speakers and more. If you have more than one ChromecastAudio, you can group them together to listen to the same song around the house.

Chromecasts work with iPhone, iPad, Android Phone or tablet, Mac or Windows laptop, or Chromebook.

The new Chromecast’s are available from retailers including JB Hl-Fi, Harvey Norman, Noel Leeming and The Warehouse and also on the Google Store for $69.


3. Asus G752 Gaming Laptop
Price: $3,599 to $4,599
Gadget Guy Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Website: https://www.asus.com/nz/ROG-Republic-Of-Gamers/ROG-G752VT/

If you look around lecture halls today you’ll probably see a sea of Macbooks. So far so predictable. If you really want to stand out from the crowd you’ll need something exceptional like the $4,600 (UHD screen Version) Asus Republic of Gamers G752 gaming laptop.

This 4KG monster is the world’s first laptop to integrate a vapour chamber into its cooling system so you can game like a pro, in between taking notes at lectures of course.

What else will gamers love?
• Cool looks – Republic of Gamers Armor Titanium and Plasma Copper colour scheme.
• Optional 4K screen (ultra high definition).
• Backlit anti-ghosting gaming keyboard with 30-key rollover for precise input.
• SSD and HDD drives.
• Windows 10 pre-installed and is powered by the latest 6th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, paired with discrete NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970-980M graphics.

4. HP ZBook Mobile Workstation

Price: from $3,900
Gadget Guy Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Website: http://www8.hp.com/nz/en/products/workstations/product-detail.html?oid=8934839

If powerful performance still matters, but you don’t want to draw attention to yourself with the gaming PC, then the ZBook could work for you instead.

The iconic 15.6″ diagonal HP ZBook Studio is HP’s thinnest, lightest, and most attractive full performance mobile workstation.

Starting at just 2 kg 3 and 18mm thin, the HP ZBook Studio is a meticulously-designed performance machine.

The HP ZBook Studio Mobile Workstation delivers sleek style, impressive performance, and long battery life.

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


Microsoft Surface Book Leads Locked Up Gadgets

For the first time ever, software company Microsoft has produced its own laptop.  The very flash and incredibly expensive new device, the Surface Book, has just reached our shores.  But will the transforming super computer pack enough punch to make you pick a Microsoft over an Apple?

We take a look at the Surface Book and a couple of other smart lock toting gadgets:

Microsoft Surface Book

Price: $2,799 to $4,899

Gadget Guy Rating: 4 out of 5.

Website: www.microsoft.com/nz

The new 13.5-inch Surface Book is marketed as “the ultimate laptop.” It packs the full punch of a high performance laptop with unprecedented versatility of a tablet. The screen unlocks from the keyboard with a smart electronic mechanism turning into a touch-screen slate which can be used as a tablet or handed around to view the content.

The laptop has an unusual reticulated hinge which leaves a slight gap between the keyboard and screen when it is closed.

The high price is an indicator of where Microsoft is pitching this device. Prices begin at $2,749 and rise to $4,899 for the top of the line version which has a core i7 chip, 16GB or RAM and an additional graphics processor in the base.

I tested the top model and found it breezed through 4K video editing like a hot knife through butter.

All of the Surface Book devices run on Windows 10 and come with a touch screen and pen input.


Nokē Smart Lock

Price: $115

Gadget Guy Rating: 3 out of 5

Website: http://www.astutesmartlocks.com/

Auckland’s Astute Smart Locks has launched Nokē – the world’s smartest Bluetooth padlock in New Zealand. Nokē, pronounced No Key) is a padlock that you unlock with your smartphone – eliminating the hassle of keys and combinations forever.

All Nokē locks are compatible with iOS, Android and Windows smartphones, and work in conjunction with the Nokē app for smart, convenient security.

When clicked the Nokē automatically finds and connects to your Bluetooth 4.0 enabled smartphone. Instead of fumbling for keys, simply walk up to your Nokē, press the shackle, and instantly access your possessions.

Nokē’s app even lets you share guest access with friends and family, so they can unlock your Nokē with their own smartphone. You can allow a guest unlimited access, one-time access, or create a custom schedule of specific times and days of the week.

In case your smartphone battery dies, Nokē has a back-up plan called ‘Quick-Click,’ so you’re never left stranded. Nokē’s Quick-Click technology allows you to create a custom access code of short and long clicks on the shackle so you have the option to open it manually if necessary.

Made of boron-hardened steel, Nokē is not only attractive, but also incredibly strong and it is designed to stand up to the toughest environments and weather conditions.

The battery lasts about a year before needing to be replaced or recharged. If it does go flat you can jump start the lock by touching a replacement battery to the pad at the bottom of the lock.


MaxiLock With Shackle or “Surf Box”.

Price: $69.00 from most surf shops.

Gadget Guy Rating: 3 out of 5

Website: http://www.plantinnovations.com.au/maxi_lock/maxi_lock.htm


Maxi Lock is a durable, all-metal combination padlock that can be easily secured inside or outside around homes or offices, or to vehicles, caravans, boats, trucks and trailers. Maxi Lock works by a secret code to provide a safe and secure place to lock away your valuables and keys while you enjoy peace of mind.

There are times when you need a safe and secure place for small valuables or an emergency spare set of keys, or for other items around your home, office or vehicle. Do you need to provide access to trusted others to keys when you can not be there yourself. Maxi Lock is the solution!

Maxi Lock keeps your valuable items safe whilst having a night out on the town, surfing, fishing or during other such leisure activities. When not in use, Maxi Lock is compact enough to keep in a vehicle storage compartment or can be stored easily in the home or office.


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

Cool camping gadgets for outdoors types.

Outdoors Gadgets

The long lingering summer is here and many kiwis are making the most of the great outdoors. But what is a camping holiday without a backpack full of gadgets?

At least – that’s the question I ask myself as a fully paid up member of the Gadget fraternity.

Here are my hottest tips for tools and toys to get you through the rest of the camping season.

1. Leatherman Tread Wearable Multitool

Price: $349

Gadget Guy Rating: 4 out of 5.

Website: http://www.tightlines.co.nz


Leatherman is renowned for producing multi-tools that are favoured by explorers, adventurers and rugged outdoors types. The Tread, however, $349, occupies a niche somewhere between wearable fashion and great outdoors functionality. Designed to be worn on the wrist the Tread cleverly holds 29 real-life tools, including a cutting hook, bottle opener, carbide glass breaker and a range of hex drives and screwdrivers on 10 customisable stainless steel links. In short, it’s a tool box on your wrist.

You can imagine outdoorsy types wearing this chunky stainless steel bracelet – though my wife did describe it as a Man Bangle – or a Mangle!


2. Torpedo7 Jetboil Flash Javakit

Price: $229.99

Gadget Guy Rating: 4 out of 5

Website: https://www.torpedo7.co.nz/products/RUC6CN4FP/title/jetboil-flash-javakit-with-coffee-press-inside



Kiwis love camping, but leaving the city behind doesn’t mean going without life’s little luxuries. The Jetboil Flash Java Kit, $229.99, can brew two perfect cups of coffee in just over two minutes. When the water reaches boiling point, a colour-change heat indicator window activates, turning the outside of the vessel orange. The coffee press attachment stows inside the Jetboil cup when done so it won’t take up any extra space in your pack.

Each Pack Contains:

  • 1.0 Liter FluxRing cooking cup with insulating cozy, featuring Flash colour
  • Adjustable stainless steel burner
  • Push-button igniter
  • Colour-change heat indicator
  • Drink-through lid with pour spout & strainer
  • Bottom cover doubles as a measuring cup and bowl
  • Able to store a 100g Jetpower fuel can
  • Fuel Canister Stabilizer included
  • Jetboil Coffee Press
  • Coffee sample pack


3. DexShell waterproof socks

Price: $69.90

Gadget Guy Rating: 5 out of 5

Website: http://www.tightlines.co.nz/Product/p/11154/g/1606

Since the distributor, Tightlines, introduced these socks to NZ a year or so ago, they’ve been an instant hit – with hunters, fishermen, kayakers, boaties, trampers and anyone else who normally gets their feet wet on a regular basis.

Many people (including my son) have had fun testing their socks in their bath! The idea that you no longer have to put up with wet feet seems attractive to everyone.

The patented Porelle membrane that blocks water molecules getting through also wicks sweat away, leaving your feet dry and comfortable at all times. The Trekking Sock is a mid- calf, mid weight merino wool sock.

It is specially developed for tramping in arduous, wet environments. DexShell’s 100% Waterproof socks have a unique 3 ply construction to give you the ultimate in comfort and warmth.


4. Torpedo 7 Goal Zero Switch 8 Solar Recharging Kit

Price: $159.90

Gadget Guy Rating: 4 out of 5

Website: https://www.torpedo7.co.nz/products/G7BASN4S8/title/goal-zero-switch-8-solar-recharging-kit

In 2016 you would have to consider a solar charger to be an essential summer gadget for anyone who takes their electronics off the beaten track. This range a really high quality and are much better than the novelty gift-type chargers I have tested in the past.

Equipped with the Switch 8 recharger and the Nomad 3.5 Solar Panel, you’ll stay powered up wherever you go. From wall, car, or sun, charge your phone, boost an iPad, and switch on lots of handy accessories without a cord.


Recharge by: USB, Solar Panel

Power Output: USB

Ideal for: Phone, MP3

Kit Includes: Switch 8 & Nomad 3.5

Weight: 11.2 oz

The Goal Zero Switch 8 can be charged by connecting a compatible solar panel but it can also be charged by being plugged into a USB power source. It then takes the same amount of time to charge your device from a Goal Zero power pack as it does from the wall.


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

Skinny offers innovative broadband solution at low price

Skinny Mobile today announced a game-­changing extension of its business with the launch of Skinny Broadband, which will offer New Zealand’s best broadband price for a 60GB plan.

“We know Kiwis are looking for lower cost, hassle free broadband options”, comments Ross Parker, General Manager of Skinny Mobile, “so we’re excited to launch Skinny Broadband, which offers our customers New Zealand’s best broadband prices, without the lengthy wait. You simply plug in your modem and you’re ready to go – you can set up in under 5 minutes.”

The new internet service is available in selected 4G areas nationally. The combination of Skinny’s famous super low prices, and a quick, easy-­to‐set-­up, broadband connection operating on Spark’s 4G network will give customers New Zealand’s cheapest prepay broadband package -­‐ 60GB of data for only $55 a month and a one off modem cost of $199.

Plus to make the deal even sweeter, for a limited time customers can get their first month free – worth $55.

Skinny’s straight forward set-­‐up process, and easy to use modem ensures no technician is required to install the product and no external antennas are needed, saving customers valuable time and money.

Customers can sign up online (at https://www.skinny.co.nz/broadband/)  without having to wade through pesky contracts. Skinny Broadband is also offered without a landline, doing away with extra costs. The 60GB value packed plan will allow Skinny customers to satisfy all their data needs -­‐ like listening to Spotify, watching movies, as well as checking Facebook & shopping online. The average household uses approximately 45GB a month, so 60GB is plenty of data for most.

An online address checker is available on the Skinny website so customers can check whether Skinny 4G Broadband will be available at their home. Skinny Broadband is perfect for those wanting a low cost, no frills internet service. And with a 30-­‐day money back network guarantee there’s no reason for customers not to make the switch.

Source, Skinny Mobile Press Release, 11/1/16

Advice for hoverboard buyers in light of some overseas devices catching fire.

So, it seems that the hottest gadget of the year may be just a bit too hot.

Reports from overseas suggest that some hoverboards (the self balancing, battery powered, personal wheeled vehicles that look like Segways without the stick), have been catching fire in some circumstances.

It appears that the combination of batteries, electric circuitry, moving parts and heavy usage, such as bumps received while driving up and down kerbs or hitting into walls, might result in components coming loose which can then cause electrical fires within the device.

Leaving them on charge for too long also seems to be a factor.

Internationally Amazon have drastically reduced the range of hoverboards they sell, but they are still selling some.

I would hate to contribute to social media hysteria but I would also hate to recommend a product group which has the potential for causing harm.  With that in mind I have removed the hoverboard from my gift guide blog post until there is clearer guidance on the category in New Zealand.

In my experience the devices I tested, branded as Glideboards, were made of high quality materials and never exhibited any issues of concern.  I would advise people who wish to buy any hoverboards to talk to a reputable retailer or distributor and discuss the quality of materials and safety specifications if you have any concerns.

I would not recommend buying any off of pop-up stores online and remember that while it is not a guarantee, usually the lower the price, the lower the quality of materials is.

The range I tested were on the higher side of the ledger at $799 up.  Since writing about the devices and talking about them on TV I have been approached by representatives in Asia offering to sell me similar devices for $150 (which I have declined).

For current owners, I would recommend making sure the devices are never left on charge for long and that they are monitored while charging.  Also check your device for any damage after use and check for suspicious smells or signs of overheating.  If you have further concerns talk to the distributor.






16 Great Gadget Gift Ideas for Christmas 2015

Ho, ho, ho gadget fiends, can you believe it is only two and a bit weeks to Christmas?
Hopefully you’ve been really good all year and Santa brings you all of the tech toys you truly deserve.
What’s that you say?  You still haven’t sent Santa your Christmas letter?  Well you better get onto it. But first, feel free to draw inspiration from this random list of cool tech toys for Christmas that suit just about any budget.

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Starting at the top of the price range we’ve got two terrific televisions followed by a couple of top tablets.
1. The standout TV of the year might just have been the Samsung Curved SUHDTV.  It’s packed with all of the tech you could ever want, from a massive curved screen and nano crystal colour technology all the way through to Tizen powered smart TV apps including the popular Netflix and Youtube apps.  The top of the range curved 65″ TV is in the market for $6,599.
2. The LG UHD TV may be more understated in design but it hits a sweet spot between superb picture quality, price and features.  The LG 49UF770V also has built in Freeview Plus, meaning you can watch OnDemand TV from TVNZ, Mediaworks and Maori Television straight from the programme guide. Price: $1694.00
3. The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 from $1599, is powered by Windows 10 and turns from a tablet into a full powered laptop while running all of your desktop software.  Fans of the Surface Pro 3 are going to love the better specced Pro 4 (12.3 inch pixelsense display making it beautiful looking as well as very fast).
4. Next up we have the Apple iPad Pro which ranges in price from $1399 to $1899 depending on memory options. Described by the 9to5Mac website as a “giant expensive tablet with a couple of pricey accessories”, this is the brand new 12.9″ ipad.  Screen as big as a laptop, optional Apple Pencil $189, and Apple Smart Keyboard $319. The components are so powerful it can virtually replace your laptop.
These are both great devices but they do different things.  The iPad pro is my favourite iPad, but if it came to doing work on the go, I’d plump for the Surface Pro 4.
5. Christmas in New Zealand also means summer. And summer means BBQ’s.  This year we were pleased to welcome Green Mountain Grills to the grilling landscape.  The $1399 Daniel Boone grill is a perfect heated smoker that also has the advantage of being wi-fi enabled so you can control all of the settings remotely from your smartphone or tablet.
Two gadgets that really stood out this year were the ubiquitous Hoverboard (6.) and the Star Wars related toy BB8 (7.).  Hoverboards seemed to show up out of nowhere and appear all over megastars social media accounts, from Justin Bieber to Kendall Jenner.  However with the latest concerns in the media being around the potential for some boards to catch fire while on charge, I have removed them from this list. Please see my explanation here.
Sphero partnered with Disney to bring the BB8 Droid from Star Wars to life – even if the toy version is relatively small compared to the movie version.  Controlled by a smartphone app, there is plenty to keep kids entertained from voice controls to hologram video simulations. Price $279.99
8.  What do you give the person who has everything?  Perhaps a remote control that can link all of their devices together.  At $599 The Logitech Harmony Elite Plus Remote Control commands a high price, but not only will this single remote replace all of those other remotes littering your coffee table, you can also use it to control your smart home devices (smart light bulbs etc.)
9. The Apple TV has had a makeover.  With the Apple TV Remote with Touch surface, a new interface and the App Store, where you’ll find games and apps that changes what you expect from your big screen.Apple TV $299 32GB and $399 64GB.
10. Parrot Minidrones give you plenty of options as they range in in price from $179 to $329.  Great as gifts for teenagers (or for never-quite-grew-up-dads) plunge into the era of connected toys with the second generation of Parrot Minidrones. These  advanced, miniaturized robots are piloted with a smartphone or a tablet via the free piloting app, FreeFlight 3.
The 13 different drones fall into 3 categories, the wheeled ones that can jump, mini flying drones and a new range – the Hydrofoil, which allow you to attach a flying drone to a boat so you can speed boat around a pond.
11. Meccanoid G15 Kid Size Programmable Robot $229 ages 10 and Up.
The small version of the amazing educational toy we had on Breakfast earlier this year when the prototype visited Motat.The Meccano Meccanoid G15 KS Personal Robot comes with over one thousand phrases and voice recognition to make your personal robot more like your best friend. Build, program and play with this fully operational, 4-foot-tall robot, with life-like articulated limbs powered by 10 motors for realistic movement. As with any Meccano product, you can take the pieces apart and re-create. Rebuild Meccanoid as a dinosaur, or anything else you can dream up.
12. Hottest game of the season: Fallout 4 Video Game, 99.99 for PC, $119.99 for PS4 and XBoxOne (R18)

Bethesda Game Studios, the award-winning creators of Fallout 3 and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, welcome you to the world of Fallout 4 – their most ambitious game ever, and the next generation of open-world gaming.

As the sole survivor of Vault 111, you enter a world destroyed by nuclear war. Every second is a fight for survival, and every choice is yours. Only you can rebuild and determine the fate of the Wasteland.

The teenager in our house has been lost in this game (figuratively) for the last two weeks.  I’ve just dipped my toe in and can’t wait to experience the rest as it is visually stunning.


13. UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker $299, Available from Noel Leeming etc.

What more can we say about these cool speakers? Building from the award-winning UE BOOM 360-degree speaker that Ultimate Ears introduced in 2013, UE BOOM 2 is 25 percent louder with a longer wireless range of 100-feet and a completely waterproof design, so music can be shared on the beach, at the snow, and everywhere in between.
It has a 15-hour all-day, all-night battery life, plus, new and innovative tap controls that allows users to skip songs, without needing to have a phone in-hand.
Finally, a few cheap but fun gadget suggestions:
14. Satzuma Gadgets USB Fridge, 34.99 and 15. Robot USB Hub, $25 from Playtech.

The Robot Hub has 4 USB ports where you can plug in your mouse, keyboard or any other USB device without having to use up all your USB ports on your computer.

This fun little desktop hub has movable arms and glowing blue LED eyes when transferring data. It comes with an extension cable and is great for getting the most out your hardware

The USB Cooler is the envy of any office worker who likes a cold drink. The cooler has a slick retro appearance and will keep any can nice and cool ensuring you can stay at your station for longer.

And 16. Iluv LED Bluetooth Speaker $35.00 from Playtech

Get ready to have a great time with Aud Mini Party!  This portable rubberized Bluetooth speaker is integrated with multicoloured LEDs that bring your party to life by providing a fun visual and aural experience. The LEDs flash and strobe in multiple dazzling colors, and can be cycled through six preset lighting themes.

Phew well that’s quite a list, and I could have added dozens more.  Hopefully it gives you some idea as to what’s available and you end up with the perfect present under the tree.

All up, you could spend a lot of money on these toys, but if you want to spend money on something more meaningful, I highly recommend putting a bit aside and donating to a couple of charities that really need your help (at this time of year especially).  Top of my list, the Auckland City Mission and Women’s Refuge.  Your money will certainly be put to good use.

That’s it from me this year, I hope you all have a safe and happy holiday season!


Futuristic gadgets for Back to the Future Day

Glideboards, from $749

Here’s a question: what’s cooler than the other side of the pillow? A self-balancing, gyroscopic, motorised personal transport device of course.

Glideboards are part of the revolutionary self-balancing board wave that have swept the globe and are now available across Australia and New Zealand.

Every Glideboard comes fully equipped with German precision engineered gyroscopic technology, and powerful batteries that allow you to travel up to 10 km/hr for 25km. The alloy wheels and protective casing are rain and dust proof, and the high quality solid tyres ensure each Glideboard is both durable and safe.

The pressure sensors on each non-slip footpads will independently adjust the speed based on weight distribution of each foot, allowing for easy and precise control.

Website: www.glideboards.co

Ring Video Doorbell for your smartphone, $399.95

This revolutionary internet-connected doorbell screens a live audio and video stream of your home’s front doorstep, directly to any smartphone or tablet. Ring sends instant alerts via the free Ring app (iOS® and Android) when the doorbell is rung, or if motion is detected. You can see and speak with people at your house from anywhere (even overseas) or watch recorded footage on your own smart device.

Especially perfect for those who work at home and don’t want to get distracted but want to know what’s happening, busy mums on the go and home-owners or security-conscious Kiwis that want to feel safe knowing exactly what’s going on at their front doorstep. If you’re a techie wanting a new gadget to play with, the nifty Ring will be sure to deliver your fix too!

Website: https://ring.com/

App: https://itunes.apple.com/nz/app/ring-video-doorbell/id926252661?mt=8


Musical Spark

With the TomTom Spark fitness watch you can train to the sound of your music as well as the beat of your heart.

This nifty new sports wearable allows you to listen to close to 500 songs while exercising without the need for a phone or separate music player. You can store your playlists on your wrist and listen to them wirelessly during your workout through wireless bluetooth headphones.

As a fitness tracker, the TomTom performs as it should, capturing your steps, active minutes, and calories burnt. But it also has a heart rate monitor built in so you can track your heart rate without the need for a chest strap.

The Spark watch allows you to switch between modes so you can mix up your training, whether you choose to run, bike, swim or workout at the gym.

It is also a pretty smart watch; it’s automatic sleep tracking function helps you know if you’re getting the sleep you need; it’s wireless syncing allows you to sync your session wirelessly on your favourite running app and finally, it is water resistant so you will feel confident running in all weather conditions.

Price: $349

Website: https://www.tomtom.com/en_nz/sports/fitness-watches/