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 Bunnings.co.nz. 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.

Website: https://www.bunnings.co.nz/our-range/brands/s/schlage-

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.

Website: https://www.noelleeming.co.nz/shop/whiteware-kitchen-appliances/small-kitchen-appliances/novelty/firebox-fb12-bbq-mountable-pizza-oven/prod147360.html

 

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.

Website: https://www.noelleeming.co.nz/shop/personal-care/mens-shavers/men-s-grooming/philips-bt7201-series-7000-vacuum-beard-trimmer/prod147395.html

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.

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.

www.volantsound.com

Coffee, coffee, water – three of my favourite drinks. #gadgets

Coffee is an essential part of our morning routine in New Zealand, without our daily fix our productivity would absolutely crash through the floor.

That’s why for this week’s review I have hunted down two of the latest coffee gadgets as well as a boom box of a water bottle that plays music to remind you to drink. Whatever next?

First up, there’s the Nespresso Prodigio with Milk – The Connected Nespresso Machine
Price: $499
Gadget Guy Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Website: https://www.nespresso.com/nz/en/pages/prodigio-machines-range

This month, Nespresso launches its first generation of smartphone connected coffee machines, the Prodigio&Milk. Using Bluetooth Smart technology, the Nespresso Prodigio&Milk machine seamlessly links with the renowned Nespresso smartphone app, for maximum convenience.

The Prodigio&Milk machine and Nespresso app allow coffee lovers to brew their favourite Nespresso Grand Cru from the comfort of their lounge. It provides alerts when running low on capsules and notifies users of machine maintenance ahead of time.

The ‘intelligent’ machine simplifies the coffee experience for users, offering:
•    Capsule stock management, so users will never run out of capsules
•    De-scaling and maintenance reminders
•    Scheduled coffee brewing at the desired time

All of the services will be sent directly to the Nespresso smartphone app for seamless integration.

Summary:

•    First Nespresso machine you can control using a Smartphone App
•    Can brew on-demand
•    Or set a time to brew so you can have a coffee ready when you wake up
•    Includes capsule counter to alert you when you’re running low on coffee
•    Also monitors water levels and lets you know when it needs descaling or a service
•    You have to download the Nespresso app and register the machine but this only takes a minute.
•    Includes integrated milk frother or “Aerochino”
Next we have an old school looking but uber cool “Coffee Gadget” the Grosche Franfurt Pour over Coffee Brewing System

Price: $299.
Gadget Guy Rating: 3 out of 5.
Website: http: http://www.thestudio.co.nz/

Bringing back the art of brewing coffee – the Frankfurt from Grosche is a unique looking pour over coffee pot.

Grosche is a Canadian Social Enterprise on a mission to do good in the world.

They create products that elevate coffee making from technology to art, making barista quality coffee wares with modern designs.

•    ELEGANT & COMPLETE – The GROSCHE Frankfurt is a complete Pour-Over Coffee brewing system that lets you make the perfect cup of coffee, and looking beautiful doing it.
•    DURABLE – The coffee server that comes with Frankfurt is made of Borosilicate, Heat-Resistant Glass – giving you that added sense of durability and quality. This storage pot has a capacity of 600ml/20.3 fl. oz which is good for 2-3 cups.
•    ECO-FRIENDLY – The filter that sits atop the Frankfurt is made of 18-8 Stainless Steel and is reusable. This is certainly great for the environment and it will also save you money in the long run as you would no longer need to use one-time, disposable filters!
•    LIMITLESS – The Frankfurt is here to redefine Pour-Over Coffee. It is ideal for use in any environment including Kitchens, Offices, Outdoors, and various Work Spaces. Pick your area and give it a go!

Finally, the Spritz Acoustic Water Bottle
Price: $149.99
Gadget Guy Rating: 3 out of 5
Website: http://www.directimports.co.nz

Moving away from coffee gadgets, to another kind of refreshment; The Spritz is the world’s first rugged sports water bottle with an acoustically engineered HD wireless speaker.

The world’s smartest water bottle it comes with:
•    Live audio remastering
•    HD Wireless Speaker
•    App controls
•    Hydration tracker

Spritz is about incredible acoustics, It’s a wireless music player that’s designed and built with extremely advanced audio technology, then calibrated and tuned by a professional recording studio.

It delivers an unparalleled sonic range with almost 95dB of loudness.  That’s as loud as a jackhammer at 50 feet.

It can stream music from your smartphone via Bluetooth, or you can pop an SD card with your own MP3’s into the base of the device.

The Spritz comes with 2 downloadable apps. The first being a hydration app which will remind the user to hydrate at their predetermined intervals. The second app is an acoustic app which adjusts the sounds according to the listening environment to optimise the output for the very best sound quality.

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

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That’s Handy – spending time with the LG G Watch R Smartwatch

Let’s face it, most Smartwatches are as attractive to wear as a prison issued ankle bracelet. The new LG G Watch R, $479, however changes that. It’s the first Smartwatch available in New Zealand that looks like a classical watch with a fully usable circular OLED screen.

LG G Watch R

As good as it looks, the best thing about the G Watch R is the smooth functioning of the Android Wear voice controls.  Simply say “OK Google” and your watch will light up to take your voice prompts.

I used it as I was hurtling up the Northern Motorway over the Christmas break.  While traveling to the speed limit of 100km per hour, I said “Okay Google, navigate to Playtech”.  In under 5 seconds, the watch had interpreted my command, opened my smartphone (which was safely positioned in it’s dock) and initiated GPS navigation on the phone’s screen – and all of this happened without my hands leaving the steering wheel. Very cool.

More than just a watch, the LG G Watch is a smartphone companion with a built in heart rate sensor, accelerometer, compass and barometer.

In summary, whether you want to navigate, send a text message or record a voice memo; the G Watch R, paired with an Android phone, can do it all, while looking like a timepiece you would want to be seen wearing.

Website for more information: http://www.lg.com/nz.

Photos:

IMG_0759

How the watch looks on your wrist.  As you can see, it’s only ever so slightly bulky, but would pass for a “real” watch at a glance, except perhaps when the screen is darkened in power saving mode as shown.

IMG_0755

The watch comes with a dock which allows it to be recharged through a micro USB connection (shown here with the G Watch R and the LG G3 Android Phone).  During testing I found the watch would last at least two days before needing recharging though this would no doubt vary depending on usage.  Unlike other Smartwatches (Sony’s for example) the device you can’t plug a micro usb cable directly into it.
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December Gadget Roundup – the best new tech available today

Wow – what a year it has been in tech. In 2014 the Gadget Guy reviewed over a hundred cool toys and essential gadgets. We’ve covered everything from baby monitors to $100,000 cars and more smartphones, tablets and laptops than you can shake a stick at.

But don’t think that because it’s late December we are done.  Oh no, before we put the “On Holiday” sign on the door we’ve got the last great gadgets of the year for you to have a look at.

Read on to find out more about smart cars, a smart Teddy (really) and many more smart products…

Face Value

Washing your face by hand is so last century. People who know about skin care are lining up to get their hands on the Clarisonic Mia 2 facial sonic cleansing device, $225. Developed by scientists in Seattle a decade ago, the patented technology is used in beauty spas and dermatologists clinics. Rather than scrub the skin, Mia 2 oscillates back and forth at 300 movements per second, gently extracting impurities from the skin and freeing up your pores.

http://www.clarisonic.com/

mia2

Standing Start

If you are tied to your desk for a large part of the working week, you had better look out. Studies have shown that staying seated for long stretches of time may increase health risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

The Varidesk was developed to address the negative side-effects of being seated for too long. By using this standing desk for part of the work day, workers can increase their calorie burn and energy levels while at the same time increase their productivity.

The adjustable platform sits on top of a normal working desk. When you feel the need to stand, simply raise the Varidesk up using the convenient handles on either side. Simply reverse the process to return to a seated position.  It is an effective, affordable, easy-to-use height adjustable desk for both home and office.

Price: from $495

www.varidesk.co.nz

varidesk-pro-plus-lifestyle

Beaming Beemer

You’ve heard of find my iPhone? Well how about find my car? Vodafone and BMW have teamed up to fit most new 2015 models with a special Global SIM, allowing BMW to offer smart connected services and apps to drivers.

The Connected Drive smartphone app offers remote vehicle functionality, including features such as remote locking and unlocking, remote ventilation control and vehicle locator. The large range of smart services means your car can communicate directly with BMW so their technicians can remotely diagnose issues in the event of a vehicle malfunction.

http://www.bmw.co.nz/com/en/insights/technology/connecteddrive/2013/index.html

bmw-apps-04

Eye on the road

As a driver you just don’t know when you may have to dispute an incident. That’s where the Navman MiVue Drive, $349, comes in. The MiVue Drive is a dual purpose navigation system and dashcam drive recorder. It gives drivers turn by turn instructions, while the front facing camera records events occurring on the road. The recorder will capture accidents, road rage incidents, or even just scenic drives in 720p HD footage that can later be downloaded to a computer.

http://www.navman.co.nz/products/

MiVue Drive_Display

Teddy Calling

Stay in touch with family and friends with this Bluetooth enabled teddy. That’s right, a Bluetooth enabled teddy! Simply record your voice message on your smart device (iOS or Android) using the free Toy-Fi app. Then whether it’s in the next room or the next continent, the teddy will receive the message and signal its owner with a steady flashing of its illuminated heart. Squeeze the teddy’s paw to hear the message and once a message has been heard, children can record their own message and send it right back.

Price: $89.99

Website: https://www.mightyape.co.nz/product/Toy-Fi-Teddy

teddy-brown-front-2f7c90ede6dab78f0d400321b0099a17

 

A New Dimension

Who would have thought that 3D printers would have entered the mainstream so quickly? The XYZ Printing da Vinci 1.0 carries an $899 price tag and is practically as easy to use as a ‘standard’ printer. Once the printer is set up, you choose a design from an online database and press print; no technical knowledge or 3D software expertise is required. Despite its budget price, the printer creates smooth to touch products and models that don’t need sanding or any post-production work.

http://www.xyzprinting.co.nz/

da-vinci-1-1200x1200

Let There Be Light

Imagine having 5,000 hours of quality television content on tap that you can watch over broadband whenever you want. That’s the promise of Lightbox, Spark’s streaming video on demand service. For only $15 a month subscribers can watch the latest hit shows such as Orange is the New Black or settle in with old favourites like 30 Rock or Boston Legal. There is also a large range of children’s shows that will keep the young ones occupied and out of your hair.

www.lightbox.co.nz

Lightbox Homepage_sml

Snap Happy

Photo enthusiasts can rejoice in the news that the new Fujifilm X30, $939.99, has reached our shores. This premium digital pocket camera has one of the largest and fastest real time viewfinders in its class so you can see your subject with amazing clarity before you take each shot. It also has wireless smarts which allow you to remotely shoot images from a smartphone or tablet, using the FUJIFILM Camera Remote application. Just don’t forget to say cheese!

http://www.fujifilm.co.nz

 Fujifilm X30_Color_Variation

King of the Swing

This could be the secret weapon that takes your golf game to the next level. The Golfsense Pro, $119.99, is a gadget that sits unobtrusively on your glove and sends rich data about your swing to the phone in your pocket. The motion engine uses data from sensors to accurately calculate club speed, club position, swing tempo and swing path so you can adjust and improve your technique. It’s even smart enough to know the difference between a practice swing and one with actual ball contact.

http://www.mightyape.co.nz/

Mighty Ape GolfSense for iPod iPhone iPad and Android_RRP$199

Pull an Ollie

What does Ollie do? Well according to the internet, Ollie, $179.95, could be a concept “that inspires young inventors’ imaginations through a robot that is completely programmable.” Alternatively it could be seen as a “rad, new phenomenon in gaming, programmed for serious speed and big tricks that mirror those you’d see on a half-pipe or ramp.” So, in short, it’s a toy! But a slightly futuristic, quasi educational one that you can control through a smartphone app.

http://www.gosphero.com/ollie/

Ollie_4
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Gadget Roundup – Top Tech for Kiwi Springtime

In this month’s gadget roundup we’ve got a jumping drone, a premium hairdryer and a smartphone with a gnarly zoom lens, proving once again that the world of tech is constantly evolving.   To find out about these products and many more, read on…

 

Drone On

 Kids of all ages went gaga over the Parrot AR Drone but the relatively high price kept the enthusiasm in check. That’s not a problem for the new, Parrot Rolling Spider drone which clocks in at an affordable $149. This ultra-compact drone, controlled by a tablet or smartphone, flies indoors and outdoors with surprising speed and stability. Acrobatic tricks are available from the free app and you can even steam video from its integrated mini camera. It’s guaranteed to generate hours of fun as is its stablemate the Parrot Jumping Drone (pictured).

http://www.playtech.co.nz/afawcs0139234/CATID=1130/Parrot%20MiniDrones.html

ParrotJumpingSumo-B1 RS_RED_FrontView_Wheels_Sticker

Heart Beat

Gadgets that measure body movement are all the rage but this is one takes biometric measurement a step further. The TomTom Runner Cardio GPS sport watch, $399, has a built-in Heart Rate Monitor which accurately measures changes in blood flow in the wrist by shining light through the skin. As heart rate monitoring is the most accurate way to understand how the body is responding to exercise, runners can easily use the heart rate settings in this TomTom watch to improve their performance.

http://www.tomtom.com/sports

CARDIO_REDBLACK1L_HZ

Portable Sound

The Haka strikes fear into opposition teams but you don’t have to wait for the next big test to hear the All Blacks rousing challenge. This special, limited edition All Blacks UE Boom portable Bluetooth speaker, $299.90, sports the silver fern design and plays part of the Haka when you turn it on. Like the All Blacks the UE Boom is known for its power and ability to perform under all manner of extreme conditions.

http://www.ultimateears.com/en-nz/

Kora_FOB_ALL-BLACKS_R2_w_72_dpi

Zoom In

Most smartphone cameras are fine when you want to take a selfie, but they’re not so good for long distance photos. The Samsung Galaxy K Zoom, $799, solves this problem by packing a 10 X optical zoom lens into the rear of a flagship Galaxy smartphone. That means that you’ll always have a zoom camera with a 20.7 megapixel sensor at hand, allowing you to capture the moment whether it’s right in front of you or many metres away.

www.samsung.com/nz

samsung_galaxy_k_zoom_charcoal_black_10

Good Hair Day

When is a hairdryer not just a hairdryer? When it’s made by British brand ghd, makers of the iconic hair straightening irons, of course. The ghd aura, $300, promises to give salon quality results at home by virtue of its patented Laminair technology. This aligns hair in a single direction leaving it ultra-smooth and shiny. Meanwhile the Cool-Wall feature creates a ring of cool air around the hot air, so the user can get closer to the scalp for volume and increased root lift.

http://www.ghdhair.com/

 aura_stood CMYK HR

Laser Like Focus

LG may have launched the G3, $1049, their new global smartphone with the mantra “simple is the new smart” but this sleek phone is packed with sophisticated technology that puts it well ahead of the competition. The 5.5-inch Quad HD IPS display has four times the resolution of current HD smartphone screens while the 13MP camera has a revolutionary Laser Auto Focus system that shoots stunningly sharp images in a fraction of the time required by conventional phone cameras. Simply stunning.

www.lg.com/nz

 LG_G3_2

 Be Safe, Be Seen

Exercise is important at most times of the year, but if you’re running or cycling in the dark, it’s just as important to be seen. The Halo Belt 2.0, $55, is a reflective, fully adjustable belt that also emits a solid or flashing light. While it’s designed to be worn buckled around the waist, it is also commonly worn over the shoulder or even clipped around a backpack. The belt recharges quickly through a USB connection and is available in red, blue and green.

www.bellsandwhistles.co.nz

Vincent Pilot Ng Halo Belt 2.0 Blue

Game On

Serious gaming requires serious power, and the Asus G750, $3,599, is one of the most powerful gaming laptops currently on the market. The eye-catching design draws inspiration from stealth fighters, while the keyboard layout is ergonomically designed to give gamers greater comfort during long playing sessions. With specs that include a 17.3 inch screen and Nvidia’s most powerful graphics card yet, this 4.8kg powerhouse is a force to be reckoned with.

www.asus.co.nz

G750JH_Left_S_Open

Light Sleeper

Frequent business travellers know how off-putting jet lag can be. Re-Timer glasses, $395, promise to knock jet lag for six using the power of light therapy. All you have to do is wear Re-Timer glasses for 30-50 minutes a day for four days before you leave on a long-haul flight. The gentle exposure to the green light will gradually and naturally shift your sleeping pattern, so you can arrive feeling on the ball for that important business meeting.

www.nzrsi.health.nz

Retimer clear cut

Behave Yourselfie

The Fujifilm Instax Share, $246, is a wireless device that allows you to instantly print the special moments you’ve captured on your phone. The Instax share app lets you customise your image before sending it wirelessly to the printer. If you want a reminder of the date, time and even the temperature when each pic was taken, no worries; one of the templates allows you to add this to the image prior to processing. It’s one way of making sure each shot is a one of a kind.

http://www.fujifilm.co.nz

Fujifilm Instax SHARE

Streaming Sounds

 It’s a first world problem but a lot of homes have older speakers that can’t stream audio from modern wireless devices like tablets and smartphones. That’s where the Logitech Bluetooth Audio Adapter, $69.90, comes in. This small adapter connects to a speaker or hi-fi system through an RCA or 3.5mm input, instantly adding Bluetooth functionality. You then simply pair your phone to start sending big beats or classical compositions over the air. Problem solved.

www.logitech.com/en-nz

 Custom_format_BT_Adapter_BTY

Top Tablets

If you’re in the market for a new top-end tablet, you’re going to love the look of Samsung’s new Galaxy Tab S. The premium Android Tab S comes in two sizes, a 10.5-inch, starting at $749, and 8.4-inch version, $599. They are the first tablets to feature high-resolution Super Amoled screens and as a result images are brighter and more colourful than similarly priced tablets. Parents will love the “Kids Mode” feature which gives little ones a safe place to play and prevents them from deleting any of Mum or Dad’s apps.

www.samsung.com/NZ

[Image] Galaxy Tab S 10.5-inch_5

 

Content created by John Buckley, orginally published in KiaOra Magazine, published by Bauer Media, 2014.

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Gadget Round Up – Cool Stuff for August

Sony’s new smartphone, Samsung’s smart washing machine and a beanie with a bluetooth headset built into the seam; this months selection of gadgets is nothing if not diverse.  Read on for more gadget summaries from my contributions to KiaOra Magazine and FMCG Business.

A Glass Act

The new Xperia Z2 from Sony, $1049.95, is more than just a phone, its waterproof body also contains one of the world’s best phone cameras and camcorders.

With a 20.7 megapixel camera that captures memories in stunning detail and a camcorder that can record 4K, ultra high definition video, this phone sits happily atop the premium end of the Android market.

The one piece aluminium frame with glass panels and stunning 5.2 inch tri-luminous display only reinforce its premium appeal.

Website: www.sony.co.nz
Sony Z2

Fab Front Loader

Looking like it has dropped into our world from some future laundry, Samsung’s Crystal Blue Washing machine, $3,499, comes with a load of smarts to keep gadget fans happy.

The Smart Control system lets users remotely control and monitor the washer using an app on their smartphone. So, whether you are inside or outside the home, you can instantly start or pause a cycle, get information on remaining cycle-time as well as notifications when the wash is complete. It’s the way washing should be.

www.samsung.com/nz
Samsung WW10H9600EW_005_Dynamic_White

Make Flossing Fun
Dental hygiene is important, and now the Philips Sonicare Airfloss, $199.95, makes flossing so easy, there’s really no excuse to not have it as part of your oral hygiene routine.
The AirFloss device makes flossing easier and more efficient than using traditional string.  It uses microburst technology that delivers a quick burst of air and water through a nozzle guidance tip to clean between teeth, dislodging hard to remove food and forcing plaque and bacteria out.  Best of all it only takes one minute and one teaspoon of water to complete a flossing session.
Website: www.philips.co.nz/e/oralhealthcare
Philips Sonicare AirFloss

The Bluetooth Beanie
The BE Headwear Bluetooth beanie, $69, gives you the freedom to enjoy your music on the go without worrying about wires.
The beanies come in wide range of fashion styles and sizes but one thing they all have in common is a little bit of technology sewn into the seam – a Bluetooth receiver connected to two speakers and a microphone. With it you can talk on the phone or listen to music, changing tracks and adjusting the volume, all wirelessly.

Website: www.winterimports.co.nz
justrrightwhitesidesmall

Third time’s a charm

Microsoft had two previous cracks at computing’s Holy Grail, trying to make a portable tablet that can fully replace a business laptop.  With the Surface Pro 3, $1,199 to $2,829, they may have finally done it.

This Windows tablet has a large, 12” ClearType full HD display, a continuously adjustable kickstand, a faster processor, upgraded cameras and an improved type cover (which costs an additional $199).  The Surface Pro 3 is made for people who need one great device for work and play, for entertainment and for getting things done.

Website: www.microsoft.co.nz
SurfacePro3Primary_Print

Extreme Selfies

The WizMount CU2 backpack for GoPro, $239.90, makes extreme over the shoulder camera angles a reality for adventurous filmers.

The pack’s little secret is the in-built extendable camera pole mount for capturing high-intensity action sports video, making it perfect for snowboarding, motocross or even mountain biking.

The pack adjusts to any position and holds your GoPro (not included) securely at any angle.

Website: www.thecollectorsco.com

WiZmount CU2 Backpack

 

Ruggedly Handsome

Panasonic intends to make worklife a lot easier with the release of the all new Toughpad FZ-M1, the thinnest and lightest rugged 7” fanless tablet with an Intel Corei5 processor available today.

This business tablet runs Windows 8.1 Pro and can be customised to meet the needs of highly mobile professionals in a variety of markets such as field services and sales, retail, supply chain and logistics, and government.

The high visibility, daylight-readable display features an anti-reflective treatment, making it ideal for outdoor use while an optional stylus is available for signature capture and similar applications.

The Toughpad is built for easy integration into existing IT infrastructures for smooth deployments with ongoing support.

Price: Starts at $3170 plus gst for the base model and increases depending on configuration.

Website: http://www.panasonic.co.nz/products/business-solutions/toughbook/

Panasonic FM Z1

Light the iBeacons

These small devices are at the front of the latest technological wave to hit retail.

Beacons are essentially low-power, low-cost transmitters that trigger notifications on peoples smartphones when they come into range, anywhere from a few centimetres to 10 metres away.

The makers of the Estimote beacon, just one of many companies using the technology developed by Apple, say the opportunities to interact with consumers are endless citing proximity marketing and indoor navigation through to contactless payments for a start.

Estimote beacons currently being piloted with some of the largest retailers in the USA and Europe but Kiwi retailers can easily pick up beacon development kits online.

Price: Three for $US99 plus shipping. Development and app production costs are additional.
Website: http://estimote.com/

Estimote

Smart Snapper

Sony launched the original RX100 in 2012 to immediate worldwide acclaim.  Reviewers could barely believe the quality of images produced by the pocket sized camera.

This year’s model, itself an upgrade to last years mark 2, has a few new tricks up its lightweight aluminium sleeve.

It sports the same large 1 inch sensor as the previous models, however it also has a speedier image processor, an uprated lens, a retractable electronic viewfinder and a 180 degree tilting LCD. A newly-added 4K still image output also allows photo viewing on 4K TVs.

Enthusiastic snappers will relish the high quality images, whether you’re capturing portraits with blurred backgrounds or night time city shots.

The Cyber-shot™ RX100 Mk III compact digital camera from Sony will be available in New Zealand from mid-June at around $1299.

Website: www.sony.co.nz/product/dsc-rx100m3

RX100

Ahead of the curve

Samsung’s new curved, ultra-high definition televisions should come with a warning because once you’ve experienced the amazing viewing experience, it’s hard to settle back into real life.

The curve has been engineered to deliver the best picture quality from the average living room watching distance of three to four meters. The viewer experiences optimal peripheral vision and an immersive feeling of depth. On top of Ultra High Definition delivers detail four times greater than HD, enveloping viewers in spectacular colour, clarity and detail.

Cleverly, Samsung has also future proofed the experience.  The “brains” of the TV come in a detachable Evolution Kit, allowing you to upgrade your TV in subsequent years with a simple component purchase.

Price: HU9000, from $5,999 for the 55” model (65” and 78” also available).’
Website: www.samsung.com/nz

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Points of Note

The Livescribe 3 smartpen is the fastest way to make handwritten notes useful on a tablet or smartphone.

With the weight and feel of a premium ballpoint pen, the Livescribe pen has a tiny camera built in just behind the nib.  It essentially sees what you are writing, digitises it and sends it to your iPhone or iPad on the fly, creating a backup version of your notes which can be converted to plain text at the swipe of a finger.

In addition, the Livescribe 3 uses your phone or tablet’s microphone to create audio notes linked to written ones. That’s quite handy for students or business people who may need to listen back to hear what was being said at the time the note was taken.

The Livescribe 3 smartpen is available in New Zealand from www.smartpen.co.nz and preferred IT resellers for NZD 249 (inc GST), including a sleek black-and-chrome smartpen and 50-sheet Starter Notebook, as well as a micro USB charging cable and a black tungsten carbide medium-tip ink cartridge.
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Dinner by Josh Emmet

With many wintery nights ahead it is the perfect time to be entertaining at home, and who better to help you with this task than Masterchef Judge and restauranteur Josh Emmet.

The new business venture is – www.mastermatch.co.nz – an interactive food and wine pairing website.
Josh has selected some of New Zealand’s best wines and created a recipe that is matched specifically to each wine. Inspiration can be found from going straight to the website and then shopping – or better yet, each Master Match wine has a Josh Emett Master Match sticker and QR code. By scanning the QR code on your phone or iPad/tablet you are taken straight to the recipe matched to the wine. So when you are at the supermarket you can choose wine and have a recipe in the palm of your hands.

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Google

Introducing the BMW ZZZ series – the ultimate sleeping machine for babies

BMW New Zealand today announced a world first with the BMW ZZZ series cot, a high performance sleeping machine designed by automotive engineers for babies.

Skilfully blending comfort and style, this innovative premium baby cot embodies the spirit of The Ultimate Driving Machine. A fusion of German engineering and advanced technology means your baby will sleep better, for longer, in safety and comfort.

BMW

Photo: The BMW ZZZ series being announced on Breakfast this morning.

Video: The official press video from http://www.bmwzzz.co.nz

Here are the specs for the New Zealand market.  The device costs $899 for the base model with further modifications available.

1000mm long, 750mm wide and 1000mm in height, the ZZZ Series’ compact dimensions deliver a strikingly spacious feel on the inside, giving your baby a premium nursery experience.
Versatility, design, and functionality, the BMW ZZZ Series is packed with features:

• 4 custom Ultimate Sleeping Drive-Motion settings
o City drive
o Open road
o Race track
o Off-road

• Customised Engine Sound Selector allows you access to the engine sounds of the entire BMW range

• Customised volume control delivers realistic engine noise simulation

• BMW ZZZ Series Smart Device App features:
o Integrated push button start
o The Ultimate Driving Simulation program selector
o A moisture detection sensor alerts parent via app
o In-situ Cot-Cam or remote viewing
o Integrated climate control
o Custom coloured LED hood light ambiance selector

• Lightweight military-grade carbon fibre moulding

• Multi-phase high-tensile steel in a single-joint spring strut axle concealed in the base for agile suspension and directional precision, for superior handling and stability

• Custom premium leather interior colour selector

• Trademark BMW kidney grill integration

• Customised Colour Match System for synergy with your BMW

• M Sport upgrade available

The BMW ZZZ Series is ideal for parents with new families. As is the all-new BMW 2 Series Active Tourer. With its elevated seating position, variable rear-seat bench, expandable truck space, and generous legroom, it’s The Ultimate Driving Machine for all new families.
You can take your little one for a test drive when it arrives in October and experience the comfort and safety of the all-new BMW 2 Series Active Tourer.

34 great gift ideas for Christmas 2013

Thanks to the Christmas Clock I can tell you there are only 34 shopping days until Christmas.  Eek! You’d best get onto the gift shopping then.  But where to start?  Well you could do worse than check out my Christmas Gadget Gift Guide for 2013.

Music:

Everybody loves music and there are plenty of cool music gadgets out there to help you enjoy your favourite sounds.  The UE Boom from Logitech has to be one of the must-have gadgets for the summer.  Not only does it sound great, it’s portable, rechargeable, waterproof and you can pair two together to increase the acoustics. This device will easily last for the best part of a day on one charge from a micro USB cable.  It is priced at $299 but shop around and you’ll get it for less than that. Staying with bluetooth sound, the Wowee One Pro is a neat device that pairs with Bluetooth compatible devices, providing you with a portable and fixed audio connection.  This little device can transform into a hands-free speakerphone for in car calls. The audible caller ID function lets you know who’s on the line while your listening to your music. Another recognisable name in audio Sony also has a great range of sound products.  My pick for personal audio is The 4GB waterproof MP3 Walkman.  It weighs little more than a standard set of earbuds yet can store thousands of songs and it’s waterproof, meaning you can complete many laps in the pool while listening to your favourite beats.  It’s also a steal at just $99.95.

Tablets:

Speaking of Sony,  the Tablet Xperia Z got great reviews this year and if you already have a relatively recent Sony TV this device will interact with it seamlessly. There are a lot of tablets to choose from this year.  Of course Apple have released two new models just in time for Christmas, the iPad Air and the latest iPad Mini. Also just released are the new Microsoft Surface tablets (the Surface 2 and the new Surface Pro).  What I really like about the Surface 2 is that it comes pre-installed with working versions of Microsoft Office. As long as you get a touch cover to go with it you’ll find this a very productive tablet (great for students or business people traveling between meetings). This week LG announced it’s re-entry into the tablet market with the LG G Pad 8.3 tablet, the latest addition to its G Series lineup of premium mobile devices. The new LG G Pad 8.3 has the first Full HD display on an 8-inch class tablet and wide range of connectivity features for a price of $599. Throughout the year I’ve been using the budget HP Slate 7 as a travel companion and at $229 it’s a relatively safe buy for younger members of the family.

SmartPhones:

The smartphone market has begun to mature and manufacturers now seem to push the software features as much as the hardware.  You’ll need to decide for yourself what size screen you want etc. but here are a few recommendations.  The new iPhones are out. The pricey iPhone 5S is a super-smart piece of machinery and I liked the Touch ID sensor more than I thought I would.  Still I would have preferred NFC to fingerprint recognition as a feature.  The colourful 5C variety promises two hours more battery life and if you like to customise your phone with colourful cases, this is the phone for you.  The most recent Android phone I’ve got my hands on is the LG G2.  With a big 5.2 inch HD screen, a 13mp camera and a 3,000 mhz battery and snappy processor, this phone is powerful.  Like the Samsung Galaxy range it has great specs and like the Apple range it comes in a sealed body (so no adding SD cards or swapping batteries with this one).  Talking about Samsung, if you’re a leading edge tech geek then you’re probably looking to add a smart watch, namely the Galaxy Gear,  to your personal gadget arsenal.  When it came out you could only use it with the Note 3 phablet, but Samsung has since started adding support for the S4, the S3 and the Galaxy Note 2.  Handy if you like taking calls and snapping pics from your wrist.  The best waterproof phone I tested this year was the Xperia Z1.  How it manages to have an open headphone jack and yet stay waterproof I don’t know, but it does.  Plus, it has an incredible camera with a range of software features that you’d expect from a standalone video camera. All of these phones have a price tag around $1,000. For something a wee bit cheaper, yet apparently able to give you super powers, you might want to check out Huawei’s Ascend P2.  It is only 8.4mm, making it super slim with an infinity edge and a 4.7-inch HD touch display at a reasonable price point of $599.

Health and Fitness:

While the point of this column is to talk about Christmas gifts, we all know that New Years rolls along very quickly after Yuletide, bringing with it the annual resolution list.  If you’ve eaten more than your weight in turkey and pudding, losing weight might be one of these resolutions.  The TomTom multi sport watch can probably help.  Not only does it track your runs and bike rides with GPS, it can record swimming distances too (thankfully it is fully waterproof). There’s only one thing more fun than exercising, and that’s sharing tour exercise stories with everybody afterwards.  Also getting into the smart sport watch market is Adidas.  The superior $600 miCoach SMART RUN packs a host of smarts into one wrist watch.  You can use it to track runs using the GPS mapping, set a personalised training schedules and monitor your heart rate while listening to your favourite music beamed wirelessly to compatible headphones – snazzy eh? While GoPro is fast becoming the generic term for sports video recording, Sony does a nice job too with its Action Cam.  If you want to be able to show those you’ve left in your wake there’s the ATC Chameleon cam which has a front and rear mounted lens. Those two viewing angles should amount to double the drama on the replay.

For the kids: 

I reviewed last years LeapPad 2 kids educational tablet and know a certain little someone who LOVES it a lot.  This year you can buy the LeapPad Ultra which has wi-fi, a rechargeable battery and a larger screen. This may make it more appealing to kids who have outgrown the LeapPad 2 but aren’t quite ready to use an iPad (with all of that relatively unfettered access to the internet and premium apps available etc).  Half way between the LeapPad and the iPad though is the SmarTab which is designed to keep kids entertained and educated.  The SmarTab Junior Tablet is designed specifically for children aged four and up and provides straight out of the box entertainment that they can start using immediately. Just power it on and they can start reading Spiderman comics, playing Sugar Rush or learning their ABC’s straight away. The $249 tablet is pre-loaded with over 50 books, educational apps and popular Disney and Marvel games, including Wreck-it-Ralph, Spiderman and Mickey Mouse.  If you do let your kids use an iPad I highly recommend the new Crayola range of  iPad Digitool apps and accessories.  Each kit has some some really cool handheld tools which you use with an ipad app to create designs and images that can be saved in an image gallery to email off to friends or print off at home. The different packs include a 3D tool kit to create eye-popping stand out designs, airbrush tools for spray art designs, glitter and metallic pens. Please note the iPad itself is not included!  Hitting the shelves with its third generation is the popular console game Skylanders Swap Force.  If the kids in your household have played previous instalments “Spyros Adventures” and “Giants” you’ll be familiar with the setup.  Collectable characters can be inserted into the game through a “portal of power” but this time you can swap bits of characters to add new powers. Sounds like fun!

For the home:

For some reason, this year I got to test a lot of gadgets for the home.  My wife certainly appreciated all of the vacuuming and food preparation I carried out for my segment on Breakfast.  So if you do feel brave enough to buy anybody a household product as a Christmas gift, these are the ones that carry the Gadget Guy seal of approval.  The $2,3000 Kenwood cooking chef is a top notch food mixer with a conduction heating plate, allowing you to mix and cook at the same time.  After a little accident at home (full cup of coffee meets light coloured carpet) I can tell you I have hands on experience with Bissell’s the Little Green.This waterproof vac acts like an emergency carpet cleaning unit for when accidents happen and your carpet needs quick action.  I’m guessing a lot of these spills happen around the festive season.  The vac has two chambers, one with carpet cleaner or treating the spill and one to capture all the moisture the unit vacuums up before stains set in.  If you love tasty food but hate fat, the Philips AirFryer might be the gadget for you. Philips has created a new fast and healthier way of cooking. Powered by the unique Rapid Air Technology, the Airfryer can bake, grill, roast and fry with little or no oil – yummy fries can be cooked in 12 minutes with up to 80% less fat according to Philips.

For the gaming geek:

There are plenty of options what with the launch of the latest generation of consoles from Sony and Microsoft.  One accessory that piqued my interest was the Plantronics gaming rig.  The gamer in my household likes to keep in touch with his mates via Skype while playing GTA V and this phone-jack/gaming headset lets you take calls and keep playing.

Cameras:

It might be worth talking about an unusual solution – the Kaiser Baas R1 car camera.  2013 seemed to be the year of in car camera footage thanks to the amazing captured footage of events like the Russian meteorite crash in February and footage of a 747 falling from the sky near Bagram. Whether it’s an accident, incident or a fun road trip, the R1 Car Camera is designed to record everything that happens while you drive. I reviewed a number of great cameras this year.  The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 is a premium interchangeable lens DSLR camera, built for people who have high standards when it comes to imaging.  Its retro good looks and tiltable viewfinder are obvious style cues on the outside while the range of simple menu and software options give you infinite control over your output.  For fans of Digital SLR, Canon has a new intermediate level system to choose from. The Canon EOS 700D has an interchangeable lens and incredible smarts, for example continuous auto focus when recording video and an LCD screen with touch screen controls. It’s easy to use and produces vastly superior shots when compared to a smartphone (even if the “selfie” has been crowned the word of the year).

In summary, don’t forget, Christmas is not all about buying the latest and greatest gadget.  Spend time with the ones you love first, then, when you’re tired of that, you can retreat to a corner to play with your shiny new toys!  Merry Christmas everybody.

Google

One very attractive family – the full Sony range for 2013/14

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been virtually drowning in Sony goodness.  The Japanese electronics giant not only released the smooth and shiny Tablet Z for review, they also threw in the new NEX-6 compact system camera to record it on.  Then the mobile division managed to provide some “hot off the press” units of the new Xperia Z1 smartphone which had just been announced at IFA 2013.

As if all that weren’t enough, Sony NZ then held an open house and showcased their upcoming products, from 4K TV’s, through portable boom boxes, action video cameras and head mounted 3D viewing screens all the way through to the unique and innovative QX100 lens cameras. Phew!

All of this goes to show one thing, Sony is not sitting back in the face of stiff competition from the likes of Samsung and Apple.  They have upped their game with some very desirable technology and applied some much needed consistency to their product family.

We don’t have time to cover off all of the above so in this post I’ve included two video reviews (for the tablet and new smartphone) and a few images from the open home event.  Hopefully this gives you a taste of what you’ll find in your local Sony store (or in leading electronics shops nationwide) and I encourage you to go in and have some hands on time with any of the products that take your fancy.

This photo: If you want to show people how loud your car stereo is, this is the perfect venue. (Sony Open Home at Orams Marine Village, Auckland)

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Photo: A first hands on with the innovative QX100 lens camera. Yes that’s an Xperia Z1 Android phone, and that zoom lens on the front? Well yes that is the lens camera which transmits the photo to the phone by wifi direct.

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(more photos after the jump).

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