The Coolest Gadgets in 2014
Gadgets are taking over our lives. Some people might consider that scary, but in my view there is nothing more fun then getting the small, shiny electronic device to make tasks easier, and expand our possibilities. Of course expensive new cameras, tablets and huge HDTVs are great, but it is often the smaller, cheaper inventions that show real innovation.
Below are some of the fairly modestly priced gadgets that I think are well worth considering, either for yourself, or as a gift to another technophile. What is quite striking about them, is that many of them help with the gadgets that you already have.
The Google Chromecast Streams Media from All Devices to Your TV
The Chromecast is yet another step in Google's quest for world domination. The idea behind it is quite simple, plug it into your HDTV, connect to your wifi network, and you can stream data from other devices, your smartphone, laptop, or tablet.
Obviously the main application for this is fro watching movies. The Chromecast supports many of today's sources of video. Whether you get your movies, or TV series from netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO GO, or Pandora, this little gadget will allow you, to stream the media onto your television set. It also works with YouTube, unsurprising since Google owns it. At the moment it does not work with Amazon Instant video.
It supports iOS and android devices, and any content that can be displayed in the Chrome browser on Macs or Windows (Windows 7 and 8). This means that you are not just limited to watching movies, you can stream your flickr photos onto the big screen, or show an online presentation. Useful if you want to share your photos or data with a larger group of people.
One warning is that you need to have a good wifi connection for this to work well. You can imagine how painful it would be to stream a movie with a slow router.
This is currently the #1 electronics seller on Amazon. Not a huge surprise given what it can do for the low price.
Wearable electronics are the new rage, and Pebble probably makes the most stylish, and useful smartwatch. You do have to be aware of the limitations of smart watches, although they can alert you if you've got a call or a text, and the caller ID, you will not actually receive the call on the watch. Your phone is not quite obsolete yet. Some people have been disappointed in that.
However, if like me, you often miss calls because you simply don't hear them, or you don't carry them around with you all the time, a smartwatch can be a great idea. It also allows you to discretely check who is calling, without having to take out your phone when you are with other people, or in an important meeting.
Possibly the greatest usefulness of the Pebble, in my view, comes from its other functions, like being able to change the music you're listening to on your iPhone through iTunes or spottily, without having to take the phone out. If you like to listen to music while running, or in the gym, or when getting your hands dirty with some DIY, this function becomes invaluable. It is much faster to do it on your watch, rather than stopping to get the phone out, or having to wash your hands (the Pebble Smartwatch is waterproof, so there is no danger in getting it wet or dirty).
The Pebble works with iOS and android phones. You can download a host of other applications for it, including different "faces" so it fits in with your style.
An iPhone Charger Case
One of the things that is definitely inferior in iPhones, compared to old style dumb cell phones, is how often it needs to be recharged. Heavy users often find they can't get through a day, without having to "feed" their phone.
The answer is the Morphie Juice Pack, which not only protects the phone, but allows you to carry extra battery charge for it. You recharge it together with your phone. A simple button switches it from a simple case to a charger. When your phone is fully charged switch the charging function off, when the charge gets to around 20%, flip the switch, and all of a sudden your iPhone has a lot more battery to use.
One slightly inconvenient aspect is that charging happens consecutively rather than simultaneously, so it takes twice as long to recharge both the case and the phone. However, if you usually recharge overnight, this shouldn't be a major problem.
Kill Germs without Bleach
If you are worried about the germs in your surroundings (your phone, laptop, communal areas at work, often have more germs on them than a toilet bowl), this little device will keep your surroundings clean without having to resort to chemicals.
The CleanWave Wand uses UV light to kill germs on hard surfaces. It also apparently kills dust mites, although that takes longer. Very useful to keep children's toys, bathroom fixtures, table tops and other surfaces germ free.
Help with Lost Keys
We all know the frustration of losing our keys, TV remote and other everyday item. I'm sure everybody's had times when they were running around the house, aware that they were going to be late, but unable to leave because they'd misplaced the keys.
With Cick 'N Dig! you just attach a receiver to your keychain, or other items that you tend to lose, and then find it through the wireless RF remote. The items will beep loudly when 'called'. The signal is strong enough to penetrate, even if the object is under a pile of bedding.
The only frustrating aspect of this system, is that there is no easy way of finding the Item Locator Remote if you misplace it.