Gadgets for a new year
New year, new beginnings. The start of a brand new year generally brings eager anticipation of the future, and while you still can’t buy a hoverboard, we have a handful of cool gadgets that will make your daily routine – both at home and away – easier and even more fun.
The Amazon Echo is literally a Bluetooth speaker that you can talk to. Seven microphones and beam-forming technology ensure that it can hear you from across the room, so it’s almost like calling out to your personal assistant to add something to your to-do list. Except this time it’s Alexa you’re talking to, the cloud-based brain behind Echo that adapts to your speech patterns and learns your personal preferences the more you use it. Echo uses a 2-inch tweeter, a 2.5-inch woofer, and an elongated reflex port for omni-directional audio, and it’ll change its tunes at your command and even look up something on Wikipedia for you.
XIAOMI NINEBOT MINI
If ever there was a mini Segway, this is it. The Ninebot Mini is a knee-high, self-balancing scooter that will have you trundling along in no time. It uses Ninebot’s own Leansteer technology to detect the movements of the rider’s legs and change direction accordingly. It has a modest range of 22km on a single charge and a 16km/h top speed. On top of that, its IP54 rating means that it can withstand light drizzles, so you can take it out to the park and scoot around. It’s best to use it on the official bike paths though, as it can handle a maximum incline of just 15°.
COIN ALL-IN-ONE CREDIT CARD
If you’re not on board with Apple Pay or Android Pay yet, this all-in-one credit card could still help you leave your plastic at home. It consolidates all your debit and credit cards in one place, and even does the same for gift, loyalty, and membership cards. The card can hold up to eight cards at any one time, but it is meant to be paired with the Coin mobile app, which can store an unlimited number of cards. Coin works with any card with magnetic stripe data and the Coin app keeps track of the device’s last known location – a handy feature if you ever misplace it.
GOOGLE ON HUB WIRELESS ROUTER
This particular router wants to make network connectivity woes a thing of the past. It features 13 antennas arranged in a circular pattern (one dedicated to measuring network congestion), and will automatically switch between different Wi-Fi channels to get the strongest signal. The best part is that you don’t need to access a browser-based router configuration page to set it up – everything can be done through an iOS or Android app called Google On. The app even helps you troubleshoot problems, shows you if someone is leeching onto your Wi-Fi, and allows you control over your router even if you’re miles away.
WITHINGS ACTIVATÉ STEEL
Here’s a fitness tracker that actually looks like a decent dress watch. It pairs with your phone via Bluetooth and then tracks your steps and sleep cycles. A small hand on the watch face indicates your daily progress so you know how much you have left to your goal. It is also water-resistant up to a depth of 50m, and it can automatically detect when you are swimming to track your activity. The Activaté Steel is powered by a standard watch battery but it consumes so little power that the battery is good for up to eight months.