Weckler On Tech: Touchscreen laptop avoids the usual tosh
Toshiba Satellite Radius 11 - Price: €450 - Rating: ****: When touchscreen laptop hybrid devices first came out, they were clunky, awkward and expensive. Today, it's a generally improved scenario and Toshiba's Satellite Radius 11 is a good example of why.
The budget machine packs modest power (4GB Ram, Intel Celeron chip) and has an old-fashioned (500GB) hard drive instead of a sleek, battery-extending solid state drive. But it's nicely designed with a good keyboard. And its touchscreen tablet function works fine.
Moreover, the hinge that allows the screen to become a streaming stand means that this doubles as an effective Netflix device, even if the 1366x768 screen is a little so-so compared to more expensive devices, such as Microsoft's Surface Pro machines. It's not a featherweight, at around 2kg.
While I think most people still scratch their heads when it comes to 12-inch Windows touchscreens, this is a decent option for those on a budget.
More megapixels for latest mid-range Canons
Canon Eos 760D - Price: €850 (body only) - Rating: n/a
Canon introduced a couple of new cameras last week. While most attention might be on the semi-pro (50-megapixel) 5DS, it is the 750D and 760D that will become most visible to Irish camera users.
The 24-megapixel 760D has similar specifications to the 750D (Digic 6 processor, flip-out touchscreen and wifi) except that it also has a top LCD panel. I find this feature useful so, for me, it's worth the extra €60 over the 750D. Available in Ireland by April.
Smart homes get that light bulb moment
WeMo smart LED lightbulb - Price: €30 from Harvey Norman - Rating: *****
We've all been banging on about 'future smart homes' for years now. But it's gadgets like Nest's thermostat and WeMo's new light bulb that prove it is finally, genuinely arriving in our three-bed semi-D's. A sub-brand of Belkin, WeMo's bulb lets you switch on or off from your phone, regardless of whether you are away from the house.
The bulb connects to your home wifi and, through this, can be controlled through an accompanying WeMo app on your phone. This is very straightforward to use and, among other things, allows you to time the bulb's luminescence according to sunrise and sunset times. The only caveat is that this is a screw-in bulb and won't work with some of the basic, older light fittings that many still have in their homes.
Budget headphones hit right note
Sennheiser HD 203 - Price: €40 Rating: ****
"What is a decent new overhead set that doesn't cost a fortune and gives good sound?" This is the most common question I get about headphones.
While Sony and Monster would have a good shout for possible candidates, Sennheiser's HD 203 phones are currently one of the better sets you can buy for under €50. They're relatively comfortable, with decent cushioning in the headband and on the earpieces. And the sound quality is genuinely good. It comes with a three-metre cable (wireless headphones cost a lot more).
The phablet that comes with a mini-me
Alcatel One Touch Pop Mega - Price: €250 - Rating: n/a
Depending on how you use a smartphone, you'll either think that Alcatel's One Touch Pop Mega is a brilliant or a pathetic idea. I'd lean more toward the former.
The main phone is a six-inch Android phablet (a little bigger than an iPhone 6 Plus) with most everything you'd expect. But it comes with a 'Buddy' device, which is a basic second button-dial handset that connects wirelessly to the larger phone (but doesn't have its own separate sim card).
The idea is that you can use this one for basic texts and calls, reserving the larger device for real smartphone activities. Doesn't this seem logical? As a bonus, the whole thing costs less than half what other 6-inch phablets cost.