Friday 19 January 2018

Weckler on Technology: What's hot this week

Dyson Cinetic DC54
Dyson Cinetic DC54
D-Link DCS-7010L HD Mini Bullet Cloud Camera
LG G3 smartphone
Equil Smartpen
Breffo smartphone mount/holder
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Dyson Cinetic DC54 Price: €550 Rating: ****

Being a thoroughly modern man, I have developed an appreciation for some of the finer domestic appliances. But whereas aspirational types might describe themselves as Miele Men, I cannot resist some of the technical jiggery-pokery that Dyson throws into its (fairly high-end) vacuum devices.

I also love that it strives to make my life a little easier. The company's latest Cinetic DC54 model is a case in point. It's not just the cyclone technology or the reconfigured carbon-fibre turbinehead. It's not the tangle-free turbine tool or articulating hard floor tool. No, it's the fact that the damn thing is basically maintenance free. With this thing, there are no bags to buy and – crucially – no need to clean the filters for 10 years. When you have a large, world-record-at-shedding dog like I do, this is a technical miracle.

D-Link DCS-7010L HD Mini Bullet Cloud Camera Price: €370 Rating: ***

CCTV used to be a messy, technical business. It involved 'technicians' in vans with overalls. These days, most people can install a security camera themselves. D-Link's 'Mini Bullet' model allows you to control and view it from any web-connected devices. It records footage to a Micro SD memory card (which sells for as little as €15) and is fairly weatherproof too. The camera has a one-megapixel sensor. By comparison to consumer cameras, this doesn't sound like much. But it's enough to take clear pictures in darkness or light.

LG G3 Price: not yet confirmed Rating: untested

I think LG mobile devices are the most underrated on the market at present. In the last 18 months, I haven't come across a dud phone or tablet made by the Korean manufacturer and the Nexus 5 (branded as Google but made by LG) is one of the best euro-for-euro smartphones you can get.

Now, the manufacturer is about to raise the bar with its new 5.5-inch G3 phone. The handset's main boast is 534 pixels per inch (2,560 x 1,440 pixels), which blows all rivals (including the iPhone 5S and Samsung Galaxy S5) out of the water in terms of screen resolution. With this kind of display, the G3 could act as a tablet-killer. Otherwise, the phone will include 32GB of internal storage memory, 3GB of Ram and a 3,000mAh battery aimed at getting through a full day's use.

The phone is expected to be waterproof, too, although I've never seen the need for this feature. The G3 will be launched at the end of the month.

Breffo smartphone mount/holder Price: €24 (including postage) Rating: ****

Week three of the great mobile phone car crackdown and thousands have now been stopped by guards for "using their hands" in connection to their phone. While Bluetooth headsets or dashboard speakers are one potential solution, most don't offer a screening element.

In other words, you don't know who's calling when all you have is the option of taking or rejecting the call. Breffo's Spiderpodium is a clever way of mounting your smartphone on the heating grill of your car's dashboard. It's a simple idea, with a bendable wire frame covered by rubber. Eight 'legs' allow you to cradle your phone in four of them, while using the other four to fix the phone into the grill. (Bear in mind that under Irish law, it is still illegal to touch the screen display for any reason.)

The gadget can also be used to hold a phone on the frame of a bike or as a mini-stand for your phone on a desk. Very handy.

Equil Smartpen Price: €150 Rating: ***

Smartpens are a little like wearable fitness gadgets. You initially adopt them with tons of enthusiasm but often relegate them to some storage drawer after six weeks. The idea behind Equil's rechargeable Smartpen is that a small computer on the pen records what you write (on any paper), digitally transferring the notes for perusal on a phone, tablet or PC (via a cloud app).

A back-up program can even attempt to translate your scribbles into editable text. So far, so good.

The problem is that my writing is just too poor (and too fast) to be reliably transcribed. And because it won't translate into digital text, the notes are of very limited use to me. This may not be the case for other users, however: if you have a neat hand and still take lots of notes using pens, this might be worth a go.

Irish Independent

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