Gadgets Weekly: Redmi K20, Oppo Reno, ZenBook and more

Several tech majors such as Amazon, Apple, Xiaomi, and Oppo, among others unveiled a new line of phones, laptops, music players and accessories in India, as well as global markets.

DH lists a prominent product that made their debut this week (May 26-June 1):

Black Shark 2 
Xiaomi-backed Black Shark made their debut in India with the launch of flagship gaming phone Black Shark 2.
It sports a 6.39-inch full HD+ display with 19.5:9 aspect ratio and in-display fingerprint sensor.

On the back, it flaunts eye-catching chiselled textured shell case, resembling an armoured tanker and most importantly offers good grip for hands to hold on to the phone while playing a game.

Inside, Black Shark 2 is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 octa-core backed by Andreno 640 graphics engine and to control the overheating, the company has incorporated Liquid Cooling 3.0 technology. It is based on Tower-wide global liquid cooling system that utilises liquid-cooled plate and liquid-cooled tube, which will be covered on all components that are susceptible to overheating under heavy processing particularly while playing graphics-rich games. It is capable of reducing the CPU’s core temperature by up to 14° C, the company claims.

It also boasts a feature-rich 48MP+12MP (with Samsung sensors) dual-camera on the back and a 20MP selfie snapper on the front.
Other stipulated features include Android Pie OS, 6GB RAM/12GB RAM, 128GB/256GB (UFS 2.1) storage and comes with 4,000mAh battery, which is more than enough to keep the phone running for a full day under mixed usage. It also supports 27W fast charging Type C port.
The new Black Shark 2 come in two options– 6GB RAM + 128GB storage and 12GB RAM + 256GB storage–for Rs 39,999 and Rs 49,999, respectively. It will available for purchase from June 4 onwards exclusively on Flipkart.

Oppo Reno series 
After Realme, Oppo introduced a new sub-brand Reno in India by unveiling two phones- Reno and Reno 10X Zoom.
Oppo Reno 10X Zoom sports 6.55-inch full-view AMOLED display with 93.1-per cent screen-to-body ratio, Corning Gorilla Glass 6 shield

It boasts unique shark-fin inspired rising front camera with 16MP sensor to capture selfies. On the back, it comes with a triple camera module with a 48MP primary sensor, 13MP telephoto lens, and an 8MP ultra-wide angle sensor.

New Reno 10X Zoom and Reno; picture credit: Oppo India

under-the-hood, it comes with 4,0065mAh battery with VOOC 3.0 fast charging, Dolby Atmos, Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 octa-core processor with tri-cooling control to dissipate overheating, Android Pie-based ColorOS 6 (with Hyper Boost 2.0-Frame Boost and Touch Boost for gaming).

Whereas the generic model Reno features same design language as the 10 X Zoom including the shark fin rising pop-up selfie camera, but differ in terms of internal hardware.
It comes with Android Pie-based ColorOS 6, a 3,765 battery with VOOC charging, 48MP+5MP dual camera on the back, 16MP front camera, and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 processor.

As far as the pricing is concerned, Oppo Reno 10X Zoom comes in two  configurations–6GB RAM + 128GB storage and 8GB RAM + 256GB storage–for Rs 39,990 and Rs 49,990, respectively.

On the other hand, the Oppo Reno (8GB RAM + 128GB storage) costs Rs 32,990. All the new phones will be available exclusively on Flipkart from June 7 onwards.

Xiaomi Redmi K20
After weeks of speculations, Xiaomi finally pulled the wraps off the Redmi K20 and the K20 Pro.

Redmi K20 Pro sports a 6.39-inch full HD+ AMOLED HDR display with an in-screen fingerprint sensor. It also comes with Gorilla Glass 5 shield and 3D glass cover. On the back, it boasts a glossy premium shell with gradient finish.

Inside, it comes with a powerful 7nm-class Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor, 6GB/8GB LPDDRX4 RAM, 64GB/128GB/256GB storage (UFS 2.1) and a 4,000mAh battery with 27W fast charging support.

Redmi K20 Pro series; picture credit: Redmi India/Twitter

As far as the photography hardware is concerned, it boasts feature-rich triple camera, 48MP (with Sony IMx586 sensor, F1.85 aperture), 13MP ultra wide angle lens and 8MP telephoto lens on the back. And, a 20MP pop-up selfie camera.

On the other hand, the generic Redmi K20 comes with pretty much same design language including internal hardware as the top-end model but differs in a couple of aspects. It houses

Qualcomm Snapdragon 730 octa-core and supports 18W fast charging.

Rest including the display, battery capacity, and the camera remains the same as the Redmi K20 Pro.

In India, the Redmi K20 and the K20 Pro are expected to come with Poco F2 and F2 Pro branding.

Apple iPod Touch (7th gen)
After four years, Apple finally refreshed its iPod Touch line with upgraded hardware. The new iPod Touch (7th gen) sports a slim body form with the premium metallic shell on the back and a 4.0-inch display with bezels, home button, and camera at the top centre in the front side.

Inside, it houses an Apple A10 Fusion chipset,  which makes the device support Augmented Reality (AR) games offering an immersive experience, which the previous iteration lacked.

With this, the iPod Touch now users can be able to subscribe to Apple Arcade and enjoy exclusive gaming titles like the top-end iPhone and iPad users.

Apple iPod Touch (7th gen); picture credit: Apple

The iPod Touch (7th gen) comes in three storage variants-32GB,128GB and 256GB– for Rs 18,900, Rs 28,900 and Rs 38,900 in India. It will be available in six colour options–space grey, white, gold, blue, pink and (PRODUCT)RED.

Amazon Echo Show 5
The new Amazon Echo Show 5 flaunts a 5.5-inch display, which compact and yet big enough for a perfect kitchen TV or in a living room or children room.

Users can simply wake the device with ‘Hey Alexa’ and start asking to play movie trailers,  news snippets from popular channels, the sports update such as Champions league goal score or of a cricket match in the ongoing World Cup.

He/she can also look for recipes and the Echo Show 5 will start a step-by-step guide to on how to make traditional or an exotic dishes.
Also, consumers can listen to the latest songs on Amazon Prime Music and watch the latest TV shows on Amazon Prime Video. People can also play music from Hungama Music, Saavn, Gaana, and TuneIn – without additional cost.

Echo Show 5; picture credit: Amazon India

And, children can enjoy fun skills like Chu Chu TV, Chhota Bheem, and more.

With a 1MP camera, user can video chat with the spouse or parents or children at home at any time. The Echo Show 5 is now available on Amazon for Rs 8,999.

Syska Beat Pro
Emerging consumer electronics major Syska launched a new line of earphone HE1100 Beat Pro series. It comes with a built-in microphone, multi-function button which can be used to play, pause, control volume, track speed and answer calls.

Syska Beat Pro; picture credit: Syska

The Syska Beat Pro earphones also come with a 1.2 metre anti-winding TPE (Thermoplastic elastomers) round cable which provides a tangle-free experience. These earphones are compatible with all devices that include mobiles, laptops, gaming & music devices. It costs Rs 899 and will be available in two colours– black and white.

Motorola Moto Z4
Motorola unveiled the new Moto Z4 in the US. It sports 6.4-inch OLED full HD+ display with dot-notch design. Like the current crop of flagship phones, it boasts an in-screen finger sensor in addition to the face unlock capability. On the back, it flaunts a sturdy shell with a metallic frame.

Under-the-hood, the Moto Z4 houses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 675 octa-core chipset backed by Android Pie OS, 4GB RAM, 128GB storage and a 3,600mAh battery, which is more than enough to run the phone for a whole day easily under mixed usage. It also supports TurboPower charging, which enables the device to quickly charge within minutes and offer several hours of talk time.

Moto Z4; picture credit; Motorola

It boasts a 48MP sensor with F1.7 aperture, meaning the camera will be able to absorb more light and capture stunning images at any type of environments. On the front too, Moto Z4 comes with an impressive 25MP selfie snapper. It will be released first in the US on June 6 for $499.99

Asus ZenBook series
Taiwan-based technology major Asus unveiled a new line of ZenBook, Duo and also anniversary special ZenBook Edition 30.

The ZenBook Edition 30 flaunts luxurious Pearl White genuine Italian leather — hand-crafted and hand-stitched. It sports a 13.3-inch full HD NanoEdge display and comes with Intel Core i7-8565U/Core i5-8265U processor,  Windows 10/ 10 Pro OS, 3D IR HD camera, ScreenPad (5.45-inch FHD+), 8GB/16GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce® MX150, 2GB GDDR5 VRAM/Integrated Intel® UHD Graphics 620 and a 50Wh 3-cell lithium-polymer battery with up to 14 hours of power backup.

On the other hand, the ZenBook Duo series comes with a secondary display dubbed as ScreenPad Plus, a  14-inch full-width secondary touchscreen that expands and enhances the interactive capabilities. They come with 9th generation Intel Core processors, combined with up to 32GB RAM and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 GPU, with ultrafast storage provided by up to a 1TB PCIe 3.0 x4 SSD.


Best Bike Tech And Cycling Gadgets 2019

In the same way that it’s influenced the fitness industry through wearable tech and innovative studio spaces, advances in technology have had a massive impact on cycling culture across the world over the last few years. Thanks to an influx of innovations making cycling safer, easier and more fun, people are cycling around more than ever before, be it a lengthy commute, adventure trip in the outdoors or just an occasional jaunt to the shops.

But with so many devices on the market claiming to improve your cycling experience, it’s hard to know which are worth the investment. So I’ve picked out some of the best bike gadgets for anyone looking to pimp their (two-wheeled) ride.

Blubel bike navigation

Smart bike navigation when you don’t have a clue where you’re goingBLUBEL

Blubel is an innovative Bluetooth-connected bicycle bell that doubles up as a navigational guide to tell you how to get from A to B via the safest bike-friendly routes, meaning you no longer have to follow confusing directions on your phone.

Using your phone’s sat nav tech, Blubel displays simplified directions using the bell’s LED design and your phone can stay in your pocket or bag, meaning fewer dangerous distractions, phone accidents or theft. Blubel works by using gestures on its 12 LED dial. All you have to do is type your destination into the supporting app and follow the lights on the bell, which indicate where to go.

There are also audio signals that prompt you when turns are coming up so you can keep your eyes safely on the road the rest of the time. The bell will also show the direction of your final destination, so you never lose your bearings, using responsive routing that quickly recalculates if you take a different route or a wrong turn.

Beryl lights system: Pixel, Burner Brake and Laserlight Core 

Beryl’s lighting system is the best in class for cyclingBERYL

Navigating yourself through busy city streets at rush hour on a dark evening can be stressful enough to get any cyclist’s handlebars in a twist. Enter Beryl’s extensive lighting system, a range of rechargeable LED bike lights with bonus safety features. There are three main lights in the offering. The first is the Pixel, a small round clip-on light that you can put anywhere that takes your fancy, and the second is the Burner Brake, a rear light which is able to tell other road users behind you that you’re coming to a stop. It does this by detecting when you slow down, accurately warning other road users that you are putting your brakes on by intensifying the light.

The core product to the firm’s series, however, is the Laserlight Core. Thanks to “forward projection” technology, Laserlight combines a white light and a bicycle laser image to beam out of blind spots, junction, and situations where you’re otherwise unseen. The laser projects a bike symbol six meters in front of you, visible by fellow road users from various perspectives and increasing your safety.

Garmin Edge 1030 

Garmin Edge 1030 is a GPS-genius when it comes to road cyclingLEE BELL

The Garmin Edge 1030 is the perfect companion when doing longer cycling journeys, such as sportives or challenges, as opposed to simple commuting. It’s the firm’s most advanced Edge computer to date and sits on your handlebars and thanks to built-in GPS, doesn’t rely on your phone to tell you where you are or which way to go. Like a sat nav for bikes. Its feature list is never-ending and it even can record your biking route. There’s also the addition of Bluetooth Smart connectivity for the first time in a device like this, alongside Bluetooth and ANT+.

It really does do it all and was able to measure everything I needed as it tracked my cycle adventure during a sportive in the New Forest last year, from the speed I was going as I bombed down the country lanes, to the miles I’d covered when I got back home. If you’re serious about cycling and want to keep a dedicated track your rides, the Garmin Edge 1030 is an ideal companion.


Lumos is a helmet and light system in oneLUMOS

Ever forgotten your bike lights? Lumos is the gadget for you; it’s a next-generation bicycle helmet that goes out of its way to make sure you’re seen when cycling thanks to integrated LED lights with brake and turn signals. A tap of the helmet’s Bluetooth handlebar-mounted remote control means you can communicate your intentions to drivers and people around you. It’s probably one of my most-used gadgets in this list and it means you don’t have to remember to take your bike lights with you whenever you leave the house.

CYCL Winglights

Cycl Wing lights could save you from any accidents while turning corners int he darkCYCL

Making its first appearance on our telly boxes as a pitch on BBC’s Dragon’s Den, the CYCL WingLights is a pair of bright LED’s that give cyclists 360-degree visibility in all lighting and weather conditions for a safer ride. But the really cool thing about WingLights is that you can use them to tell fellow road users which direction you’re going to turn. No more stretch your arms out in the dark and hoping they’re seen, simply tap a button on the side and it will flash, acting like a car’s indicator lights.


Gifts for the kitchen: Housewares for the Holidays show unwraps latest gadgets

NEW YORK, N.Y. — What will you be getting for the cook on your list this holiday season? Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, most people have at least one person who loves to cook and wants the latest gadgets. Or do you have a potential sommelier in the family? There are new wine-related items on the market this season, too.

“Manufacturers and retailers alike are continually in search of the next best thing or trend,” says Jon Jesse, vice president of industry development for the International Housewares Association, which recently showcased a plethora of new kitchen and bar wares ideal for gift-giving at its annual Housewares for the Holidays show. Here are just a few standouts, most of which are available online to get your shopping finished at the click of a mouse.

» Tovolo’s Precision Pie Crust Cutter. One of the most difficult things about making a beautiful pie is creating the perfect crust with even sides and gorgeous scalloped edges. Tovolo makes it easy with its new Precision Pie Crust Cutter.

It’s a handy tool that adjusts to different sizes. Remember using a compass in algebra class? The crust cutter follows the same technique, allowing you to place the body of the cutter in the center of the dough and extend its arm to cut perfect dough circles. The cutter has four discs that cut different crust designs — fluted, tight wave, light wave and scalloped. The discs are stored in the base so they won’t get lost, making the Precision Pie Crust Cutter very compact. At a price point of less than $10, it’s affordable enough for every would-be pastry chef on your list.

Price: $9.99.

Buy it at: and

» Bonny Bar Bottle Tag Corkscrew. A nice bottle of wine makes the perfect host/hostess gift during the holidays. Add a corkscrew and a card, and your gift becomes more than just another bottle to add to the collection, so make yours stand out with Bradshaw International’s Bonny Bar Bottle Tag Corkscrew. It’s an all-in-one corkscrew and “card” that bears a holiday greeting, such as “Making Spirits Bright,” with a space for “To” and “From” messaging on the back. The card is made of durable cardboard and fits over the bottle neck. It also has a pocket on the front holding a Bonny Bar winged corkscrew.

“It really dresses up a wine bottle,” says Bradshaw communication manager Bert Tanimoto.

Price: $9.99.

Buy it at: JC Penney and Tru Value hardware stores.

» Kilner Fermentation Set. The continuing popularity of the farm-to-table movement has sparked a new trend in the culinary world that has housewares company Typhoon Homeware flooding the market with items that allow cooks to get back to the basics, such as its new fermentation set. The company predicts it will be a top-seller, so don’t wait till the last minute if the cook on your list is one who follows the do-it-yourself trend, a movement that company spokesman Ryan Murphy says is popular among millennials.

Pottery crocks have been used for centuries to make sauerkraut, kimche, pickles and other foods that require fermentation, but there are some drawbacks to the opaque containers. Topping that list is the fact you can’t see what’s happening. The Kilner fermentation vessel is made of glass so you can witness the fermentation process in action. Plus, there’s a glass valve on top “that lets the bad gases out and keeps the good stuff in without having to open the lid,” Murphy notes.

Price: $30.

Buy it at: or

» Gourmia WiFi Air Fryer. Air-frying is not a new cooking technique, but lately, it’s taken off as Americans become more health-conscious and try to follow better diets that don’t allow heavy fried foods. Air-frying allows us Southerners to enjoy more healthful versions of fried chicken, french fries and tater tots.

It’s a very multifunctional products that not only air-fries but also bakes and roasts. The three-in-one device takes the place of your toaster oven and deep fryer, allowing more counter space, making it ideal for those on your list who reside in tight living spaces with small kitchens.

Not only is air-frying more healthful than pan-frying in an oil bath, Gourmia has made it fun. The new model has a built-in “cook cam” that you can sync to your phone (iPhone or android), so you can watch your food from another room as it cooks and/or share your air-frying with friends via social media.

Price: $189.

Buy it at:, or

» Vinturi On Bottle Wine Aerator. In a perfect world, a nice bottle of wine achieves ideal aeration in a couple of hours. But who has time or wants to sit around and wait that long to enjoy a glass or two of your favorite vintage? The wine lover on your list will appreciate the latest aeration technology that marries science with style: the Vinturi On Bottle Wine Aerator.

It’s a one-piece appliance that fits snugly into the wine bottle like a cork, followed by a sleek, acrylic spout that allows for both aeration and no-mess pouring. Decanting takes place in seconds, not hours.

“Every single Vinturi is tested, because if one is off just 5/1,000th of an inch, it won’t work,” explains Eileen McHale, director of marketing and business development for Vinturi parent company Legacy Companies.

The device is wider on the bottom and narrower at the top so that as air velocity speeds up, pressure decreases. “And right in that magical spot, air is pulled in like a vacuum,” McHale says. The entire process takes just seconds. Its size makes for a great stocking stuffer, too.

Price: $19.99.

Buy it at:


The Top 10 Gadgets of 2017

When it comes to new gadgets and gizmos, 2017 was the year of several big changes. First and foremost, it was the year of the voice-activated assistant, with devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home invading homes everywhere. It was also the year that smartphone designers figured out how to pack a massive screen in a device that’s still easy to hold, as seen in the iPhone X and Samsung Galaxy S8. And it was the year that consoles like the Nintendo Switch meant gaming on the go no longer meant making big sacrifices in terms of game quality. TIME Magazine consolidated a list of the top 10 gadgets of 2017.

  1. Sony Alpha A7R III

With notable improvements over its predecessor and a cheaper price than Sony’s A9 Alpha, the recently unveiled Sony Alpha A7R III stands to be one of the best mirrorless cameras ever made. It can shoot at twice the resolution of the A9 and has an autofocus that’s twice as fast as the A7R II with a lower price.

  1. Apple Watch 3

Apple’s latest smartwatch gives you the chance to leave your phone at home. Since it supports LTE, you can receive calls and texts on your wrist even when your phone is out of range. The Apple Watch isn’t meant to replace your phone but gives you the freedom to move without your phone at home.

  1. Xbox One X

Microsoft’s latest console crams six teraflops and native 4K gaming support into a sleek package, making it the choice console for players who want screaming performance for less than the price of a high-end gaming PC.

  1. Amazon Echo (second generation)

Virtual assistants like Siri have been around for years, but it wasn’t until the first Amazon Echo launched in 2014 that voice-enabled gadgets really started to take off. Three years later, Amazon’s true successor to the original Echo improves on the first version in every meaningful way. The design is shorter and more attractive, the improved speaker includes a woofer and a tweeter, and most importantly, it’s noticeably cheaper.

  1. Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) Classic

Nintendo’s iconic grey-and-purple Super Nintendo gaming machine made a huge comeback in 2017. The SNES Classic comes loaded with 21 retro titles, including Super Mario World, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Donkey Kong Country, and a previously unreleased Star Fox game. Everything from the games themselves to the way the controllers feel in your hands is exactly as you would remember from the 1990s. Catering to players’ nostalgia has seemingly paid off: the SNES Classic was the second best-selling video game console during the month of October, according to research firm NPD, and it’s been nearly impossible to find since its September launch.

  1. Samsung Galaxy S8

Samsung’s flagship Galaxy Android handsets set the standard for smartphones in 2017. It may not have been the first phone with a nearly borderless screen, but the Galaxy S8’s exquisitely curved display definitely made it as most attractive phones of the year. Not to mention its eye-popping OLED display, which for a long time was the best you could ask for on a phone. Samsung also made an effort to simplify the phone’s software, cutting a lot of the extraneous features that made its older phones feel clunky.

  1. DJI Spark

DJI’s palm-sized drone is a big step in the direction of making drones easier and more convenient for the average person. The Spark’s standout feature is that it doesn’t require a remote control for navigation. Just tap the button on the back of the drone twice, and it will prepare to take off from the palm of your hand. You can also pilot the Spark with your hand, prompting it to fly higher, lower, or in a certain direction with a wave of your arm.

  1. Microsoft Surface Laptop

Microsoft’s first crack at a real laptop (not a tablet-notebook hybrid) is a real winner. Between its light and elegant design, sharp screen, and long-lasting battery, the Surface Laptop is a solid choice for anyone seeking a new Windows computer. Microsoft is positioning the Surface Laptop as a showpiece for Windows 10 S, the newer version of Windows that can only run programs from Microsoft’s app store.

  1. Apple iPhone X

Yes, it’s expensive and you’ll probably have a hard time getting your hands on one. And yes, Android did it first. But the iPhone X’s edge-to-edge screen and facial recognition system will undoubtedly set a new standard for phones to come. For one, Apple’s Face ID system, even despite the security concerns, is already being used in more creative ways than Samsung’s facial identification tech. That, combined with a sharp camera, long battery life, and large screen packed into a more palatable size, make Apple’s iPhone X a top pick.

  1. Nintendo Switch

For about as long as game consoles have existed, players have had to choose between gaming in front of a TV or holding a tiny screen in their hands while out and about. Not so with the Nintendo Switch, the first console that’s truly designed for both at-home and on-the-go entertainment. The Switch consists of a tablet with a 6.2-inch screen with slots for attaching Nintendo’s Joy-Con controllers on either side, turning it into a handheld video game machine. But when you’re at home, you can slide the slate into a dock that hooks up to your TV and plays it like a traditional console. That “play anywhere, anytime” approach, combined with a stellar games roster, from the recently launched Super Mario Odyssey to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild makes the Switch a true knockout.


What Your Apps And Gadgets Are Doing For Eclipse 2017

Crayons sit next to NASA solar viewing glasses during an arts and crafts fair ahead of a total solar eclipse on the campus of Southern Illinois University (SIU) in Carbondale, Illinois, U.S., on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

So you’ve got your eclipse glasses at the ready, you found some extra material to give your iPhone camera a special covering of its own, but you’ve got practically all day till the eclipse even starts.

So how are your favorite apps and gadgets preparing for the eclipse?


The Google app has plenty of info for today’s eclipse

If you have the Google app installed on your iPhone (which you really should, since it also has the best third-party-keyboard for iOS), you’ll receive a popup notification about the eclipse. Press it to be taken to Google’s Eclipse 2017 search results page, which includes a special tile at the top of the results with lots of handy information about today’s event. You can also click today’s adorable Google Doodle and be immediately be taken to a page full of eclipse science facts.

Social Media

Anthony Karcz

Eclipses are better with friends!

Not surprisingly, there are tons of stories in Snapchat that are covering everyone’s reactions to the eclipse, from the silly to the informative, to the bizarre. They also have several filters dedicated to the eclipse, plus special geofilters if you’re lucky enough to be in the path of totality. Speaking of, you might notice something different about friends on your Snap Map. If they’re in that 65-mile wide totality swath, their Actionmojis will be busy watching the eclipse.

Instagram has also gotten spiffed up for the eclipse, with a set of stickers that you can add to your Instagram Stories. Facebook, oddly enough, hasn’t added anything to their live video for the event; but they have set up an information page so that you don’t have to leave the site for the latest updates.

Twitter, on the other hand, will be a little more ambitious. While they’ll be full of the usual insane mix of hilarity, information, speculation, and hysteria (maybe a little more of the later than usual as we reach totality) they’re also teaming up with the Weather Channel to live stream the channel’s “sun chaser” team as they follow the path of the eclipse across the US. They’re the only social media network to be attempting the same type of coverage as NASA’s own Eclipse 2017 page. You can find the stream at


Anthony Karcz

Nest is doing its part to help the grid during the eclipse.

I was rather surprised when I wandered by my Nest yesterday and saw that there was a notification there asking if I wanted to participate in Rush Hour for the solar eclipse. Rush Hour is a Nest opt-in initiative that that pre-cools homes just before peak energy draw hours, then turns up the thermostat so that less power is used during peak time. With solar panels nationwide receiving reduced light for up to three hours today, Nest wants to do its part by lessening the impact on the grid from its customers who have eligible Nest thermostats. Just opt-in and your Nest will cool your house down just before the eclipse starts, then bump the thermostat warmer until the eclipse is over (don’t worry, if you get too warm you can manually adjust the temp back down). It’s an easy way to help alternate energy providers. You can find more about solar eclipse Rush Hour on the Nest site.


Surprisingly, Alexa doesn’t have a ton to say about the eclipse; but you can ask her when it is and Amazon’s info-bot will tell you when it starts and where, and how to get more information. If you ask Alexa to tell you about the eclipse, she’ll provide details from one of the recent eclipse stories (like Sunday’s Washington Post story about animals acting strangely during the event). Unsurprisingly, she won’t try to sell you eclipse glasses (since they’ve been sold out on the site for weeks).

Of course, if what you need is the latest, pure scientific facts about today’s eclipse, point your Safari or Chrome browser to They have all the news and info about the eclipse, as well as fun facts and activities.

Happy viewing!

(Oh, and don’t stare at the sun without eclipse glasses, m’kay?)


Gadgets can be addictive like consuming alcohol, says expert

Gadgets addictive like alcohol, Gadgets addictive, 13th Annual National Conference of Indian Association of Biological Psychiatry(ANCIABP),  NDDTC, AIIMS, Chandigarh news, Indian Express News

Around 203 delegates from across the country came together to take part in the 13th Annual National Conference of Indian Association of Biological Psychiatry(ANCIABP) got underway Saturday. “The conference has been planned to deliver the most recent advancements in Biological Psychiatry by eminent psychiatrists from across the country,” said a statement.

During the conference, while Dr E Mohandas, Consultant Psychiatrist from Thrissur, Kerala, discussed how the structure and brain circuits are linked with normal and abnormal behaviours (which lead to development of illnesses), Dr Atul Ambekar, Professor of Psychiatry from NDDTC, AIIMS, New Delhi, informed about the problem of cannabis and how it leads to mental health problems.

Dr Avinash Desouza, an expert on Neurobiological effects of gadgets addiction, spoke about how gadgets can be addictive as alcohol. “Gadgets can be addictive. The effect of repeated usage of gadget is similar to consuming alcohol or any substance. The use of gadgets may affect the development of brain among children and may affect the social interactions and aggressive behaviour in adults especially when exposed to violent video games,” he said. “The use of gadgets causes changes in brain circuits that leads to the development of permanent changes affecting emotion and cognition.”

He said that the problem is an “emerging problem” and every week he gets 3-4 such cases in Mumbai. “Children who play video games for a long time show academic decline. The school environment does not interest them compared to the fast action paced environment of video games,” said Desouza. adding, “There is a need for the government to be vigilant about video games that are extremely violent and may compel children to attempt suicide and develop self-injurious behaviour.”


Gadgets: 5 of the best cocktail shakers for the home and parties

Barmans Barware Kit,, 24.99

Barmans Barware Kit,,

We look at the 5 best cocktail shakers

Tom Dixon Plum Cocktail Shaker, Copper,, £76

This futuristic copper-plated cocktail shaker combines a thick centre and tapered ends to provide a sturdy hand grip, for pleasurable shaking. The slim lid cap can also be used as a spirit measure. A handsome and useful bar accessory, it makes a great gift for the discerning cocktail-lover.

Rainbow Cocktail Layering Tool,, £12.99

Imagine being one of those cocktail masters. The kind of person you see behind the bar of a trendy London nightclub, dazzling everyone with some amazing layered cocktail creations.

John Lewis Stainless Steel Cocktail Muddler,, £7.00

Stylish yet durable, this stainless steel muddler has a non slip handle for a sure, comfortable grip and a textured silicone head for mashing fruit and herbs. A must have cocktail tool for fans of mojitos.

Barman’s Barware Kit,, £24.99

You’ll soon be mixing and shaking cocktail like a pro with the Barman’s Barware Kit. A perfect kit for beginners and keen bartenders, this gift set is stylishly presented in a gift box tube. Containing a range of professional quality equipment, including a Professional Boston Cocktail Shaker, Twisted Mixing Spoon and selection of strainers, you’ll be able to accommodate any drinks request.

John Lewis Glass Recipe, Cocktail Shaker,

The clear glass body of this cocktail shaker recipe indicators that provide the correct measurements for six classic cocktails, ensuring that you mix up perfect cocktails, time after time. Features a stainless steel lid and collar.




8 smart home gadgets that will make your life easier


I’m writing my shopping list while hoovering the living room. Halfway through composing a text my phone tells me the kettle is boiled. It’s 8am and I’ve already bought washing powder, set tonight’s episode of The Handmaid’s Tale to record and tested the smoke alarm. Not bad considering I haven’t even left bed.

I’m trying a day of letting go by outsourcing my life to technology. The boom in virtual assistants and smart devices has facilitated a (theoretically) easier life. You can control your home using your phone — or even your voice. From lights that you can switch on with just a word to Alexa to robots that do the cleaning, here’s how you can have your very own connected home.

Smell The Coffee


The iKettle (£100, syncs with alarm clocks so you the kettle is boiled when you wake up. It was one less task for the morning but I still had to come out from under the covers to pour the water into my mug, which felt like a chore.

Pressing all the right buttons


When you’re running low on provisions the Amazon Dash Button (£5, lets you re-order them with one click. You need separate buttons for different products — I stuck one for teabags on the kitchen counter, a detergent hotline on the washing machine and an emergency beer button near my desk. So far, so promising. The only downside was when my housemate discovered the booze button after a night out and got trigger-happy.

Sound Investments


Controlling your home from your phone is great — but only if you aren’t using your hands for something else. At these moments, Amazon’s voice-enabled virtual assistant, Alexa, is your new best friend. She’s powered by the Amazon Echo (£150, and Dot (£50, speakers and she’ll tell you the weather forecast, check out how much money is in your bank account or turn on your TV. She paired up nicely with my Philips EverPlay Bluetooth speaker (£65, but, like most best friends, she didn’t like it when I talked about her behind her back.

She recognised my voice and obeyed me over friends when they asked her to do other things. Long nights can be spent trying to win over Alexa, asking her to turn the music up when your partner wants it turned down.

Naturally, she has rivals — Google Home (£129, is the most prominent and is considered to have a better sound quality — but so far Amazon’s version can sync with the widest range of appliances.

Keep It Clean


Hoovering can feel like a workout. Getting under the bed requires squats as arduous as those at Barry’s Bootcamp and that’s before you even get to the stair climb. If you’d rather save yourself for the gym, try Dyson’s 360 Eye (£800, As the name suggests, the bot navigates its way around your home with a 360-degree camera which maps its surroundings and knows where it’s yet to go.

It has twice the suction of other robot vacuums. Though I did get nervous watching it approach my housemate’s guitar, it was novel to watch a robot drive itself around. It did have to be recharged before doing my room, though, so it’s not necessarily ready for a whole flat job.

For dusting, the mocoro robot cleaning ball (£30, roams freely, changing direction whenever it hits an obstacle. The pink, battery-powered fluff ball may not be as high-tech as the Dyson but it’s way cuter, and doubles up as the world’s greatest cat toy. I might even adopt it as a pet.

Meanwhile, the Neato Botvac Connected vacuum (£729.99, can be set to clean the whole house, spot clean or cover an area twice, and you can choose to get instant notifications about its status from wherever you are at the time.’

Stay Secure


With all this home tech, security becomes an issue. Luckily, this has also smartened up. The Nest Cam IQ (£300, is an indoor security camera you can connect to wi-fi to stream securely to your phone, tablet or laptop. It’s got super 1080p HD, a built-in microphone and speaker, so you won’t miss a moment, however far you are from home. It was entertaining to receive an email when my housemate walked into the room warning me of an “unfamiliar face!” but encouraging to know I could spot any would-be thieves before they got their hands on Alexa.

Nest has home safety covered. The Nest Protect smoke and CO2 alarm (£99, tells you where and what the danger is — whether you’ve burnt the toast or if it’s something more serious. Getting alerts to my phone was reassuring, instead of the usual annoying beep.

Automatic turn on


Summer can mean restless nights, and when you are too hot and irritable to sleep getting out of bed to open a window seems a chore too far. The Dyson Pure Hot + Cool Link (£500, can be controlled remotely from your phone, so you don’t have to leave your bed to get a breeze.

And it won’t be just a summer romance. There’s a heating mode, which you can turn on remotely as you set off from work, to return to a toasty home. The other clever function is the air purifier, which tracks the air quality in your home and removes 99.9 per cent of particles, from dust to sprays. A little red peak appeared on the graph when I sprayed deodorant in the room, prompting the machine to kick into life until it decreased the level to acceptable quality.

Flick it


For ultimate relaxation you don’t want to bother with trifling tasks such as trekking around the house to turn off the lights. Philips Hue personal wireless LED lighting (from £30, lets you easily control your lights from your phone and create the right ambience for every moment.

Idler still, I linked them with a wireless Flic button (£20, stuck next to my bed so I don’t even have to touch my phone. Being lazy has never been so easy.


We need to switch off at weekends — and that includes the gadgets

If you want to de-stress at the weekend, put away your smartphone

If you want to de-stress at the weekend, put away your smartphoneALAMY

A wise friend once told me that the quality of your Sunday is a barometer of how fulfilled you are in life. He was not referring to religious faith — or to the importance of Sunday newspapers such as this one. Rather, he believed that how you spend the day of rest shows whether you have work and leisure in balance.

A new book, The Weekend Effect, written by Katrina Onstad, makes the case for purposeful pursuits on Saturdays and Sundays, rather than pure idleness. She also says that work must not be allowed to colonise weekends, because recreation matters.

Do you ever switch off on the weekend? We mean really switch off. We’re guessing the answer is probably no. It seems that the days of Saturday and Sunday being ‘family time’ and work free days have long gone, and to be honest most of us wouldn’t remember a time when working weekends wasn’t the norm for many career paths.

Regardless of your job, it is generally recognised that employees are entitled to two full days off a week, whether that be the actual ‘weekend’ or other designated days. Sadly, the work/life balance is often leaning too far towards the work side and we are finding ourselves blurring the lines and working on our days off. Even if you work for yourself, you’re not immune from this – in fact you’re probably one of the worst offenders!

You will be MORE productive if you work less

A Harvard study (and many other similar studies) has found that working more hours does not make you more productive in the long run. You are more likely to make mistakes, have accidents and spend time on tasks which are unimportant. In fact the study confirmed that having predictable time off (like weekends and holidays) actually made people MORE productive.

Family time is important too

There’s no doubt that family time is one of the main sacrifices that we make when working longer hours, and even if we are at home we are still contactable via so many methods. We lead such busy lifestyles, our children too, that the little time we do get for quality family time should be cherished. Emails will wait, phone calls can be returned and that report will still be there on Monday. Switch off your devices and head out to the park with the kids!

5 reasons to switch off on weekends

We need to distance ourselves from work

Traditionally work ended as we left the building, but now we carry work with us everywhere we go. It’s so easy to check in to see how a project is going, quickly reply to that email or have a scan of that report that you were just sent. Think about how much time you spend on your devices when you are away from work, and then think about how many of those tasks were urgent. Challenge yourself to go a whole weekend without doing any work related tasks (yes email counts!) and see how much better you feel by Monday.

Your mental and physical health will improve

Always being ‘connected’ and ‘switched on’ isn’t good for your mental health. Anxiety and stress generally increase when we are switched on all of the time. Schedule family and leisure activities into your weekend and treat them as you would any other appointment – do them! You’ll return to work feeling much more refreshed and relaxed.

You might enjoy it!

Once you get into the habit of switching off on weekends, you’ll have the challenge of finding other ways to spend your free time. Imagine the possibilities, and think of all the fun things you could be doing instead!

We challenge you to switch off for a whole weekend! What have you got to lose?


Personal Transportation Gadgets: Hot. Integrated Smart Home IoT: Not

HAX executives preview trends in hardware startups, say Personal Transportation Gadgets are Hot. Integrated Smart Home IoT is Not

Photo: Segway Inc.

Executives at HAX, the five-year-old hardware accelerator and seed funder, know a lot about hardware. They’re getting ready to release a detailed analysis about hardware trends, and last week informally previewed some of their insights, expectations, and lessons learned. It was a bit of a drink-from-a-firehose experience. In five years, the group has learned a lot, and the HAX executives all seemed to want to say a lot more than they could cram into their time slots. Some takeaways:

On the consumer Internet of Things:

“Three years ago, the theory was people would buy families of products to link together in homes, possibly under one brand,” said HAX program director Kate Whitcomb. “You would enter through your smart door, the lights would turn on, the music adjust.”

That theory it turns out, was completely wrong.

“We are not seeing that,” Whitcomb indicated. “Consumers are not buying products as suites. Consumers buy individual products for a single purpose, and if they work together, do so through voice.”

That, said HAX general partner Duncan Turner, has made “a lot of investments in smart home look dumb until recently,” at least investments in those companies trying to market the gadgets directly to consumers.

Smart home investments do make sense for utility companies to help them run the grid, he said: Nest users, for example, are being paid $30 to $50 per year by some utility companies to allow them to level load on grid.

And, as general partner Ben Joffe points out, consumer IoT gadgets have turned out to be attractive to insurance companies, with home, car, and health insurance providers offering discounts tied to the use of specific connected products. And in the case of the Beam smart toothbrush, he said, the hardware maker is itself turning into an insurance company.

On the consumer health business:

Consumer gadgets, said Turner, are turning out to be potential Trojan Horses, getting into people’s lives and then collecting all sorts of data that will revolutionize healthcare in the future. Nura, for example, is marketing a set of headphones that measures characteristics of a user’s hearing for purposes of customization, and can also gather information of how hearing changes over time. That’s high value data, Turner says. Another headphone company gathers data about how well a person concentrates at different times. Combined, that could be used to build an interesting data set. Other companies are doing the same thing, but with sleep data. He indicated, sleep technology is going to be a huge market, as are various approaches to back care.

Getting the rights to use that data, however, is going to be tough, Turner said. “People don’t want to donate data. Do you donate organs when you die? Then you should donate your data, to help us be healthier in future.”

On other emerging gadget trends:

Sports tech companies that do real time coaching are going to be huge, said Joffe. Aftermarket personalization is becoming the new normal, he indicated, pointing to the Revols earphones that custom fit to individual ears as an example. The second wave of smart glasses, which will take a more pragmatic approach and be more successful, is imminent, Joffe says.

And personal mobility devices will be huge, he said. “Hoverboards that catch fire? That was so last year.” The next boom will involve Ninebot (a two-wheeled mini Segway), electric single-wheel transporters, and electric skateboards. “These aren’t jetpacks; they are things we will really use,” he said.

On agriculture:

HAX sees huge opportunities in industrial agriculture, as new sensing devices are implemented to improve efficiencies. For home agriculture, Turner said, the opportunities are limited at best. The only companies he’s seen to date that have created successful products for home agriculture are either involved in farming insects for protein (Livin Farms), or growing weed (Grobo). “The cannabis area is the only one we think is high value enough to get this technology into the home,” Turner said.

On the future of manufacturing:

Manufacturing has been going to China, said Turner, but people have been wondering where it will go next. “The answer,” he said, “is nowhere, because robots are coming in to take over these manufacturing processes.” He pointed out that China, Europe, and Japan are investing heavily in robots for manufacturing, and the United States and Britain are falling behind.

On the Maker movement:

The gap is widening between makers and startups, said Joffe. “Maker Faireused to be the place for hardware startups to show innovation,” he said. “Now it is CES.”

On how to deal with hardware copycats:

“Software is your best protection,” says Joffe. “When the intelligence is in the software, it’s hard to copy. Patents can help, but for a young startup, they are hard to defend.”

On big failures:

Hardware companies don’t always succeed. Whitcomb pointed to Lily Robotics, Pebble, Hello Sense, and Scully as prominent failures. “Those explosions affect the whole marketplace, and hurt other startups,” she said. “But the reality is most products do ship, and explosions are few and far between.”