We here at GadgetGuy see a lot of technology and gadgets come though our doors each year. Some are truly game changers, some are quickly forgotten, and some stick around to become essential parts of our daily lives. We’ve rounded up some of the big and small tech that our team can’t live without.
Marcel Melick, Partnerships & Strategy Director, feeder of teens, drinker of beer
Philips Air Fryer XXL
Wouldn’t have survived lockdown without this new addition to the kitchen. I have to admit I was an air fryer sceptic, and the last thing I needed was another appliance taking up precious bench space, but when I was finally convinced to invest in one I was immediately a convert. This product isn’t cheap compared to other as effective appliances, but the simplicity of its controls made it the go-to for my constantly peckish teenagers who are now adept at whipping up a feed at the press of a button.
An impulse purchase while enjoying a few beers with some mates, we were all convinced by the YouTube video that this would be the solution to all those pesky flies that were annoying the hell out of us in the local pub’s beer garden. The Bug-a-Salt gun, which is essentially a gun that shoots grains of salt, arrived a week later. And yes, all the hype was true, although it wasn’t just flies dropping but anything else that dared to move. The only disappointment was not purchasing the optional laser sight that apparently makes it even easier to take down flies or anything else for that matter.
James Blasina, Digital Co-ordinator, meister of games
Fender Mustang GTX50 Guitar Amp
This has to be one of my favourite purchases of 2021. The Fender Mustang is a great at-home amplifier for your electric guitar with an awesome mix of Fender quality along with unbelievable tech features. There are 200 amp presets to master a wide variety of tones, and the Bluetooth compatibility makes it easy to search for custom presets created by the community on the Fender Tone App. If you are like me and miss being able to jam with a band (especially during a lockdown), then this amp is perfect as you can simultaneously stream songs through Bluetooth and amplify your guitar at the same time.
Netflix’s latest Formula 1 show Drive to Survive grained a fair bit of traction over the past few years. With with the most recent season close to fruition, you may have your inner racing driver jumping out once again. The Logitech G29 is my favourite entry-level racing wheel and ideal for any Playstation or PC user. I cannot attest for the G920 (the Xbox counterpart to the G29) or the G923 (the latest wheel by Logitech), but in terms of quality and performance, this model is worth every cent. The force feedback from the G29 adds a layer of immersion to any sim-racing game, which is why I always recommend it to any new racers.
Alison Williams, Design Lead, dream animator and pet parent
Eversweet pet water fountain
From the moment I got my kitten, Cairo, he’s never so much as sipped water from a cat bowl. He would only drink from tall glasses of water placed precariously around the apartment, so I thought I’d try this filtered water fountain. Now Cairo laps up his H2O like a lion at a watering hole. It’s quiet, looks nice, and I only has to refill it once a week. Keep in mind that it’s powered by a USB cable which limits where you can put it.
We love opening our folding concertina doors in summer, which invariably means inviting the great outdoors inside. So. Many. Flies. Enter the electric fly zapper. Press the little button on the handle to send an electric shock through the racket. Practice your forehand and zap flies and mozzies in mid-air, or trap them on windows and scoop them into the zapper. The little guys get zapped and frizzled, rather than smushed, so it’s much cleaner than a gross fly swat. Not child friendly at all though so beware- if you accidentally shock yourself it leaves a burn. Perhaps that’s the karma for the fly carnage inflicted though!
So I have this little place in my house where I go to escape everything. It has a Playstation 5, Xbox Series X, an Eames chair and a lovely LG C1 65″ OLED television. This has everything that I want from a TV. The picture is simply stunning, with infinite blacks, sumptuous colours and resplendent 4K detail. It has the best games mode support around with HDR, HGIG, VRR, 120Hz refresh and more. If you game, you’ll know that these acronyms mean the best possible visuals. Also, given that I’ve had to cram a desk into my space thanks to COVID, my relaxing chair now sits side-on to the TV. However, as OLED screens look just as good from nearly any angle, I still get that sultry, luxurious image that’s simply a joy to behold.
I love to exercise, and do it most days of the week. I don’t love toting my rather large iPhone 13 Pro Max with me on walks, runs or gym sessions, but still want to stay connected. This is what makes the Apple Watch so handy. It has its own eSIM, so it doesn’t need to be tethered to my phone for internet access when I go out. I can leave my phone behind and still stream music and podcasts from the cloud to my watch, which is also connected to my AirPods (earbuds). I use the watch to track my activity, as well as make Apple Pay cashless transfers for coffees or whatever else I need to pick up. More recently, it displays my COVID vaccination certificate too. The larger screen on the Series 7 makes it easy to scan notifications and read the odd text message, and I can take voice calls too. All up, I find myself going out without my phone more often, as I can do most of the things that I need to with the Apple Watch. I wonder if this is a sign of things to come?
Anika Hillery, Editorial Director, conjurer of words, demigod of detail
Orbi Wi-Fi 6 Router AX600 and satellite
The best tech is not always the tech you want, but the tech you need. Like networking equipment. It’s not pretty, or entertaining, or enriching in any way that you’d bring up in casual conversation, and there’s no wow factor to warrant pride of place in your home or on your person. It’s boring and utilitarian, but it can transform your world.
The Orbi AX6000 mesh router and satellite fixed the rubbish Wi-Fi in our home. It spread the internet far and wide, into bedrooms, playrooms, backyards and driveways it had never been before. It mocked the mountains of money and frustration we’d put into hard wiring, home geek services, hot spotting, range extenders and multiple-router network set up. It stopped dropouts, it stopped buffering and it stopped years of whining. Stopped them all D.E.A.D. Long live Orbi.
Getting a new TV is a bit like getting a new car. Because it only happens every few years, you’re really blown away by what you’ve been missing. The 75” LG Nano75 replaces an 8-year-old 60” Full HD 3D (remember them?) TV, and its mammoth size, crisp 4K detail and fast-loading apps and menus are a revelation. The real hero though, is the television’s Magic Remote with voice control. Sure, the pointer function makes entering passwords and account details a doddle, but the built-in Google Assistant is what makes it shine. This feature has returned independence to that person in our home who can no longer operate a conventional remote, with all its teeny buttons, or navigate the complex menus of a smart TV. Just by speaking into the Magic Remote, he can now turn on the TV, select a channel, change volume levels, search for something on a streaming app and watch it. All without asking for help. And for anyone living with vision impairment, dexterity issues or cognitive impairment, that’s like getting a superpower.
Jay Marshall, Art Director, Dad, runner of long distances
Garmin Forerunner 935
The trouble with the first GPS fitness watches was that they were too bulky. There was a lot of technology packed into what was supposed to be a watch, and it just wasn’t practical. They’ve come a long way since then, with brands like Garmin, Suunto, Coros and Polar targeting at all levels of fitness. They also support a range of fitness tracking apps. For me, a keen runner, I was after a watch from a well-known brand that was primarily running focused to help me deep dive into the numbers and metrics. I also wanted a watch I could wear to work and all day long, so I was not willing to compromise on the look. The Garmin Forerunner 935 was the perfect fit, with a sleek, all black finish that is not too bulky, and it has all the running functionality you could ask for. The perfect watch.
Having an old TV that is not ‘smart’ is a rather painful thing these days. Accessing apps and streaming subscriptions is a must. For me, the best option was Google’s Chromecast. This easy-to-use dongle will add Google’s smart TV interface to your old TV. It comes with a nice selection of pre-installed apps, but rest assured there is a huge collection to choose from should you wish to add more. Netfix, Binge, Stan, Disney+, etc. All the favourites are there as well as some other smart TV operating systems don’t offer like Kayo for sports. The Chromecase user interface is well organised and user friendly, and to top it all off, it comes with a minimalistic remote that is intuitive to use.
Speaking of hanging onto things for a long time, I recently replaced my ageing 2012 MacBook Pro 16-inch with a shiny new 2021 model packing an M1 Pro power plant. I hung on to the 2012 for so long because I didn’t like some of Apple’s so-called improvements over the years. The 2021 model is the one I’ve been waiting for, it’s a vast improvement in every way. Well, almost every way, I liked the old 2012 keyboard more. The MacBook Pro is my everyday workhorse, for both writing and multimedia work, so I really appreciate that great Mini-LED display, backed by plenty grunt. The notebook is still portable enough to throw in my carry bag. Apple also returned a few great features to the 2021 model, including the MagSafe power connector to ensure that a snagged cable doesn’t see it come crashing to the ground.
A few years ago I turned an IKEA coffee table into an arcade table, built around a Raspberry Pi board and RetroPi emulator, for a How-To guide in a gaming magazine. I’d also always wanted an upright arcade cabinet so this arcade1up, on special from Aldi, was the perfect opportunity to level up. Naturally, I made a few *slight* modifications. I ripped out the motherboard and replaced it with a Raspberry Pi, so I can choose from hundreds of classic games. I also upgraded the joysticks and buttons, plus I swapped out one for a specialist 4-way stick for games like Donkey Kong. The cabinet sits on a low coffee table, so it’s at the right height, and it lives in my rumpus room outside my office door. As the final touch, I wired up a coin slot so I can pump in 20c pieces, just like days of old.