Wednesday , 18 July 2018
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10 techie things to do with your Easter break

THERE’S A double bank holiday coming up, a chance to stuff yourself with chocolate and to cap it all the clocks are going back, which should mean better weather is on the way. All of which means that the gadgets that have been sitting in the cupboard all winter can come out to play. Here then, are 10 things to do with your 96 hours off.

karcher-a2-compact1. BECOME A GHOSTBUSTER

We made this joke to Karcher before they sent us the Karcher K2 Compact pressure washer to try out. (Karcher, £82.39) They told us they didn’t recommend wearing it on your back like a Ghostbuster uniform. Two days later, their new Ghostbusters advert launched. Go figure. Anyway, suffice to say that, despite its diminutive size, it made pretty short work of the notoriously mucky INQ Towers windows.

arduino-kit2. LEARN TO CODE
With all the fuss around the launch of the BBC Micro:bit, what about those of us over the age of 12? Well what about this Start Arduino Kit (Prezzybox, £57.95) from Technology Will Save Us, one of the Micro:bit partners? Without any extras you can learn how to make a motor spin, a light light and even build a game. No soldering required. Nine-volt batteries have never been so fun.

balance-board3. DRIVE LIKE A CHAV
Come on, you must be just a little bit curious to know what it’s like to ride a Gyro Balance Board ( £199.98) (don’t call them hover boards, do call them Swegways if you insist). If you’ve been put off by the bad press over exploding batteries, it’s good to know that a trusted name like eBuyer has a supply with UK fused chargers, genuine LG batteries and a carry case (though we warn you, they’re bloody heavy). There will be GoPro footage of a man old enough to know better riding one in due course, but in the meantime, they’re now under £200, so what’s stopping you? Other than the nearest hedge.

power-up-34. LEARN TO FLY A PLANE
A paper plane, that is. Power Up 3.0 (Prezzybox, £34.95) is possibly the most unnecessary gadget in the world, but aren’t those always the best kind? It teaches you how to make a variety of paper planes (paper provided) but also contains a Bluetooth controlled motor which turns them from simple paper planes into steerable model planes using the free app for Android or iOS. It’s certainly stays in the air for longer (about 10 minutes) than a regular paper plane (0.2 seconds).

vax-carpet-washer5. STAR IN YOUR OWN HORROR MOVIE
So you think it’s fine to sit on the carpets, do you? Prepare for the shock of your life. The Vax Dual Power Pro Advance Carpet Cleaner (Vax, £199.96) comes with a pre-treatment kit and accessories for carpets, stairs and upholstery. We can guarantee you that with the best will in the world washing your carpets will cause more nightmares than any amount of Walking Dead box sets. Seriously. Dark brown soapy water is not for the faint hearted. But your carpets will come up a treat. If you’ve never cleaned your carpets, do it. Now. They’re disgusting. We guarantee it.

When you’re not constantly piling your desk with stuff to do, it’s a good chance to clean it. Did you know the average keyboard has more germs than a toilet seat? Plus the ‘A’ key on the toilet seat doesn’t get stuck all the time. Now you can add a plastic Star Wars pal to your desk to hoover up the crumbs with this R2D2 Desk Vac (Prezzybox, £13.95). Powered by USB, he has a button in his head to turn him on or off and wheels on his feet so he can be manouvered around the desk. There’s also a recess in his feet to empty the gunk out. Ideal if you’ve spilt Death Star-Mix and Tattoine Gums.

Mixing a little bit of 6 and 2 with a hint of 3 gets you Sphero SPRK, loosely described as an educational robot, but actually insanely good fun too. (Apple, £99.95). He’s a ball. Simple as that. But thanks to a series of magnets and gyroscopes, he can self-propel with an app for iOS or Android. And if you’re bored with just directing him, you can get your code on and learn to program him to do amazing things. There’s a range of accessories (eat your heart out Big Trak) and because he’s waterproof, shockproof and indestructible, you can let your imagination run riot. Sphero told us recently that teachers are dipping them in paint for art classes. Awesome. And yes, there’s also a Star Wars BB-8 version (£129.99) but you can’t code with him.

So we’ve just spent, like, a year, moaning about Windows 10. So what do we suggest instead? Well we rather like Remix OS (in case you hadn’t noticed) a version of Android redesigned to work with a mouse and keyboard, (Jide, Free). All you need is a memory stick which you can make bootable with an app like Rufus and the next thing you know, you’re fully Androided up, but can still go back to Windows 10 at any time. It’s fast, it’s very intuitive and we’re big fans. Watch out for a feature on Remix OS coming soon.

kitsound-boom-dab9. HAVE A LIE IN
And if you’re going to have a lie in, what better way to wake up than with the KitSound Boom DAB (Kitsound, £99.99). It’s got a dual alarm so you can set a late one for the weekend, and a nice sound that reflects its stocky build. As well as DAB+ (making it futureproof) it also offers an external input and a USB charger so you can charge your phone or rig it into that Chromecast Audio multiroom system you’ve been building.

myo-wristband10. TAKE OVER THE WORLD
You’ve got to admit that the idea of being able to control things with a wave of your hand is pretty cool. Enter Myo (£169.95, Amazon Launchpad) which does exactly that. It’s a wristband with Bluetooth that responds not just to your gestures but the flex of your muscles to provide precise actions. There’s no single Myo app, you download the one most suited to your needs, where it’s controlling the telly with a wave or DJing to a crowd. We’re told real DJs are using them to do things like make the tempo rise and fall during sets.

Yes. Here’s number 11 in our top 10. It’s bonus content. Deal with it. Noke (pronounced ‘No Key’) (Amazon, £69.99) is the device every cyclist has been waiting for. It’s a Bluetooth padlock. When your phone is nearby, the padlock is open. When your phone goes out of range, it’s locked. Simple as that. And for emergencies there’s a morse code tapping back up code. In short, if you trust your phone with money, why not trust it as a key too? µ

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