iPhone? Yawn. Dell laptop? Old news. DJI drones? Meh.
If you love your gadgets, but are in search of lesser-known and unique ones, you’ve come to the right place.
There are many extraordinary tech toys available, some of which aren’t in Canada just yet or perhaps you don’t know about them because they haven’t garnered the same amount of attention as others.
Here’s a look at six such examples. Oh, and if you’ve got one to share, feel free to leave a comment below and we’ll check it out.
By far, this is my favourite piece of technology — but it’s not yet available in the Great White North.
Essentially, Amazon Echo (US $179) is a personal digital assistant for your home. Simply plug this cylindrical speaker into the wall, join it to your Wi-Fi connection, and then even if your hands are full you can say the wake word, “Alexa,” followed by any number of questions or commands. Ask something like “What’s going on in the news” or “Play pop music” or ask to read recipes, pay your bills, give you sports scores, tune a guitar, remind you to do something, check traffic and weather, tell you jokes, and much more. Alexa’s voice is extremely clear, loud and lifelike, and the microphone is super sensitive, so it accurate picks up your request from anywhere nearby.
Its cloud-connected brain gets all updates on the backend, and works with many dozens of smart home accessories, so you can use your voice to control lights, thermostats, and much more.
Lenovo Yoga Book
The award-winning Lenovo Yoga Book ($649 for Android, $749 for Windows) is the world’s thinnest 2-in-1 computer at just 4mm thin when opened — but while one half of this clamshell device has a 10.1-inch screen, the other half is a touch-enabled surface instead of a physical keyboard. A “Halo” touch keyboard illuminates when you want to type, offering haptic feedback — so it vibrates slightly under your fingertips — along with auto-correction that learns the more you use it.
If that wasn’t cool enough, Lenovo Yoga Book also includes a digital stylus so you can write, draw or sketch on one half of the device and the words or drawings show up on the high-def screen in real-time, plus there are real ink tips and a paper notebook included if you want to lay it down on the device and have the Yoga Book capture what you’re doing (and even digitized into text), too.
Battery life tops 13 hours.
Keep an eye on your pet while at work, and even dispense treats on demand. That’s the premise behind Furbo ($299).
Simply connect this HD camera to your Wi-Fi network, install the free app on your smartphone or tablet, and then kiss your dog or cat goodbye as you leave the house. Now, wherever life takes you, launch the app, talk to your pet, snap a pic or shoot video, and dispense a treat from the launcher by swiping your screen.
Other features include night vision to see your pet in the dark, and a barking alert option, if you’d like to receive notifications to your phone.
So now you can see what your furry friend all day to see if it’s anything like the Secret Life of Pets movie.
Whether you’re a student, home office worker, photo lover or scrap-booker, the Epson Expression ET-2550 EcoTank All-in-One ($349) is a unique all-in-one as it lets you print for up to two years before you need to refill the ink tanks.
Yes, you read that correctly.
This Wi-Fi-enabled printer/scanner/copier has an ink yield of 4,000 black and 6,500 colour prints, and can print up to 9.2 pages per minute for black and 4.5 pages for colour.
And when it’s time to replace the ink, each bottle only costs $18 per colour. And it’s ok if you’re not too tech-savvy as pouring the bottles of ink into the colour-coded tanks is also a lot simpler than replacing ink cartridges.
This teeny $99 box for your TV lets you play games in 4 different ways: Android gaming, with more than 1 million titles to download from the Google Play store; PC mirroring, as you can wirelessly access your games from a computer in another room; there’s support for the GameFly streaming service, and you get one month for free out of the box; and a retro emulator, so you can play a range of classic titles including 8- and 16-bit games of yesteryear.
Entec’s GEM Box includes a Bluetooth gaming controller, and support for three more to play multiplayer games. This small black box also lets you wirelessly mirror your smartphone or tablet, and it works with TV, movie and music streaming services, too. Measuring just 3.25 inches square, and less than an inch tall, there’s also a USB port and microSD slot to access other content you may have.
Moto Z Play with Insta-Share Projector
There’s one device I carry with me that elicits a “shut the front door” reaction: the Moto Z Play smartphone with a magnetic projector attached to the back. It looks like it’s part of the phone, and when you turn it on it beams an image up to 70 inches onto a nearby wall or ceiling.
This $0 phone on a 2-year plan is no slouch either. The Moto Z Play impresses for its ultra-slender body, sharp 5.5-inch screen and up to 50-hour battery.
But what really makes it shine is the various “Moto Mods” you magnetically connect to the back of the device. This includes accessories like a JBL SoundBoost Speaker ($99); Incipio offGRID Power Pack battery ($89) that adds an additional 20 hours of power; Hasselblad True Zoom camera ($349); and colorful Style Shells ($29) to customize the look of your phone (including Red Ballistic, Black Leather, and Silver Oak), and of course the Moto Insta-Share Projector ($399).