Wednesday 5 December 2018

December 2018 'gadget guru' technology for TRE Talk Radio Europe

Here's a quick reminder of the technology I talked about in today's TRE Talk Radio Europe 'gadget guru' conversation with Dave Hodgson:

1. Meater wireless thermometer

Christmas is on the way and, if you’re a meat-eater, there’s a good chance you’ll be cooking a turkey or maybe even a goose for dinner. One of the challenges of roasting anything big is making sure the inside is cooked. What you need is a cooking thermometer – but how about a wireless cooking thermometer that connects to your phone or your tablet?

Meater looks like a regular stainless steel meat thermometer but without a display, It connects via Bluetooth to your phone, which means it has a range of up to 10 metres from your oven, although there’s a boosted version called Meater Plus that’ll work up to 50m away.

First, you install the special Meater app on your phone. Next, you charge up your thermometer and then you link it to your phone. The charger doesn’t plug into the mains; it uses a regular AAA battery that should work for up to 100 charges.

Stick the thermometer into the meat, open up the app and choose the type of meat you're cooking (or, indeed, whether you're cooking poultry or fish). You then select the cut of meat and the associated temperature, so if you like your lamb 'pink'.

The Meater app then gives you an estimated cooking time (and, perhaps obviously, will alert you when the meat is cooked). You can also check progress from the sofa – or the other side of the kitchen. In fact, if you use one of Amazon's Alexa smart home devices, you can link the two together and ask Alexa how your roast dinner is coming along.

Pricing for the regular version is £79 / €89 and for Meater Plus is £99 / €109.

2. PlayStation Classic games console

Here’s a bit of nostalgia. It’s 24 years since Sony launched its original PlayStation games console in Japan. For Christmas this year, Sony is bringing back the PlayStation Classic, with 20 games from the 1990s built in. Except this new PlayStation will be almost half the size of the original.

What you get is the console (it looks like a shrunken version of the original but doesn’t need any software disks), two controllers (again, scaled-down replicas of the originals) and an HDMI cable to plug it into your television. All that’s missing is a USB power adaptor, which seems a bit mean but I’m sure you’ve got one kicking around from an old phone.

And then you’ll be able to play classics like Final Fantasy VII, Tekken 3, Ridge Racer Type 4, Grand Theft Auto and so on. These aren’t updated versions of the original games: they ARE the original games.

PlayStation Classic launched this week in Japan, the US and Europe, with an anticipated UK price of £89.99 and a European price of €99.99.

3. Big Mouth Billy Bass

About 20 years ago, one of the best gifts you could give the person who had almost everything was Big Mouth Billy Bass. He looked like a stuffed fish mounted on a wooden plaque but could sing 'Don't Worry, Be Happy' and, rather disturbingly, would also turn to face you.

Well, Billy Bass is back. The company that made him – Gemmy Industries – has updated Billy with a Bluetooth connection and compatibility with the Amazon Alexa digital assistant.

This means is you can now use him to play all types of music, not just his theme song. But better than that, Billy can now answer any questions you ask Alexa. If you have an Alexa device, you can connect it wirelessly to Billy Bass and Alexa’s voice will come out of him. Billy’s little fishy mouth even moves when Alexa talks. Alexa, what’s the weather? Alexa, what’s the temperature of my turkey?

At the moment 'new Billy' only seem to be available in the USA: I’ve seen him on Amazon for $39.99 plus shipping.

4. Monopoly Fortnite edition

Fortnite is a video game launched last year by a company called Epic Games. In the game, you and 99 other people are dropped onto a cartoonish island. Your aim is pretty simple: survive until the end of the game.

But I’m not here to talk about the online game. What I'd like to introduce is the real-world antidote to Fortnite. It's made by Hasbro, the company behind much-loved board game Monopoly, where you throw dice, move around a board, buy houses and try to make more money than anyone else.

Hasbro Monopoly Fortnite edition
Now they’ve invented the Fortnite Edition of Monopoly. Instead of moving round the streets of London, you move around the Fortnite island. Instead of earning money, you collect Health Points. You build walls, not hotels, and every time you pass Go you unleash the Storm, which can take health Points from your opponents. Ultimately, the person left with Health Points at the end of the game is the winner. If you’re a Monopoly fan and you want to get the rest of your video-playing family into it, this could be just what you’re looking for.

It’s suitable for two to seven players, age 13 and up. Pricing is around £25 (€28).

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