Sean Bacher tries out the Apple Wireless Keyboard, the JawBone Mini Jambox, Leap Motion and the Sphero remote controlled ball.
Apple wireless keyboard
Like most other Apple devices, the wireless keyboard is not only beautifully made, but is functional. It connects to a Mac notebook or desktop using the computer’s internal Bluetooth – meaning that there is no need for an additional dongle that many other keyboards have. The keyboard is quite compact, in fact it is no bigger than the one found on a MacBook Pro. It uses white chicklet keys, which are comfortable to use and give a great tactile feedback, but the only problem is they begin to show signs of dirt after a very short time. It uses two AA batteries and users can monitor the battery level by accessing the Keyboard option under System Preferences.
Expect to pay: R1 099
JawBone Mini Jambox
The JawBone Mini Jambox may be small, but it really makes itself heard. The device connects to most Bluetooth enabled devices with the JawBone Jambox app installed and allows users to control its volume directly from the app. When connected to a smartphone, the Jambox acts as a loudspeaker, automatically pausing a song when a user is on the phone and then resuming it once the call is ended. Users can also operate the Jambox via a physical volume control, a play/pause button and a power switch. The speaker is available in silver, red and graphite.
Expect to pay: R1 999
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When Tom Cruise used his hands to interact with windows and applications on Minority Report, many of us thought that there was still some time before we would see it in real life and on a home computer. That said, it is here and it comes in the form of the Leap Motion. The device is a rectangular box a little bigger than a USB stick that sits in front of your computer. Once connected via USB and its accompanying Airspace app launched, users are able to draw and interact with various applications by waiving their hands over the device. At the moment there are only a handful of apps that work with the Leap Motion and it can only be used within the Airspace environment. But, it is just a matter of time before users will be able to control an entire computer without touching a mouse.
Expect to pay: R1 300
The Sphero 2.0 is a remote controlled ball. It connects to an Android or Apple mobile device via Bluetooth and uses augmented reality. Users are able to navigate the ball around rooms by simply tilting their phone or tablet in the direction they want the ball to roll. Apps are available that allow users to battle each other, jump the ball over ramps or even knock virtual pins over. Setting up is easy, but getting used to navigating the ball does take some time. The ball’s speed can be throttled for first-timers and can be pushed up to seven feet per second for professionals. A rugged cover is available for outdoors and the Sphero is waterproof.
Expect to pay: R2 000