What defines a great gadget? Arguably, it can be captured in a single word: desire.
The high end of smartphone, tablet and laptop ranges depend heavily on this basic concept for their market share. But then there are the rest of the gadgets, as well as the rest of the market, where both consumer and business users are looking not only for the best value for money, but also the highest utility.
One way to sum it up is: can this gadget save your life? And here we’re talking about social life, business survival and career success. In this context, we look at: The Most Useful Consumer Gadgets of 2012
1. Vodafone R205 WiFi Router
Made by Huawei, this portable Wi-Fi hotspot disappears in a pocket, but delivers up to 21Mbps download for up to 8 users.
There are many mobile Wi-Fi alternatives, but this one offers the best value for money.
Price: R879 once-off (Vodacom).
R159 per month with 2GB data for 24 months (Vodacom).
Best contract option: Huawei E5331 Router. R998 once-off (8ta). R248 per month with 10GB data for 24 months (8ta)
The PowerTraveller is one of a wide range of novelty accessories from Power Monkey, but this is no gimmick.
With one charge of the device, it can recharge a typical smartphone three times, and a range of adaptors means it also works with MP3 players and e-readers.
Given that the average high-end smartphone cannot deliver a full working day’s performance, and that a working trip may cover several days without quick access to a power point, this is a business and social lifesaver.
Price: R700 (from outdoor and electronics retailers) (Full details at: http://www.wintecsolutions.co.za)
3. Wireless Wipes
It is now general knowledge that computer keyboards carry more germs than a dirty bathroom. Before long, realisation will dawn that tablet and smartphone screens are just as bad.
Wiping with a dry cloth cleans the dirt but redistributes the germs. Wet cloths leave streaks and blotches. If only there were the equivalent of baby wipes, but without the pungent odour and the excessive wetness, right?
Now there is: called Wireless Wipes – specifically designed for smartphones, tablets, laptops and other touchscreen devices. They disinfect but are not too wet, so are fast-drying, non-streaking and non-corrosive.
Like baby wipes, they come in re-sealable pouches, each containing 12 wipes. They come in a variety of subtle scents, too, namely Pomegranate Citrus, Green Tea Cucumber and Rosemary Peppermint. It’s not strictly a gadget, but it will keep your gadgets from killing you.
Price: R55 per pouch
(Full details at: http://www.wirelesswipes.co.za)
Next up are the gadgets that enhance your business life, especially if you run a small business, or home office.
Most Useful Business Gadget of 2012: 3M Pocket Projector MP410
The 3M MP410 projector is a delight. It fits in the palm of the hand, but has the power of a typical boardroom projector. It can be linked to a computer, or slip a USB flash drive or SD card into the back, and it projects a high quality image onto a wall or screen.
Price: R7999 (recommended retail)(Full details at: http://solutions.3m.co.za/wps/portal/3M/en_ZA/PocketProjectors)
Most Useful Printer of 2012: Kodak ESP Office 2170 All-in-One Printer
First, there are the usual features: all in one printer, scanner, copier and fax, and Wi-Fi printing. But it also allows you to scan to PC, e-mail, network folders, and – especially usefully – to memory cards or USB flash drives.
Take photos on a smartphone and, via an app called Pic Flick, print out on the 2170, even if you’re on the other side of the world. Most usefully of all, the cost of replacement cartridges makes all competitors look ridiculous: R99 for black ink, R149 for colour.
Price: R1499 (recommended retail)
(Full details at: http://www.gadget.co.za/pebble.asp?relid=3600)
Most Useful Deal of the Year: Uncapped Wi-Fi from Nashua Mobile and Wireless G
Nashua Mobile has launched a near-uncapped Wi-Fi service (after 3GB of use, the speed is throttled down) over Wireless G’s Wi-Fi hotspot service, G-Connect.
Not only are there more than 1 800 G-Connect Wi-Fi hotspots across South Africa, but the price includes in-flight Wi-Fi on all domestic Mango flights.
The monthly subscription is cheaper than the cost of using Wi-Fi on a single Mango flight as a once-off service.
Price: R39 a month
(Full details at: http://www.gadget.co.za/pebble.asp?relid=5465) – gadget.co.za
* Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget. Follow him on Twitter or Pinterest on @art2gee.