Gadgets backwards and forwards
The Whistle Activity Monitor and more
Tech gadgets dominated again in 2014, of course, and, glad to say, some of the most popular of the expert’s choices appeared in these pages earlier in the year. Door locks that can be operated by a smartphone came into their own in 2014, as did some early versions of the connected home. Nest launched a learning thermostat and a phone-connected smoke alarm. At the end of the year came the SmartThings Smart Home starter kit (US$199; smartthings.com), which allows your cell phone to monitor almost anything in your home including your kids and cars, and it was on most gadget hot lists.
The Whistle Activity Monitor (US$99; whistle.com) went animal with a health tracker for your dog. Before you scoff, consider this: the device attaches to the pet’s collar and tracks what Fido is doing all day. Whether he’s active, sleeping or eating, it sends the info to your phone, something especially useful when you’re not at home.
In the cell-phone world, Apple snatched back a lot of the action with the launch of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus ($749; apple.com). Both cells made it to most top10 lists. Some favoured the 6, but the 6 Plus was generally ranked higher thanks to its superior camera, longer battery life and screen resolution. The size of the slab remains controversial — too big for a phone, too small for a tablet? Apple also scored with the new, super-thin iPad mini 2 ($329) considered good enough to do anything you don’t do on your phone.
Staying with the category, the Mophie space pack (from US$149.95; mophie.com), which can add up to 64 gigs of storage and eight hours of battery life to the iPhone5 and 5s, became a must-have accessory for heavy iPhone users as the year ended..
This year is also likely to start strong for Apple with the launch of the Apple Watch. The sheer number of apps available for the device will put it out in front of the existing wearables, but it won’t have the market all to itself. The Pebble Watch and Pebble Steel (getpebble.com) launched in 2014, work with both iOS and Android phones, and what they lack in apps they make up in for in price at US$100 for the Pebble Watch versus US$350 for Apple Watch. One thing is certain; a lot more people are going to be looking at their wrists in 2015.
This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.