Tech Buzz


Gadget Ogling: Casting Discs, Scent-uous Sunrises and Surfing Without Waves

Welcome to the latest edition of Gadget Dreams and Nightmares. Hop on our express train to utopic recently announced gadgets, whizzing by the ghost towns of those that fail to pass muster.

Ahead on the tracks this week are a new player in the streaming media accessory game, an alarm clock with a focus on smell, and the personal water travel system of the future.

These are reviews about as much as soccer governing body FIFA is a trustworthy, ethical organization. The ratings reflect only how interested I am in trying out each.

Cast Into the Ether

Media streaming is becoming an ever-crowded market thanks to players like Chromecast, Sling, Apple TV and Roku. We can add another player to the mix with Lenovo Cast (pictured above), which will become available in August.

The puck-shaped accessory can stream 1080p video to your TV from your smartphone, tablet or computer.

What’s compelling about this is it can display just about anything you have on your smartphone through DLNA and Miracast capability. That should make it a bit more versatile than a Chromecast, which, outside of some app integrations, is run from a Chrome browser.

It seems fine, I suppose. Nothing outstandingly impressive at first look other than the compatibility. The design leaves a lot to be desired, however. At least the Chromecast can tuck away in an HDMI slot, and won’t provide an invitation to overenthusiastic hockey fans to hurl it around my living room.

Rating: 3 out of 5 Lines Cast

Smell of Success

I am a horrible morning person, as much as I’d like to be an easy early riser. So perhaps I should turn to a smell-based alarm to see if that works. Short of hopping out of bed and cooking bacon on a bedside grill, then napping for a few more minutes so I can wake to that sweet, delicious scent (just like Michael Scott), SensorWake might be my solution.

SensorWake apparently causes almost everyone (i.e., those without a stuffy nose) to rise within 2 minutes with its array of scents. There’s a backup regular audio alarm if you happen to not turn off the SensorWake within three minutes.

The scents on offer from the outset, should SensorWake reach its crowdfunding goal, include coffee, chocolate, seaside, peppermint — and even money. My significant other would especially love the fig option, whereas I’m more likely to opt for hot chocolate. Each scent cartridge, for which perfumers created the pongs, may be used up to 60 times.

It seems much more appetizing than unpleasant lights, sound or vibration waking me up. Instead of rising like a bear with a sore head, I suspect my mornings would be a little more enjoyable. Sold.

Rating: 5 out of 5 Love the Smell of Maple in the Mornings

Jet Cruising

I’ve always loved being in or near water. I’ve never been much of a sun lover, but pools and open water inevitably draw me in. So, yes, I am tremendously excited for an electric surfboard.

Wakejet Cruise is not for the faint of heart. It tops out at 29 miles per hour and can maintain that speed for up to 30 minutes on one charge. The battery can last up to an hour at slower speeds. While it hits roughly the same speeds as those on water skis, you’ll need to keep your balance and put in some work to make sure you don’t end up in the drink.

Riders control the speed with a remote and there’s naturally an accompanying smartphone app. The board comes with GPS, and the battery can fully charge in an hour.

That’s a pretty solid setup. I’d absolutely love to get my hands on one and scoot across the lakes around my neck of the woods. I’d certainly fall off a lot, but I am sure I’d love every minute of it.

I’m already imagining living on a small island — a village with everything I need just across a small slip of water. I’d take this instead of a boat to grab a few groceries. Bliss.

I am a little perplexed as to why the Wakejet Cruise needs an accompanying smartphone app. I don’t expect that I’d want to control the board using a phone and, other than for tracking it after a theft or retracing my route later, I don’t imagine there’s a reason to use an app while not on the board, either.

I would be more than happy to take one of these out on the water at any time. It’s a wonderful-looking contraption, and I embrace it wholeheartedly. If only there were some kind benefactor willing to sponsor me to take YouTube action videos with it, since I doubt I’ll be picking up one soon with that US$20,000 price tag.

Rating: 5 out of 5 Man Overboards

Kris Holt is a writer and editor based in Montreal. He has written for the Daily Dot, The Daily Beast, and PolicyMic, among others. He's Scottish, so would prefer if no one used the word "soccer" in his company. You can connect with Kris on Google+.

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