Welcome to Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, the column that makes a list of the latest gadget announcements and checks it twice to find those that deserve coal.
In our stocking this week are a smartphone with an extremely long-lasting battery, a drone that can follow around suspicious people, and a dedicated activity tracker for skiers.
As always, these are not formal reviews, as I haven’t even seen these products in the flesh. The ratings relate only to how much I’d like to try out each item. I should get to try them all, though, since I’ve definitely been more nice than naughty this year.
10 Days Away
If the dream for many in the modern world is to have a smartphone that never needs a charge, Oukitel’s K10000 is a pretty good runner-up.
The smartphone is named for its 10,000mAh battery. When subjected to “normal” use, it’s good for 10 to 15 days between charges. Given that many smartphones will need some extra juice after around 10 hours of typical use, that seems a tall order. However, with intelligent power management it’s absolutely possible.
To have a modern smartphone with such a long battery life, you’ll need to compromise somewhere. Indeed, the specifications don’t quite match the top-of-the-line devices on the market.
It has a quad-core 1-GHz processor, 2 GB of RAM, a 720p 5-inch screen, 2-MP and 8-MP front- and rear-facing cameras, and 16 GB of expandable storage. It runs Android 5.1 — but, let’s face it, the specs aren’t the major selling points here.
I’d wager there are a lot of people who’d be happy to have a smartphone that didn’t pack as much power as the latest Samsung Galaxy or iPhone if it meant you could go almost two weeks without a charge — especially those who frequently travel to remote areas. At US$240 ($199 through a preorder period), the price is right too. Life would be so much easier for Bear Grylls with one of these.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Still Need a Cell Tower Nearbys
Eye in the Sky
We’re almost into 2016, so why on Earth would anyone still rely on static, poor quality security cameras to identify intruders or other troublemakers? Why settle for low tech when you can employ a drone to automatically follow those suspicious individuals around to capture as many of their actions as possible?
Secom’s security drone takes off from a launchpad (which has a built-in recharging system) whenever other security systems detect a suspicious person or car.
It sends pictures it takes of ne’er-do-wells to Secom, which can determine how threatening the person or vehicle is.
The drone, which costs US$6,575 with a $41 monthly service subscription, is not a consumer product, so good luck finding one to protect that horde of gold you have stashed under your garage. It also has a top speed of 6 mph, so it’s perhaps not the best solution for tracking a moving car — or even a fast runner.
While it flies up to 16 feet high, there’s no telling how effective it will be against a criminal who can throw heavy objects to damage it.
Still, as a way of monitoring an entire property and capturing photos from a number of angles, it’s a good idea. Just don’t expect this drone to take perfect selfies of you.
Rating: 3 out of 5 on Candid Cameras
The warm spell we’re having in the Northeast means there haven’t been too many people heading for the slopes yet this season. However, when the snow comes — and it will come — skiers might look to take advantage of PIQ’s ski sensor.
It attaches to any ski boot and measures metrics like carving angle, G-force, air time and rotation. Naturally, you can check your performance data whenever you like through a smartphone app, which displays information about your best turns and times. You also have the option of putting your stats against your ski-loving friends or anyone else who uses the sensor.
I’m not a skier, and personal experience suggests I would not stand a snowball’s chance in hell of making it safely down a novice slope any time soon. The chances that I would want to try this out are minimal, so I’m forced to give it a low rating. Still, I’m an admirer of the push to have activity trackers dedicated to specific uses.
General activity trackers can give a good snapshot of how your workouts are improving, but they can’t possibly account for every nuance of every physical endeavor. If you’re dedicated to a single pursuit, it would make sense for you to have an activity tracker that would supply more detailed knowledge of that, rather than something that also would track your walk to the car.
Rating: 2 out of 5 Take Me to the Slopes, Please!