Essential summer tech: Four innovations for the holiday break

It’s been a long year, and at this point, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been testing a new gadget or gadget and said, “This would be perfect for the summer.”

First, it is not so much a device, but a device made possible by advances in technology and materials; The Roccbox. It’s essentially an $ 800 stone pizza oven, but portable, which isn’t all that impressive until you realize it can hit 500 degrees Celsius and cook a Neapolitan pizza in about a minute. Having a little gas-fired dome that you can place on your deck or take with you to Christmas is a very cool sight, but it also does an impressive job.

Now to be honest the first pizza I ever cooked in this was a disaster. The Roccbox comes with a nice peel and a recipe book, but what I was missing was any ideas on how to slide the pizza bases in and out of the oven without sticking to everything. Once you get the hang of it, it works great, and it’s so satisfying to see the crust immediately puff up and rise as you break up a batch of pre-made cakes.

From a safety standpoint, I was impressed that the silicone cover never gets hot enough to maim, despite the extreme heat inside, but it’s still not something you want kids to touch. It’s also quite heavy and only has small, stubby legs that fold flat (presumably for maximum stability), so while placing it high up would make sense for throwing pizza, easier said than done.

Every summer gathering needs music, and while the market is flooded with huge party speakers that promise epic bass and built-in strobes, my pick for a portable speaker is the decidedly less bombastic Sonos Roam. First and foremost, it sounds great inside and out despite being small and weighing in at around 400 grams. It won’t drown out an entire rowdy pool party, but unlike a large speaker, you can take it anywhere and it’s also appropriate for more intimate listening.

For $ 300 it’s water and dust resistant, which is always useful in a portable speaker and works well with any other connected speaker you have thanks to the Sonos app and a built-in microphone for Alexa or the Google Assistant. If you take the Roam out of your home, you can switch from Wi-Fi to Bluetooth.

If it has a weakness, it is that the battery tends to drain even when you are not using it, and there is nothing worse than taking a speaker somewhere and discovering that it is dead. Fortunately, it charges pretty fast via USB-C and supports wireless charging, so you could get a little Qi charging unit (or the official $ 80 wireless charger) and get in the habit of keeping it there.

In an attempt to beat the post-crash blues, I have recently been testing an e-bike, the Zoomo Sport, curious as to whether I would get along with it given that I haven’t ridden a regular bike for around 15 years. To my surprise, it was much easier than I had imagined. The motor assist (and the nine-speed gears) meant that he could control how hard he needed to pedal to move the bike, and after a relearn period, he could easily do a 20km round trip without feeling that he was a danger to others.

At $ 3,000, the electric bike is expensive, and most people will probably be just as happy with the one that’s much less expensive, but it sure is nice. It has a 250-watt electric motor that can allow you to comfortably navigate uphill without killing your legs, or to drag you at 25 km / h, depending on what level you set it to. It charges in four hours, has a range of around 80 km, comes with integrated light and a luggage rack with a capacity of 40 kg.

Zoomo also claims that it is virtually impossible to steal, and I didn’t bother to prove that claim. A lock is activated when you try to move or ride a bike without sliding the key first, which means you will have to lift it to get away with it. It also has a constant GPS connection, and if you pay for a subscription, Zoomo will send goons (or “recovery agents”) to retrieve it in case it gets lost. The company is working on an application, so you can see the location yourself.

Of course, sometimes it’s too hot to go outside, and that’s where this latest device comes in. The $ 180 Tado Smart AC Control V3 + is a small, unobtrusive box that acts as an intermediary between your internet connection and virtually any air conditioner, old-fashioned wall-mounted air conditioning unit in the 21st century.

Just plug the Tado into power, use the app to connect it to Wi-Fi and show it what kind of air conditioner you have, and then place it somewhere where you have a line of sight to the air conditioner. When you make changes to your network (through the app, or an automation integration like IFFT, or through Alexa or the Google Assistant), the Tado sends out an infrared signal, like an old-school AC remote. But without the messy buttons and hideous screens they often have.

However, the benefit isn’t just that you can yell out loud what temperature you want it to be instead of using the remote. The Tado measures temperature and humidity, so you can set it to turn on or off at certain thresholds, it lets you manage your air conditioning even when you’re not at home, and with some settings, you can even turn it off when you go home and again when I get back.

You have to wait 75 seconds.

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