Christmas is fast approaching, and for geeks, it’s also an opportunity to complete their technological arsenal. Whether as a gift or to treat yourself, we offer a selection of five gadgets that will have their place under the tree.
HUANUO laptop stand – 42.99€
Whether working remotely or relaxing, laptops are especially handy when it comes to getting away from the office. But using them on your sofa or warm in your bed is often not very practical; this is where the supports specially designed for this purpose, such as the one from HUANUO, come into play. This 55x35cm model (mouse pad included) completely abandons the side feet. Instead, there are two comfortable pads, and at a very well calibrated height (although this obviously depends on size and morphology).
The front-placed fabric wrist rest helps stabilize any device, even ones with non-slip pads that have seen better days. At the back, there are two supports that can easily accommodate a tablet, a smartphone or a few pens. And in between, the generous surface area accommodates any laptop up to 17” and a mouse with ease.
On our side, we have only identified two potential flaws. The first is the weight (just over 1.5 kg) which could put some people off. Users who do not wish to place a support on their legs will therefore certainly prefer a lighter or footed model. The other is the lack of active ventilation; it is therefore not really suitable for gaming laptops which tend to heat up a lot, in addition to being very bulky. But despite these two points, it is a very practical and comfortable tray.
Konyks Priska Max Easy – 22,90€
You are sometimes surprised by your electricity bill, but you have trouble identifying the culprit? Or maybe you just want to accurately measure the consumption of a brand new household appliance or computer? The ideal in these situations is to use a socket with an integrated meter such as the Priska Max Easy from Konys.
Once connected, the accompanying application allows you to study the consumption of a device instantly or over a specific period. Nothing very elaborate at this level, and advanced users who want to perform a precise audit will probably have to turn to more expensive products. It also allows you to define operating time slots. Note also that it is possible to control it via Alexa, Google, or Siri shortcuts. The icing on the cake: the user can create some automation scenarios himself. This allows, for example, to cut the power when the socket detects prolonged inactivity, or to turn on a fan when the temperature exceeds a certain threshold. At less than 25€, it is an excellent device that will make your life much easier.
Shiatsu massage cushion – 32,99€
When you spend long hours sitting in front of a screen, whether at work, for entertainment or both, certain muscles and joints can become sore over the hours. To remedy this, the first instinct is obviously to choose a suitable seat, adopt the right posture and do a little exercise from time to time. But sometimes, the usual recommendations are not necessarily enough to ensure the comfort of the user throughout the day. As a last resort or simply to offer yourself a little extra touch of relaxation, it is possible to fall back on massage devices like this Shiatsu cushion.
It’s a relatively standard massage cushion, with two groups of four rollers that rotate to relieve the desired area. These are also slightly heated, which is of no use in summer but comes in handy in the middle of winter. By its shape, it is primarily designed to be placed at the neck, but works just as well under the feet when sitting or under the legs when lying down. A very significant reinforcement to get rid of some stiffness without breaking the bank!
Logitech K400 Multimedia Keyboard – €44.90
Since connected TVs have colonized our living rooms, many users are still looking for the ideal solution to control their media center remotely. Universal remotes and some smartphone apps work for the majority of cases, but some users prefer an all-in-one accessory that allows them to both type and easily navigate through their video library or catalog Netflix.
This is the category that multimedia keyboards like the Logitech K400 are aimed at. This is a surprisingly nice membrane keyboard compared to other products in this category, which often provide a pretty disastrous typing experience. Thanks to its integrated multimedia buttons, touchpad and physical click buttons, it is possible to navigate very intuitively without taking your eyes off the screen, unlike some other devices, admittedly smaller but with strange shapes. It is also an ideal companion for small devices that are not always easy to access; on our side, it has been with us for some time and always does wonders in tandem with a Raspberry Pi. Add to that a rather colossal autonomy, and you get a very good spare keyboard whose only fault is the absence of physical wheel.
Arduino Starter Kit – 80€
To conclude this list of gadgets, here is a more expensive, but oh so rewarding product: the Arduino Starter Kit. If you or someone close to you – especially the younger ones – is interested in the different facets of engineering, look no further because this is the ideal gateway to discover these disciplines. This package contains everything needed to carry out fifteen didactic and fun projects at the frontier of mechanics, electronics and computing: a synthesizer, a code lock, a motorized reel, a control panel for a spaceship… and even a theremin, this funny instrument that is played by moving your hands in the air!
But if it seems complicated to you, don’t panic: an excellent 170-page manual will guide you through each step while explaining precisely the role of each component and the interest of the different manipulations (however, be sure to order it in French version ). And that is where the true value of this kit lies. Once the 15 projects have been completed, you will have all the necessary bases to tackle more ambitious projects and to understand more in-depth explanations. The icing on the cake: this kit is so well designed that it can be followed by an adult, but also by a young person of around twelve years of age. Or by both at the same time, in which case it turns into a very nice family project.
Certainly, from a strictly quantitative point of view, the price remains quite high compared to the components contained in the box; if you already have the basic skills, this kit will not be of much interest to you. But if you’re starting from scratch, it’s an ideal starting point for designing your own projects in home automation, robotics… or any other -ic discipline! The Arduino Starter Kit is available from the official Arduino website, at this address.