5 Christmas Tech Toys to Absolutely Avoid

5 Christmas Tech Toys to Absolutely Avoid

Robert Wilkinson December 11, 2019 Technology, Opinion

1. VIZR HUD

Have you ever watched Top Gun and thought to yourself that it would be super cool to be a fighter pilot? Me too, until I discovered that you had to join the military and do all that pesky ‘training’ and marching around and the like. Fear not though, for the princely sum of around $20.00 you can at least get some of the cool tech that they use in actual fighter jets by buying your very own Heads Up Display (or HUD for all the wanna be fighter pilots). Right now on Ebay you can purchase the VIZR car HUD which will (theoretically) allow you to keep your eyes on the road while still being able to show you the contents of the phone on a semi transparent screen mounted on your dash. Why would you want one of these rather than just get a windscreen mount for your phone you ask? That is a very good question and in all honesty, apart from the ‘this is kinda cool’ aspect of it I’m not entirely sure why you would either. Considering that the screen is projected to just a little bit higher than the dashboard instead of directly in your field of vision (as in a fighter jet), I’m not sure that there is huge utility in one of these things. Perhaps buy one for Secret Santa for a nerdy colleague?

2. RFID Blocking Cards

Imagine this, you are walking through your local shopping mall, your wallet / purse is in your back pocket, some strange guy in a trench coat walks up really close behind you and touches your behind with a sinister black device. Is it Harvey Weinstein? No. Worse. It is a hacker who has just stolen all your card details and is emptying your bank accounts as we speak by reading the RFID chips in your credit cards! Sound far fetched? You bet. Are there easier (and less risky) ways for a thief to get your credit card details? Most definitely! Even though this paranoid fantasy is usually just that, a whole industry has sprung up around ‘protecting’ people from just this scenario. Check on YouTube or any number of Google searches and you will find companies hawking anything from RFID blocking jeans to RFID blocking cards for your wallet which brings us to our latest questionable tech present. $4.95 on Amazon right now will buy you the CARD SHIELD! For all of your RFID protection needs. How do I know that it works? They use CAPS LOCK FOR MUCH OF THEIR ADVERTISEMENT… that makes it fully legit. Personally I think that this is as likely to save you from card fraud as utilising a watering can to put out a forest fire might be but that’s just me. If you have a seriously paranoid relative who worries about this type of thing, buy one for them and they’ll love you forever.

3. Additional camera lenses for phones

What can we say about these things…. No. Just… No. If you have been living in a cave for the past few years you may not have come across these ‘must have’ additions to your fancy new i-thing or droid-toy but for everyone else I’m sure you have seen these advertised in all the usual places. What they purport to do for around 20 bucks is to turn your phone into the latest and greatest DSLR. Really? The manufacturers of these phones spend a small fortune (and charge you one too) to add camera’s and lenses that these days take amazing photos and videos. The chances of one of these cheapy add-on lenses actually enhancing these cameras is exceedingly slim…. This one goes into the Secret Santa pile as well (just don’t give it to someone who is a camera snob).

4. HP Sprocket Photo Printer

I’m of 2 minds about this one. The HP Sprocket Photo Printer actually appears to do a good job if you read the reviews floating around on the internet. The prints apparently come out reasonably well (someone mumbled something about the dark areas not being great) and the printer itself is not terribly priced. The printer comes with a handy app for your phone/PC/laptop and will let you add witty captions and overlay interesting doodles if that is your thing. It comes in 2 flavours, one that fits in your pocket and one that….. erm… doesn’t. Both are fairly portable and might come in handy if you are heading down to a rave or some such and need to desperately print a recently taken selfie of yourself and a few of your new besties.

On the other hand though, it is stupidly expensive to print photos. Once you burn through the 10 (that’s right… 10) ZINK sticky-backed photo paper that come with it, another 20 of these will cost you $18.50 (down from $21.26!!!). That is insane. Each photo will cost you $0.92 to print. When you contrast this to a professionally printed photo at the likes of BigW or Harvey Norman at around $0.15, you have really got to wonder how this is still ‘a thing’. My take is that unless you have far too much spare money or maybe you are a millennial looking for a break from Avocado Toast, this thing is wildly expensive and probably not worth the novelty value.

5. The Smarter iKettle

If there is ever an award given out to marketing departments for convincing people to hand over cash for dubious benefit, first place would have to go to the Stonehenge guys… I mean honestly, it is a bunch of rocks that you can’t get too near that will cost you about $36 to visit! Second prize however, would go to the makers of the iKettle. This eighth wonder of the world will allow you to boil water… remotely. What would be the use of that I hear you ask? No. Clue. Water has been boiled by people for thousands of years. This is not new technology. Adding an app so that you can start boiling water remotely does not in any way shape or form advance human civilisation.  ‘But Wait!’ I hear you exclaim, it has a ‘Strix’ controller. What is this Strix controller they speak of? I’m pretty sure the ‘Strix’ controller can probably fit into the same category of mangled marketing speak as Boswelox and Learnings (don’t get me started) and has very little actual use beyond bamboozling anyone into thinking it must be something quite new and innovative. On a positive note though, the manufacturer notes that it is compatible with both iOS and Android so in that respect they are contemptuous of everyone equally! This one is strictly for overpaid bank bosses, politicians on expense accounts and Kendall Jenner…. Avoid at all costs.

 

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