Outdoor tech for summer
After the dark, cold and wet slog that is winter, evenings are warming up and getting lighter, my thoughts turn back to the great outdoors.
There are piles of gadgets designed for indoor use, but what about gear for the outside? I went in search of outdoors gear to make the most of the coming summer.
Green Mountain Grill ($1500)
There's nothing quite like scorching some meat on a warm summer evening. At my place, BBQ cooking has a high-tech twist in the form of the Daniel Boone Green Mountain Grill BBQ. It comes with an in-built wi-fi router. That's right, the Daniel Boone is smartphone-controlled BBQ. It'll deliver exact temperatures and timings to cook meat to perfection.
It's made of steel plating and is on wheels but needs to be near a power outlet. Being steel, rust is an issue. If you intend on leaving it outdoors, buy a cover and wheel it out of the weather when not in use.
While Kiwi BBQs use a flame and hotplate, the Daniel Boone uses indirect heat from burning wood pellets. This is the preferred method of BBQ cooking in the southern states of the US where grilling is an art-form.
Burning wood pellets generate smoke. Different wood pellets impart different smoky accents onto whatever you're cooking. The effect is mouth-watering. Just make sure you have enough pellets before you start. The alarm to alert you that you're running low is loud enough to raise the dead.
UE Megaboom ($329)
Logitech launched the weatherproof UE Boom a few years back. It's a tough and reliable way of streaming audio from a phone over Bluetooth.
They're not cheap but they deliver a hell of a lot of audio bang for your buck.
The UE Megaboom is an XXL-sized version of the original UE Boom. Logitech has decked it out with the All Blacks silver fern and a black finish. It has a rubber strip running its length which houses volume controls.
Its rubber top has both power and Bluetooth pairing buttons. On its underside is a D-Ring. This allows you to hang it from a nail next to the BBQ. It is shockproof and IPX7 rated, so the odd soaking won't hurt it.
Powering it up causes me to jump every time. Logitech has set the All Blacks haka as the start-up sound.
Aside from large rubberised + and – buttons, the Megaboom doesn't sport lots of controls. Audio tweaks get carried out with the UE boom app (free for both iOS and Android) and You can pair two units for more sound.
It won't deafen you, but it handles the volume at full tilt well. Given its small form-factor, I was well surprised at the warm sound it produced. The Megaboom dishes out a surprising amount of bass, even at lower volumes.
Dog and Bone LockSmart Padlock ($123)
Keeping any gadgets outside is tempting fate. You could go old-school and use a padlock, but the folks at Dog and Bone have an even better idea. They've done away with keys, replacing them with encrypted electronic keys sent over Bluetooth.
When I say the LockSmart is solid, I'm not kidding. It feels like it'd survive a thermonuclear war.
It resembles an old-school padlock. About the only noticeable difference is the lack of a key hole. On its underside is a silicon flap covering a charging port and a reset button.
Installing the LockSmart app saw my phone scanning for locks. Once it found the LockSmart, it worked as advertised. I could ping it with an unlock command and it sprung open. Magic!
The LockSmart comes into its own when you need to share access to it. You could leave a key with a housesitter but they'd probably lose it. The LockSmart app lets you text a key to them and the LockSmart can record who unlocks it.
D-Link outdoor camera ($169)
Locking gadgets away is one thing but keeping an eye on them is another thing altogether. It just got that much easier thanks to D-Link's DCS-2330L outdoor wi-fi camera.
It has a white plastic splash and dust-proof case. That and its extra-long power supply cable means that it's usable outdoors. It just needs to be within reach of wi-fi.
The DCS-2330L features 1MP sensor that can stream video at 1280 by 720. It'll keep working after the sun goes down thanks to a 5m night vision range. A small antenna sits on its left. There's also a weatherproof power jack, plus an ethernet port and microSD slot on its rear.
Other features include email alerts if it detects motion. It can also be set up for scheduled recordings. You can also view the live video as well as record video onto to its SD card (not included).
False alarms can be a problem with some motion detectors. Not so with the DCS-2330L. With the web app, you can mark where you want it to look for movement. There's also a slider to adjust motion detection sensitivity.
During my testing, the DCS-2330L delivered a crisp daytime video in full colour. Night vision is grayscaled. Video footage captured within the 5m infrared range was also good and tweaking the motion detection settings also makes a big difference.