Too busy to wait for the kettle to boil? You need the T6!

If you have better things to do than wait for the kettle to boil, or want to create the impression that your time is too valuable for such mundanities, then you need the T6 water dispenser.

The T6 (I’ll explain the name is a minute) is a counter-top machine that is fed directly from the water mains and dispenses water in a choice of four temperatures – boiling, hot, ambient and chilled. Because it is connected to the mains there’s no need for delivery of water bottles – good for the environment and cheaper too.

T6

The time issue may be important to some, but probably the most important element that it addresses for most people is an environmental one. Many people are trying to get away from the delivery of water bottles and a move back to more environmentally friendly methods of water delivery, which the T6 delivers by being fed straight from the mains, allowing control over how much water is used.

It also includes a triple filtration unit that its makers say removes odours and particles of sand, silt, rust and chlorine in the water supply down to 0.6 micron. Chilled water is exposed to a computer controlled UV lamp which destroys micro-organisms and its ‘Zero Air Gap Technology’ prevents bacteria.

Tana Water’s MD Nick Heane believes that the T6 is bringing the process of boiling water into the 21st century:

“We are used to technology charging forward in all sorts of aspects of our lives. But the kettle has been ignored during this technological revolution. Its basic form is pretty much the same as 100 years ago – you put water into a metal container, heat it and wait for it to boil. It is very inefficient.”

The T6 comes in 12 different colours and is pretty stylish to look at – and if you’re making coffee for a horde, you can make up to 80 cups an hour – which probably makes it a top choice for an office – no more valuable employee time wasted waiting for the kettle!

Oh – and that name? Tana Water believes that the T6 will become the sixth indispensable kitchen gadget – I’ll leave you to work out which the other five are!

More on the T6 and pricing options at www.t6water.co.uk

OWL wireless electricity monitor review

Have you ever wondered about how much electricity you’re using? No? Well, you should. Because if you use too much, you’re killing the planet and stealing from your children. Don’t have children? Your stealing from your family’s children. Live a solitary, lone existence and hate everyone? Well, okay – this probably isn’t the gadget for you.

OWL is a company that pride themselves on creating devices for lowering your power consumption. It has a beautiful font and uses lots of green on its packaging. It also makes the OWL Wireless Electricity Monitor. We’ve tested it to death (figure of speech: it is still taking pride of place on our mantelpiece) and have got some pretty positive things to say.

OWL

Unlike some energy monitoring kits, the OWL’s Sender and Display units didn’t come paired before use. This meant that there was a bit of instruction-reading and button pushing before it’s ready to monitor. This isn’t much of an issue, but coupled with the fact that it has one of those annoying screw-in battery cases and you’ve got the two annoyances with the product. The only two.

Other than that, you see, it is quite marvellous. Even the aesthetic of the device has a wonderfully retro charm. Intentional or not, it is certainly endearing. If only it had been finished in bakelite.

On the well-designed display unit, the display of the important information was clearly a big deal for OWL’s engineers. The information on current usage takes up over half the screen. Hitting the “Mode” key will scroll the main display through your current KW (electricity) usage, how many kilograms of CO2 you’re pumping out an hour (0.022KG at the time of writing) and your cost per hour.

Under the main information display are two more sections. One provides you with a time, date and temperature reading, all of which prove more useful than one might think. They turn the OWL into a one-stop box for your household data needs.

The other section has a long-term version of the information displayed in the top box. For instance, mine is telling me that I’ve used 90.974KW/H since installation, created 0.0418 tonnes of C02 and spent £11.371 on electricity.

You can reset these totals at any time (with the reset button on the back), or you can hold down the ADJUST key to change it from total to an average reading for the day, week or month. It’s a neat little feature.

Ideally, it would have been nice to enable a scrolling mode which runs through all of the options, or mix and match – to display current energy use combined with total cost. However, as it stands it’s extremely easy to navigate and very responsive.

For a unit with a mere three buttons, there are a plethora of options to set if you want to delve particularly deep. You can change the tariff rate to work out your exact spend based upon your energy suppliers rate, although variable rates are a bit awkward. On/off peak times can be defined (with up to six variables allowed), but the option to drop the cost after a certain usage is not available.

You can also set an alarm to alert you if you go over a certain power usage. It is extremely difficult to find a reason for this function – set it too low, for example, and it’ll go off every time you turn on the kettle or run the iron. Set it too high and you’ll only hear the beep when the dishwasher and washing machine are engaged in an energy death-match, refereed by the fan-assisted oven and his tireless linesman, the power shower.

For green-freaks, the best thing about the device is the PC connectivity. Plug it into your computer and minute-by-minute power usage for the last 30 days will be uploaded to the OWL software. If you forget to do it within thirty days, the device also stores day-by-day power usage for nearly two years. There are plenty of different options to display the data, too. From live usage, to historical usage, to a tariff comparison chart, for finding the best deal for you.

Your usage history can also be displayed on the device, but it is nowhere near as nice a bit fiddly. Only the most neurotic of energy-savers would go to the trouble of viewing the data with the various button-presses that it entails.

Of course, no energy monitoring device would be useful without the guarantee of an accurate reading. It all comes down to the sensor device attached to the transmitting unit, which clips on to the power cable on your electricity meter. Tom at Owl cleared up the technical details for us:

The sensing device is basically a current transformer. It converts the magnetic field generated by the alternating current going through the live cable (coming from your house’s electricity meter) into a low voltage signal which is sent to the transmitter. It is this conversion process which controls the accuracy of the overall device, the better the build quality of the sensor the better the device accuracy can be.”

“We pride ourselves in very well made sensors, accurate down to a starting power load of 40W, and low power usage sensitivity of around 14W. Above 1A the best we guarantee is 10% accuracy and above 3A we deliver better than 5% accuracy.

While we couldn’t test those figures, we did manage to conduct a MacGyver test – that is, a test cobbled together from the things around us. Basically, we turned off everything except for a 100w bulb. Taking into account various electrical anomalies, the power reading should be between 90 and 110 watts – the closer to 100 the better. OWL told us 97. We were thrilled.

You see, we also had another energy meter device installed for comparison, and it rolled in at around 76 watts. The OWL was 11% closer to our prediction than the competing device.

This test was such a low-tech solution that naming the other monitor would be unfair – any number of things could have affected that outcome. However, with such a close relation to our prediction, it does show that the OWL is a pretty accurate monitoring system – and one that is recommended.

AlertMe energy management systems: Take the power back

Ever wonder how much you’re spent on using your kettle today? Or how about how many kilowatts you’re going over your daily average by? Well now you can find out. In a set-up reminiscent of educational books of 70s and their visions on what houses of the future might be like, AlertMe have launched a range of products designed to help you monitor your energy use.

Alert-Me

Set-up is simple. Attach a clip to a cable on your electricity meter – which reads the electronic current – and wait whilst the wireless AlertMe hub picks up the signals. Let your wireless Internet router pick up the signal from the hub and away you go – you’ve now got a fully functioning online dashboard on your computer where you can monitor your energy usage, compare your output to the rest of the UK and feel bad about yourself when you realise your heating is costing 4 pence more than it did yesterday.

The online dashboard is a breeze to use, with a clean design and a plethora of cutesy graphics and graphs that will help ease in your new eco-warrior status.

There’s also iPhone compatibility, letting you check up usage when you’re away from the computer, and a link-up with Google PowerMeter, meaning you can also see your stats on your iGoogle page.

Indulge in the more fanciful features of this product however and you’ll probably end up spending all the pennies you’ve saved from cutting back on the bills. The most intriguing feature – monitoring and controlling appliances remotely – involves buying an AlertMe Smart Plug (£25), which requires batteries too. There’s also a £1.99 monthly subscription fee to use the service.

Saying that, the novelty of turning your stereo in the living room on and off from your bedroom is worthy of the price alone – but you might have to go a week without heating to justify buying the pricey add-ons.

The AlertMe Home Energy Management System starter kit is priced at £29.99 or £49.99 with an in-home display.

Kitchen gadgets roundup

Listen to music while you make room in your freezer for that big leg of elk

“No gimmicky offering to get tongues wagging,” assures the latest press release from Slovenian brand Gorenje (and with England actually managing to win against them we don’t need to hold that against them). World Cup victory aside, just wait a cotton-darn pickin’ moment. It’s a fridge-freezer with an iPod dock on the front – isn’t that just a bit of a gimmick?

Kitchen-Gadgets

But the Slovenian firm is blowing its own Vuvuzela about the RK 1000IP freestanding iPod touch fridge-freezer, which also boasts two 50W speakers and wireless internet connection. So what’s the point of this fridge freezer cum music player? Well, the makers envisage the user scrolling through handy household hints and tips via the iGorenje portal (www.igorneje.com), while listening to their favourite music. (Our favourite tip on the site? How to make room in your freezer for that big leg of elk.)

The fridge itself has an A+ energy rating and a state-of-the-art cooling system to keep power consumption to a minimum. Other design features related to food rather than fun include two Ready ‘n’ Serve removable trays that can be used in place of a conventional serving tray for ready meals and a cheese and deli container with a wooden cutting board on top.

Finished in Jet Black Steel, the fridge freezer is arguably a good-looking addition to a contemporary kitchen, and we guess that it saves taking up worktop space with a separate dock and speakers. But at £2,000, we’d rather spend a few quid on an extra shelf. However, for anyone kitting out their kitchen with top-spec gear, it may well find its way on to their shopping list.

At a considerably lower price, Gordon Ramsay’s Panini Press is a cheap way to produce those trendy sarnies that can be pretty pricey if you buy them from the sandwich shop. Minus any high-tech gimmickry – though we were slightly disappointed to discover it doesn’t swear at you if you don’t chop your onions small enough or slice the panini quick enough – the Panini Press can also be opened out to use as a grill – ideal for breakfasts. (£39.99). The Cooks by Gordon Ramsay range is due out in August,

To complete the coffee shop experience in your own kitchen, splash out on your own coffee making machine. Sadly, it doesn’t come with the rather attractive Italian barrista who serves coffee round the corner from our office, but the Dulce Gusto Circolo Coffee Machine is still pretty good looking with an eye-catching circular design – and uses the familiar Dulce Gusto pods to make Cappuccino, Latte Macchiato and Espresso, among others. It’s a not-cheap at £159.99, but if you spend £2.50 a day on your favourite coffee, it’ll only take you a couple of months to break even. Log on to www.krups.co.uk

And if you want to brighten up breakfast time, here’s a toaster with a difference. Tefal’s Brighten up Breakfast with the Toast N’ Light. This little kitchen helper changes colour while it toasts, starting at blue, green, yellow, orange and finally red. Apparently this means you can keep track of your toast cooking – possibly a case of information overload?
The cost of knowing exactly how ready your toast is? £44.99 .
See www.tefal.co.uk for more

Garden gadgets roundup

Summer’s here, it’s time to get out in the garden and enjoy the sunshine (hopefully) while you can. But don’t leave your gadgets behind! We’ve found some great al fresco gear for the long hot summer ahead (yes, we are trying to be optimistic!).

Garden-Gadgets

Anyone who’s tried to use matches to light the Barbie with a gale force wind blowing (well, we Brits are pretty resilient when it comes to al fresco dining) will appreciate the brilliance of the Zippo Flexible Neck Outdoor Utility Lighter. Like its famous stablemates, it’s windproof, so even in the worst weather you’ll still be able to light fires and candles without burning your fingers and impress your family with your BBQ prowess. Available in black matte or chrome it’s a very reasonable £13.70.
www.zippo.co.uk

Once the barbie’s lit, you’ll need some sounds. We’ve been to many a barbie where the music’s died halfway through because the battery has run down on the iPod, so how about the Solar Sound 2 portable stereo speakers? The system plays music wirelessly via Bluetooth, while charging its battery from the integrated solar panel – now that’s what we call multitasking! Produced by Devotec, this is the second generation of this system, with improved sound quality, louder maximum volume and less distortion at higher levels. Playing time from a charged battery is between five and 10 hours, but of course if it’s in the sun, it can keep going! The Solar Sound 2 works with almost every model of phone that has Bluetooth and the A2DP profile; iPhones, Nokias, Blackberries and so on. £69.99 from here

If you want to listen to the summer of sport while you’re catching some rays, then the latest digital radio from Vita Audio should be on your shopping list. The Vita Audio R1 MkII has impressive credientials: its predecessor was dubbed the Aston Martin of digital radios by the Daily Telegraph. The new radio offers greater control over bass and treble, has an input for playing sounds from an iPod or other music player and has an optional CarryPack in tan or black full-grain leather for greater portability. Prices from £159.99 (CarryPack £39.99). From House of Frasier, John Lewis and Selfridges or www.vitaaudio.com

As long as your garden’s big enough, you can take a trip back in time to the heydays of 80s TV and this remote control Airwolf helicopter replica from Heliguy.com. Capable of reaching speeds of up to 60mph, it’s a pricey toy at £299.99, but think of the fun you’ll have! Recommended for the more experienced flyer, so get it out before you start on the tinnies.www.heliguy.com

If you’re actually planning to do some work in the garden, rather than just sitting back and relaxing – and you’ve got a spare £799 to spare – you could invest in an electric autobarrow to take the weight off your shoulders. This battery-powered wheelbarrow is designed to take the effort out of moving heavy stuff such as turf, paving slabs and plants. It has a semi-automatic tipping mechanism to make unloading easier too.
If the price tag is a tad heavy for your taste, you could soften the blow with its green credentials – no fumes, and an eco-friendly 250-watt electric motor.
Available from the Really Useful Vehicle Company.

A far cheaper addition to your gardening arsenal is GardenID, an iPhone app that tells you what to grow when based on your location. Once your location is set, you can choose the right fruit and veg to grow for the time of year, follow full steps for planting, growing and harvest – and read lots of helpful tips. There’s even a facility for identifying and solving any gardening problems.
More at: here or download from the AppStore for $2.99

The Royal Horticultural Society has just upgraded its Grow Your Own iPhone app. Now, on top of the 20 fruit and veg listed in the free app, you can add another 16 for £1.79. The upgrade includes calendar alerts to remind you what to do when in your garden, frost alerts based on location and watering reminders and drought alerts, also based on location. More upgrades, adding on extra varieties, are expected to follow.
Log on here
Or download from the App Store.

Air Multiplier – Dyson upgrades bladeless fan range

When you are sitting at your desk, how many times have you had to complain to get the air conditioning turned on or off? James Dyson says ‘air conditioning is inefficient and gives little or no ventilation’ and he absolutely correct. Enter the Dyson Air Multiplier.

Dyson-Air-Muliplier

Dyson have developed two new Dyson Air Multiplier fans: the AM02 Tower and the AM03 Pedestal. The floor standing fans have no blades and are engineered for larger spaces as it circulates smooth un-buffeted air. The Air Multiplier technology used in the machines is ingenious and innovative. The new fans are more efficient then its predecessor, the AM01 Desk fan, as they generate a greater airflow.

The two options for the new fans offer different benefits. The AM02 Tower is slender and shaped like a running track to take up limited space. Using the Air Multiplier technology, air is amplified 16 times using the AM02 Tower. Moving on to the AM03 Pedestal, it offers the most airflow of all the Dyson Air Multiplier fans as it amplifies air 18 times. It is shaped more conventionally with a loop amplifier. The machine can be tilted to suit the direction you wish and the height adjusted easily.

The blades on conventional fans cause unpleasant buffeting as they chop the air. As the Dyson Air Multiplier has no blades it means there is no buffeting and it gives an uninterrupted stream of smooth air. The technology works by drawing air in through the mixed flow impeller at the base and accelerating it through an annular aperture set within the loop amplifier. This will generate a jet of air which passes over an airfoil-shaped ramp. Surrounding air is drawn into the airflow in a process known as inducement and entrainment. What is fascinating is only 7% of the air generated by Dyson Air Multiplier fans actually passes through the impeller, 93 % comes from the surrounding air.

As the new fans have no blades, you can put your hands through it and it completely safe which is great if you have children around. The look is sleek and will suit any large living space or office. You can precisely vary the settings and speed of airflow using the magnetic remote supplied with the fans which sits on top or a dimmer switch on the base. What amazed me is how quiet is. You can barely hear it, unlike conventional fans where you hear a whirring sound constantly and can get really get annoying. They come in various colours to suit your space. Personally, I love the iron/blue to provide a splash of colour.

The AM02 Tower and the AM03 Pedestal will be available through Dyson.co.uk and selected design stores. As it is Dyson and a quality product, it is not going to be cheap. At £299.00, businesses will get this but for the average consumer it is a bit steep. If you have the dosh, now is definitely the time to invest in this with the sizzling heat

Pet-nology: Three pet tracking gadgets

There are some huge similarities between gadgets and pets – people become excited when they get a new one, they are both well looked after, and when they go wrong, they cost a lot of money to fix. One key difference, however, is lifespan. Gadgets have a turnover of a few years, while pets will hopefully last at least a decade.

Which is why when you lose a gadget you don’t go around the neighbourhood calling its name, putting up posters and reporting it missing to the Royal Society of Protection Against Cruelty to Gadgets. You just buy a new one. This option isn’t available for pets – getting an animal with the exact same feature-set as your last one is highly infeasible.

Pet-Gadgets

Instead, we usually want our old one back – and that is where these three pet-tracking gadgets come in, offering three different-but-useful ways of retrieving your missing pet.

Loc8tor
Much like the typical “bug” found in olden-days spy films, the Loc8tor is a tiny tag (just a little bigger than a pound coin) that attaches to your pet’s collar and allows you to track it to a maximum range of 122m.

Once attached, let your animal wonder wild while you follow behind with your Loc8tor handset, which uses a series of increasing beeps to alert you to the tag’s proximity, and indicates the direction of the tag with lights. It’s like hotter or colder, but without the possibility of someone leading you into a bed of stinging nettles.

The tag itself is a mere 6 grams, so perfect for an animal of any size, and comes in a splash-prove case, although the use of the device on any type of fish is strongly not recommended.

CatTrack
CatTrack is the prevention to the Loc8tor’s cure. The device itself is basically a GPS receiver that records where your cat has been. You then remove the gadget from the animal and plug into your computer. This way, you can learn where your cat likes to hang out (it is always nice to know more about the people you love).

It also means you can scald it for cheating on you with the neighbours, who have a warmer house and more expensive food.

Just like the Loc8tor, the device can fit to a pet’s collar (although it is a little cumbersome) and is waterproof (although still not recommended for fish).

CatTraQ Live
The ultimate tracking tool – if you were hunting down an animal on the run, this is what you’d want it to be wearing. The gadget, which is quite large (around the size of four two pound coins placed edge to edge), has a built-in GPS receiver and sim-card slot.

Simply pop in a normal sim-card (with credit) and when you call the number, it will text back with the GPS co-ordinates of the device. Then put the co-ordinates into the CatTraQ Live map software, or even Google Maps, and you can see exactly where your animal has escaped to.

Sure, such technology would have made the movie Homeward Bound far less exciting, but at least you can chose five different colours for the reusable splash-proof jacket.

Power-saving gadgets roundup

They’re green – but not cabbage looking

We know it’s not easy to keep up with all the allocated special days and weeks, but just so you know,Green Office Week, aimed at increasing environmental awareness in the workplace has just finished. So, to do our bit towards saving the planet, here are a few easy-to-use energy-saving devices.

eco-button

The Ecobutton
Not many of us turn off our PCs every time we leave them – to go to lunch, into a meeting, make a cup of coffee or whatever. But the Ecobutton can reduce the computer’s electricity consumption when the machine is not in active use, all at the press of a – well – a button.
And there’s an instant reward because when the computer is back in use, a screen pops up to show how much money and carbon you’ve saved that day and also the total to date, which is a great way to encourage its ongoing use.

The Ecobutton has just been adopted by housing and construction company Wilmott Dixon, which estimates its use will save them and their clients nearly £100,000 a year – and reduce carbon usage by nearly 4,000 tonnes per annum.
The personalised Ecobuttons have been supplied by Greenfield Print and Promotion.
Home users can also buy the Ecobutton from www.eco-button.com at £14.99.

Processor manufacturer Intel, meanwhile, also has a device in development that works as a sensor that monitors the power consumption of appliances and sends the data using Wi-Fi to a PC, mobile or energy management console. In the future it will also be able to control home lighting systems and appliances via a PC.

Back to the present, the Energy Wizard claims to save an average of £60 on an annual electricity bill (or about 10%), so at £24.99, it should soon pay for itself. It looks like a large curved plug, and works by improving the efficiency of electrical appliances and circuits by optimising the voltage and current demands to reduce active power demands. Order from www.nigelsecostore.com.

Out of the office and home and out on the road there are two new innovations. First up is Powertraveller’s Startmonkey, which claims to be able to restart a standard 12-volt car battery between eight and 10 times on a full charge. It also has low static wastage, so can go unused for up to three years and still hold up to 75 per cent of its power, so no more unnecessary charging – and using excess electricity. Available soon – sign up to be alerted when you can buy the Startmonkey at www.eco-button.com

And this might not be everyone’s dream set of wheels, but the first road-legal electric golf buggy has certainly got green cred, if not street cred. The Emerge has just been launched by ePower Trucks, boasts a top speed of 25mph and a 30-mile range on a full battery. It also costs less than 4p a mile to run. Find out more at www.epowertrucks.co.uk