Three ‘must have’ back to school gadgets

Dare we say it? The summer is drawing to an end and no sooner are we worrying about how to keep the kids entertained for six weeks, we are rushing around buying everything our little darlings may need to prepare them for the new academic year. Whilst the only thing our parents and their parents before them needed to fork out for in the run-up to September was a school uniform, satchel and a pencil case, parents of today are increasingly pressured into buying the latest and coolest back to school gadgets. LG checks out three gadgets to help our kids beat the back to school blues.

Back-to-School
Image courtesy of Flickr user Liz Henry

Nike Core Medium and other high-tech school bags  

Long gone are the days when a school satchel was made from vintage leather and resembled an old donkey pannier rather than a bag for school. Modern school bags, like the Nike Core Medium, are super lightweight, super snazzy and comprise of secret compartments for all those gadgetry essentials, such as a laptop sleeve and pocket for an iPhone or iPod.

Altaz Internet Clock Radio

Trying to prize your child from their bed and get them ready for school is particularly difficult after the six week break. Why not let the Altaz Internet Clock Radio help you out? Waking up to the sound of their own music collections and checking to see if there has been any developments on Facebook since they have been asleep, is a lot more enticing than grumpily switching off a conventional alarm clock before turning round a going back to sleep.

The Smash Pad

With all that homework, revision, exams and dreadful teachers to contend with, school can be a stressful time to say the least, and it’s no wonder kids can have a tendency to get a little wound up every now and again. Why not let them channel their anger in a more manageable manner with the RageCage Smash Pad? These customizable smash pads contain a pressure sensor embedded in silicone gel that is capable of withstanding the angriest of abuse. The cheeky RageCage will even attempt to pacify its aggressor by coming out with words such as “Why are you hurting me?” – Sounds more like an anger aggravator rather than a pacifier.

Nike+ SportWatch GPS Powered by TomTom review

For the second time this year, a PR company contacted me and said “fancy loosing some weight? Try this out!” I’d be outraged but both times there was a doughnut to my immediate left, waiting to be eaten. The first was the Philips DirectLife Monitor – an odd pedometer thing that tracks your movement throughout the day and then chastises you for sitting in a chair all day typing. The second is the Nike TomTom GPS sports watch, which demands even more effort from you – you actually have to run.

For a sports product the Nike watch is incredibly cool looking. I’d happily wear it just as a regular cool looking retro watch. The funky black and neon green design, large font display and big chunky buttons are hip enough to walk around the hippest parts of East London without ostracism and the Nike Swoosh is tastefully downplayed. For someone who’s spent ages staring at this timepiece with longing, it’s a lovely piece of kit. I know it’s a functional item, but a watch is something you spend a good deal of time wearing so it’s important that it

But what about running? The watch works with GPS and a Nike+ shoe sensor to record distance, pace, elapsed time, BPM (if you buy the heart rate monitor), and calories burned while running. You simply hit the green button and get going. Well if you have a Nike+ shoe sensor. If you try GPS only it seems to take a little longer to connect. On occasion it took minutes to link to the satellite, which was a little frustrating but as Louis CK says “it’s going to space! Give it a second!” As you run, you can use the scroll button to toggle through your distance, pace, elapsed time, calories or time of day. You can slap the screen – either to illuminate the watch or to log laps/intervals. At the end of the run you get an “Attaboy” encouraging remark and if you haven’t run for a while the watch will remind you – both of which are pretty cute.

To set the watch up you’ll need to download some special Nike+ software, that thankfully runs on Macs and PCs. I had to do a bit of Googling to get the right version of the Mac software but accord to forums this is a “known issue” and should be rectified soon. The USB connector is built into the end of the watch strap – which is relentlessly badass – and the software allows you to update the watch settings – leaving the onboard interface as simple as possible. When I first heard of a TomTom GPS enables watch I assumed it would have some sort of map built in on the screen. However this is not the case – the watch knows where I am, it just refuses to tell me (what a jackass!) unless I log into the Nike running community which allows me to explore routes and compare with other runners in my area.

At £176 this is far from cheap and certainly is no toy. And you can get lots of these features built into any smartphone capable of using RunKeeper. However, it is an excellent watch, with a cool design, innovative functionality and incredibly simple to use. If you’re serious about your running I’d definitely give it some careful consideration.

Nike+ SportWatch GPS: Keeping you on track?

Nike has teamed up with TomTom, one of the world leaders in GPS mapping systems, to provide runners with the ideal digital performance coach. There are specific runner watches already on the market, Polar for instance, has been in exercise technology for years, but Nike does it with style. Large digital numbers and a dark black band with a green/yellow underside screams latest fashion to me.

Nike-TomTom-SportWatch

With just three buttons to worry about plus tap screen navigation, you can capture local information as you run, whilst checking out your time, distance, pace and the number of calories you’ve burned. The GPS receiver also works in tandem with the optional Nike in-shoe accelerometer sensor to provide you with accurate live pace and distance data during the course of your run.

This is a watch with attitude. It will log your run history and give you run reminders if you haven’t logged a run in five days, it’ll give you post run acknowledgement and encouragement and it’ll even monitor your heart rate throughout your exercise.

You’ll also be keeping in touch with fellow Nike runners the world over through the Nike+Connect USB interface which plugs you into Nikeplus.com that has up to now logged over 150 million global runs since its launch in 2006. It’s a useful database of run routes posted by its running community broken down by location, length and difficulty.

At £179 this is serious kit, so go on and break some records. www.nikestore.com

TomTom and NIKE team up to motivate runners

If this is the year you plan to run a marathon (or indeed run around the block in a bid to get fit), here’s a gadget designed to make the experience a bit more interesting.

Sports legend Nike has teamed up with satnav specialist TomTom to produce the NIKE+ Sportwatch GPS. Unfortunately it has just been released at CES in Las Vegas and won’t actually be available until April, but as it offers all kinds of nifty motivational ideas, it could be just the thing when your new year impetus is about to run out.

Nike-TomTom-watch

So what can it do? Well, first, it has been designed to be simple to use, with just three buttons and a tap screen for navigation (useful if you simply find running on its own rather taxing on the mind).

While you’re running, the clever device will be capturing your location, and showing you useful information such as your pace, distance covered and calories burned. This happens thanks to a shoe-based sensor that delivers pace and distance data while the GPS works on your location.

The watch can also store your run history so that you can compare times and distances, and your personal records including those imported from nikeplus.com, and is compatible with a heart rate monitor.

But there’s more. Remember we spoke about its motivational qualities? Well, it recognises your own personal records (or ‘Attaboys’ as they like to call them) and will remind you to go running if you haven’t logged an outing for five days. It also offers post run encouragement and acknowledgement (and unlike your mates is unlikely to suggest you go down the pub for a swift pint afterwards as a ‘reward’).

Back at home or the office after your run, plug into a PC or Mac using the built-in USB connector and your info will be transferred to www.nikeplus.com, which offers runners GPS mapping, total miles, pace and elevation data for their most recent run.

For extra motivation, if you’re taking part in any challenges Nike+ Challenges, Nike+ Goals, and Nike+ Coach programs, your data is automatically entered there.

Each run is mapped using TomTom technology, and includes route notes, elevation and length. You can also find the perfect route by searching the catalogue by location, length, difficulty, and even landmarks.

And the price for this sporty technical wizardry? Not confirmed as yet but expect it to be somewhere between £130 and £190.