Change the channel? Pass me the cushion

Hunting for the remotes in our house is never an easy task – we lose the tiny remote for the DVD player more times than Andy Murray has lost at Wimbledon and end up having to sit in front of the telly pressing the buttons to fire up a film.

Pillow-Remote

It looks like those days might be behind us thanks to the lovely folk from Red5, who sent me a Cushion Remote Control to try out. No, don’t be silly, of course it doesn’t control your soft furnishings – it’s an actual cushion that can be set up to control up to six devices – so TV, DVD, satellite or cable, Hi-Fi and so on.

The good news is that it’s soft and strokable and comes in a brown colour that should fit into most decors without looking too out of place. It’s also far too big to slip under the couch or down the side of the chair cushion, so I’m hoping (and all looks good so far) that our days of hunting for the remote might be in the past.

Setting it up can be easy. The cushion comes with some reasonably simple instructions, and a rather alarming looking book of codes that relate to all the makes of electrical device you can think of. When I went to set up the Toshiba DVD, I was worried as there were about four lines of codes – happily, I only had to try the first one and it worked. Same for the JVC TV – quite impressive as none of our electrical equipment is very new (in fact most of it is pretty old!).

However, getting our Sky box synced to the new remote control proved far more problematical. I tried the Sky UK code from the book. No good. I tried using the automatic search facility – that didn’t work either. In the end I had to resort to contacting the PR people to help me out. Eventually it was concluded that the remote is not compatible with Sky + HD boxes (which is a shame because Sky tells me that they have been issuing these as standard for the past five years or so), so unless you have the older, standard Sky box, you won’t be using the Remote Cushion to switch satellite channels.

My first thought when I saw the press release was ‘what a gimmick’. But in actual fact, it’s a great idea (although don’t squeeze it too hard when you’re hiding behind it watching Dr Who or you might change channels just at a crucial point). There is no way we will manage to mislay a whole cushion so I may well have gained many hours of my life back from the soul-destroying task of playing hunt the remote – although the lack of compatibility with Sky + HD boxes will be a deal breaker for many.

The Remote Control Pillow costs £19.95 from Red5 (which offers free delivery).

Gift & Gadget Ideas for Father’s Day

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – dads are difficult to buy for. But if they love their gadgets, then help is at hand. Here are a few ideas that you still have time to order in time for Father’s Day on June 17 2012.

Fathers-Day

If he’s decided to join the rest of us in the 21st century and swapped his paperbacks for an ereader, give Dad back a taste of the past with a Run for Cover soft padded cover for his electronic device – he might not want the Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland version, but Frankenstein, Dracula or the Wizard of Oz might float his boat. The cases only fit the Kindle Keyboard and the Kobo Keyboard models.
The covers costs £14.95 from www.red5.co.uk.

If your dad is more of a film fan than a bookworm, he’ll love these Mimobots – USB sticks that come in the shape of superheroes including Darth Vader, Stormtroopers, Optimus Prime and Batman. So let the superheroes save the day’s work – the flash drives have a 4GB capacity, have DC comic content pre-installed such as wallpapers, desktop icons, and original trailers, and are compatible with both Windows and Mac.
They cost £24.95 each from www.red5.co.uk.

We’re not convinced this is A Good Thing, but the Beacon for iOS will turn Dad’s Apple or Android smartphone or tablet into a Universal Remote Control. The Beacon gives fingertip control to his whole entertainment system including TV, DVD, Sky Box and Hi-Fi System via its infra-red signals. We can’t be held responsible if he turns into TV dictator though.

The Beacon for iOS costs £44.99 and is available from Apple, Beacon for Android is available from HMV. Check out our brief look at it here.

If Dad loves his gadgets but is notoriously clumsy, give them the protection they deserve with Griffin’s Survivor range of cases for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. The cases should protect the devices from clumsy dad, the kids and even the weather – they protect against sand, rain, shock and vibration.
The Survivor for iPad is £54.99 from Tesco, for iPhone 4 is £34.99 from Carphone Warehouse and the iPod touch is £29.99 from Amazon.co.uk

If Dad is also your taxi driver, treat him to the AirCurve Window Mount for cars without AUX-in stereos. The AirCurve works like an acoustic megaphone for iPhone 4/4S, and can amplify its built-in speakers by as much as 25 decibels. The mount sticks to glass or the dashboard and also allows users to hold conversations via handsfree speakerphone mode while driving, or hear GPS instructions over their stereo. And it’s wire and battery-free.
The AirCurve Window Mount, costs £24.99 and is available from Apple. Check out our review here.

If Dad needs a stylus for his device, but also needs to write on ‘real’ paper the dual-purpose Griffin Stylus + Pen is the perfect solution. The capacitive tip is ideal for busy dads who are constantly tapping at their touchscreen – to use it as a pen, just remove the cap for smooth ballpoint-on-paper action. The Stylus + Pen, costs £29.99 from Tesco.

Finally, if your Dad is more the outdoors type, perhaps he’d rather have a Bear Grylls Ultimate Multi-tool (£49.95) or a Pocket Fishing Road (£19.95), which can be carried round in a pocket and extends to 104cm when needed. Both available from www.red5.co.uk.

Four great winter wonderland gadgets!

With Indian summers occurring in October abruptly followed by some moderate to heavy snowfalls in certain areas, the weather’s been pretty unpredictable here in the UK in the latter stages of 2011. In fact, because of the early snow flurries, William Hill have shortened the odds of the lowest temperature ever recorded in England (-26.1C) being beaten this winter, from 18/1 to 16/1. Personally, given the erratic consequences of global warming, I’d be more inclined to make a bet that this Christmas will be the mildest one ever recorded, you’d be sure to get better odds! Mild, freezing, snow or rain, whatever weather we wake up to this Christmas morning, you can be sure to make your own idyllic winter wonderland by opening a few snow/winter-inspired Christmas gadgets…

Snomimal

Snowimal

£5.95

This cute little gadget is guaranteed to ‘melt your heart’, especially if you’re a fan of The Snowman. The Snowimal comes equipped with everything you need to make your own desktop snowman, including arms, eyes, a carrot nose, a hat and a red scarf. Bearing a cruel similarity to Raymond Brigg’s snowman’s early demise, once you have built your loveable little Snowimal, being made out of a special non Newtonian fluid, he’ll slowly melt before your eyes and become a puddle of white. Guaranteed to get little ones crying, but don’t worry, they’ll soon be happy again once you’ve rebuilt him!

http://www.red5.co.uk/snowimal.aspx

Instant Snow

Decorate the Christmas tree, strategically position some under the chimney as if Santa must have ‘brought some snow in’ whilst delivering the presents, or let the kids have a mock snow flake fight, whichever way Instant Snow will make a great addition to the Xmas gadget list this year. This realistic looking snow in a can even feels cold to touch and 20 grams will makes 1.5 litres of snow.

£3.95

http://www.red5.co.uk/instant-snow.aspx

Arctic Force Snowball Blaster

£26.95

Now this one requires the aid of actual snow, which would unfortunately go against the ‘mildest Christmas ever recorded’ bet I’ve persuaded you to make. If it does however happen to be a White Christmas than any kids opening the Arctic Force Snowball Blaster are guaranteed to be delighted. This ‘awesome’ snowball launcher, fire snowballs up to 80ft – yes the neighbours are going to love you! Simply dump a mound of snow into the snowball press, and lit rip!

This Arctic Force Snowball Blaster is suitable for children aged 8+ and adult supervision is recommended, not that the ‘big kids’ in the house will need much persuading!

http://www.red5.co.uk/arctic-force-snowball-launcher.aspx

Beard-Beanie

Beard Beanies

£29.95

With a press release arriving in LG’s inbox titled ‘Fed up of Winter’s Frozen Face’, we had to take a look at this one for a winter-inspired ‘best of’. Tired of traditional balaclavas to help keep your face warm in freezing temperatures, you could try a Beard Beanie instead. These hand crocheted beards come complete with a beanie hat and will keep your face warm and snuggly in Arctic conditions. Suitable for both sexes??? (the mind boggles) and all age groups, the Beanie Beard is this season’s ‘must have fashion accessory’. Hmmm, great if we all want to walk around looking like Badly Drawn Boy!

http://www.red5.co.uk/beard-beanies.aspx

Why was the chicken thrown across the office? Red5’s Chuckimal

It’s pretty hard to get my attention when I’m in the office. As someone who gets hundreds of emails (all trying to sell me things, I’m not popular) and lots of tweets, texts and actually work screaming for my time someone actually in the room with me often misses out. Even worse I often have earphones buried deep within my ears blaring bass heavy rap classics in stereo. I’m pretty sure any one who’s every shared an office with me has thought, “if only I could hurl a soft toy in his face… but one with a four second message recorded inside.”

Chuckimal

Bizarrely enough, those people’s dreams have been have been fulfilled (while my prayers for app that tells me where all the good chips shops in London are go strangely unanswered) by the good people of Red5.co.uk who have added the Chuckimal to its range of weird and wonderful ways to spend your money.

Ostensibly a big fluffy chicken (yes that is a great way to start a sentence) the Chuckimal literally has a hidden egg that stores short messages. You simply record your piece with the Chuckimal and he’ll repeat it back the moment he hits or is caught by the person you’re chucking him at. If you can find someone one playing Angry Birds, record “Stop Playing Angry Birds” and manage to hit them on the head with it, you may be in danger of dying from high 5s.

Available in two different birdie designs, blue and yellow, Chuckimals are very simple to use, just press his wing, say something in 4 seconds or less, then hurl with gay abandon.

Out now for £12 from Red5.co.uk

Be a diamond geezer with the latest iPhone dock from RED5

iPhone docks are generally ten a penny, and here at Latest Gadgets Towers we’re always receiving press releases about them, so they really need to stand out from the crowd to get noticed.

BlackDiamond

And the latest one to hit our inbox from RED5 certainly has a bit of a twist. The Black Diamond iPhone Dock from Thumbs Up is a spherical shaped dock that has an added bonus. Slip the iPhone in the dock and the Black Diamond comes to life, becoming a sound-sensitive mood lamp.

So you can relax while the lights slowly change – or create your own disco lighting in your bedroom. – while you charge up your smartphone.

To work, your iPhone must be running a free app from Thumbs Up. This allows you to choose between a number of different lighting effects, including Flames, Plasma, Breath, Lightning and Rainbow.

To change the light setting, simply tap the Diamond twice and the sound sensor will switch it to the next mode. Tap again once you’re happy with the setting.

And as welll as putting on a light show, the dock will also charge up your phone if you connect it to your computer using the supplied USB cable.

The Black Diamond also has alarm and sleep functions, and while it will be quite compelling to some, and is far from your average boring dock, we reckon £69.95 is quite a price to pay for a light show.

Available from Red5

The Jellyfish Mood Tank: Because goldfish are so yesterday!

Goldfish are one of the most popular pets in the world. Their inexpensiveness, lack of upkeep and being a decorative addition in a room, means that most people have a goldfish at some point in their lives. They do have a tendency to die extremely easily through, leaving every member of the house melancholically pining over their late goldfish. RED5 have apparently come with an alternative to beat the inevitable late-goldfish-blues your goldfish purchase will create by encouraging no-work-required pet lovers to transfer to jellyfish.

Jelly-Fish-Tank

Whilst goldfish can hardly be considered as being ‘cute’, jellyfish certainly aren’t, in fact they are one of those creatures that if you see swimming next to you in the sea, you are likely to scream. RED5 think otherwise, believing that jellyfish have a calming effect, so intense that the gadget shop has launched the Jellyfish Mood Tank.

Seven plastic jellyfish glide effortlessly around the Mood Tank, which, looking hyper-realistic, are likely to be a talking point at a dinner party or whenever anyone comes round. The LED lights in the Mood Tank create a myriad of soothing changing colours. Or you can set the tank to stay on one colour, depending on your mood.

So abolish the need to clean out, feed or worry that your ‘passé’ goldfish has gone off its food and seems to be floating rather than swimming, and exchange the nasty whiffs-inducing goldfish bowl for a Jellyfish Mood Tank.

For £35.95 I might consider buying one for my son for Christmas to try and divert his attention from persistently asking for a pet snake!

Available now from RED5

Battle it out on your desk with the TankBots

If you find you’re getting too much work done in a day, you could always distract yourself and your colleagues with the latest ‘pets’ to hit the market. The TankBots are robotic desk pets that come in a choice of four colours and can be controlled using an iPhone, iPad or Android device. An added bonus is that they need no ‘feeding’ or ‘petting’ like lots of electronic pets.

Tankbots

These cute mini robotic tanks can be played with in three ways (hey it makes a change from cyberstalking your exes on Facebook, surely?). Forget those spreadsheets, page proofs or marketing reports – instead spend some productive time setting up an obstacle course along your desk (and that of any participating colleagues) and set the deskpet to maze mode. Time how long it takes your little android apprentice to escape.

Alternatively, set the TankBot to roaming mode and your pet will just head off on its own, using its infrared sensors to avoid any obstacles and making the obligatory tank sounds.

Finally, you can set it up in remote control mode, using any iPhone, iPad or Android 2.1 device (and a free downloadable app) to control your desk pet. Each differently coloured bot operates on its own frequency, so there are plenty of opportunities for a few of you to join in with your own TankBot – we foresee, obstacle course races, and TankBot battles aplenty. You could even have your own in-office TankBot Olympics.

The TankBots from Desk Pets can be charged via USB and costs £24.95 from Red5.co.uk. They will arrive in store on September 20 2011.

Toys for boys (and girls) of all ages

It doesn’t seem to matter what age you are – the Nerf gun definitely seem to be the ‘toy’ of choice – I’ve seen them hidden away from 30-somethings in offices where they are supposed to be working, not messing about – and my five-year-old spends ages mooning over them in the Argos catalogue.

Red5-tings

So whatever your age, if you’re a Nerf fan you’ll be pleased to see the appearance of the Raider CS-35, which has a big drum magazine that holds 35 darts – so you can take out most of the office, or your whole class, depending on your age. A window allows you to see if your ammo is running low, it’s a rapid-fire device and the pump-action handle allows you to adjust your rate of fire. And when you lose all the darts (which you will, believe me!) you can buy refill packs. Not the cheapest of the Nerf guns at £34.95, but an essential piece of kit for your next office bonding day!

If you’d rather destroy your colleagues by boggling their minds, challenge them to complete the Perplexus Epic Puzzle. It’s a step up from those ball bearing mazes we all played with as kids. This is a 3d puzzle marathon, with a total of 125 barriers to get that little shiny ball through, as you guide it around the tracks, steps, levers, tubes and falls to reach the end of the puzzle. The price of frustration? £19.99.

Finally, if you need to relax with a good book after all that action and brain work, the Tiny Tim book light is a nifty little piece of kit that will let you read your book in bed, even if your other half wants the light out. It measures just 13cm high and can either standalone or clip on to your book. Battery powered, it comes in red or black and costs a neat £7.95.

All the gizmos featured here are available from red5.co.uk