Seven tech devices that will help you get things done better, faster and more securely
- Gadgets include a security dongle, a medical grade air purifier and a smartphone holder
- Also featured: the new iPad Pro and an ergonomic vertical mouse
Are you searching for new gadgets and tools that can help you hit the ground running this year? We look at seven devices that promise to help you get things done faster, work more securely and be healthier.
The need to secure our digital accounts is more important than ever with our growing dependency on online services, and two-factor authentication increasingly considered as essential.
With reports of how hackers could intercept two-factor codes sent through text messages – an extra step of authentication – the YubiKey is a two-factor hardware dongle that verifies your identity through a physical USB-like device for greater security.
You can use the YubiKey with a growing number of online services, such as personal and enterprise Google and Microsoft accounts, or to secure your laptop, as well as social media accounts such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Alternatively, use it with popular password managers such as KeePass and 1Password.
There are multiple types of YubiKey devices available, differentiated by size and type of connectors. Of note would be the YubiKey 5 NFC which offers wireless communication for use with NFC-enabled Android smartphones, while the YubiKey 5 Nano plugs directly into the USB-C port found in new laptops.
Price: US$45 (YubiKey 5 NFC); US$60 (YubiKey 5C Nano)
The Vinpok Mofin promises to help those tired of having to manually clip their smartphones onto their car mounts each time they get behind the wheel. Unlike traditional car mounts that use stiff spring-loaded clips that break or magnetic mounts that require metal plates to be manually taped to your device, the Mofin relies on gravity-induced contact to maintain a secure grip. Slotting your smartphone into it will push the arms and fold them inward to grip your device in a single step, saving precious time.
The Mofin also offers built-in support for Qi wireless charging, which means you can keep your device topped up without the frustration of messy cables or fumbling with USB plugs. Fast charging of 10 watts means that devices are recharged quickly. The Mofin comes with a clamp that secures it over the air-conditioning vent of the car, and a stand that sits on your desk for use at work or at home. Power for the built-in wireless charger is delivered through an included USB cable.
If you’re looking for a portable, lightning-fast computing device with instant-on capability for seamless work and play, then the new iPad Pro is it.
The latest iPad from Apple is stunningly beautiful and is a head-turner with its slim form factor and the narrowest bezel from a tablet yet. It has a powerful processor and optimised operating system that offers speedy performance and solid battery life that will put most laptops to shame.
To be clear, the iPad isn’t necessary suitable for everyone. Despite the incorporation of multitasking friendly features such as split screen and picture-in-picture mode, trying to work between more than two apps is likely to be a frustrating experience.
But if most of your workflows can be adequately met by a stand-alone app or two apps running side-by-side, then the smooth interface and consistent experience of the mature iOS platform will help you do your work faster than before – and could potentially even tempt you to ditch your laptop. Note that you’ll probably want to get the keyboard case and Apple Pencil, which are sold separately.
Price: US$956 (64GB Wi-fi + cellular model)
Compass Pro for iPad
The Compass Pro for iPad is the latest iteration of TwelveSouth’s well-regarded stand designed specifically to hold up your tablet. Despite the use of “iPad” in its name, the compact folding stand will work just as well with other tablets or even your phablet. Wrapped with soft silicone in all the right places to avoid scratching your devices, the stand is made of solid steel that folds out like a tripod to serve as a highly stable platform for your tablet.
The main leg can also be extended to better accommodate the tablet in portrait mode, while a second leg is available to tilt your device at a more comfortable 15 degrees angle to better use its on-screen keyboard or for sketching.
Finally, two small ledges fold out to securely hold your tablet above the desk. For easy transport with your other gadgets, the Compass Pro folds flat and comes with a handy case.
Logitech MX Vertical
If you spend most of the day working at a desk, the Logitech MX Vertical is the ergonomic mouse you will need to reduce wrist pressure, improve posture and reduce the threat of repetitive strain injury (RSI).
Crafted to closely mimic the grip of the human hand, the “handshake” shape offers a science-driven design to ensure that your wrist is positioned at a more natural angle when gripping the mouse. While it takes a while to get the hang of the MX Vertical, the textured rubber surface feels good and offers a smooth grip that is easily cleaned.
A configurable 4,000dpi optical tracking sensor and a dedicated cursor speed switch lets you toggle between various cursor speeds for reduced hand movement. An improved fast recharging system offers three hours of use from a one-minute charge through USB, or up to four months of use when fully charged. The MX Vertical also supports up to three devices and is connected either through a dedicated USB transceiver or Bluetooth. It will also work through the included USB-C charging cable, ensuring that your work is never interrupted.
If you are someone who gets badly affected by bad air or smells, then the b-Mola Go may just be the air purifier that the doctor ordered. Billed as a medical-grade air purifier, the b-Mola uses patented nano confined catalytic oxidation (NCCO) air purification technology developed at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Unlike active charcoal that absorbs pollutants and lasts only for a few months, the NCCO filter decomposes them to sanitise harmful air and odours while killing bacteria and viruses.
Powered by an internal built-in battery, the b-Mola Go will work for up to eight hours at a go to freshen up the air in your room or office. A separate replaceable HEPA filter will remove solid pollutants such as pollen, smoke or dust as fine as PM2.5. The HEPA filter will need to be replaced annually, though the main TCCO filter is touted to last up to an incredible 12 years.
The Garmin Instinct is a rugged smartwatch designed for outdoor sports that incorporates many of the capabilities found in the higher-end Fenix series, albeit at a more affordable price point through the selective use of less expensive materials.
For instance, the lens of the Instinct is made from “chemically strengthened glass” instead of the sapphire glass display of the Fenix, while the case and bezel material are made of fibre-reinforced polymer. In addition, the display is a simple 128 by 128 pixels screen, though it is transflective and hence highly visible in direct sunlight.
The Garmin Instinct is no laggard in terms of capabilities or its ability to withstand the harsh outdoor elements though. The Instinct is packed with features for sports and outdoor activities for a healthier you. This ranges from a heart rate monitor, barometric altimeter, thermometer, magnetic compass and built-in GPS. With normal battery life of up to 14 days, the Instinct also conforms to US military standards for thermal, shock and water resistance rated to 100 metres.