Highly recommended

Highly recommended

A blog post about five products I adore that I think you will too: power sockets with embedded USB chargers; virtual reality; beautiful laptop bags; Bluetooth tags and ChromeCast.

Socket it two USB


The technology industry has yet to agree on a single charging standard but it has at least settled on 5V USB as a power source.

You can typically get away with carrying a single USB charger if you also travel with the leads for your various devices.

Power supplies with USB charging sockets are integrated into bags, cars devices, power blocks, and most recently mains sockets, eliminating the need for charger plugs.

I recently fitted double sockets with integrated USB sockets on my houseboat. The fittings are a like-for-like replacement for standard double sockets.

Helpful hint if you want to make the change: check that there is sufficient space at the back of the socket for cables as the fittings are typically deeper than a standard socket. An electrician will be able to advise you.

Double sockets with integrated USB sockets cost between £10 and £15 via Amazon.

Weekend tinkering with virtual reality

2016 is predicted to be the year of virtual reality. It has stacks of potential for product demonstrations, how to demonstrations, and travel.

The technology was the talk of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas January.

It shows promise but I can’t see the predicted growth this year. Headsets aren’t widely available and they’re prohibitively expensive.

If you’d like a flavour of the future buy yourself a build-it-yourself Google Cardboard headset for around £10 and have a play.

We’ve been tinkering with one at home since Christmas by racing cars, riding roller coasters and visiting incredible places. I’ll write up a blog of my favourite apps at some point.

Google Cardboard headsets cost around £10 from Amazon.

Handmade leather cases for digital kit


I adore Ryan London’s handmade leather products. It produces simple, beautifully designed, well-made craft products.

I first discovered Ryan, the craftsman behind the brand, around two years ago in Greenwich. He has a stall on the market at weekends selling a variety of computer and mobile phone cases, tablet covers and wallets.

I’ve bought an iPhone cover and wallet, both made from thick brown leather, and cable roll. The quality of the design and manufacture means that there’s every chance that they’ll outlive me.

Last week I bought a MacBook case made from soft brown leather with a green wool felt interior. It’s gorgeous.

Ryan London sells a variety of handcraft leather products. Check the web site for information.

The internet of lost things

Technology has elegantly solved the problem of finding lost stuff by tagging personal items with small Bluetooth TrackR tags. TrackR tags are available in a penny, two pence and credit card size, and sync with your mobile phone.

You can track a tag on a map and set an alarm to trigger when your phone and tag are separated. But the most useful feature is a two-way alarm that triggers an audible alert on either your phone or tag.

Each TrackR user adds a node to a growing crowd GPS network. If a phone and tag are separated TrackR triggers a search via the network. If the item is located by another phone in the network TrackR anonymously alerts the owner.

I’ve used the local alarm feature twice but have yet to trigger the crowd GPS network. I’ll keep you posted.

TrackR tags variously cost £25.via Amazon. There’s no ongoing cost but be sure to replace the batteries once a year.

Your content on the biggest screen in the room

There’s no longer any excuse for not having the right cable if you need to connect a mobile phone, tablet or PC to a large screen thanks to a piece of kit from Google.

Chomecast is a £30 memory stick sized device that plugs into a HDMI slot on a large screen or television. It’s powered via mains cable and connects to a local wifi network.

A plug-in for the Chrome browser enables any content displayed in the Chrome browser to be pushed to the large screen. It’s straightforward to set up via a browser or mobile phone app.

A growing third-party community including Amazon Film, BBC iPlayer and NetFlix all provide native support for the app.

I’ve used a Chromecast for the past year for work and play. It’s paid for itself many times over in conference rooms, hotels and holiday rentals.

Chromecast costs £30 and is widely available.

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