Welcome to Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, the column that mines the week’s gadget announcements for the more intriguing nuggets while wondering just how to survive the Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping orgy with financial solvency.
In our flyer this week are a rapid 3D printer, a set of custom-molded earbuds, a low-cost smart bulb, and a single button for ordering pizza.
Please bear in mind that these are not reviews, formal or otherwise — these are merely my first impressions of each device. The ratings relate only to how much I’d like to try each item.
One of the current issues with 3D printing is that it can take some time to create physical versions of large or complex designs.
Nexa3D’s NX1 prints objects as much as 100 times faster than competitors, with printing speeds of about a centimeter in height every minute, according to the company. It uses light on a certain type of resin to speed up the process.
Topping up the resin seems a simpler task than with many other printers, as the NX1 uses a cartridge system instead of a manual refill process, which should help make owners’ lives a little less messy.
I can’t foresee a situation in the near future in which I would need a 3D printer. I don’t quite understand how I could derive a great deal of use from it.
Still, if I were to have one, I’d like it to run as fast as possible without diminishing the quality of the item it’s making into a reality. NX1 looks like it meets that requirement.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Comforting Sounds
Ease Into Ears
I recently wrote about earbuds from Revols, which mold to the shape of your ears with a touch of a button.
Decibullz is a set of earphones that promise a similar comfort, in what’s apparently a trend (and one which I completely welcome), but there’s a key difference.
You activate the Decibullz molds by heating them in hot water, after which you can place them in your ears to get the perfect fit. You can reshape them as you wish, unlike Revols, which holds its shape permanently (Decibullz claims its offering is lighter and smaller than Revols too).
The flexibility is nice here, but you are opening yourself up to the possibility someone may reshape the earphones to their own ears, and we all know that sharing earphones is more than a little distasteful.
The custom fit can help block out unwanted sounds from the surrounding world, giving them an added effectiveness.
There’s little not to like here, though I confess I’m not overly thrilled with the color options. Perhaps Decibullz eventually will offer a version that matches your skin tone for that extra personalization.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Can’t Hear Yous
Qube is seeking to upend the smart bulb market with its affordable offering. Each bulb is US$19 and offers many of the features you’d expect from a smart bulb.
It can connect to your home’s network through an app on your smartphone without the need for an external hub. It also can determine your presence through your mobile device or wearable that emits Bluetooth low-energy signals, and automate the bulbs however you choose based on your proximity to home.
You can set custom color schemes, control your lights from anywhere, and schedule lights as an alarm clock, which might help awaken you more gently.
My favorite features are the notification settings for calls or messages — which could prove a lifesaver to someone who is hard of hearing — and the long life. Qube designed these bulbs to last up to 50,000 hours.
That’s adding even further value to something I already was eager to try. I’m also excited to set the bulbs to the beat of music, because who doesn’t love replicating a disco in their own space without worrying about crowds and getting home afterward.
Rating: 4 out of 5 House Parties
In the wake of Amazon’s Dash buttons for instant ordering of certain household items, other companies are replicating the system. So why not have a button to instantly order pizza to your door?
Domino’s customers (only in the UK for now) can grab an Easy Order button. One press, and there’s a pizza on its way to your door, and you’ve already paid for it. You’ll need to set up an account to specify your preferred order — for any other order, you’ll have to resort to the old-fashioned way.
I like the idea at a base level, since cooking after a long day is the worst chore. However, this extra convenience is making life a little too easy. I’d like to work ever so slightly to order junk, even if that merely means making a call, rather than have it as the simplest possible dining option. Plus, it’s Domino’s, so I think I’ll wait for a pizza chain with better food to offer this.
Rating: 3 out of 5 Double-Stuffed Crusts