Oct 262009

To date, I’ve never seen a real, live Kindle – the ebook reader flogged by book-flogging Amazon empire that is bringing tears to the eyes of print publishers the world over.

For those of us clinging precariously to the underbelly of the planet down here in Australia, unless you had a kind friend in the US or get in touch with the fabulous people at PriceUSA (www.priceusa.com.au) – you can’t get hold of the much-hyped Amazon Kindle, for unclear reasons possibly related to copyright or market share or just plain obdurateness on behalf of Amazon.

We do have options; Dymocks launched the iLiad book reader two years ago to much fanfare; but I can’t tell you any more than you might google up yourself, because the $900 device (overpriced is an understatement!) was restricted to a one-only demonstration device in their city store.

Any interested gadget reviewer had to make an appointment and arrive on bended knee bearing frankincense and myrrh just to view the darned thing.

The iLiad was something of a flop  – and all was quiet on the eBook front for a while until this year, when library supplier Central Book Services came out with the EcoReader.

The EcoReader website features an extremely irritating You-Tube demo complete with bad elevator music; however the real thing is far less annoying.

The reader is the size of a light paperback (A5-ish, 220g) and sports a faux-leather black case. It doesn’t do much – just stores and displays pages, and plays MP3 files (huh? why bother!).

The big sell – particularly for anyone who has ever tried to read an ebook on nearly any portable device, including the iPod – is the screen. The ECO Reader has a 6-inch flat-matte screen using a special film with no backlighting and it’s quite easy to read. (But not as easy as a book.)

The numbered control buttons are somewhat counter-intuitive though, and when I canvassed the opinion of my assistant reviewers of the YouTube generation, the Reader was heartily dissed as follows: “Boring.”  “How do you know how much you have left to read?”  “What happens if you drop it in the bath?”  And it’s still overpriced.

Bottom line: If you’re after an eReader, this might do the trick; I suspect it’s an acquired taste
How much : $449

Oct 012009

I’ve never really seen the appeal of robots – I’ve got enough kids and pets to look after, without having to manage the time of some electronic bubble-headed booby as well.

The RoboMop


But I am now a convert. This little robot is the best gadget I have seen in years. Come Christmas, this blog post will be printed out and stuck not-so-subtly to the fridge with a large post-it saying, “Mum’s Chrissie Present!”

Get this: the RoboMop will run across your floor, and clean a 60 square metre surface with 98% accuracy in one hour. And – it sells for thirty quid – that’s about Au $70.

RoboMop is the ultimate robot. Just 8.5 centimetres tall, it will scoot under chairs, beds,  tables etc, happily cleaning away.

Just plug in the Robomop and fit the special electrostatic cleaning pad on the base. When it’s fully charged, set the timer, set the Robomop down – and off it scoots.

Sadly, the Robomop won’t work on carpet, but all low flat hard flooring – tiles, laminate, floorboards etc) is fair game.

There’s now a new model, the Black Robomop, which has a soft base to make corner cleaning easier and has a more powerful motor – and costs £45 (around Au$105)

Robomop comes with five cleaning pads, but an extra 24 pads can be bought for six quid (about Au $14).

This fabulous little device is patented – it was invented by Norwegian Torbjørn Aasen, who was fed up with cleaning his floor. Give the man a Nobel Prize in something, anything.  What a great idea.

RRP: Au $70