Previous nominees in the category for best gadget have included low tech items like battery top up bottles and paint brush holders, but this year we’re going electronic. Yes, the Herbie Awards goes techno! Kath and I may be a couple of geriatrics, but we’re a only a mere five years out of date when it comes to gadgets. It all started last Christmas when our daughter Claire bought Kath a second hand iPad. I had always resisted the lure of tablet computers because , well, because they weren’t proper computers. To cut a long story short, I had to eat my words when I started to play with the thing and it wasn’t long before I squandered a nearly a month’s state pension on an iPad mini for myself. Then we decided to do something about the fact that we both wanted to browse the web simultaneously while on board the boat, and so it went. Eventually I got so cavalier about wasting my money on quality gadgetry that I bought myself a fancy little vacuum cleaner. So that’s the story behind the nominations for Herbie’s Best gadgets 2013.
so let’s look at this years short list. Three things that we are very glad to have on the boat.
1. The iPad. Is this the boater’s friend? In a word, Yes. Boaters who use the web, and that seems to be most of us, need a browsing machine and whatnot, but it really helps if a) it is compact and highly portable b) has a good battery life c) quick to turn on and off. Add to that keeping your music in a compact place, and your photos, and your books, and having free daily BBC news online and you have some gadget. And, it runs my digital canalometers. And I have typed 50,000 words of my book on it. Our old laptop, slow to start up and always running out of battery lies gathering dust.
2. A MiFi thingy. While we’re on the subject of internet use on board the boat, this gadget has made a real difference. neither of our iPads has a sim card in, so we browse with WiFi. We used to use a plug in dongle but now we have this little thing that looks like a mobile phone which sits unobtrusively in the bedroom and gives us WiFi access to the internet throughout the boat. What’s more it uses an external aerial so we get good 3G reception most of the time. The signal is much better than a dongle, and two (or more) of us can browse simultaneously, and we don’t have to sit huddled by the window or in the cratch.. Ours is a Huawei 586E which is one of the few that accepts an external aerial. t seems very reliable and we hardly ever can’t get a reasonable signal. What’s not to like? Thanks Kathryn of Nb Leo who put us on to this.
3. Last but not least. Our little hand held Dyson vacuum. These are I admit much dearer than other handheld vacs, but they really do work well on a boat. We recharge ours from the inverter when the engine is running, and we have enough charge then to go through the whole boat dusting and hoovering in all the little corners where dust and fluff collects. I don’t know why the inside of Herbie gathers so much dust and fluff, but it does seem to. I don’t know the technology behind the motors in these things – a digital motor they call it, but it’s near silent and has quite a powerful suck, and it came with a lot of useful tools. Great for cleaning up around the coal stove after you spill some of the ashes. The other thing of course is that being so small it stows away without taking up much valuable space.
So that’s the choice. None of them designed for boating but all of them absolutely ideal and each a boon. But which is best? The answer might surprise you. Place your bets.
Also next time, the introduction to a more boaty award.