A look back at Gadget Daddy’s top picks in 2021


Before we enter 2022, here’s a quick look at some of the columns that have been popular with readers over the past year. The publication date and company websites are also listed.

Medisafe. (January 9): A free version is available for Apple and Android smartphones. The basic version should satisfy most needs. The app keeps track of when and how medication should be taken (with food or on an empty stomach; morning or evening, for example). If you register a caregiver or friend, they will automatically notify them if you miss a dose. www.medisafe.com.

Illumibowl. (6 March): This small, motion-activated nightlight is battery-operated and designed to drape over the edge of a toilet bowl. It gives off a soft light (which can change color or stay steady) that turns on when it detects motion and turns off about two minutes later. About $10 to $15. The Nightlight was born out of a partnership with Kevin O’Leary formed on March 11, 2016, Shark Tank program. Can be found at big box and DIY stores, as well as on the company’s website: www.illumibowl.com.

Blackboard. (May 1): A writing tablet available in different sizes. It’s kind of like an Etch-A-Sketch, but instead of using buttons to write on it, a plastic stylus is used. When you’re done, press a button and the screen clears for a new session. Great for to-do lists or taking quick notes. Can be found on Amazon by searching “Boogie Board”. Sizes, colors and capacities vary, as does the price. Website: www.blackboard.com.

Chess for children: Chester and Fritz. (May 29): This chess teaching program for children first appeared on CD-ROM in 2003. Children’s Technology Review wrote that it gave an “intelligent review of chess pieces and moves” and concluded: “It’s the best kids chess program on the market.” It still is – and is now available for Apple smartphones and tablets. Chester is a Cheshire rat who, as the spelling of his name suggests, is also a chess teacher. His ways are imaginative and fun. It can be found in the Apple Store. About $25.

DjuiinoStar DST-808 spinning top

DjuiinoStar DST-808 spinning top. (September 4): The title of this column summed it up: “The best of time wasters: a high-tech spinning top that spins for 15 minutes or more.” Right out of the box, I was managing rotations that lasted eight minutes. My longest lap to date was almost 20 minutes. The passage of time has a price. Sold alone, the top costs $60. For longer spins, the company suggests a smooth, concave glass base. It is four inches in diameter; half an inch thick. The concave surface forces the top towards the center, further saving energy. Glass adds another $30 to the cost. Available on Amazon.

The C64 Mini: A replica of the Commodore 64. (October 9): In a computer world a long time ago, the Commodore 64 was the best-selling computer in the world. The brains of the computer were all housed in his beige keyboard. The Mini is a smaller replica of the original C64 keyboard (with non-functional keys). It’s about half the length and width of the original C64, is the same beige color, and comes preloaded with 64 of the computer’s best-selling games. To address a few: Boulder Dash; Jumpman; California Games; Pit stop II; Speedball II; Street sports baseball; Summer games; Winter Games and Apshai Temple Trilogy. About $40-60 on Amazon.

Vivitar Bluetooth activity tracker keeps track of steps, calories and distance traveled;  alerts the wearer to incoming calls and text messages;  records the quality of sleep;  sets sleep and activity goals;  sets up to five alarms for daily or weekly schedules.  And it's less than $15.

The Vivitar Bluetooth activity tracker. (December 10): I bought this activity tracker/watch at a local discount store just before Christmas. It was the VIVIMP1016N model, which sold for less than $15. It wasn’t the sleekest or largest watch, but it kept time, counted steps and calories, and had a few other features. It was basically a good way for people who wore it to learn what was important in a smartwatch. It is associated with a smartphone app for record keeping.

lonnie brown

Lonnie Brown can be reached at LedgerDatabase@aol.com.


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