In my last column (“Things That Make You Go Umm...”, 16 October), I had written that so far this year I haven’t come across any really exciting gadget that I would like to put on my wish list. But recently I saw something that has tempted me to change my mind.
It’s a camera called GoPro Hero3, launched three weeks ago.
If you are an outdoor person, someone who goes trekking, camping, rafting or climbing, you are probably familiar with the brand: GoPro makes fantastic action cameras that are sturdy, fit into your palm and produce excellent results. Check out their videos.
A colleague bought the previous version, the Hero2, on eBay a few months ago and I played around with it briefly just to get the feel of it. It was an amazingly versatile gadget and the video quality was superb. You can strap it to your helmet, mount it on your bike, or just shoot video as you would with a regular camera. The possibilities are enormous.
The company has now come out with three vastly improved models, and the one I like is the Black Edition for $399.99 or around Rs.22,260 (excluding shipping and duties), which they have already started to ship. It’s a 12-megapixel camera capable of shooting 30 frames per second, all in professional quality HD video which can be replayed in slow motion. The camera weighs just 2.6 ounces (73g). What I particularly like about it is that it has Wi-Fi built in and you can control it from a smartphone, and live-stream the images. This model comes with a Wi-Fi remote accessory. The company claims that it’s “the world’s most versatile camera”.
There are two less expensive versions of Hero3—White Edition (5 MP) for $200 and Silver Edition (11 MP) for $300—but the real beauty is the Black Edition (12 MP and Wi-Fi). My outdoor activity is limited to occasional visits to the market on a cycle, but I can think of many places where I can use this video camera: for example, to shoot the kingfisher that visits the fish pond in our garden. Imagine playing it in slow motion.
Every now and then I also trawl the Net for some interesting kitchen tools for my wife: an oven thermometer because the old one is not working, a new kitchen weighing scale, a baking pan, or the digital scale-cum-measuring cup that I saw at the Williams Sonoma website. And so I stumbled upon this gizmo called Corkcicle that keeps wine cool after you have opened the bottle.
Let me try and explain the contraption to you: It’s a long glass tube, filled with “food-grade” gel and attached to a cork. You keep it in the freezer so that the gel in it becomes ice. It looks like a smaller version of the Star Wars lightsaber.
You take out a bottle of wine from the fridge, open it and pour some into two or three glasses for your guests. Now insert the Corkcicle into the bottle, sit back, and enjoy your wine. You don’t have to worry about the temperature of the wine in the bottle. The company claims that Corkcicle will keep the wine at the right temperature for an hour. I don’t know much about wines but I guess an hour is long enough to finish a bottle.
Corkcicle costs $24.95, and it’s on Oprah Winfrey’s list of favourite things this year. I will tell you more about it after I have used it.
Shekhar Bhatia is a former editor, Hindustan Times, a science buff and a geek at heart.