Get ready for summer with these fun tech toys, practical gadgets, and labor-saving robots. Our list includes everything from waterproof speakers to a robotic lawn mower.
What's on your schedule for this summer? Relaxing by the beach with a good book? Heading into the mountains for a weekend away? Having friends over for dinner and drinks? Sleeping in the hammock in the back yard? Teaching your dog some new tricks? Playing video games indoors in air-conditioned comfort? Or will you just be working like always?
According to the National Recreation and Park Association, the three most popular activities for summer are having a picnic or barbecue, going for a walk/hike, and going to the beach. And according to Statista, the most popular summer vacation activities are shopping, swimming/watersports, and visiting a historical event or sight.
Whether you plan to spend your summer shopping, swimming, traveling, partying, camping, sleeping or slaving away to maintain your company's IT infrastructure, Network Computing’s summer gadget guide has got you covered. The lineup includes plenty of robots (the kinds that won't stealing your job), plus tools for listening to music, playing with your pet and getting around town.
This slideshow features gadgets priced between $20 and $1,000 that any tech nerd would love. And just in case shopping is your favorite summer activity, we've included helpful links for buying these items online. Feel free to give them as a gift or treat yourself.
After all, busy IT professionals already have more than enough to do. So don’t work any harder than you have to this summer. These tools and toys can make the season more relaxing, less stressful and more fun.
Worx Landroid M Cordless Robotic Lawn Mower
If there’s a downside to summer, it’s all the work that goes into making your lawn and garden look good. Worx has a solution: the Landroid M Cordless Robotic Lawn Mower. The Landroid costs considerably less than a lot of other robot mowers, which can range from $2,000 to $4,000, but it still gets excellent reviews. It also has advanced features like a rain sensor and an anti-theft system. However, it doesn’t work well for large or hilly yards. Also, be warned that it will take a few hours to set up the boundary wire that shows the robot where to mow, but once that’s done, you can relax all summer long.
Boosted Mini S
If your summer plans include going places, but not places that are very far away, check out this electric skateboard from Boosted. Electric skateboards are popular with tech workers in Silicon Valley, but the price tags for good boards can run on the high side. The Mini S is more affordable than most while still offering a top speed of 18 mph and a 7-mile range. And it’s only 29.5 inches long, meaning that it will fit easily under your desk, on the bus or in overhead storage on planes and trains. It comes with a 30-day guarantee and a six-month warranty, and payment plans are available.
Ultimate Ears Roll 2
Vendors offer plenty of different portable Bluetooth speakers, but few have the portability of the Roll 2. It has a bungie cord on the back so you can easily attach it to a backpack, your bike, your hand or really almost anything. It also come with an inflatable floatie that you can use in the pool, because this speaker is also waterproof. It’s 13.5 cm in diameter and has a battery that lasts up to nine hours. You can stream audio from two different devices at once or connect one device to two different Roll 2 speakers at once. Most importantly, it sounds great.
The sound quality on this next waterproof speaker isn’t as awesome as the Roll 2’s, but it makes up the difference in cuteness. Speaker Creature waterproof speakers are so waterproof you can use them in the shower or even your jetted tub. In fact, they have suction-cup feet so that you can attach them right to the tub, tile or glass. They come in octopus or snail designs and blue, green or black. They also have a built-in microphone, so you can connect them to your smartphone and take calls while you are in the shower, if you are so inclined. They are only three inches long, and kids love them.
If your summer plans will take you away from your fur baby, you might want to invest in the Petcube Bites interactive HD camera. It not only lets you see and talk to your pets from your smartphone and hear their responses, it will also fling treats up to six feet. You can call your pet and offer a reward for good behavior, or you can set it to dispense treats on a schedule. You can also record and share images on social media, and it interacts with Alexa-based devices. It even has night vision and can automatically order more treats when your supply gets low. Now who’s a good boy?
Somnox Sleep Robot
Summer is also a great time to catch up on some sleep, and to help you out, Somnox offers a sleep robot. No, this isn’t an “adult” product; it’s a pillow that “breathes” rhythmically. When you cuddle the sleep robot, you will subconsciously alter your own breathing to match that of the pillow, making it easier to fall asleep fast and stay asleep all night long. It can also play soothing sounds, meditations or even audiobooks, and the sleep robot is shaped to promote good sleep posture and comfort. It also comes with a smartphone app for controlling the device and tracking your sleep. Unfortunately, it isn’t shipping yet, but Somnox is taking pre-orders with plans to ship the gadget in October.
Price: €499.00 (about $673)
Bose SoundSport Free Wireless Headphones
Designed for serious audiophiles who are also serious athletes, the Bose SoundSport Free device is one of the few pairs of wireless headphones that are truly wireless. The sound quality is phenomenal, and they feature a special design to make sure they will stay in your ears without becoming uncomfortable. They are water resistant, so you don’t need to worry about sweat or rain (although you shouldn’t wear them swimming). They come with a special charging case and can play for five hours when fully charged; just a quick 15-minute charge will get you 45 minutes of listening. And Bose offers a smartphone app that makes it easy to play music or to find your missing earbuds if you forget where you left them.
Cross Peerless TrackR Ballpoint Pen
The Cross Peerless TrackR ballpoint pen isn’t just a summer item; this is a gadget you can use all year long and for the rest of your life. That’s because this is one pen that won’t ever get lost or stolen. It connects with your phone via Bluetooth so that you can monitor your pen’s location. You can even set it up to send you an alert if someone takes it or moves it further than a specified distance from your phone. Conversely, you can click a button on the pen to find your phone, and it works even when your phone is silenced. Not to mention, it’s a really nice pen and gets top ratings from customers.
GoalZero Crush Light
If your summer plans include camping or even just late nights outside on your deck, take along a GoalZero Crush Light. This unique lantern is solar powered, so you’ll never need to buy batteries. In a pinch, you can also power it with the included USB cable. And you can squish it flat for packing, so it won’t take up a lot of room in your luggage or backpack. It has three brightness settings, plus a flickering candle mode, and on a full charge it will provide 35 hours of light on low mode. The built-in handle makes it easy to carry or hang.
This is the droid you are looking for. The Sphero R2-D2 app-enabled robot doesn’t really do anything useful at all, but it’s a lot of fun. It moves just like the real R2, makes sounds, and plays holograms on your phone. You can also control it from your phone or from the free Force Band, which allows you to use the Force even if you are not a real Jedi. The best part may be that it recognizes when you are watching a Star Wars movie and beeps and moves at appropriate places. Go ahead and pretend you are buying it for your kids, but keep it for yourself.