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Sean Bacher

Something on the Side: Give your plants a voice

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In this week’s instalment of Something on the Side, SEAN BACHER highlights the Koubachi Wi-Fi plant sensor, the Cobra MT975 two-way radio, a Robotic Arm Kit, Western Digital’s new range of My Passport Slim hard drives and the HP Envy Recline all-in-one PC.

Koubachi Wi-Fi plant sensor

Knowing when to water your plants can sometimes be a problem as unlike dogs or cats, plants can’t make any noises to alert us when they need attention. But, with the Koubach Wi-Fi sensor for plants, there will be less dead plants lying around the house due to neglect. The sensor is placed in a pot plant’s soil and it immediately begins picking up and sending statistics to a phone or tablet. The sensor is able to measure soil temperature and moisture content and also gives readings on the amount of light the plant is exposed to. When the soil begins to dry out, a message is sent to a mobile device reminding the user that the plant needs water. Should there be too much sun shining onto the plant at a particular time, an alert is sent advising the user to move the plant. Indoor and outdoor sensors can be bought and the Koubachi can be used to monitor more than one plant at a time. An app is available as a free download from the App Store for an iPhone or iPad and the sensor can also be accessed via a web app.

Stockists: Visit www. koubachi.com

Expect to pay: R1 150

Cobra MT975 two-way radio

The Cobra MT975 two-way radio features 8 channels and 121 privacy codes (providing a total of 968 combinations). It uses a push-to-talk button, making it easy to use and is said to have a range of up to 12km, but terrain conditions may make this distance a lot shorter. The walkie-talkie features a vibrate and sound alert for incoming calls and it also offers a voice activation feature that automatically begins transmitting when a user’s voice is detected. The Cobra can also be used as a baby monitor and rechargeable batteries and drop-in chargers are included in the box.

Stockists: Imtech Marine South Africa on 0861 123 555

Expect to pay: R850

Robotic Arm Kit

It used to be the case that anyone who wanted to create a robot from scratch would most likely require a degree from MIT. But, now there is the Robotic Arm kit a relatively inexpensive robot that needs to be built for users that think they may enjoy a career in the robotics industry. The kit arrives disassembled and contains all the pieces needed to make a desktop droid. It is remarkably easy to set up, taking a little over a few hours to build and the kit does away with the need for soldering or placing transistors and capacitors on an electronic board. All the user needs is a star-shaped screwdriver and a pair or wire cutters. Once the arm has been assembled, it will feature five joints with motors to swing the arm around and pick objects up with its pincer-like grippers. There is even a spotlight for night work.

Stockists: www.mantality.co.za

Expect pay: R950

Western Digital My Passport Slim hard drive

The new Western Digital range of My Passport Slim hard drives offer up to 1TB of storage capacity. The drive’s chassis is crafted from metal, giving it added protection against everyday bumps, and data is safeguarded using 256-bit hardware encryption. The drive can be used to transfer music, videos and images and can also be used to backup data thanks to the included WD SmartWare Pro data protection software. The Western Digital My Passport Slim hard drive is 0.48‚” thin and connects to a computer via USB 3.0 or USB 2.0.

Stockists: Visit www.wdstore.com

Expect to pay: R1 000

HP Envy Recline all-in-one

The most noticeable feature of the HP Envy Recline all-in-one computer is the ability to position the screen at any angle users can even recline it over the edge of a desk. The reason for its amazing ability to recline is to make the user as comfortable as possible when swiping their grubby paws over the touch screen. The all-in-on PC is powered by an Intel Core i7 processor and comes with 8GB of memory. The PC uses a 23‚” screen, and because the screen swivels and reclines to just about any angle, the base has been made from aluminium, with some added weight to keep the computer from flopping over.

Stockists: Visit www.hp.co.za

Expect to pay: R17 500

· Sean Bacher is editor of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @SeanBacher

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