Go tech: Tips for embracing technology on the home front

PUBLISHED: 09:48 12 October 2016 | UPDATED: 10:00 12 October 2016

All mod cons: Follow our tips for creating a high tech home

All mod cons: Follow our tips for creating a high tech home

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Home comforts have come a long way since the humble VHS, SodaStream and microwave.

Touchscreen technology: a lot has changed in recent yearsTouchscreen technology: a lot has changed in recent years

Now, thanks to new technology, we can turn the lights and heating on before we get home. Or work from home. We can even watch Neighbours and Home and Away on demand, when once we could only dream of such luxury.

Enabling us to return to well-lit warm homes and check older children are back from school before we get in, smart home products give control from wherever we are – perhaps work, a train or another country.

You can control your Hive Active Heating from your phoneYou can control your Hive Active Heating from your phone

Smart Heating

Using a tablet or smartphone, this clever technology enables us to precisely control the temperature of the home environment remotely. This helps achieve comfort and can save serious money on the ever-increasing energy bills – a welcome treat! Better for the environment and wallet.

St Albans' own Bob Golding in the Hive adSt Albans' own Bob Golding in the Hive ad

Systems, such as Hive Active Heating and the Nest Learning Thermostat, are constantly developing to get more ‘clever’, increasing customisation possibilities that techno-geeks are all very excited about.

Personally, I get very excited about the televised/online Hive ads, featuring St Albans’ own acting superstar and panto legend Bob Golding, singing a quirky, catchy tune. Sometimes in a dressing gown.

Currently my old style heating choices are much less innovative, and still involve putting on slippers, turning the dial until it clicks at 20, and momentarily considering a Batchelors Cup A Soup. One day I will come into the 21st century.

The local panto legend, as seen on TVThe local panto legend, as seen on TV

Smart Telly

Perhaps the most fun and affordable changes are those that have occurred in media. I clearly recall a friend saying just over a decade ago that soon we will abandon ‘normal’ television sets and do away with traditional aeriels, and be able to watch whatever we want, whenever we want from a computer, phone or other device.

Now TV offers on-demand boxsets and live streamingNow TV offers on-demand boxsets and live streaming

While my HD television still looks very much like a television, it’s still cool to be able to watch One Born Every Minute on catch-up from an iPad, while the littlies devour Paw Patrol on Now TV from the bigger screen.

I’m even considering abandoning the hefty Sky package, because Now TV is so fabulous. For about fifteen quid for a box and then about eight pounds a month, I can find almost anything I want, any time of the day or night. The Sky box I have in my lounge is not superior but costs loads more. You even hear of media experts suggesting that the BBC’s days are numbered along with the rather archaic television licence. Freedom to watch what we want, when we want, for less is a reality and the possibilities are evolving.

There’s a 32-inch HD ready Smart LED Bush television on sale in Argos for a bargain of £179.99. You can surf the web, go on social media and use great apps like YouTube and Netflix, as well as a Freeview tuner and connections for games consoles. It even has SRS TruSurround for enhanced sound. Whatever that is…

Every home needs an R2-D2 coffee makerEvery home needs an R2-D2 coffee maker

Smart Working

Smart working is working remotely from home, enabled by advancements in digital technology and the flexibility they afford. This is only possible through the sheer joy that is the global new ‘God’, the Internet.

And while, even in my limited techno-knowledge, I know that the first embryonic cells of it were developed about 50 years ago, a lot has changed since then, with so many homes being connected and online. The more everyday experiences of Facetiming, Skype and affordable, accessible often ‘free’ calls and video-messaging, have really only been as reliable, effective and broadly-used in recent years. Employers have come to trust remote working, video conferencing and social networking and many companies agree that going into an office isn’t always necessary. This means those who previously were less able to access a physical workplace can enjoy a career.

And just in case you want some inspiration for a ‘smart’ coffee machine, to fuel you... it’s the long-awaited Star Wars R2-D2 coffee maker. ThinkGeek’s four-cup coffee press is built into the body of the beloved droid. Yours for around thirty English pounds. Available to pre-order and expected early November (thinkgeek.com).

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