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Page last updated at 15:48 GMT, Friday, 3 October 2008 16:48 UK

Domestic gadgets go hi-tech

Richard Taylor
By Richard Taylor
Click editor

Can the route to domestic bliss be smoothed with a few home-helping gadgets?

Domestic appliances are usually considered the ugly sister of tech and come in a poor second to their sexier consumer electronics siblings.

But there is a world of home tech beyond the latest DVD players, surround sound systems and wi-fi music streamers.

From a washing machine doing the ironing, to a droid cleaning your floors, I find out that a little hi-tech zing can go a long way towards putting the fun in functional.

IROBOT ROOMBA (from £210)

How the Roomba vacuum cleaner works

The idea behind Roomba, the robotic vacuum cleaner, is that he can be scheduled to clean your home to perfection when you are out.

Once unleashed, he is raring to go and clean up all the dirt and grime you cannot be bothered to. He is not the fastest, and he does not get everything first time around. Occasionally, he is also a little over-eager, bless him. So clear up any stray cables and make sure you secure your Ming vase on the coffee table.

On the other hand, he is pretty clever at working out not to go tumbling down the stairs. And even more impressive, he has an ingenious way of working his way systematically through your house.

PHILIPS 4685 KETTLE (from £50)

Philips kettle, Delonghi PrimaDonna coffeemaker, Cooper Cooler wine cooler, Kenwood Virtu toaster

Starting with a kettle - the simplest of all concepts on offer.

What is great about this red-hot baby though is that it does not just boil your coffee, but also lets you heat it to different temperatures. After all, do you drink your morning cuppa at boiling point? I know I don't.

DELONGHI PRIMADONNA COFFEEMAKER (from £875)

Another gizmo, which is energy-saving, for people whose pick-me-up is of the caffeinated variety. I like cappuccino and this automates the entire process.

Just take the supplied milk jug out of the fridge, select your desired caffeine hit, and voila. It creates a perfect pick-me up, but for the steep price, you would expect it to.

KENWOOD VIRTU TOASTER (from £40)

You will want a perfect piece of toast to go with your decent brew. This slender toaster has different settings to cope with the most demanding of breads and it toasts different varieties to different degrees.

So, if you have a sugary variety which burns easily, the toaster cuts down the toasting time without you having to think about it. Love it.

COOPER COOLER (from £59)

Here is a hi-tech solution to cool a lukewarm bottle of wine. Just fill the appliance with water and ice, insert the bottle, and selected the desired temperature.

Your drink will be chilled in next to no time - that's six minutes for a typical wine bottle, and three minutes for a can.

LG STEAM DIRECT DRIVE WASHING MACHINE (from £609)

LG washing machine

The utility room is not immune to the hi-tech treatment. LG's appliance is desperate to prove its hi-tech credentials. It is a washing machine, but not as we know it.

It has a LCD screen with a play and pause button alongside which makes you think it might be about to load a DVD. The screen displays things like the amount of time left in a washing programme. But its most radical feature is that it uses steam rather than just water to clean.

Well, the benefit of this is that it has a "refresh cycle". The idea is that you can freshen up a shirt after a hard day at work and wear it again that evening. Just whack it in and after a steam clean all the odours will have been neutralised and best of all, you will not need to iron it.

Well, I put it to the test with three creased shirts to see if it really works. The results were not bad, but not sure I would attend a formal function wearing them, but for everyday, certainly very passable.



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