Kindle Paperwhite is a great gadget when you’re stuck at home. Or cast away.
As Coronavirus continues to dominate our daily lives, many are being asked to work from home. Or, if you’ve got a continuous cough or a high temperature, then in many countries self-isolation for one or two weeks is mandatory. This could mean even staying away from your family by sticking to your bedroom.
If you find you suddenly have some unexpected time at home, there are technological solutions to help you make the most of it.
This applies for keeping in touch, video-conferencing that meeting with your colleagues, or FaceTime calls to friends and family, especially if they’re overseas.
But the right gadgets can make your sudden enforced solitude more pleasant, too, from using your iPad to watch Netflix if the TV in your bedroom isn’t up to snuff to installing a video doorbell so you don’t need direct contact with the guy at the door.
Here are the best electronic helpers to make being on your own more productive and more enjoyable.
The deals highlighted within this post were independently selected by the Contributor and do not contain affiliate links.
How to answer the door: video doorbell
You probably don’t want to be standing in your doorway talking to strangers, right? So, a video doorbell means you can let a friend know you’re not able to come to the door or ask the delivery guy to leave the parcel, groceries or takeaway on the doorstep and you can retrieve it when they’ve gone.
Nest Hello saves answering the door
Nest Hello $229 from Google
The Hello stands out because of excellent video quality and neat design: you can even angle the doorbell for the perfect view if you have to mount it in the corner. Audio is also strong, so you can hear what the person at the door is saying and make yourself heard in reply whether you’re upstairs or halfway round the world. There are pre-recorded messages if you don’t want to speak to the visitor yourself. The best video doorbell on the market.
Ring Video Doorbell 2 $169 from Ring
Ring, owned by Amazon, has a range of effective doorbells. This is the second version – though the original, which doesn’t have such high-resolution video, is also available for just $99.99, which is a bargain. The doorbell comes with a rechargeable battery which Ring says can last six months between charges. You can view what the camera is seeing on your cellphone, and receive notifications when it spots any movement. But for storage of video which gives access to a 30-day video history there’s a monthly or annual fee. Note that Video Doorbell 3, $199.99, with better motion detection and improved wi-fi, is now available for pre-order, arriving early April.
How to pass the time: watch and read
If you have to isolate yourself from the rest of the family, you may have to retreat to your bedroom. Suppose your TV in that room isn’t connected to the internet or is otherwise not as good as downstairs. A tablet or ebook reader can help divert you.
Apple iPad From $329 from Apple
The latest iPad is the best-value tablet Apple has made and it’s tremendous. The display, at 10.2 inches, is bigger than previous entry-level models. It’s great for watching movies, Netflix, whatever. Of course, there’s also a huge range of other apps, from games to keeping on top of your emails or Twitter feed. For complete productivity, add a Smart Keyboard ($159 from Apple) and Apple Pencil ($99 from Apple).
Amazon Fire HD 10 From $149.99 from Amazon
The best-value tablet you can buy is the Fire range from Amazon which combines effective capabilities with amazing prices. The 10-inch model is not as immaculately built as the iPad, but, again, the price! Amazon uses a special version of Android, so there are far fewer apps but they all work perfectly – though updates can take time to arrive.
Apple TV From $149 from Apple
If your bedroom TV doesn’t have cable, don’t be left out. Apple TV will give you access to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, ESPN, Hulu, Disney+ (when you’ve paid the appropriate subscription) and lots more. Not to mention the new Apple TV+ service, and a year’s subscription is included with this hardware. There are also plenty of apps and games, including fitness apps to keep you in trim. Neat features include holding the microphone button and saying, “What did he say?”. The video will rewind briefly and play the bit you couldn’t make out with subtitles for 15 seconds. This is the HD version. A 4K-compatible model costs from $179 from Apple.
Amazon Fire TV Stick From $39.99 from Amazon
Another bargain device from Amazon. It connects out of sight on your TV’s HDMI socket and gives you access to Prime Video, HBO, Netflix, Hulu, ESPN, Disney+ and more (subscriptions apply). The remote is especially easy to use and the interface is appealing and intuitive.
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite From $159.99 from Amazon
Reading passes the time best of all. And even the best ebook reader can’t compete with the joys of a real book. But the Kindle has some great advantages: it can hold thousands of books at a time so you can change books in a moment. And, when you finish one book in your favorite series, you can snap up the next one without leaving home or even your bedroom. Books download in under a minute.
Amazon makes a range of Kindles but the Paperwhite is the best balance of features and value. It’s waterproof, beautifully designed and brilliant to use. Like the other Kindles, it has a frontlit screen so you can read in a dark room. The entry-level model, from $89.99 from Amazon, has a lower-resolution screen but is also a great buy.
How to stay healthy and fit: Thermometer and fitness apps
Braun Digital Ear ThermoScan 5 IRT6500 Thermometer $39.99 from Amazon
The ear is a good place to accurately take your temperature. Attach the hygienic cover to the thermometer and hold it in your ear for a second or two. The result is displayed clearly. It works for babies, children and adults.
Withings Thermo $99.95 from Withings
The Withings thermometer is stylish and effective. It shows the temperature on the side of the device but also saves it to the Withings app. A gentle touch on the forehead is all that’s needed to get an accurate reading. Out of stock right now, but worth checking.
Nike Training Club app, free
Don’t get out of shape just because you can’t get to the gym. Turn to a smartphone app like this. Keep your body in shape with a fitness app like this. There’s a wide range of simple workouts to follow, available for all levels of fitness and real variety in how much you do.
Pocket Yoga app, free
It can be stressful being at home on your own, which is where yoga can help. Relax and de-stress with this helpful and attractive app. It takes you through simple workouts with voice guidance and clear illustrations.