End Of Summer Gadget Guide: 11 Devices To Help Close Out The Sunny SeasonImage via Yoto Tech Lists Gadgets
Although the end of August traditionally marks the end of summer, that doesn’t mean your fun in the sun has to be over. Thanks to global warming, the summer season will only be getting longer. Tech can seem a bit out of place when you’re thinking about beaches and pools, as the mix of electronics, sand and water ends in disaster. But, this summer Paste tried out a handful of new products to help boost your limited vacation time to the next level. From portable showers and outdoor pizza kitchens to podcasts for kids, these products can help make life easier and more enjoyable for your family this summer and beyond.
Outdoor Pizza Kitchen
Summer cooking can be a pain. Between hectic schedules and a hot kitchen, preparing dinner is the last thing you want to spend time doing during the few summer months. Traditionally, burgers and hot dogs dominate summer mealtime but that got old quickly this summer. Instead, we tried the Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Oven. This little oven can cook up a pizza in under 10 minutes, is perfectly portable and can be used to prepare anything from whole chickens to a rack of ribs. The Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Oven also comes with a variety of wood pellets to give your food a hint of smoke flavor.
Arcade At Home
There will be some days this summer where you’re better off staying inside. Whether it’s raining or simply too hot, you’re going to need a plan B to spend the day. If you’ve got kids running around the house, the stakes are doubled. Growing up an 80s kid, we would rotate between bowling, the movies and the local arcade to fill the day. Forty years later, companies like Arcade 1up have a whole slate of retro arcade machines that won’t break the bank and will keep kids and parents busy for a couple hours at minimum. In addition to retro games like Pac Man and Galaga (found in the Class of ‘81 Arcade), Arcade 1up has offered nostalgic side scrollers like X-Men, fighters like Mortal Kombat and more elaborate games like Fast and Furious, Big Buck Hunter and the upcoming Time Crisis reissue.
Screen time isn’t great for toddlers but what are you supposed to do when you’re stuck on a four-hour car ride to your mother-in-law’s house for vacation? The Yoto has become a staple in our house as we try to limit screen time and encourage other forms of creativity. It’s been encouraging to see our kids interact with it via podcasts, story time, music and other activities. The kid-friendly device has a simple pixelated display, a few control buttons and, most notably, a card slot that functions like a tape player of sorts.
Inspired by Montessori principles, Ben Drury and Filip Denker founded Yoto in 2017 and launched the very first Yoto Player launched on Kickstarter in 2019. The second generation Yoto Player launched in early 2020 and the company came out with a mini version the following year. And now, the device allows downloads and app access to both original content and audio that has been licensed or co-created with partners such as Disney, Marvel, LEGO, Roald Dahl Story Company, HarperCollins, Hachette, Bonnier and Scholastic.
Fully automated, climate-controlled homes are becoming more popular but they’re still enormously expensive. While America does lead the world in embracing air conditioning (88 percent of American homes used AC this summer), much of the tech is represented by single, window-set units. Sensibo has created several products to help bridge that gap, including the Sensibo Sky, a sensor and app that allows the user to control their home AC unit from anywhere. If you live in an apartment or smaller home, this could be a game changer in the summertime. The company also makes other market adjacent products including air purifiers and monitors.
I have two siblings and they both lead vegan-centric lifestyles. While my sister enjoys almond milk, my brother and his family only ingest oat milk. I personally trend towards the traditional version. Instead of rushing out for individual milk cartons each time they visit, this summer we opted for something new. We tried using a Nutr blender and letting them each prepare their own vegan milk. After choosing a base (almond, oat, hemp heart, coconut, soy & beyond), you add water and a dash of salt and start blending. You can control the quantity and creaminess of the milk by adjusting the amount of water and mix you use. Nutr sells premixed blends as well, if you’re looking to spice up your milk game at home.
Being over 40 means you have to work out, somehow, someway. Considering just mowing the lawn makes me sweat buckets, I thought I might try to track and quantify what kind of workout it might be. With the Oxa breathing monitor and app, I was able to track my heartrate as well as my breathing and justify to my wife that indeed, “I am exercising!” The real benefit of the Oxa is that the breathing monitor and tracking app can assist with sleeping as well as daily mindfulness and stress relief. After just a day on the beach wearing the Oxa, I saw all of the long walks, hunts for sea glass, and sand castles that I built and destroyed with the kids provided a healthy workout in real time.
After years of thinking about it, I gave in this summer and bought an E-bike specifically for beach trips. We’re lucky enough to live fairly close to the ocean but it’s a long walk to get there. Even though it was more expensive, the e-bike saved me from dying on the small hills on the way back home with the kids. Electra has been creating e-bikes for 30 years and recently released the larger sport utility e-bike Ponto Go! In addition to a new frame that feels like the best parts of a motorcycle and moped, Electra has added safety features like a brake light and turn indicators on the Ponto Go. That’ll be helpful as the new bike can hit a throttle speed of up to 20mph and pedal assistance past 20mph.
Last summer I had to lug around, at minimum, five water bottles when out with my family. This summer was no different, but to make things easier I got a HydroFlask Talus backpack, which comes with insertable cooling packs and can keep things cold for up to 36 hours. It’s big enough to fit a bunch of water and snacks and durable enough for the trail or the beach. I’ve always been an advocate of waterproof bags as well, so to keep my wife’s e-reader, our phones and keys safe, I use a Breakwater backpack. The New England-based company is fairly new but has a large selection of apparel, bags and first aid kits designed for use in the water.
Self-Sealing Water Balloons
We tried at least four different kinds of water balloons this summer and these were by far the best. In addition to the reusable factor, they’re incredibly easy to use for younger kids. These Liquid Bomb Reusable Self Sealing Water Balloons were launched on Kickstarter and fully funded with ease. A pack of five usually runs around $15 to $20 but there are knock offs abound if you’re looking for something cheaper.
If you spent any time at the beach, hiking or generally getting sweaty this summer, you can appreciate the appeal of an on-demand shower. The Beachbox is easy to use, extremely portable and won’t break the bank. The original Beachbox kit comes with a tank, spray gun and accessories and the company released a portable version, which sold out quickly, last year.
Dana Forsythe is a freelance writer covering tech, comic books and culture. He lives in Massachusetts, enjoys photographing street art, collecting comics and can be followed via Twitter @danafour.