It’s been an amazing year in the tech world and we have more than a few favourite gadgets and tech items which we’ve spent time with over the last 12-months. There’s even a few free things on the list since there’s not always spare cash to splash around.
Below are are some of favourite things in key categories. Items (if more than one in a category) are not shown in any particular order. Your own personal preferences need to be considered too – for instance if you need to use a keyboard often with a tablet then choose one with a great keyboard option – or one with a microSD slot if you need to quickly upload photos often.
To get a fuller picture search for the episode/s where we discussed the product mentioned. We’ve taken price into consideration too – so some items are not top of the top of the line, but those representing the best overall value. Prices mentioned are ‘recommended retail’ for all except bargains category, but you can expect discounts on some consumer items of the usual Christmas and Boxing Day Sales (make sure you follow us on Twitter and Facebook to hear about the best specials).
- Portable Speaker: Logitech Multimedia Speaker Z50 – $30
- Smartphone: Nokia Lumia 520 – $179
- Tablet: HP Slate 7 – $191
- Hybrid Tablet/Touchscreen tablet: Asus Transformer Book T100 – $699
- Mobile Pre-Paid Plan: Skinny $16 Stretch Combo – $16/30-days
- Internet Plan: Orcon 30/10 unlimited internet (UFB or DSL) – $99
- Projector: Epson EH-TW5200 (Full HD) – $1499
- Streaming Video: Quickflix $14.99/month (True local option) or Netflix (see our NZ Guide)
- PlayStation 4* – $649
- Xbox One* – $749
- iPad Mini with Retina Display – $599+
- iPhone 5S – $1049
- Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition)
- LG G2
- Google Nexus 5
- HP Slate 7 Extreme
- Nokia Lumia 1020 – $1149
- Samsung Ativ S – $499
- Microsoft Surface 2 – $649
- Smartphone: Sony Xperia Z1
- Tablet: Sony Xperia Tablet Z
- MacBook Air (late 2104)
- Lenovo ThinkPad X240 touchscreen
- HP EliteBook 840 G1
- HP ProLiant Microserver Gen8 (a home or small business server) – $660+
Home Theatre Receiver
- Sony STR-DN1040 $1199
- Pebble Watch
- Fitbit Flex
- Galaxy Gear (for the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3 owner) – $449
- Ultimate Ears Boom (Bluetooth stereo speaker and speakerphone) – $299
- Tom Tom Go 500 – $349
- Raspberry Pi
- Netgear Push2TV PTV3000 (Mirror you smartphone, tablet or laptop screen on your TV or projector) – $100
- Apple iWork
- KiwiBank Home Hunter App/Mobile website
- Microsoft Windows 8.1 upgrade (from Windows 8)
- Apple OS X 10.9 Mavericks
- Online resources: NZ Tech Podcast, Geekzone, Digitl, PCWorld.co.nz
- Cloud Storage: SkyDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, or Mega
* Gaming consoles – we found it impossible to pick a winner between the two hot new consoles on the market. Both have really impressive hardware but currently don’t have a massive selection of games. While the Xbox One has the benefit of an new Full HD Kinect camera that is also incredible for Skype video calling, the PlayStation 4 appears to be selling better and this may lead to a better gaming catalogue and more of your friends using one (which makes playing online more fun).
Updated Oct 2013: We cover the major steps required to get yourself or your family up and running with the Netflix online TV and movie service in New Zealand. These instructions will also work in any other country outside of the USA and other on demand video services such as Hulu, Hulu Plus, Amazon Video, Vudu amongst others.
Our recommended configuration allows any appropriate networked device (Roku, Xbox, PS3, PC, Mac, iPhone, Windows Phone, Android, etc) in home network to connect to Netflix – or a range of other international media services.
The good news – once you’ve collected a suitable router and setup the 2 accounts needed – the setup can often be completed reasonably quickly. And the running costs can be as low as US$13/month!
What’s the challenge?
This issue with connecting to Netflix (and many other US music/TV/movie services) is that they are targeted at the US market and therefore check if your internet connection is US based. This is done by comparing your IP address (each internet connection has one) with a list of valid IP address ranges for the US.
What are the workarounds?
Option 1: The most complete and reliable work around is to connect via a VPN (Virtual Private Network) that links your existing connection to the USA and provides you with a trusted US based IP address. This is what Netflix and other providers expect you to have in order to provide service. We detail this in detail below.
Option 2: A second and often simpler option is to use a special proxy service called UnblockUS. This works for the large majority of users but we notice some ISPs can interfere with this service and unless you have a fixed IP address this service may need you to login to refresh it occasionally (very quick through your web browser) – such as if your router is reset. Also, a few services such as Xbox Video do not work using this technique. That said this is the most simple to setup and access Netflix and instructions can be found via this website. An added benefit, the proxy solution provides access to video services in multiple countries – including the UK based BBC iPlayer service.
How much does it cost?
Running costs start at about US$13/month excluding internet connection and the cost buying your connection device (such as a Roku, Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Mac, etc). Netflix on its own is US$8/month. Add to that a VPN to connection from NZ which is usually in the range of US$5 – $10/month.
As the video content is streamed using your home internet connection you may find a higher usage plan is required if you choose to use Netflix regularly.
What do I need?
In addition to a Netflix account there are only a few things you’ll need to get started:
- Internet connection
- Compatible router (in addition to your existing internet router if you use the VPN solution)
- An account with a VPN provider (or a proxy provider)
- Device for Netflix playback
Can you give me more details about those requirements?
Yes – here are the details broken down with more detailed specifications.
- A fixed connection of at least 2.5mb/s is suggested – this covers most ADSL or cable modem connections in NZ
- It’s important to realise that the more you watch the more data you’ll use. This may lead to your current internet plan being insufficient. It’s suggested you start with a plan that provides a minimum of 30gb data per month – more if you plan to watch Netflix regularly. Some users find a 60gb is more than sufficient, others use a 100gb or larger plan – this will also depend on how heavily you utilise your Internet connection for other downloads, how much video you watch and whether you stream in HD quality.
- For the
- Recommended model is Dlink DIR-615
- The DIR-615 is very easy to find in most countries incl NZ
- Must be H/W rev C1, C2, D1, D2, E1, E3 or E4 (these are common and easy to find from most electronics retailers)
- Connects to your existing (primary) ADSL or Cable router
- Compatible with typical ISP routers which provide an Ethernet connection
- Typical cost NZ$60-NZ$200 (Dependant on where you purchase and whether new or second hand)
- Many other routers that are compatible with the full DD-WRT software (however these are mostly untested by us)
- An account with a VPN provider who offers US IP addresses:
- We have tried and tested StrongVPN – this is our recommendation
- There are others that may provide better or worse results (faster or slower speeds)
Device for Netflix playback
The Roku player is the quickest and easiest to setup – and has the benefit of no ‘Xbox Live Gold’ subscription requirement when compared the Xbox 360. The downside is the Roku needs to be ordered from the US so will take a few days to arrive. The Xbox 360 provides the most impressive Netflix capabilities and with Kinect the benefits of voice control and gesture control.
- Roku Streaming Media Player
- Xbox 360 (all models are suitable) – setup with a US Xbox Live Gold account
- There are lots of other options and have tested too:
- Hardware imported from the USA such as the Roku box, some Blu-ray players come preconfigured to support Netflix
- You can also use a PC or Mac
What steps do follow to get Netflix running (Option 1)?
Here are the steps broken down so just about anyone can follow them.
Step 1: Router
- First step is downloading the appropriate DD-WRT firmware for your router to your desktop. In the case of the Dlink DIR-615 and many others you locate it on this page.
- After visiting the link enter the name of your router – such as: DIR-615
- The correct download for the DIR-615 should be labelled: Special image for initial flashing (or similar)
- Disconnect your computer from your existing internet connection/router (turning off Wi-Fi if necessary)
- Connect your computer any port on the Dlink DIR-615 (except for the WAN port)
- Login to the router by navigating to the router’s webpage – you can do this by entering the following address in your browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, etc): http://192.168.0.1
- Username: admin
- Password (leave this blank)
Step 2: VPN
- Setup your VPN using the instructions from the VPN provider. Feel free to try any one you want.
- As mentioned previously we have primarily used StrongVPN though there are a couple of other methods that seem to vary in their performance and reliability. Visit their website to sign up and for instructions for use in conjunction with a DD-WRT enabled router.
- The method of configuration suggested is the ‘Modify Wan Connection Type’ and instructions are here.
Step 3: Device connection
- In our experience for the best results use an Ethernet cable between your device (Xbox 360, Roku, PC, Mac, etc) rather than Wifi
- If you prefer to use Wifi – then connect to your new Wifi connection using the details you setup in step 1
What steps do follow to get Netflix running (Option 2)?
It’s somewhat easier than Option 1 and works well in most cases for Netflix access - follow the instructions here from Unblock-US.
Please let us know if we’ve left anything out and we’ll try and fill in the gaps promptly.
This episode Paul Spain and Bill Bennett talk Apple, Samsung and Nokia, along with highlights from TechEd NZ, a view of NZ from Silicon Valley, inflight Wi-Fi entertainment, Dell going private while Twitter heads for a stock market listing.
Get the Podcast here:
- Listen to Episode 150 directly
- Subscribe and listen via iTunes
- Subscribe and listen via Zune
- RSS Feed
Would you like to join the NZ Tech Podcast live? Most Tuesday evenings starting somewhere between 6pm-7pm we join with Geekzone for a live audio stream from the studio and a hosted chat room. Details here.
First up – I trust all NZ Tech Podcast listeners have a great Christmas. As there will not be a new episode of the NZ Tech Podcast until CES 2013 (Las Vegas) in early January it seemed appropriate to share some of the best tech bargains announced in 2012 Boxing Day Sales both online and in retailers across New Zealand.
- Apple MacBook Pro 13" – Harvey Norman – $1578 (usually $1899)
- HP Pavilion 14-B006AU – Harvey Norman – $348
- Samsung Galaxy SIII – Bond and Bond – $679.20
- iPhone 4S – Bond and Bond – $849 (actually not a special, price dropped recently)
- Nokia Lumia 920 (with Windows Phone 8) – Warehouse Stationery – $799
- LG/Google Nexus 4 – Bond and Bond – $639.20
- HTC Windows Phone 8S – Warehouse Stationery – $399.20
- Xbox 4GB Kinect Bundle w/ 2 games – The Warehouse – $245 (stock left only in stores)
- Xbox 4GB Kinect Bundle w/ 3 games – JB Hi Fi – $249
- PlayStation 3 Super Slim 12GB Console – The Warehouse $225
- LG 60" Full HD Plasma – Harvey Norman – $1293
- Vivo 40” Full HD LCD – Dick Smith – $399
- Samsung 50” 6000 series Full HD LCD – Dick Smith – $1249
- Canon EOS1100D Twin Lens Kit – Dick Smith- $598
- Samsung 14 megapixel, 5 x optical zoom – JB Hi Fi – $47
- Fujifilm 14 megapixel, 24 x optical zoom – JB Hi Fi – $247
- Olympus TG-320 underwater/shockproof 14 megapixel – Harvey Norman – $165
- LG Blu-ray Player – Harvey Norman – $66
- 40L Haier Bar Fridge – Harvey Norman – $99
- D-Link, Cisco, Belkin, Logitech – Harvey Norman – 40% off
This list will be updated as more specials come to light. Also be sure to checkout the Geekzone discussion forums as there is always interesting discussion there about Boxing Day gadget specials.
Update: 23 August 2012 – the latest of this information is now available at: ufb.org.nz
New Zealand is currently in the process of having Ultra Fast Broadband capabilities rolled out across the country. Under the direction of Crown Fibre Holdings (CFH), four companies have been selected to deliver the new UFB network to homes, schools and businesses around the country.
The new UFB network is already available for connection is some parts of country such as Whangerei, and by mid-2012 50,000 of premises (homes, businesses, schools) around the country will have fibre optic cable running past their front doors. Orcon advise they’ve been told that this number of premises with UFB Fibre access should increase to 125,000 premises by mid-2013.
As well as residential customers being able to get very fast internet, the most recent announcement marks the first release of a 1 Terabyte (1000 Gigabytes) data plan in New Zealand.
This page will be regularly refreshed with an up-to-date list of UFB providers and pricing options. Current UFB offers include:
- 50Mb/s (up/down), 150GB data, 1 phone line: $99
- 50Mb/s (up/down), 250GB data, 1 phone line: $199
WorldNet (Auckland, Christchurch) – residential:
- 30Mb/s (down), 10Mb/s (up), 10G data, 1 phone line: $69.95
- 30Mb/s (down), 10Mb/s (up), 50G data, 1 phone line: $79.95
- 30Mb/s (down), 10Mb/s (up), 100G data, 1 phone line: $89.95
- 30Mb/s (down), 10Mb/s (up), 150G data, 1 phone line: $99.95
- 30Mb/s (down), 10Mb/s (up), 200G data, 1 phone line: $109.95
- 30Mb/s (down), 10Mb/s (up), 250G data, 1 phone line: $119.95
- 30Mb/s (down), 10Mb/s (up), 300G data, 1 phone line: $129.95
WorldNet (Auckland, Christchurch) – business:
- 30Mb/s (down), 10Mb/s (up), 50G data, 1 phone line: $99
- 30Mb/s (down), 10Mb/s (up), 100G data, 1 phone line: $119
- 30Mb/s (down), 10Mb/s (up), 200G data, 1 phone line: $189
- 100Mb/s (down), 50Mb/s (up), 350G data: $299
- 100Mb/s (down), 50Mb/s (up), 550G data: $439
Orcon (Nationwide) – residential
- 30Mb/s (down), 10Mb/s (up), 5G data, 1 phone line, unlimited NZ landline calls: $75
- 30Mb/s (down), 10Mb/s (up), 30G data, 1 phone line: $75
- 30Mb/s (down), 10Mb/s (up), 60G data, 1 phone line: $89
- 30Mb/s (down), 10Mb/s (up), 100G data, 1 phone line: $99
- 30Mb/s (down), 10Mb/s (up), 1000G (1TB) data, 1 phone line: $199
- 100Mb/s (down), 50Mb/s (up), 30G data, 1 phone line: $110
- 100Mb/s (down), 50Mb/s (up), 60G data, 1 phone line: $124
- 100Mb/s (down), 50Mb/s (up), 100G data, 1 phone line: $134
- 100Mb/s (down), 50Mb/s (up), 1000G (1TB) data, 1 phone line: $234
Orcon (Nationwide) – business
- 30Mb/s (down), 10Mb/s (up), 30G data, 2 phone lines: $169+gst
- 30Mb/s (down), 10Mb/s (up), 60G data, 2 phone lines: $179+gst
- 30Mb/s (down), 10Mb/s (up), 100G data, 2 phone lines: $199+gst
- 30Mb/s (down), 10Mb/s (up), 1000G (1TB) data, 2 phone lines: $419+gst
- 100Mb/s (down), 50Mb/s (up), 30G data, 2 phone lines: $199+gst
- 100Mb/s (down), 50Mb/s (up), 60G data, 2 phone lines: $209+gst
- 100Mb/s (down), 50Mb/s (up), 100G data, 2 phone lines: $229+gst
- 100Mb/s (down), 50Mb/s (up), 1000G (1TB) data, 2 phone lines: $449+gst
Note business plans offers more features than residential plans including availability of multiple IP addresses, etc.
Installation: According to ISPs and information published to date, we understand that residential installation will be free in certain situations – such as individual homes that are within 15m of the street, and where the internal fibre run will be less than 5m.
NZ Tech Podcast regularly discusses the latest news and activity in relation to the NZ Ultra Fast Broadband network. In NZ Tech Podcast – Episode 43 we interviewed John Greenhough – CTO of Crown Fibre Holdings to gain more insights into the subject.
Resources and Coverage Maps from NZ UFB Providers:
- Auckland/parts of North/South Islands: Chorus
website – coverage map and service availability (UFB, ADSL2+, VDSL)
website – UFB/Fibre coverage map and service availability (UFB only)
- Waikato/Bay of Plenty: WEL Networks / Ultrafast Fibre Ltd
website – coverage map
- Northland: Northpower Fibre
website – coverage map
- Christchurch: Enable Networks
website – coverage map
Additional key resources:
- Crown Fibre Holdings – website
- NZ National Broadband Map – website
- NZ UFB Retail Service Providers / ISPs – Prices and coverage
Remember to bookmark this page and come back often for updates. You’ll also keep up-to-date by listening to the NZ Tech Podcast.
Would you like to join the NZ Tech Podcast live? Each Tuesday evening at 6pm or thereabouts the NZ Tech Podcast streams live. To confirm the actual stream time be sure to follow @nztechpodcast and @paulspain on Twitter.
How do you join in?
- Listen to the live audio stream here
- Tested on iOS, Android and Windows Phone
- Works on some media players and browsers
Naturally, if you miss the live stream you can still catch the NZ Tech Podcast via the usual recorded distribution channels.
I dropped by iTunes today and was pleasantly surprised to see that the ‘NZ Tech Podcast’ is the top Podcast in New Zealand right now. It feels great to be sitting above Ricky Gervais, TED talks, BBC, etc.
It’s nice to have some extra attention courtesy of Apple and iTunes. Many thanks to all who are listening in and especially those spreading the word.
Please keep your feedback and comments rolling in via whatever medium you prefer – as that’s how we’ll be able to adjust the show and improve it over time.
We have a more coming to the podcast over time – such as a number of interesting guests planned in future episodes.
If you haven’t listened in yet – please do so and let us know what you think.
Update: April 2012
After more than 1-year online the NZ Tech Podcast remains the #1 locally produced dedicated podcast in New Zealand. The advent of radio stations heavily promoting ‘podcastized’ versions of their shows often sees the best of those shows receive a top ranking – but when it comes to dedicated local podcasts the NZ Tech Podcast has remained at the top month-to-month since early 2011.