Oregon Scientific make all manner of strange and, to varying degrees, useful gadgets from weather stations to heart rate monitors. The Smart Globe is one that once you get your hands on, you really won’t know what you ever did with your time BG. Before Globe.
It’s an interactive globe which uses a smartpen to pinpoint areas of the world, after which it can give you all manners of information, from exchange rates to flying times. Did you know that Russia celebrates Christmas twice a year?
There’s heaps of fun to be had from the Smart Globe, as soon as you’ve retrieved it from the packaging, built to withstand all but the most determined of reviewers. It works straight out of the box, with batteries and the like already installed. You then use the smartpen to choose whether you want straight information, (on weather, language, the national anthem or any number of fascinating facts) to compare two countries (offering flying times, exchange rates, populations or time differences) or to engage in a battle of wills: You versus the Woman Who Knows Everything. "Find French Guiana" "Yes, I’m bloody trying to" has been a phrase echoing round Tech Digest with alarming regularity.
The globe revolves horizontally and vertically, to ensure you’ve got easy access to the whole world, in miniature. It also features a pull out tray which has a larger map of the United Kingdom on it, allowing you to play such games as ‘how long does it take to fly between.. Middlesborough to Leicester’ (approximately 22 minutes). There’s also a chart of the world and national flags, which you can use the smartpen to find out more about. The smartpen itself can be detached from the supplied speaker cable, as it does have a speaker of it’s own, although the quality is not as good.
For those that wish to use this as an actual real learning aid, Oregon Scientific have catered for you too. The Globe can be set to one of three age groups, 15+ being the oldest. And if you think 15 is far too young for you, ask yourself whether you’re still taking Geography lessons three times a week. Exactly.
The smartpen is connected to your computer via a mini USB plug, through which you can update all the time sensitive material such as world news, weather and exchange rates. Unfortunately, we’ve got a super-advanced copy of the globe, so can’t vouch for the updates.
We’re assured that the software issue will be sorted before the actual launch of this product, which is scheduled for September. When we tested it out, the exchange rate for the US came out as $1 equalling 55 GB pence, which is pretty spot on anyway.
The smartpen works the same way the scanner in Sainsbury’s does, and you know the times where they have to type in the code for your loaf of bread? The smartpen does occasionally suffer the same fate. There is no worse feeling in the entire world than when you are frantically jabbing at New York, only for the Woman in the Know to say you’ve run out of time. No worse feeling.
In our opinion
The SmartGlobe is something that no classroom should be without, no office should be without and no home should be without. In fact, it should be issued at birth. There’s hours of amusement to be had, the only drawback being the serious effect it has on productivity levels. It’s available for £130 here, and is due to be available from September.