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Got an old laptop? Donate it to Social Box instead of eBaying it

Social enterprise wants 1,000 laptops to be distributed to people in homeless shelters. Instead of trying to flog your old laptop off on eBay or at a boot sale, Social Box would rather you sent it their way instead – the UK-based social enterprise is aiming to supply 1,000 people in hostels with refurbished devices. Increasingly, as services like Universal Credit head online, those in the 9 per cent of Britons who’ve never used the Internet stand to lose out.

As well as helping people develop IT skills, the idea is to give people access to support and services they need, as well as providing a communications lifeline with friends and family. Social Box[1] will check and refurbish all devices handed in before passing them on to London-based charity Thames Reach[2] for wider distribution. Speaking to The Inquirer[3], Peter Paduh, founder of SocialBox said: “It’s about bettering our communities and societies by taking the laptops some view as no longer needed and giving them to the people who need them the most.”

Jeremy Swain, CEO of Thames Reach added, “These laptops will give the homeless and marginalised people who receive them the opportunity to communicate with friends and relatives, develop new interests, and access advice to improve their skills and employment prospects.” If anyone you know is in need of a cheap refurbished PC or laptop for themselves or their family, they should in the first instance check out Go On UK[4], so see if there are any local support groups who can help. Failing that, you can pick up a cheap refurbed machine from places like Microdream[5] and Compu-Zone[6].

If you’re applying for Universal Credit (or know someone who is) and you/they need Internet access, you can get BT Basic[7], an ADSL service that’s cheaper than the usual rate and only available to people receiving benefits.

Microsoft Surface 2” by K?rlis Dambr?ns is licensed under CC BY 2.0[8][9][10].

References

  1. ^ Social Box (www.socialbox.biz)
  2. ^ Thames Reach (www.thamesreach.org.uk)
  3. ^ The Inquirer (www.theinquirer.net)
  4. ^ Go On UK (local.go-on.co.uk)
  5. ^ Microdream (microdream.co.uk)
  6. ^ Compu-Zone (www.compu-zone.co.uk)
  7. ^ BT Basic (btplc.com)
  8. ^ Microsoft Surface 2 (www.flickr.com)
  9. ^ K?rlis Dambr?ns (www.flickr.com)
  10. ^ CC BY 2.0 (creativecommons.org)

A quarter of UK households now contain a smart home device

Convenience and peace of mind are the two driving forces behind the 135% year-on-year increase in smart home device sales, according to a new survey by technology retailer Maplin. Smart hubs and smart devices designed to make homes safer, such as smart plugs and wireless security cameras, are popular buys, with the survey revealing that 24% of UK homes now contain a smart home device of some sort. But this surge in interest doesn’t mean we all understand what these products are for.

The vast majority of people surveyed had heard of smart home technology, but 55% admitted they didn’t fully understand it. Our guide on smart home technology[1] gives you the low-down on what it is and whether it could make your life easier.

Should you buy a smart hub?

Most smart tech is controlled by an app on your smartphone or tablet. A smart hub has its own app, but rather than just controlling one device, it will control any compatible technology.

The prospect of controlling several smart devices through a smart hub is clearly popular, with 38% of people in the survey planning to buy a smart hub in the next six months. Voice-controlled smart hubs, such as the Amazon Echo Hub[2] and Google Home[3], will be on many people’s wish lists. These hubs respond when you talk to them, so there’s no need to open an app at all.

But before you invest in a smart hub, make sure you check that any smart device you already own is compatible with the hub you fancy, because not all of them are. If you want to get fully connected right now, read our in-depth smart hub reviews[4] to find out which ones have impressed in our tests.

Can smart home devices make your home safer?

Convenience isn’t the only reason smart home products are becoming more common. Some 56% of people in the survey said they bought a smart device for safety reasons.

A growing number of smart products are designed to give you peace of mind. Smart plugs are increasingly popular, for example, because they enable you to switch off the power while you’re out and about – ideal if you often worry whether you’ve left the iron on. For security, a smart door bell lets you speak to visitors via an app before opening the door, while smart cameras can be set to notify you if motion is detected in your house while you’re out.

You can also view or record live footage on your smartphone.

If you want to find out which cameras you can rely on to give the best quality footage then head to our Best Buy wireless security cameras[5].

References

  1. ^ guide on smart home technology (www.which.co.uk)
  2. ^ Amazon Echo Hub (www.which.co.uk)
  3. ^ Google Home (www.which.co.uk)
  4. ^ smart hub reviews (www.which.co.uk)
  5. ^ Best Buy wireless security cameras (www.which.co.uk)

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