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My favourite lockdown tech

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Of all the gadgets in my home, here the ones I can’t do without in this time of solitary confinement

Ever since I can remember, technology of some sort or the other has been part of my family. My father is the one to blame. Long ago, when he was in college, he would rig up his hostel room so that the light would come on when someone opened the door. This was such a magical feat then that his classmates would bring hordes of friends to come see this strange phenomenon a certain genius named Kapil Bhargava created.

All through my growing years and beyond, all manner of gadgets would find their way into our home. I specially remember when my dad installed a set of intercoms in our kind-of-small house and gave each one of us children a Morse code which he would use to announce that one of us had a phone call. Problem is, we all would forget our codes and anyway would hear him clearly from the next room saying, “Yes, I’ll just call Mala for you.” So we would obviously rush to the phone for our calls anyway. Still, it was fun while it lasted and the upshot was that we were all left with abbreviated names in the family: M1, M2, K1,K2, etc.

The Walkman came and went and we marvelled at how it sounded like an entire orchestra in front of you, complicated tuners and ham radios, bulky slide projectors, fancy folding printers, cassette recorders, portable record players, stylophones (the ancestor of the synthesiser), the first from initial personal computers which you had to use with the TV and which had nothing much of its own so you had to key in a ‘program’ if you wanted to do anything, and even email in 1985 before the internet came along to the masses.

So, in lockdown, it’s only natural that I would spend a large part of my day — or all of it, to be honest — with one gadget or the other. Being a tech writer, it comes with the territory that I should have a whole lot of products at home. In fact, if I suddenly were to pipe up and yell OK Google, about a dozen devices ping and respond. While in lockdown, all of them are captive, unable to go back to their respective companies — advantage me. Of the entire crop I have right now, I definitely have favourites that I just can’t do without. The first among these is the iPad Pro…

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