Belfast Telegraph

We road test six of the best time-saving gadgets

By Polly Weeks

It's International Sloth Day on October 20, so let's celebrate the furry couch potatoes with these gadgets that do the hard work, so you can sit back and relax.

Feel the heat

'Hot Cookie' USB Mug Warmer, £11.99,

Discovering your cuppa has gone cold on your desk is a disappointment most of us face on a daily basis. Not only do you miss out on your caffeine hit, there's the risk that if you get up to make another one, you'll be dragged into doing a round for your colleagues. This gadget was created to stop that occurring. Plug the 'cookie' into a USB port on your computer, place your mug on it and the contraption will keep your drink warm, leaving you to sip away at your own pace. The only problem is, the cookie design is rather realistic and could trigger biscuit cravings.

Snap happy

Polaroid ZIP Instant Mobile Photoprinter with 50 Zinc Paper Pack & Case, £129.96,

We take loads of photos on our phones, but who's got time to get the snaps processed? Carry this little contraption around with you and you can print as you go. Simply insert the paper into the middle section, connect to your phone via Bluetooth (or NFC Technology) and you can send pictures direct to it. The pictures are wallet sized - about twice the size of a passport photo - and take no time at all to print (it took around 10 seconds when we tried it). No need to go home to your own printer and no need to go to a professional printer either. A lovely little product those in their late teens/20s will particularly love.

Type fast

Dragon Professional Individual, £279.99, Dragon for Mac, £139.99

Whether you're a student with an essay due or you've got a mountain of work to get through, typing can be a consuming task - especially if you're a confirmed index-finger keyboard presser rather than a touch typist. That's where this software can help. Available for PCs and Macs, the Dragon software will provide you with your own dictation service. Simply download the software onto your computer, read out your desired text (using a microphone) and it will type for you. Perfect if you have handwritten notes or an audio file from a digital voice recorder - though it will struggle if the file contains more than one voice or a lot of background noise. What's more, there's soon to be a subscription-based app for both Android and iOS, so you can do the same using your smartphone.

Clean with ease

Vileda Windomatic, £33.49,

Cleaning windows, mirrors and shower screens can be such a boring job. It doesn't matter how many times you spray on the cleaner and vigorously wipe it away, you always have to do it again because there are streaks on the panes and dirty water at the base. That's where this little gadget will help. Charge it up and not only will the head clean your windows effectively, it will also suck up the dirty water so you only have one job instead of two. What's more, because the head is flexible, you'll be able to get right into the corners, leaving the glass gleaming.

Stir it up

Self-Stirring Lazy Mug, £14.99,

Making a cup of tea shouldn't be all that time consuming, but we've all realised a moment too late that all the spoons are dirty or in the dishwasher. Well, no more will you have to reach for the washing up brush or bravely dip your fingers in to give the milk a swirl. This novelty mug is powered by two AA batteries and will do the difficult task of stirring your drink for you. The perfect gift for those who are either very short on time and will appreciate those valuable extra seconds, or of course, the sloths among us who readily admit to lazy tendencies.

Robotic help

ElectriQ Intelligent Robotic Vacuum Cleaner with UV sterilisation Self Charging with Dock, £99.98,

Hate vacuuming? You're not alone. When looked at their sales data recently, they discovered orders for robotic vacuum cleaners had increased by an incredible 259% on the previous six months. If you're keen to dip your toes in the robotic cleaning trend without spending a fortune, this model is a great buy. Charge up the disc-like cleaner then send it on its way. It works on all floor surfaces and comes with a mopping function. It's easy to operate and with a HEPA air filter and UV light (to sanitise) it's a great option - especially if you're trying to clean under tables and chairs. It does come with a detector to stop it falling down steps, but we'd still be a little cautious about letting it get too close to your staircase.

App of the week

Blinkist, Free from GooglePlay, iTunes and Desktop

Feel like you should be reading non-fiction books but don't have the time or the inclination? This is the app for you. Loads of popular books, including Freakonomics, and Obama's The Audacity Of Hope, have been condensed for you. With the hard work done, it will take just 15 minutes to read or listen to the key messages in the books and be able to hold your own if a discussion about them comes up.

Top 10 bestselling apps

1 PewDiePie: Legend Of The Brofist by Outerminds Inc.

2 Plague Inc. by Ndemic Creations

3 Crystal - Block Ads, Browse Faster by Dean Murphy

4 Minecraft: Pocket Edition by Mojang

5 The Official DVSA Theory Test Kit for Car Drivers by TSO

6 Theory Test For Car Drivers UK - Driving Test Success by Focus Multimedia

7 Rugby Nations 16 by Distinctive Games

8 Fantasy Premier League 2015/16 - Official App by Premier League

9 Facetune by Lightricks Ltd.

10 Storage Hunters UK: the Game by UKTV Interactive Ltd

Belfast Telegraph