What the Tech? Gift ideas: Chess set, the Mirror | What The Tech?

Say this about the pandemic of 2020, it created hundreds of options for Christmas gifts that we’d never have thought about before.

For example, people have watched more TV. Netflix in particular has seen a rise in subscribers and those subscribers discovered shows like “Queen’s Gambit,” which sparked a boom in the chess industry. If you haven’t seen it yet (no spoilers), “Queen’s Gambit” tells the story of a young female chess prodigy and her rise through the competition.

Over 64 million people watched that show in the first 28 days it was available, setting a Netflix record. And what did a lot of those viewers want to do? Play chess of course.

Sales of chess sets have exploded in recent months and one of the best chess sets for players of all skill levels is the Square Off Kingdom Set. Not only is it a hand-crafted board with beautiful designs for the pieces and the board, it uses artificial intelligence to play as your opponent. As you move your chess piece a robotic arm underneath the board slides its piece to make the next move. If it takes one of your pieces, yours slides off the table and your opponent’s piece takes its place.

It looks a great deal like a scene out of a Harry Potter movie. You can play the computer or play with someone else who uses a Square Off set or its app. You can also choose to play someone at random from around the world who has the same skill level as you.

The Kingdom Set by Square Off is $400. They’re available online but may not arrive in time for Christmas due to a surge in demand.

Another pandemic-born tech gift idea is the “Mirror.” As gyms closed and people searched for ways to workout at home, they turned to the Peloton bike and the Mirror workout mirror.

The Mirror Interactive workout mirror looks like any other handsome full-length mirror when a class is not in session. When you choose to workout, you turn on the mirror which gives you options on different workouts you can participate in. The workouts are live with an instructor and others in the class. You can choose workouts from resistance training, aerobic, yoga, kickboxing, and others.

If you choose a live class, the instructor appears in the mirror along with the names and locations of the other people in the class. The instructor interacts with the class, even calling people by name and shouting out encouragement.

Yes, the Mirror does have a camera so the instructor can see you as you workout and make suggestions on how to perform the exercises properly. You can choose to turn off that camera. You can also workout to pre-recorded lessons using the Mirror app. You can also choose to listen to the instructor’s music or choose your own from your phone.

Your health information is displayed on the screen.

See my full review of the Mirror

The Mirror is $1,495 which comes with 3 months of classes. Once the three months are over, classes are $39/month. Mirror offers a 30-day in-home trial and will send someone to set it up for you by placing it on a stand or mounting it to your wall. Right now, Mirror is offering a CyberMonday special of $500 off. Delivery, setup and fitness bands bring the total to $1,245.

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