WIRED UK: Black Friday deals


A surprisingly enjoyable couple of days ploughing through piles of Black Friday bargains to find the best for our dear WIRED readers. More to come on Cyber Monday! Meanwhile here are our guides to the Absolute Best Black Friday Deals in the UK (compiled by a team of us) and the Best Argos Black Friday Deals (almost all of them picked by me).

Bonus question: finding bargain buys for others largely puts me off shopping for myself, but can you guess the one Argos bargain I couldn't resist ordering?!

Review: Gel Blaster Surge


If laser tag feels a bit meh and paintball feels a bit ouch, the Gel Blaster Surge (aimed at age 14+) is just about right. It is physical… but you’re not covered in little, round bruises the next day. The price of entry is reasonable too.

It’s white and looks quite sci-fi. It shoots little gel blobs called ‘Gellets’ that burst on impact. They're a bit like Orbeez. They’re water-based and, although you can buy them hydrated and ready-to-use, it’s cheaper to buy a big bag of tiny, dry Gellets and soak them in water for two hours plus. They swell up considerably, to ten times their original size.

The Gellets are non-toxic and biodegradable. So while, as a mum, I wouldn’t want the Blasters used around the house; in the garden, park or forest it’s fair game. They’ll wash away. 

It’s shockingly fun. You’ll want to soak a lot of Gellets because you’ll go through them fast. The Blaster’s rechargeable battery lasts for 4 hours of play but a hopper of Gellets lasts mere minutes. It’s that compelling, whether pointed at your sibling or inanimate objects.

Each Gel Blaster Surge (£59.95 at the time of writing) comes pre-charged and with a hopper of 800 hydrated Gellets, so you can play straight away. It also comes with a box of 10,000 dry ones, which will keep you going much longer. You can buy further packs of 10,000 dry Gellets affordably (£6.99) and even get a large, collapsible Depot (£19.99) container to soak them in, but frankly you can soak them in water in any bowl, so you don’t need a Depot. (Though if you do want a Depot, you can save a little by buying a bundle.)

What you do need though is two Blasters. You can shoot at objects but a battle is much, much more fun. The Gel Blaster Surge comes with two barrels. Switch to the orange barrel (90 feet per second velocity) to dial back the strength for toddler battles, but teens will absolutely want to shoot each other full pelt with the pre-installed white barrel (170 feet per second). All’s fair in love and war. 

The Blasters do come with safety specs though, which is definitely a good idea. You wouldn’t want to take a Gellet in the eye, at either velocity.

With the white barrel, your Gellets will go more than 100 feet, so you can also enjoy target practice the length of the garden.

The Blaster also has two modes: semi and full-auto. With the former, it fires one Gellet when you pull the trigger. With the latter, hold the trigger down to fire eight Gellets per second.

My teens loved battling each other, and friends, with the Gel Blaster Surge. I found it compelling too. And while it’s pricier than, say, water pistols it’s great value when weighed against going paintballing. The Gellets are cheap and you can play again and again.

Put a pair of Gel Blaster Surges, and plenty of ammo, on your Christmas list. You’ll have a BLAST!

The Gel Blaster Surge: Shockingly fun

E&T: Sept/Oct


All the gadget news that's fit to print, from spinning pizzas to self-propelled chess pieces, plus I've written a longer online review of the Unistellar eVscope 2 smart telescope.

Saga Exceptional: Slow cooker or pressure cooker: which is right for you?


Each is suited to different dishes, so the answer will depend upon what meals you like to cook. I asked a leading executive chef for their opinion, as well as the cooking buyer for a leading retailer that sells both, for this piece in Saga Exceptional.

Saga Exceptional: Is your slow cooker a secret energy-saving hero?


Cooking “low and slow” is a great way to time-shift your cooking. But do slow cookers use a lot of electricity? I've asked the experts for this piece in Saga Exceptional.

Tabbie Gold award!


Another gong! This time, the shiny gold 2023 Tabbie Award for best Department goes to the E&T Magazine reviews team: Dominic Lenton, Dickon Ross, me, Paul Dempsey and Nick Smith. "Slick, thorough, well-written, and timely information for these technical readers. Love the clean design. Masterful!" said the judges.

E&T: August


The latest, greatest gadgetry plus my hands-on review of the TooA Milano gelato maker and my... feet-on review of the VKTRY Gold Insoles.

E&T: July


Fab new gadgets plus a hands-on review of the Epson LabelWorks LW-C610 portable label printer.

Tech Advisor: Ninja Woodfire Electric BBQ Grill & Smoker


Quick, predictable, electric outdoor cooking with campfire flavour, reviewed here and perfect for this barbecue weather.

E&T: June


All the latest gadgets plus a hands-on review of the new Dyson Zone headphones with built-in personal air purifier.

Stuff: mowers


Aha! In print and on Readly, I've tested a fab mix of new cordless, self-propelling and robots to make light work of your lawn. Online though, they've been split into two separate pieces and combined with other reviews, for big buyers' guides: read cordless mowers here and robotic mowers here.

E&T: May


This month's roundup of the latest gadgets plus a hands-on review of the Netvue Birdfy AI smart bird feeder.

E&T: April


A fantastic array of new gadgetry plus my hands-on review of the Char-Broil Smart-E electric barbecue - convenient or just not a BBQ?!

E&T: March


All the gadget news that's fit to print, plus a test of the bouncy-like-Tigger Keen WK400 walking shoes. 

Ideal Home: Glass wall design ideas


Everything you need to know about using glass partition walls inside your home. You can also read this and more on my Ideal Home author page.

Image: Davonport Kitchen and Home

E&T: February


The very latest consumer technology plus my hands-on review of the Blueair DustMagnet air purifier that thinks it's a table.

Ideal Home: Replacing a roof - everything you need to know


A comprehensive (read: nerdy) deep dive into re-roofing options. You can also read this and more on my Ideal Home author page.

Image: Cedral Rivendale