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Tidbyt is the lovechild of smartphone widgets and retro 1980s tech design

Box of trycks
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18 March 2021 / 18:37GMT

Widgets on your phone are useful for at-a-glance information. The snag is a glance can quite often suck you in, and before you know it you’ve spent six hours doomscrolling Twitter. Tidbyt ($159, shipping September 2021) gets useful info out of your phone and shoves it inside of a retro-infused box. The walnut enclosure with 64×32 RGB LED display looks like it’s beamed in from the 1980s, but the device has a modern edge, being Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-enabled. You use your Android or iOS device to define which ‘apps’ the unit shows, which include a clock, calendar, amusingly low-res photo, or custom text message along the lines of “look at me, not your phone”. These apps can be scheduled and cycled, and if you’re a dab hand at Python, you can write your own. Just avoid making a scrollable Twitter client or you’re back to square one.

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