Spring Carnival Tech For A Great Day At The Races

Ahh the ponies. Ladies with fascinating fascinators, blokes in their Sunday courtroom best, and a whole bunch of money spent on flutters and drinks. Here are eight tools to maximise your day, from the best apps to high-tech binoculars.

1. Betting And Form Guide Apps

An obvious starting point – use apps to research your bets and avoid waiting in line to place them. After all, knowledge is power and time is money, right? Giz even did an app round up for the Melbourne Cup last week.

2. Video Streaming

We should also add Betfair (iPhone | Android) to that list, and point out that the quintessential TAB Sportsbet app now lets you stream Sky Racing TV live from your mobile. If you’re out in the tents, now you can hold the race you in your hand. Well, sort of: Though there’s an Android version of the app, the Sky Racing stream is only available to iPhone/iPad users. Worse still, only audio is available for Sydney and Victorian thoroughbred races.

Seems that’s because racingnetwork.com.au (from Telstra/TVN) has those rights. It streams Melbourne/Sydney races for free using Flash video (Android win); while iOS users need to pay $5 a day via Telstra’s Bigpond app -- or try a Flash-enabler like the Skyfire browser.

Another option: Optus mobile subscribers can pay $3 per day to stream Sky Racing, and from what I understand, that’s the full TV stream – Sydney/Victorian races included. Vodafone/3 subscribers can also get Sky Racing via an $8 per month Mobile TV pack.

(If I’ve missed an angle here, let us know in the comments below and I’ll update the story).

3. Radio Streaming

Make sure you hear the race call -- whether you’re around the track or not. There are heaps of radio streaming apps around, but one of my favourites is the free version of TuneIn Radio (iPhone | Android | Windows Phone | BlackBerry). You get ABC, 3UZ, 2KY, 1TAB, 2GB and more!

4. Scouting The Field

Let’s face it: horses aren’t the only thing you’re watching at the races. The fashions on display (and the fine folks wearing them) are a big part of the fun. And if you’re single, it’s a great chance to try out an app like Blendr, which uses your phone’s GPS to locate like-minded singles around you. It’s a killer feature that dating sites like RSVP and Oasis both lack, and comes from the same team behind Grindr (ask your gay friends). Bonus: Though over-drinking is far from classy – should you so indulge -- you might need these 720p video recording sunglasses to piece events together.

5. Stay Cool

A weather app will help you plan what to wear (and how to bet), but what else can you do? If it’s hot: consider a personal fan, like the Tiny Tornado II ($30) or the Handy Cooler Mini Air Conditioner (US$40). Smaller, cheaper versions can also be found at your local $2 shop – just don’t try the personal clip-on necktie fan. If it’s rainy: be prepared with a pocket umbrella ($22) or find a partner for this wacky tandem umbrella. All are sure fire conversation starters.

6. The Watch

The humble timepiece remains the perfect marriage of technology and fashion. And oh how we love the not-so humble options out there. Gizmodo has over 40 pages dedicated to them. If you’re looking to boost your personal style – and make sure you catch the start of the next race – our hand-picked selection will give you a head start.

7. High Speed, Slow Motion

Capture your own photo finish with an affordable 1000fps point-and-shoot camera like those from Casio and Samsung. After Effects plugin, Twixtor, also processes awesome slow-downs for any camera -- from Canon’s 7D to a GoPro head mount. (Yeah, you could just pull out your phone camera and manually scrub through frames, but where’s the fun in that?)

8. Binoculars

Speaking of fun, this one’s for the man that has everything (or a massive ornithological fetish). Sony’s new 3D DEV-5 electronic binoculars can capture 1080p video in either 2D or 3D, and has a 7.1MP sensor up to 20x magnification. Yeah, it’s freakin’ $2000, but just imagine the look from the guy next to you. And by that guy, I mean me with the el cheapo binoculars from the racecourse shop. I’ll see you there.

Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images