As the country takes steps to reduce the impact of coronavirus, you might find that you're going to be spending a lot more time indoors. Thankfully, there's a whole load of tech that can help you pass the time and try to take your mind off the reality.
Whether you're pondering a TV streaming service or thinking about a budget-priced tablet for video calling your loved ones, our expert reviews can help you find trusty devices and stress-free services.
Signing up to a streaming service gives you access to thousands of films and shows at the press of a remote, but which is the best option?
Even if you aren't yet a subscriber, you've probably heard of Netflix. It's one of the most popular on-demand streaming services around, offering access to thousands of TV shows, films and Netflix original titles. And its library continues to grow.
Netflix is available on smart TVs, smartphones and tablets. If you're looking to enjoy it on a big screen, note that the Netflix app might even already be installed on your TV. If not, you can download it from your TV's app store or play Netflix content on your TV using an internet streaming stick (we'll get to that later).
Being able to set up multiple user accounts under a single subscription means the whole family can get involved. You can configure profiles for younger viewers to only offer access to kids' content.
The cheapest Netflix plan (Basic) will set you back £5.99 a month. You'll still get unrestricted access to the entire Netflix library, but the content can only be viewed in standard definition.
Here's a look at the different pricing packages:
You can enjoy Amazon Prime Video as a standalone service or as part of an Amazon Prime membership. Like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video is a pay-monthly service that lets you stream TV shows and films on lots of different devices.
You can take Prime Video for a spin for 30 days free of charge. After that a monthly Prime Video membership is £5.99 for new customers, or you can get an annual Amazon Prime membership for £79.
If you buy Prime Video as part of the full Amazon Prime package, you'll be treated to some other perks. The list includes unlimited one-day delivery, unlimited photo storage through Amazon Cloud Drive and access to Prime Reading for borrowing digital books and magazines.
Owned by Sky, Now TV is another subscription-based TV service battling against Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. It works using a 'Pass' system, with each Pass themed around the type of content, such as movies and sport.
If you don't fancy paying a monthly fee, many popular UK TV channels offer their own on-demand apps that are free to download and use.
The BBC has iPlayer (with a valid TV licence), ITV has ITV Hub, Channel 4 has All 4 and Channel 5 has My5. All of these apps are also available on both Android and Apple gadgets.
Want to see which films and shows are available digitally and where? Use our free Film Finder tool:
If your living room TV doesn't support TV streaming apps out of the box, you might want to invest in an internet TV box (or streaming stick) to get access to services including Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and Now TV.
Streaming sticks are generally quite cheap, with the majority of popular picks costing under £50. These mini but mighty gadgets plug into an empty HDMI port on your TV and communicate with your internet router.
We've tested a range of budget-priced streaming sticks in our lab, including:
A tablet can come in handy if you want to escape the living room and watch your favourite shows in peace. These portable devices will also let you browse the web, flick through emails and calendar events, play games and make calls through services such as Google Hangouts and Skype. They're ideal for keeping the kids occupied, too.
If you're shopping for a tablet, here are three options with varying screen sizes:
If you need to catch up with family but can't leave home (or just don't fancy it), smart displays are also great for video calls. These dedicated displays can sit on the kitchen counter and let you ring up your loved ones through services including Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts and Skype.
Here are just a handful to have gone through our expert test lab:
While an ebook reader can keep you company on the morning commute, it will also come in handy if you're unable to leave the house. By stocking up on digital page-turners, you can carry around your own personal library.
We've tested a wide selection of ebook readers in our lab from the two biggest brands - Amazon and Kobo.
Every comes with a service called OverDrive. This is a free add-on that allows users to borrow ebooks from libraries without having to leave the house. To borrow a book on your home wi-fi network, run through the following steps:
If you own an Amazon ebook reader, you can borrow library books and audiobooks using the OverDrive Kindle app. To download this app, just head to the Kindle Store on your device.
Of course, if you don't have a local library account, both Kindle and Kobo have their own stores which enable you to buy and download thousands upon thousands of ebooks.
Signing up with a top-notch music streaming service will give you some escapism and help you discover new artists while you're at it. Depending on the streaming service you end up with, you'll also be able to download tracks to listen to offline.
With more than 170 million users around the world and a library of over 30 million songs, Spotify is one to consider. You can download it today free of charge, but you'll have to put up with the occasional advert interrupting your playlist. A premium account, which is ad-free and lets you skip tunes as many times as you like, starts at £9.99 a month.
Spotify's Family plan is better-suited if you're treating the whole household. It lets you have up to six accounts and provides access to Spotify Kids, which blocks explicit music that might not be suitable for little ears.
With around 2 million curated tracks available to stream, Amazon Prime Music doesn't have as many songs as Spotify.
On the plus side, it's free if you already have an Amazon Prime membership, so you might as well give it a go. Amazon Prime Music supports offline streaming and is entirely ad-free.
You might use your smart speaker to check the headlines, your schedule and tomorrow's weather, but did you know there are some voice-activated games to try? Both Google Assistant and Alexa-enabled smart speakers have some boredom-busting experiences to enjoy.
To download a game to an Alexa smart speaker, you need to head to the Amazon website or app, explore the Games & Trivia section and then activate a new game, or 'Skill'. With the new Skill enabled, make a note of the activation phrase and then say it back to your speaker.
There is a whole range of Alexa-compatible games listed on the Amazon site, ranging from quiz games to interactive stories. The free-to-download Song Quiz game, for example, will play a short snippet of a tune and quiz you on your music knowledge.
But even if you don't want to manually search for and download a new game for your Alexa device, you can still play around. Try saying 'Alexa, play True or False'.
Google Assistant users have plenty of games to try out, too. A popular one is called 'I'm Feeling Lucky', which sees your Google Assistant speaker become the host of a fast-paced trivia game that you can play with up to four other people. Just say 'OK, Google, I'm Feeling Lucky' to get started.
If you're a fan of Apple's voice assistant, Siri, then you might want to forget about Alexa and Google Assistant altogether, especially as it's reduced down to £199 at John Lewis right now. Along with saving £80 on the usual list price, you'll also get an included two-year guarantee.
The Apple HomePod is designed to output great audio quality and promises powerful bass.