Searching for a little smart home inspiration? Need gadgets for your significant other? Just bored and want to ogle at some shiny new tech? If it’s cool gadgets you’re after, we’ve cast our expert eyes over the latest tech and picked out what we think are the best new gadgets for 2020.
Needless to say, we won’t waste your time with pointless trinkets and thingumajigs (in fact anything without a USB is going to be a hard sell), and what we do get our grubby paws on we’ll let you know with a hands-on test, just look for our initials.
Apple iPad Pro 2020
Apple’s new iPad Pro blurs the line between laptop and tablet. The magic keyboard now comes with a trackpad at the bottom, and the hardware inside is now virtually on a par with the tech inside a Macbook Air. The operating system will still be iOS (rather than OSX, which you usually find on Macs), but increasingly apps are becoming just as sophisticated as full-scale Mac software.
Plus the iPad Pro now includes a LiDAR scanner which means it can scan and see the world around it empowering some incredible augmented reality experiences.
Dyson has given its robo-cleaner some new brains. More precisely, they’ve put a quad-core processor and 10GB of storage on board, 20x what its predecessor the Eye was equipped with.
The extra computing oomph means that it should get better at navigating and charting the ins and outs of your house. Once the Heurist has mapped your home, you can tell it to clean only specific areas via your home or identify no-go areas full of precious cables.
Cassettes were great, weren’t they… Ok, the sound was rubbish, you couldn’t skip tracks and they never lasted too long before they were gobbled up by the tape monster (you know what I mean), but as a kid I used to love listening to stories on them.
For me there was something deeply satisfying about slotting the tapes into the player, pressing play and getting lost in a ripping yarn, and the Yoto Player is a modern-day equivalent just as tactile and exciting. Except it sounds good.
Instead of tapes, this groovy little audio player works by slotting in cards, each of which contains a story to listen to. There are loads of classic tales to pick from, such as The Gruffalo and Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, as well as other cards with podcasts, radio and activities on. Instead of a screen it has a cutesy pixelated display, which along with chunky buttons for volume and skipping tracks, the whole device is completely kid-friendly (even my two-year-old was able to get to grips with it).
Whatever the circumstances, keeping kids entertained without having to resort to a tablet can be a struggle, so the Yoto Player is a definitely one of the better ways to keep their little minds whirring and imagination sparked. – AM
Digital photo frames are, well, a bit naff. On the other hand, art is cool, however, also very expensive. The Meural Canvas II by Netgear (better known for Wi-Fi routers), is a high-end picture frame that displays one of more than 30,000 works of art from galleries and museums across the world, which are controlled via an app. You can also program certain paintings or style to appear at specific times, so whether you want a little Bauhaus over breakfast and then Dutch masters at dinner, all tastes should be catered for.
You’ll need a membership to tap into the full library, otherwise you’re stuck with just 100 works of art, but don’t worry, you can still use it as an ostentatious photo frame showing your holiday snaps if you so wish.
Life can be hectic. We don’t all have time to go to the salon for facials or sit down for half an hour with a detoxifying mud mask and cucumbers over our eyes. However, the palm-sized UFO 2 is the latest gadget in beauty tech, which aims to give you a full facial in only 90 seconds.
To get this quick beauty blitz you pick your treatment by scanning a barcode on a bespoke face mask, which you then secure onto the UFO 2 and gently glide over your skin.
The device warms and vibrates, which it claims preps your skin to infuse the mask ingredients even deeper, and glows different colours to activate specific key elements within the individual masks. The app will even play you soothing music while you glide it over your face, and lets you know when your treatment is coming to an end (any product left over at end of the treatment can be used for another round).
Some of the power-activated masks even have an added feature, cryo-therapy, a cooling treatment that claims to give skin a firmer and more lifted appearance.
After treatment, my skin did feel very hydrated, which notably lasted until the next day. Perfect for a quick 90-second spa before you rush out the door. – HS
If somehow you’ve managed to turn your pastime into a lucrative side hustle by streaming it over the internet then you’ll probably want an upgrade on the inflexible and dubious quality webcam hovering over your monitor.
Logitech, no stranger to computer peripherals, has pimped out the humble webcam to something of a streaming behemoth, recording at HD 1080p at 60 frames per second, with AI-enabled face tracking to keep you in focus and auto-exposure in case the Sun suddenly decides to make an appearance.
Of course, widescreen is so passé, so you can easily twist the StreamCam 90 degrees and record in 9:16 to avoid any Instagram or Facebook stories weirdness.
“Je voudrais un billet pour La Rochelle, s’il vous plait.” That’s about as far as my French goes, which is fine unless I go to France, so the Pockettalk S looks like a particularly handy device for me and my fellow monoglots out there.
The tiny handheld device uses an inbuilt AI-engine to translate both sides of a conversation into 74 different languages, with noise cancelling if you’re trying to chat in a noisy environment and a camera for translating any worrying signposts or avant-garde menus.
It does require a network connection to work, but you do get a complimentary two-year plan to go with it, which should be more than enough for even the most luxurious gap yaar. Now, où est mon billet?
£259, available from SMARTECH, Selfridges and Amazon, pocketalk.net
Dyson Lightcycle Morph
Dyson has a habit of making us reconsider the mundane. In this case, the Lightcycle Morph is a lamp (desk and standing versions available) that continually tailors the light it shines to your age, the atmospheric conditions, and the amount of daylight surrounding it. The idea being that all of the above affect how you perceive light.
An onboard infrared sensor turns the lamp on and off when you approach and the app offers up a suite of use settings (study, relax, precision etc). Our desk lamp doesn’t quite look the same anymore…
If you want to keep people’s mucky paws off your stuff, a sturdy padlock is a good start. The Master Lock Biometric Padlock uses your fingerprint to lock and unlock, so you can do away with any jangly keys digging into your trouser pocket.
It can remember up to 10 different fingerprints, and if for some reason you find yourself without a suitable finger, you can still open it by swiping a directional code.
In some small-scale trials weighted blankets have helped people struggling with anxiety disorders get to sleep. The idea is that applying light pressure via a blanket that weighs 10 per cent of your body weight can curb restlessness, and feedback to your brain that its time to get some sleep.
We’ve tried one out and, while a heavy blanket won’t appeal to some sleepers, it did seem effective on stressful nights when it felt hard to switch off.
Simba’s Orbit uses beads sewn into squares to distribute the weight evenly, so you don’t get trapped under a heavy corner, sandwiched between breathable layers that will keep you warm. -DB
Nothing stirs the soul of a Brit more than the thought of a piping hot cup of tea. However, a cold and forgotten cuppa is practically an insult to Queen and country. The Ember Mug2 is a very elegant (if expensive), solution to this distinctly British problem.
By connecting the Ember mug to your smartphone via the accompanying app, you get a notification when your brew has reached your perfect temperature, and a heating element in the bottom of the mug keeps it toasty warm until you have finished every last drop.
Weirdly, when we tested it out we found you had to use two teabags to get a good strong brew and were a little disappointed that it can’t be charged via USB (something to do with it drawing a lot of power means it needs its own plug socket), but that is a small price to pay for a sizable 414ml mug of perfectly temperate tea. Milk, no sugar (and two bags) please.
You can also now pick up the Ember Travel Mug², which is great for warm drinks on the go. -AM
A big monitor can hog your desk real estate, an invaluable resource if your workspace is so messy it would make Marie Kondo blush. There’s nothing particularly fancy about Samsung’s Space monitor other than the stand, which keeps out of the way by fastening to the back edge of your table.
From there it can bend right down to the surface it’s attached to, clearing up space and helping you pretend you’re using a giant monitor aboard the Starship Enterprise.
Flexible screen tech has had a bumpy start. Samsung’s first smartphone to feature a foldable screen, the Fold 5G, suffered from durability issues in the real world and was promptly recalled and relaunched. Now Samsung seems to have gotten over that hump with Galaxy Z Flip.
Early signs suggest the screen is stronger and less prone to dents and creases. It also seems to works as well as other Galaxy smartphones, which is a good thing.
There are some concessions to be made – the phone’s not water or dust resistant, and there’s inevitably a dip in the middle where it folds. Ultimately, though it’s a hugely desirable glimpse at what the future of smartphones and tablets tech could look like.
These are the shoes Eliud Kipchoge wore when he ran the world’s first sub-2-hour marathon in October 2019. The release of the shoes was delayed, as the World Athletics organisation wanted to take a closer look at the design of the shoe before deciding they were race-legal.
The trainers rely on carbon fibre plates, foam and “airbags” – Nike calls them Air Pods – to reduce the energy lost when a runner’s foot strikes the ground, quite literally putting a spring in their step. Running pundits believe the arrival of this shoe will see a series of records tumble at the next Olympics.
Most smartphones are practical, relatively stylish slabs of tech, but they are also prone to an accidental dip in the bath, the occasional slip off the table, and the inevitable chip in the screen.
The waterproof, dustproof and drop-proof DOOGEE S95 Pro is a souped-up version of their earlier S90, with a faster processor, more RAM and a flashy camera. Like its predecessor, you can chop and change its accessories, with the option of a magnetic battery pack for extra power or a six-watt speaker attachment for playing some banging tunes.
These headphones from gaming PC specialists Razers translate sound into, well, vibrations – the kind you feel, rather than hear. It sounds barmy because it is, but in a good way.
Like a force feedback controller, the Nari headset hits your ears and face with pulses of vibrations to try and make you feel more immersed in the game. The tech is part of a growing field called haptics that’s gained a lot of investment and attention as companies seek to create more immersive games and virtual reality experiences.
For the most part, it works. It’s hard to describe, in some games – especially those designed with a 3D audio experience in mind – it helps you locate where a sound is coming from and in others, particularly a horror game like GTFO, it amplifies the terror.
At the moment the software responsible simply converts the game audio into haptic feedback, which means confusingly the music provided creates vibrations too. But eventually, if it can single out audio channels this tech could provide next-level immersion for dedicated gamers.
This bike blurs the line between battery-assisted pedalling and a full-on electric power. Designed for mountain trails, and not the roads, the bike weighs 60kg, which is heavy for a bicycle but light for an electric bike.
The battery gives it a range of up to 62 miles, and can manage a max speed of 50mph, and with 280Nm of torque it’ll move like a lightning bolt from a standing start. Now we just have to find a mountain to blast up.
Alexander is the Online Editor at BBC Science Focus and is the one that keeps sciencefocus.com looking shipshape and Bristol fashion. He has been toying around with news, technology and science on internet for well over a decade, and sports a very fetching beard.
Daniel Bennett is the Editor of BBC Science Focus. He is an award-winning journalist who’s been reporting on science and technology for over a decade, writing about the science of serials killers, sandwiches, supernovae and almost everything in between.
Holly is the production assistant at BBC Science Focus. She has an MSc in Geoscience from UCL, a BSc in Geology & Archaeology from the University of Birmingham and a sustained interest in astronomy, earth sciences and photography.