The cool gadgets list - February 2017

The cool gadgets list – February 2017

It's the month of Valentine's Day and love is in the air, but we're more fond of gadgets and gizmos than chocolates and romantic poems - check out the best new technology this February.

1

AMD Ryzen

AMD Ryzen

It might not be much to look at, but you’ll be squealing in delight at the sight of it if you’re a gamer or if your computer wheezes when making videos. Intel has ruled the roost for some time when it comes to the processor powering your computers, but the AMD’s new Ryzen chip promises to blow the competition out of the water quicker than you can mobilise the troops in Battlefield 1.

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Unless you are really into processors, the numbers will probably mean nothing to you (8-cores, 16-threads, base clock speed of 3.6 GHZ on the top spec model that can be boosted to 4 GHz, since you asked) but for casual joystick twiddlers there are only two things that matter, speed and price. The original plan for the Ryzen processor was to bump speed by 40 per cent, but instead they managed a whopping 52 per cent boost, which means it’ll shred through the latest AAA games quicker than Link confronting a hedge. And as for price, well the base model starts from a paltry £319, with the top spec RYZEN 7 1800X setting you back only £488 – that’s less than half the price of the Intel’s equivalent powerhouse.

Expect to see the Ryzen in desktops soon as a number of manufacturers already have setups ready for the chip’s launch in early March.

Available 2 March, from £319, amd.com

2

Pioneer Rayz Plus

Pioneer Rayz Plus

Here’s the dilemma: you’re headbanging to Master of Puppets by Metallica on your new iPhone 7 when the dreaded “5% of battery remaining” notification pops up – what do you do? Give up on Kirk Hammett’s epic solo, unplug your headphones and charge up or hope you have enough juice to power you through to James Hetfield’s evil cackle at the end? Such are the daily problems in a world of only lightning connectors.

Fortunately Pioneer have solved this most first-world of problems by adding a charging port into the controls of their new Rayz Plus earphones, so never will you be caught such a catch-22 again. Aside from this, the clever headphones also have passive noise reduction smart enough to let through any important ambient noise (like car horns for example) so that you’re not completely cut off from the real world.

Now if you’ll excuse us… “Master, master…”

$149.95, pioneerrayz.com

3

Professor Einstein

Professor Einstein

Albert Einstein was a font of wisdom back in his day, and a colourful character at that, so just imagine what sort of Twitter celebrity he would be in the modern age. Alas, the quintessential boffin is no longer with us, but robotics firm Hanson famed for their life size Einstein robots, have created an adorable personal pal who, on the face of it, is significantly smarter than boring old Alexa and Siri.

OK, Professor Einstein might not be able to control your window blinds or order you some emergency toilet roll, but what he can do is talk, teach and pull funny facial expressions (which you have to see in action). The idea behind him is for ‘edutainment’, so making learning a bit more fun, which we imagine it totally would, and can hook up to an accompanying app for more fun and games. All we need now is for it to finally explain Relativity to us…

Estimated delivery April 2017, $269, kickstarter.com.

4

B&O Beoplay H4

B&O Beoplay H4

Bang & Olufsen is not a brand you would ever associate with affordable headphones (or affordable anything for that matter), but much to our surprise they’ve dropped a delightful Valentine’s Day treat on us with their new just-about-in-budget wireless pair of cans. As well as all the exceptional sound quality you’d expect from B&O, they also look divine, made from aluminium and stainless steel with a braided chord showing a touch of class. The only thing that might be an issue is the lambskin leather ear pads, which although we imagine are phenomenally comfortable, will put off any vegetarian/vegans out there.

The cost is in the region of other high-end wireless headphones like the Sennheiser Momentums or the Beats Solo so the sound of getting your hands on a little Danish design is a little sweeter.

£249, beoplay.com

5

LG Watch Sport and LG Watch Style

LG Watch Sport and LG Watch Style

Smartwatches, love them or loathe them, we can all agree that they haven’t taken the world by storm just yet. Maybe it’s because we aren’t sold on the idea of a device that offers immediate access to our notifications – and pretty much nothing else of use (bar telling the time). Android have upped the ante a little with the latest release of Android Wear 2.0, and LG’s new duo, the Watch Sport and Watch Style are the first to get the update.

What does this do? Well, as well as an improved interface, Android Wear 2.0 bakes Google Assistant into the system so you can chat to your watch as standard, as well as offering support for Android Pay and will even allow your watch to work without a phone nearby.

As for the smartwatches, the LG Watch Sport has heart-rate sensor, 4G and GPS packed into a chunky water and dust resistant body with three buttons and touchscreen for swishing your way around. The second, the LG Watch Style, is smaller, at the expensive of the heart-rate sensor, 4G and GPS, but hey, at least it’ll fit under your shirt.

Price and release date still unannounced

6

Sen.se SleepPeanut

Sen.se SleepPeanut

Connecting to the IoT shouldn’t leave a hole in your pocket according to Sen.se, who plan to revolutionise the world of internet-enabled devices with their new gadgets that cost practically peanuts (hence, we imagine, the name). They won a plethora of awards at this year’s CES for their budget devices that serve a single function, meaning you can buy into as much or as little of the eco system as you like.

We like the tiny SleepPeanut, which you slip under your covers and will track your sleep, waking you up at the lightest part of your sleep cycle with a clever alarm, and can even speak to your Nest thermostat and tweak the heating if it spots you’re getting a little hot under the covers (cheeky).

Other Peanuts include a GuardPeanut for keeping track of you stuff and ThermoPeanut for tracking temperature.

Available from the end of Feb €29, sen.se

7

Lenovo Yoga A12

Lenovo Yoga A12

Lenovo’s Yoga range of convertible laptops have been flexing their specs for nearly five years now, and their latest is a floaty-light Android-powered tablet-come-laptop which weighs in under a kilo with a teeny 5.4mm edge. The svelte form factor comes from the fully flat, touchscreen Halo keyboard, with haptic feedback to help type (although it isn’t Wacom compatible like it Windows-powered older sibling).

Aside from that, the 12.2-inch screen is powered by an Intel Atom x5 processor with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, with Dolby Atmos speakers no less. Alas, it’s not available in the UK so if you want one you’ll have to grab one next time you’re in the States.

$299, lenovo.com

8

Satechi Type-C Power Meter

Satechi Type-C Power Meter

USB-C cables are mighty powerful pieces of kit, being able to transfer data at super speeds, send a signal to your monitor and also charge up your laptop – that’s a lot grunt for such a basic piece of kit. Of course, as Peter Parker’s uncle said, with great power comes great responsibility, something Samsung learnt only too well last year. Ramming a dodgy cable into your precious MacBook Pro could spell disaster if it pumps too much power in.

The Satechi Type-C Power Meter acts as a bridge between your cable and device telling you exactly how many volts, amps and mAh are currently being transferred, giving you a vital clue if you think your device is about to blow. It’s a bigger problem than you might think – Amazon is so awash with cheap, dangerous cables that one Google engineer is on a mission to review them all.

$29.99, satechi.net

9

Norton Core Wi-Fi router

Norton Core Wi-Fi router

Rarely have we ever been able to describe a Wi-Fi router as alluring, but the new Norton Core looks so good that we’d be inclined to put it pride of place in the living room. Taking design inspiration from defence and weather radars, by making it look good enough to show off you’re more likely to get a better, unobstructed signal than if it were stuffed in a cupboard.

Looks aside, being from security experts Norton you’d expect this router to have some serious safety skills built in. As well as data encryption, secure DNS and automatic updates, the Core is designed to protect your home from any intrusions that come through your smart devices. It does this by checking each and every packet of data from whatever source for malware, quarantining the offending device if anything is spotted.

The hardware, as well as looking lush can simultaneously transmit at 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, with speeds of up to 2.5 Gbps, so no issue streaming House of Cards in 4K, and the accompanying app will give you a security score so you can easily see where your weaknesses are.

Alas, it’s available only in the US but they do plan to release it in the UK further down the line.

Available for preorder $199.99, norton.com/core

10

Vacheron Constantin Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600

Vacheron Constantin Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600

Normally we stick to smartwatches that vibrate every 30 seconds (depending on how popular you are) and need charging twice a day, but this astronomical watch from Swiss manufacture is worth a mention, if anything for the “smarts” it’ll leave on your wallet.

The watch has 23 different complications that, amongst the regulars, tells you things like time of the Moon, equinoxes and zodiacal signs, tide level indicator, length of day and night and has a transparent celestial chart of the Northern Hemisphere on the back showing the Milky Way. This one-of-a-kind labour of love took one watchmaker five years to make, which brings us back to that price…

$1,000,000+, vacheron-constantin.com

11

Piaggio Gita

Piaggio Gita

Plastic bags have become a fashion faux pas since supermarkets started charging 5p for them (and quite rightly so given the effect they are having on wildlife), but if the idea of toting around a bag for life still leaves you trembling at the till in Tesco, the Piaggio Gita could be a snazzy solution. This 66cm-tall blue set of wheels is like your own personal bellhop, willing to carry up to 18kgs of shopping, leaving your hands free to fiddle with your phone or fumble with your keys.

The Gita, which means “short journey” in Italian, is a little like an autonomous car but instead of delivering you from A to B it does so for your shopping by tracking a wearable attached to your person. It then follows the same path as you, or alternatively follows a route that it has already travelled, all at speeds up to a nippy 22mph.

Let’s face it, if you can’t even get out of your pyjamas to pop to the shop for a pint of milk, why should you be expected to carry it back!

Currently still in development, £TBC, gita.piaggiofastforward.com

12

Logitech Spotlight

Logitech Spotlight

In the world of business, presentations matter, which means having a suitably bling wireless pointer is a must for anyone with ambitions of wowing the crowds of TED with their business acumen. Ok, it’s probably not that important, but being able to breeze your way through slides settle any nerves about presenting to the board.

The Logitech Spotlight is a a Bluetooth-enabled presentation remote with a cool feature that will darken your slide and put a spotlight (hence the name) on whatever you’re pointing at, and then zooming in for closer look. Other features include timed vibration alerts to keep you on schedule and hand gesture controls for things like volume. As far as presentation remotes go it’s the bee’s knees, enough to forge a partnership with previously mentioned seminar supremos TED as their ‘preferred presentation remote’.

 £119.99, logitech.com

13

Brilliant Control

Brilliant Control

Smart homes need smart hubs, and at the moment Amazon’s Alexa is cornering that market – so if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Brilliant’s Control is a simple, sub-$200 touchscreen that you install in the same slot as you would a light switch and comes with all manner of features to connect your smart home (Sonos, Nest, and Ring are just a few of the supported devices). From there you can control everything from the screen or bark commands into as you would with your Echo, as Alexa is already baked in.

Alas, it’s only available in the US for now, but if and when it lands on these shores no doubt we’ll be dismantling light sockets all over the house.

From $149, brilliant.tech  

14

Steadicam Volt Smartphone Stabilizer

Steadicam Volt Smartphone Stabilizer

Hollywood makes some pretty epic movies, but if you’ve ever tried to realise your inner Spielberg at home then you’ll know you need more than a steady hand to get a decent action shot. Gimbals and camera stabilisers can set you back a pretty penny if you want one decent enough to shoot your next Oscar winner, but Steadicam, the tool behind all the smooth shots in films since the 70s have put their name to a budget, handheld option. Like a regular gimbal, it will electronically smooth out your shots and pans, but being built on a more traditional mechanical stabiliser it is quicker and more responsive to quicker movements – that’s great news if you’re following a sports match or unruly pooch. It also means it’ll still function if your batteries wipe out halfway through a shot.

From $149, kickstarter.com

15

Coros LINX Smart Cycling Helmet

Coros LINX Smart Cycling Helmet

Earphones are perfect when you’re zoning out on an aeroplane, but cycling with buds plugging up your ears can be an dangerous activity. Although it can take the edge off a long commute, without being able to hear the world around you, you run the risk of crashing into a pedestrian – or worse.

Coros’ solution is to introduce bone-conducting speakers, which transmit sound waves through the bones in your cheeks leaving your ears to focus on roads. It also features a wind-resistant microphone for making calls, an app with voice navigation and a handle bar-mounted remote so you can keep your hands where they need to be.

$199, coros.com


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