It’s a little known fact that a fair few members of the BBC Focus team are in an indie-folk band (we’ll spare your ears and keep the name this side of the internet). That means we know all too well about the trials and tribulations of having to swap between and electric and acoustic guitar, or face the fear of feedback at even the slightest hint of an effects pedal.
The new Acoustasonic Series from guitar legends Fender is a hybrid of both acoustic and electric guitars, and should bring an end to our woes. Their new Stringed Instrument Resonance System (SIRS) means you can have the rich tone of an acoustic and the joyful twanginess of a Telecaster at just the flick of a switch, and their clever array of pickups will filter out any sound that’ll make your adoring fans wince (can’t do anything about hitting a bum note though). It’s available in five colours and looks rather lovely, as all good Fenders should.
British hi-fi company Cambridge Audio is celebrating its 50th birthday with an anything-goes, no-holds-barred attempt to produce the best audio system they’ve ever made. The result is The Edge, a £10,500 hi-fi system that looks slick and sounds flawless. It consists of three units, Edge A, an integrated amplifier, Edge NQ, a preamplifier and network player, and Edge W, the power amplifier.
The focus of this three-year engineering project was sound-first, everything else second. They claim that every component was selected through blind auditions, with no consideration for price, specification or measurement. One important feature is the short signal path, which reduces the chance of colour or distortion interfering with the sound. In the Edge W power amp, it’s been kept to just 14 components (typically, there’d be 30 or 40). The casing is clean, with volume and input controls on a single knob.
It’s a step outside Cambridge Audio’s usual affordable product line, but a fitting celebration of an successful half-century.
Crashing your bike can be a shock to the system, but so long as your helmet protects your head it’s all good, right? Not if you’re the helmet, which tends to be damaged beyond the point of safety given their polystyrene construction.
Using a new polymer called Enkayse, the new Hedkayse One bicycle helmet can withstand more than 80 hits and still remain structurally sound enough to keep your noggin protected. Although these were under lab conditions, it’s still considerably more than a standard helmet’s two hits before failure, which means that you might not need to buy another helmet again once you have one of these strapped to your head (even if you’re the clumsiest of cyclists).
As the polymer is flexible, it’ll also squish down small enough to fit in your bag.
Generally speaking, new smartphones don’t have the most thrilling of tech advances at the moment, maybe a bit thinner, a bit bigger and a bit smarter than their previous iteration, so it’s always a treat to see a phone that does something a bit different. The Doogee S90 is a rugged, modular phone that as well as having a pretty decent set of specs (Helio P60 Octa-core chipset, 6.18’’ full HD+ display, 6GB of RAM and 128GB of built-in storage), has a plethora of attachments (sold seperately) that can either boost the battery life, turn it into a night vision camera, use as a walkie talkie, or add a game pad. A 5G module for super-fast internet is also in development, which should be available later this year.
There’s always one annoying person in the office who insists on loudly drumming away on the desk with their headphones on (hands up, it’s me), but Sphero’s clever little rings could at least put their tapping skills to some good use. Using special sensors, the silicone rings will register the colour of whatever you tap them on and play one of the hundreds of sounds, loops and instruments in the app. You can even program them with your own sounds, and it comes with a colourful playpad in case your desk is a consistent shade of beige (like mine).
Soundbars are pretty good these days, but we always want more from them, and not just Alexa and Apple AirPlay 2 integration (which the Pulse Soundbar 2i features). What makes this one special is the end-to-end (studio to speaker) technology known as Master Quality Authenticated (MQA), which delivers studio-quality audio without the need for any other separate speakers, like a subwoofer.
Of course, there is the option of adding a sub and satellite speakers to your home theatre setup should you so wish, but then you could also spend your pennies on other speakers in the range. This would give you the option of connecting them up for multi-room streaming to fill your house with delicious high-res audio, giving the likes of Sonos a run for their money.
Work it! New year, new you… that sort of thing. We’re more likely to lift a cup of tea than a kettlebell, but that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate a good gadget when we see one. This compact bit of exercise equipment saves on storage space by combining six different weights (between 5.5kg and 19kg) in one kettlebell. You simply select which weight you want and in three seconds the kettlebell is ready to lift off its stand and swing in whatever energetic manner you like. It’ll also send workout data to the accompanying app so you can get and idea of how many reps you did, effort put in and how long you trained for. Now, are you ready to feel the burn?
If you’re in the market for a high-resolution speaker that looks like a glass lamp then you’re in luck. Sony’s new portable speaker has a long glass tube that vibrates with music and spreads the audio out a full 360-degrees, which should make it sound sweet wherever you’re sitting. And yes, it doubles up as a lamp with a flickering candle effect – how very romantic.
We all know that tapping away at our phones before we go to sleep is a bad idea, but still we insist on leaving it tantalisingly close to our bed at night, convincing ourselves that it needs to be there so that we can use it as an alarm, or because the charger is there, or to switch off our smart lights. Bar the Amazon Echo Spot for Alexa fans, it’s remarkable that there are so few bedside smart devices that can do all of this using Google Assistant, which is why Lenovo have swooped in with this tidy little number, which can do all of the above, wrapped in a delightful fabric cover.
You can bark orders about dimming the lights, turn off your alarm with the touchscreen, blast (relaxing) music from the 6W speaker and set it to wake you up with critical information such as how late your train will be this morning. As for charging your phone, you could leave it somewhere else from now on, or use the USB port in the back – just try to avoid booting up Instagram this time.
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.