Cozmo, the adorable little robot AI from Anki, has been delighting kids and adults with its playful personality across the pond for a while now, but rather than having to rely on some sort of toy foreign exchange programme to hang out, us Brits will get the opportunity when he arrives on our shores in September.
Not only does he scamper around your table stacking boxes, playing games and requesting fist bumps every couple of minutes, you can also now use the Cozmo Code Lab on your phone or tablet to build out a list of steps and commands for him to do. Using a simple drag and drop interface (and simple it is, as we’ve had a go), you can instruct Cozmo to respond to faces, giggle, cry, stack more boxes or do a little disco dance – he can even say simple phrases. Who needs friends, eh?
Available 15 September, £199.99, anki.com
Nintendo Classic Mini: SNES
You’d be able to count on one hand the number of consoles we haven’t had at some point in our lives here at BBC Focus, but unquestionably the one that gives us all a little nostalgic flutter (aside from the odd Sega contrarian) is the Super Nintendo. In the rich history of nintendo consoles, the SNES is up there as one of the finest they, and indeed anyone, has ever made. So needless to say we’re all let out a little squeal of excitement when they announced the new Nintendo Classic Mini: Super Nintendo Entertainment System.
Like the NES Mini that Nintendo released last year, the new system is crammed full of 21 classic games, such as Super Mario Kart, Street Fighter II and The Legend of Zelda, but the real treat is Star Fox 2, a sequel to the awesome Star Fox which was never released anywhere! You’ll just have to find something to occupy your thumbs until it is released 29 September later this year.
Available to preorder, £69.99, store.nintendo.co.uk
Xbox One X
We knew already knew the power that Project Scorpio was packing, but what we didn’t know was the name and what it looked like, but at E3 this month Microsoft lifted the lid on their much-anticipated console, and wow, it’s a beauty. The slick black box of the Xbox One X is the smallest console they’ve made yet, impressive given the grunt beneath the bonnet and as an added bonus you can have it both horizontally and vertically.
The new Xbox promises to make old and new games look more beautiful and run faster, but it comes at a heavy cost, nearly 450 big ones to be precise, although you do get a 4K UHD Blu-ray player built in. At least you have until November to start saving the pennies.
We really like our little BB-8 (it still gets a run around in the office even after all these years), so imagine our excitement at the news that Sphero are releasing a new toy, this time of Spider-Man! OK, so it doesn’t climb up walls or shoot sticky webs over the place (probably for the best), but this wise-cracking superhero does have expressive eyes, which react to the world around you, and somehow help you go on missions against notorious villains. We’re not entirely sure how, but we can wait to catch one in our web – if anything to give our Star Wars droid a wee companion.
Marquis ‘Momento Mori’ headphone amplifier
Momento Mori can be roughly translated to ‘remember that you will die’. Far from being a depressing reality, designer of the headphones Kostas Metaxas sees this as a reason not to settle for poor sound quality when it comes to enjoying the gift of music (erm, our thoughts exactly).
He’s done that and some. The artist-come-engineer-come producer has somehow managed to turn amplification into a work of art. A result of 25 years of Metaxas’ experience, this amplifier is filled with cutting edge audio tech, and with only a volume knob and input selector to battle with, it has minimal bells and whistles to get in the way of the sound. Being shaped like a skull you can always balance your cans on top and the eye sockets make a handy slot for VU displays. A nice daily reminder for the transient nature of life… in case you wanted one.
Snapchat Spectacles have been around for a while now, but you’ve had to go to the US to get your mitts on them. That’s all changed now (albeit temporarily) as they have officially landed this side of the pond. If you want to get your hands on the groovy-looking shades that record your day-to-day doings you’ll need to be lucky enough to be around when a Snapbot vending machine pops up in random “memory-making” spots around the country, or head to the Greenwich O2 or the London Eye where they’ll be hanging around for a while. You can also buy them online, but where’s the fun in that?
After hearing about the effects of the harsh blue light of screens on sleep, many of us download those horrible filters that make your laptop screen go red. But what’s the point in filtering the light of your screen if your bed-side light is too bright anyway?
Nanoleaf from Aurora might just answer that question. This lighting system is made up of triangular panels that you can shape for whatever mood you’re in and has light settings for sleep, relaxation, and even setting the mood. But don’t worry if you have no use for romance, its voice-controlled app means stumbling on your way to grab a midnight snack is a thing of the past. Something for everyone!
$199.99, nanoleaf.me or £179.99 via amazon.co.uk
DIY electro dough kit
What is electro dough we hear you say? A rival to Bitcoin, perhaps? Alas, that is one online currency we’ll just have to wait for. On the other hand we’ll no longer have to wait for the day we can start playing with electrically conductive dough (oh, we thought it would never come).
Electro dough joins the expanding market of classic toys that make science fun (it’s okay parents, you’re allowed to find it fun too). Made by Technology Will Save Us, the same people that brought the awesome BBC micro:bit to the masses, this kit comes with LEDs and buzzers, along with website that can walk you through experiments, and allow you to do real experiments in your kitchen with nothing more than AA batteries and a good imagination. One for the inevitable rainy summer holiday days.
Logitech Circle 2 home security camera
Setting up a home security camera doesn’t sound like the kind of thing you can do while the kettle is boiling, but Logitech claim that it takes only a couple of minutes to set up the Circle 2 security camera – just take it out of the box, mount it on a wall or on the stand that comes with it, download the app and voila, you’re basically done. The easy to use app allows you to access the camera from your phone and the 180 degree view along with night vision makes it as good as it is easy to set up. If only post-break-in insurance claims were so easily dealt with…
Price: £169.99-199.99, www.logitech.com
Adidas Futurecraft Fabric
Adidas has woven its newest shoes out of synthetic spider silk. This ‘biosteel’ is a product of bacteria, genetically modified to produce a silk-like substrate, which is spun into thread. Though they won’t let you walk up walls, these trainers are fully biodegradable. In fact, Adidas will supply the trainers with a solution that’ll safely dissolve your shoes in a couple of hours.
Any truly dedicated Apple fan would turn their nose up at the idea of using the bulky tower that is the Amazon Echo, and scoff at the very thought of plugging in a Google Home. All of which means that up until now they have had to quietly search for intelligent conversation through pushing the home button on their iPhone. No more, for now Siri has joined the ranks of Alexa and Google Assistant with its very own speaker.
The Apple HomePod looks suitably Appleish, with a glowing Siri waveform pulsating on top when the intelligent assistant is listening to you, and from there can automate your home, do all sorts of wonders with your playlists and probably order you a takeaway if you ask it nicely. It also packs in a subwoofer, seven tweeters and room sensing technology to make your music sound suitably sweet. You’ll just have to wait until later in the year before you can start asking it to tell you jokes.
$349 (£TBC), apple.com
Knomo #LiveFree Backpack
This rucksack is a gadget lover’s dream, with a Qi wireless charging pocket, an RFID-blocking pocket, and compartments for your laptop, tablet, audio player and cables. There’s Bluetooth tracking built-in, and it’s waterproof, too.
Bissell makes vacuum cleaners and carpet shampooers, but now it’s created a wet-and-dry vacuum for dogs that’ll let you wash your pet wherever you are. It uses 50 times less water than standard bathing, creating considerably less mess.
C-SEED 4K indoor TV
To covet is a sin, but if the Joneses moved in next door with this 6.65m (yes, metre!) behemoth we’d understand if you got a little green eyed. The 4K TV packs 10 speakers, a fabric retractable cover and an ultra-bright UHD screen, so you won’t have any problems seeing it on a bright day – finding a wall to hang it on the other hand…
$549,000 (plus $35,000 installation), cseed.tv/indoor-tv
Marshall Monitor Bluetooth
Renowned guitar amp maker Marshall got into the headphones game a few years ago, and the latest addition to its line-up is this wireless version of its Monitor headphones, with 40mm custom drivers and 30 hours of playback.
Movado’s first Android Wear smartwatch is compatible with all Wear 2.0 apps, Android Pay and Google Assistant, and gives you a choice of 100 different watch faces, all featuring Movado’s iconic single-dot design.
Everdure by Heston Blumenthal
Designed by chef Heston Blumenthal, this range of barbecue grills features a hybrid charcoal-electric ignition system for faster, safer, chemical-free lighting and, on the larger models, an integrated rotisserie system.
Samsung CHG90 QLED Gaming Monitor
Gamers: please make sure you get enough Vitamin D this summer – because it’s going to be difficult. Samsung have released this bordering-on-the-ridiculous ultra-wide 49 inch 32:9 curved screen, which is basically two, already very sizable, 24-inch next to each other. That’s about as much immersion as much as possible without strapping on a VR headset.
And for those who aren’t impressed by size, then you might be taken in by the Quantum Dot HDR10 picture technology, 1-millisecond response time and 144Hz refresh rate.
Microsoft Modern Keyboard with Fingerprint ID
What more could you want from an aluminium bodied, wireless keyboard with low-profile ‘clicky’ keys? How about a fingerprint scanner hidden in the Windows key? Done – thanks Microsoft.
Coming soon, $129.99, microsoft.com
Sound Heroes bluetooth speaker
There comes a time after a hard day’s work battling villains intent on world domination that even a super hero needs to kick off their adamantium boots and chill out to a few tunes (even if those tunes are at best questionable). And why not do it through a 72cm tall superhero statue with a built in speaker and subwoofer? The AD’OM Premium not only pumps out super sound, it’ll also connect to up to 12 other Sound Heroes so you can have your own little sonic Justice League dotted around your living room.
The multicoloured light-up base also acts as a wireless charger for your phone, wi-fi extender and, coolest of all, has a smoke machine, giving it a level of gravitas that Tony Stark would be proud of.
From $260, indiegogo.com
Razer Blade Stealth Laptop
Razer do make some delightful laptops, especially if you’re into colourful keyboards and ostentatious logos. Alas, not everybody can show off their gaming credentials with such pride, which means the new Gunmetal Blade Stealth is a welcome addition to the pack.
Like Blade Stealths before it, the updated version is an ultrathin portable beast, boasting a 7th generation Intel i7 processor and 16GB of RAM, but with an improved and larger 13.3″ screen packed into the same body. The muted colour also makes it a tad more refined than its predecessor, which, unlike this absolute monster of a laptop that we saw at CES this year, means we can at least sneak it into the office without raising suspicions.
From $1,399, razerzone.com/blade-stealth
Blink: smart home security
In another addition to the DIY home security market place, Blink have harnessed the IFTTT (If This Then That) capabilities of Alexa to create an integrated security system
The set up takes minutes, and it sends video updates of any disturbances straight to your phone in an instant. You can also use Alexa to ask Blink to update you on any potential disturbances and to arm your system in case you left for your flight in a rush and forgot to switch on Blink. And parents – don’t worry if you’re leaving your kids behind for your holiday, if they decide to throw an all night party just ask Blink to turn the lights on. Best of all it’s battery powered, so you don’t need to use up a socket plugging it in (and it lasts two years off two AA batteries).
Systems start at £129.99, blinkforhome.co.uk
Detu Twin 3K 360o camera
Do you like showing off on social media about how much better your life is than everyone else’s? Of course you do.
This small lightweight camera can take 3k videos and photographs and can upload them to social media instantly, to help you really rub your friends noses in it. It’s got dual optical F2.0 fisheye lenses for 360-degree videos at 30fps with 3K resolution. Whether you’re live-streaming failed attempts at a kick-flip, or want to show off how beautiful your hike through the Andes was, the Detu Twin basically has you covered.
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