Stylophone Gen X-1

The cool gadgets list – March 2017

As the days get longer March welcomes the spring, but along with it a plethora of new gadgets and gizmos ready to burst into the shops ready for the sunny days ahead - check out the best new technology this March.

1

Google Home

Image © Chris Morgan/Google

We were teased about Google Home, the search giant’s answer to the Amazon Echo, last October, but it has taken months for any news about whether it was turning up on these fair shores. Well the wait is over, it’s only a week before we’ll be able to shout “OK, Google” around the house asking for train times, weather reports and what naughty words mean (because that’s the only things you talk to Alexa about, right?).

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Unlike its monolithic competitor, Google Home is a tidy little device that will seamlessly blend in with all of the Swedish furniture currently filling your living room or kitchen, and is powered by the recently released Google Assistant. Being Google, we expect it to nail any searches you throw at it, and although it doesn’t have the ecosystem of Amazon yet, you can still command it to control many of the smart devices in your home, like Philips Hue or Nest thermostat.

It’s also cheaper and more colourful with interchangeable speaker grilles, which might make up for any initial shortcomings.

Available 6 April, £129, store.google.com

2

Samsung Galaxy S8

Samsung Galaxy S8

It’s been a busy month for phones, but the one you’ve all been waiting for is here – the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ have finally arrived. The headline feature is that the 5.8-inch Galaxy S8 and 6.2-inch Galaxy S8+ have an Infinity Display, which makes the whole surface of the phones smooth without any angles or buttons, protected behind Gorilla Glass 5 on the front and back.

Speaking of front and back, both cameras have an F1.7 aperture on the 8MP and 12MP respective lenses, which should make for some serious low light shots, and will look marvellous on the UHD Alliance MOBILE HDR PREMIUM display. HDR on a phone will make for brighter colours and deeper blacks, so perfect for a long Netflix binge on your commute. How that’ll affect the 3,000mAh battery on the regular S8 model we’ll have to wait and see, but we imagine Samsung have dealt sufficiently with their issues from last year.

Bixby is the other big news, and the Galaxy S8 will be the first to feature Samsung’s personal assistant, which it hopes will rival the likes of Google, Alexa and Cortana.

Available 21 April, samsung.com

3

Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM

Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM

We have to start with a warning – by the end of reading this you’ll be humming the Vengaboys. Now that we’ve got that off our chest may we introduce the newest speaker from Ultimate Ears, the WONDERBOOM.

This dinky speaker belies its diminutive size, promising to be one of the best Bluetooth speakers for under £100, with full 360-degree sound, 30m Bluetooth range and a 10 hour battery life. It’s also IPX7 waterproofed, which means it can survive one metre underwater for 30 minutes, although you’d struggle to keep it there as it floats.

Like the aforementioned Dutch Europopsters’ dress sense, the UE WONDERBOOM comes in a variety of funky colours with equally funky names – Stone (Grey), Phantom (Black), Fireball (Red), SubZero (Blue), Cashmere (Pink) and Lilac. Now, start humming: Boom, boom, boom, boom, we want a WONDERBOOM!!

£89.99, ultimateears.com

4

Garmin Forerunner 935

Garmin Forerunner 935

How much can you cram in a fitness watch? That must have been what Garmin asked themselves when they were designing the Forerunner 935, because it has everything bar the kitchen sink crammed in this 49g activity tracker.

Designed with runners and triathletes in mind, the new Garmin watch comes with running dynamics, wrist-based heart rate, training status and VO2 max, as well as all your regulars, like GPS, step counter and sleep monitor. It’ll even tell you if you are over training and what your recovery time will be, and last a full 24 hours with GPS switched on. You’ll need to get a Garmin Running Dynamics Pod to get the full complement of features, such as run cadence, but if you’re willing to spend a fist full of dollars on it we can’t imagine a few dollars more won’t be too much of an issue.

Available soon from £469.99, explore.garmin.com

5

Corsair One

Corsair One

Anyone prone to ripping out the guts of an ageing PC and plugging in the latest components will be familiar with Corsair, who have been quietly powering gamers into the long nights for more than 20 years. So it’s a surprise that it’s only now that they have dipped their toes into the murky waters of building complete gaming PCs – by the looks of things it was well worth the wait.

The Corsair One is a tiddler compared to other gaming rigs, only 380mm tall, 176mm wide and 200mm deep, but good things come in small packages. Buried deep within the system is an Intel i7-7700, liquid cooled processor, NVIDIA GTX 1070 graphics card, 16GB RAM and a whopping amount of storage, 240GB coming on a speedy SSD hard drive. That should be powerful enough to run some of the most demanding VR games, but if you want a bit more grunt an extra £400 will bump up the processor and graphics card to even more ludicrous speeds.

If things do get a little wheezy – and by that we mean anything above the whisper-quiet 20dBA idle volume – you’re future proofed, because despite everything being all snuggly tucked away, it’s fully upgradeable. Speaking of the future, it also has two groovy blue lights on the front making it look straight from Tron.

From £1,7999.99, corsair.com

6

YI 4K+ Action Camera

YI 4K+ Action Camera

Hey dude, want some some gnarly footage of that 720 you pulled on the half pipe? Ok, that’s the sort of thing no one here has said for a while (or ever), but we imagine it’s pretty common for anyone who regularly straps an action camera to their body as they swish down the slopes (…we imagine).

But usually you’re stuck between two shooting styles – the best quality action cam footage usually comes in 4K, but that comes at the expense of frame rate, leaving you to choose between UHD or super slow mo footage of you churning up the powder. Not with the new YI 4K+ action cam though, which can record footage at 60fps, twice that of other 4K cameras. Totally rad!

Other sweeteners are enhanced image stabilisation, 70-minute battery life at full res and touch screen controls.

Pre-order from $339, yitechnology.com

7

Apple iPad

Apple iPad

Hard to believe but the Apple iPad is now seven years old, which means in dog years it’s looking over its shoulder thinking about when it can take early retirement. But enough about dogs, the new iPad shows no signs of calling it a day any time soon.

The latest iPad model is not a huge update in terms of features from the iPad Air 2 (same size, same camera, same TouchID) but this time it comes with a more powerful processor, brighter Retina screen and drops “Air” from its name. So being Apple it’s time to hold off that mortgage again right? Not this time, the new model is (comparatively) cheaper, setting you back a paltry £339 instead of £379. OK, that might not be a huge saving, but it’s enough to buy Fido some extra treats.

From £339, apple.com

8

Nokia 3310

Nokia 3310

No your eyes aren’t deceiving you, the most popular news to come out of MWC this year wasn’t any of the new flagship phones from the likes of Sony, HTC and Huawei (more on them later), but the trusty old Nokia 3310 reimagined for the modern age.

You probably remember the retro feature phone from back when we were all breathing a sigh of relief that the Y2K bug petered out of existence and we somehow explicably let Who Let the Dogs Out become the best-selling song of the year 2000, and for all of its chunkiness and two-colour screen, the 3310 was without doubt (and remains) one of the most loved phones of all time. Its appeal was down in part to the almost infinite battery life, the ringtone composer and the near-indestructible chassis, although let’s face it, the real reason we loved it was for the game Snake.

The 2017 Nokia 3310 promises much of the same, but this time the dual-SIM blower has a month-long battery life, a 2MP camera, 2G internet and 2.4” colour screen. Oh, and Snake.

Available Q2, €49, nokia.com

9

Sonos Playbase

Sonos Playbase

It’s been a while since we saw anything new from multi-room speaker specialists Sonos, but the new Playbase looks like it was probably worth the wait.

Much as TV manufactures love the idea of us sticking their fancy 4K screens to the wall, according to Sonos only around 30 per cent of us are actually willing to trust our window into Game of Thrones at the mercy of gravity, which means sound bars tend to sit somewhat redundantly underneath the TV. The Sonos Playbase is a stand that is sturdy enough to hold the weight of a 35kg TV and a painstaking development process means it should sound pretty sweet (they’ve worked out that it needs 43,000 individually-drilled holes for the cleanest sound). It’ll hook up to any other Sonos speakers you have around the house, including their subwoofer and Play:1s for a full home theatre setup.

Available early April, £699, sonos.com

10

Bacon Express

Bacon Express

While we don’t find cooking an English breakfast particularly taxing, we’re oddly drawn in by the Bacon Express – essentially a ‘toaster’ for slices of ex-pig. There’s a dial on the side to select the cooking time, while inside the machine up to six strips of bacon hang vertically so that the fat drips off, making for a healthier meal.

£32, nostalgiaelectrics.com

11

LG G6 smartphone

LG G6 smartphone

LG thrilled us last year at MWC with their modular smartphone, but we must have been the only ones as the South Korean manufacturer has unceremoniously dumped the feature for an all-in-one package. Looking at the new LG G6 we can see why.

As well as all the bells and whistles you expect from a flagship smartphone, such as a sleek, waterproof design, the latest Android, a nippy Snapdragon 821 Processor and dual 13MP cameras on the back, the standout feature of the G6 is the 5.7”-inch 2,880 x 1,440 resolution screen. The eagle eyed among you will recognise that’s a little different to normal, and that’s because it sports an 18:9 ratio for wider viewing, compared to the standard 16:9. The upshot of this is that widescreen video will look even more cinematic, and combined with Dolby Vision and HDR10 support, the display should pop with colour and vibrancy.

LG also claim that for such a large smartphone, it will still fit comfortably in one hand – something we are itching to do once it’s released.

Out likely early April, £TBC, lg.com

12

Audeara headphones

Audeara headphones

We’ve tried on a lot of headphones over the years, with varying degrees of aural deliciousness, but one person’s audio sweet spot is another’s sonic doom. The Audeara headphones aim to solve this issue by introducing technology that measures the listener’s ears and creates a bespoke sound profile for whoever has the cans on their head. The resulting audiogram will then be saved on the accompanying app for long-term tracking, so if you think your ears are getting worse over time, you’ll be able to see on a graph.

Of course, that all means nothing if they don’t cut the mustard in the first place, but with high-quality Mylar speakers, 85 per cent active noise cancelling and low-latency, high-fidelity bluetooth, they should be able to stand out in the crowd.

From AU$299, kickstarter.com

13

Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45

Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45

It can be hard at times to pick between wearing a smartwatch or a smart watch. See the subtle difference there? While the likes of Apple, Samsung and Sony have been happy complicate your life with screens, dings and buzzes from your wrist, the only complications high-end watch manufacturers have so far been interested in are the ones on their highly engineered watch faces. Tag Heuer made an almost cynical attempt in 2015 with a mid-range smartwatch that you could trade-in after two years for an old fashioned timepiece, but this time they’re serious.

The Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45 is, as the name would suggest, modular, which means that most parts of it, from the lugs, buckle straps and watch face, are interchangeable. Depending on how deep your wallets are, you could theoretically have a “different” watch for every occasion (Tag say there are 500 different design combinations). For example by day you could set it up with the Intel-powered smartwatch module, with Android Wear 2.0, GPS, NFC and an AMOLED screen, and swap it out in the evening for a timeless Haute Horlogerie mechanical module.

Of course this doesn’t come cheap, but if after two years the system is starting to creak you can at least upgrade only the smart module to the latest model rather than having to fork out on the whole shebang.

From £1,400, tagheuer.com

14

Huawei P10

Huawei P10

Somewhere between the original incarnation of the Nokia 3310 and the iPhone, phones weren’t particularly “smart”, instead relying on a killer feature to separate them from the rest of the pack. It seems that at MWC 2017 all the major phone manufacturers have been in cahoots, because despite them all more-or-less packing the same specs, they all have a special arrow in their quiver.

For the Chinese manufacturer Huawei, they have teamed up with high-end camera makers Leica to give their new luxury phones, the P10 and the P10 Pro, the edge when it comes to still photos. The new Leica Dual Camera 2.0 has 20MP and 12MP sensors, image stabilisation, and can shoot in 4K, but also uses 3D facial detection, dynamic illumination, and advanced software that purports to give you portraits in “Leica image style” – a bold claim given our dubious photography talents.

From €649, huawei.com

15

Fitbit Alta HR

Fitbit Alta HR

Everyone seems to be sporting a fitness tracker of some sort these days, and by everyone, even elephants are getting in on the act. That doesn’t mean there is any need to slow down and stop innovating, although Fitbit’s latest device is more of an update than an earth-shaking new product. Like the Alta before it, the new model has an OLED screen providing notifications as well as sleep and step count for the day, but this time the Alta HR comes with a continuous heart-rate monitor. Handy if you’re one of those sporty types.

£129.99, fitbit.com

16

BlackBerry KEYone

BlackBerry KEYone

With all the excitement over Nokia’s rerelease of the 3310, you could be forgiven for thinking that it was the only phone to rise like a phoenix from the ashes – but then you’d be forgetting the return of the long-forgotten BlackBerry.

New Chinese owners TCL have opted to go with Android for the OS, but the BlackBerry KEYone will have a familiar feel to anyone who yearns for the iconic physical keyboard that was glued to the hands of businessfolk of a decade ago. The keyboard also acts as a sort of trackpad, which can be used to swipe through very important documents with ease, and the spacebar doubles up as a fingerprint scanner.

Being BlackBerry it also promises best-in-class security, which could prove handy for anyone suffering from unwanted late night data leaks.

£499, blackberrymobile.us

17

Beolit 17

Beolit 17

You see that big yellow thing poking out from behind the clouds this time of year? That’s the Sun – hopefully we’ll be getting to see plenty more of as we leave winter behind us, so more time for chilling out the park or on the beach, and inevitably someone butchering Wonderwall on an acoustic. If you want to drown out such nonsense you’ll need a beefy portable sound system, which conveniently the folks at B&O Play have duly provided with the Beolit 17.

Essentially a bigger, more powerful version of previous Beolit systems, the Beolit 17 has 240 watts of peak power, more than enough to comfortably drown out any caterwauls accompanying your neighbour’s strumming, and with a reported 24-hour battery life there’s no chance of your system running out of stamina before they do.

The other new weapon in your arsenal is the one-touch connect button, which you can set from the accompanying app to work as an alarm, instantly start playing your most recent songs, play, pause or skip tracks, or automatically switch to your favourite tone settings.

£449, beoplay.com

18

Sony Xperia XZ Premium

Sony Xperia XZ Premium

Sony had a stab at 4K screens on a mobile phone before, but it seems like the market is a little more welcoming of them in 2017. The latest in their Xperia line is a super stylish premium number with a beautiful 4K UHD screen and high resolution audio, which will make it perfect for streaming ultra high resolution films off the likes of Amazon Prime and Netflix (if you’re data allowance can handle it). But the real head turner on the Xperia XZ Premium is the camera, which can shoot slow-mo at a truly mesmerising speed of 960 frames a second, which will come in handy if you have a cat that likes jumping on glass tables.

Being Sony, it also looks dreamy and plays nicely with your PlayStation 4.

Available late Spring, £TBC, sonymobile.com

19

Fujifilm X-T20

Fujifilm X-T20

This X-T20 camera replaces the X-T10 in Fujifilm’s APS-C range. It’s got a 24.3MP sensor, and now shoots 4K video at a frame rate of 30fps. It’s equipped with a touchscreen LCD viewfinder that can be rotated if you need to shoot at awkward angles, and offers fast autofocus of 0.06s, with a choice of five modes for tracking moving objects. If that doesn’t suit, then also new from Fujifilm are the X100 fixed-lens compact at $1,300 (£1,050 approx) and the mirrorless, medium-format GFX-50S at $6,500 (£5,253 approx).

$900, fujifilm.eu

20

Dubleup power bank

Dubleup power bank

Nobody likes getting caught short, although unlike being unable to find a nearby toilet when you need a wee, running out of battery for your phone has a handy solution – portable power packs. Unfortunately, they’re kinda bulky, which means you might not have enough space to fit one in your pocket next to your keys, wallet, phone, chewing gum etc. Dubleup’s solution is to make a fully certified power pack small enough to fit in your wallet like a credit card, which means you’ll always be able to give your phone enough juice to Google “where’s the nearest public lavatory?”

From AU$70, kickstarter.com

21

Nimbus 195

Nimbus 195

Ever fancied buying a drone, but been put off by the certain knowledge you’d crash and smash it in about five minutes flat? The Nimbus 195’s chubby body is built from tough but lightweight carbon fibre, while its propellers are made of flexible plastic. The result is a drone that can fly full-pelt into a wall or be run over by a car, and still live to tell the tale. It’s waterproof, too.

$750, aerodyne-rc.com

22

Tapdo smart button

Tapdo

We’re used to using fingerprints to scan our way into phones and laptops, but if you look all the way down your finger you’ll see that there are plenty more patterns on them than just the tips. The wearable Tapdo smart button uses these different patterns to create rules and actions that can control all manner of apps and tasks, like changing the scene on your Philips Hue lighting or skipping a song on your music player, all with a tap from the corresponding part of your finger. You can set three different actions with each finger so with just one hand you can set up more than 12 action plus your thumb – how very, erm, handy.

Launching end of March, from $99, tapdo.io

23

Samsung Frame TV

Samsung Frame TV

TVs haven’t really changed much in recent years, bar being ever so slightly flatter, bigger and occasionally curvier, but Samsung teased us at CES with the new TV from thier Lifestyle range, which could seamlessly merge into the background like a work of art. Well, now it looks like you’ll probably be able to actually buy the thing.

Details are a little limited but The Frame will quite comfortably sit almost flush to your wall and when in ‘Art Mode’ display 100 different works of art from multiple categories. That’s about all we’re getting on that now, but Samsung did also put prices on their gorgeous looking QLED TVs, which will be available at the end of the month for prices ranging from £1,999.99 to £4,899.99.

Available Spring, £TBC, samsung.com

24

Mindset smart headphones

Mindset smart headphones

Life is filled with many little distractions, like your phone going ping, someone offering you a cup of tea or just anything outside the window that isn’t doing work. According to Mindset, we lose 20,000 hours over the course of a lifetime getting distracted, and their high-end Bluetooth headphones are filled with EEG sensors that measure your brain waves and sends audio cues when you need to refocus on the task at hand. It’s not the first time we’ve seen this EEG technology used to help you concentrate (we got a glimpse of a similar product at CES), but Mindset have partnered up with Onkyo, which means the headphones have some seriously sound credentials behind them.

From $249, kickstarter.com

25

Stylophone Gen X-1

Stylophone Gen X-1

The popular 60s musical toy Stylophone gets a 21st-Century makeover. The new Gen X-1 version takes the basic analogue synth that sold over three million units between 1968 and 1975, and adds the kind of sound-shaping capabilities you’d find on a ‘proper’ synthesizer, including envelope, delay and filter controls, plus a low-frequency oscillator with rate and depth knobs and a choice of square and sawtooth waveforms. If the original was good enough for David Bowie, Kraftwerk and Orbital, just think what you could do with this!

£60, dubreq.com

26

OneLink Envirocam

OneLink Envirocam

Baby monitor cameras are ten-a-penny, but this one will do a lot more than just let you keep an eye on your child while they’re sleeping: it can also reassure you that they’re breathing properly. Its 1080p night-vision camera detects the tiny movements kids make as they breathe and uses this information to track their respiration rates, while built-in environmental sensors also monitor the room’s temperature, humidity and carbon monoxide levels.

£TBC, firstalert.com

27

Hushme voice mask

Hushme voice mask

We’ve all felt the dread of your mum’s name popping up on your phone you while you’re having a nice quiet coffee in a cafe knowing full well she wants to have an in-depth discussion about your dad’s homemade curry last night and the inevitable consequences. It’s just not the sort of conversation you want to be having in a public place.

First seen at CES this year Hushme is a sort of wireless speaker contraption that you fit around your mouth when you are out and about that masks your voice, so that the world around you is none the wiser as to what you’re talking about. It’ll also make you look a bit like Darth Vader, which is handy because one of the muffling sounds is the Dark Lord of the Sith himself. The Force is strong with this one…

£TBA, gethushme.com


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