The cool gadgets list - May 2016

The cool gadgets list – May 2016

We love cool gadgets and gizmos here at Science Focus, so we've been keeping an eye out for the best new tech out there - check out the latest news, reviews, previews and pictures.

1

ASUS ZENBO

ASUS ZENBO

Didn’t know you needed a home robot? We’re not sure we did either, but the new Zenbo from ASUS looks like an adorable, and dare we say it, potentially useful, robot for the home, despite the incredibly awkward 11-minute promo video suggesting otherwise. Zenbo can move freely around the house, connect to the IoT to control all manner of devices, read your children bedtime stories and even call you if it spots an accident around the home. We can’t help but it looks a little like an upside-down Marvin the Paranoid Android though, so let’s hope Zenbo is a little cheerier than Douglas Adam’s manically depressed robot.

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$599, zenbo.asus.com

2

WAYV ADVENTURER

WAYV ADVENTURER

Camping and dinner usually brings up images of burnt sausages and a last-resort Pot Noodle, but what if you could heat up your delicious food without any carbon crust while exploring the great outdoors? The Wayv Adventurer is a sort of portable microwave that heats up your grub using a 250W RF module in around four minutes, with enough battery power for six happy campers. It’s about the size of a thermos, light, and doesn’t release any carbon monoxide, which is great news for anyone who has tried to keep a gas flame alight in the rainy British weather as it means you can use it in your tent. Alas, you’ll just have to stick it out this summer as it isn’t planned for release until 2017 and it’ll launch in the US first.

$199, wayvtech.com

3

3D SOUND ONE MODULE

3D SOUND ONE MODULE

Stereo is great – let’s face it, we listen to the world everyday through two ears either side of our head, but headphones can never quite give us that same holophonic sound that we experience day to day. And when you’ve spent a small fortune on a pair of best headphones money can buy don’t you think that is, well, a little unfair? 3D Sound Labs have the solution with their 3D Sound One Module, which attaches to your existing headset and uses small movement sensors to create a fully immersive surround sound experience, similar to what you would get in a cinema. Currently available for Windows and smartphone, the module connects via USB or Bluetooth and has an 18-hour battery life, perfect for an all day gaming session.

€99, 3dsoundlabs.com

4

NEONODE AIRBAR

NEONODE AIRBAR

Tablets are great for prodding away at when you’re sitting on the sofa watching Game of Thrones, but when the cold hard light of day seeps and you’re back at work, do you ever find yourself absent-mindedly poking your fingers all over your laptop screen in the hope that something, anything will happen? We’ve all been there, and AirBar’s solution is a USB plug-and-play device that turns your computer screen into a fully functioning ‘touch’ screen. We say ‘touch’ because it doesn’t actually work by touch at all, but by disrupting the light field that shines up from the device and works out exactly what you’re doing with your fingers. The upshot of this is that you can pinch, swivel and scroll to your heart’s content, even if you’re wearing gloves.

Preorder $69, air.bar

5

JAYBIRD FREEDOM WIRELESS EARBUDS

JAYBIRD FREEDOM WIRELESS EARBUDS

Jaybird’s Freedom headphones have always offered pretty decent wireless sound in your lugholes when you’re out and about, but their latest model are their smallest and lightest yet. Most Bluetooth headphones are made of plastic to prevent signal interference, but Jaybird have got around this on their fifth-generation earphones by putting the receiver in the chord that goes behind your neck, meaning the actual buds are made of stylish sand-blasted metal, which they claim improves the sound by removing distortion. A four-hour battery life (eight with the included battery clip) should be enough for anything but the most arduous of workouts and they come with a bundled MySound app for personalised EQ.

$199, jaybirdsport.com

6

BLACK+DECKER SMARTECH CONNECTED BATTERY

BLACK+DECKER SMARTECH CONNECTED BATTERY

See that big glowing orb in the sky? That’s our Sun, which means two things, summer is on the way and the air will soon be filled with the sound of DIYers getting their drills out and constructing a health-and-safety hazard of a treehouse for little Billy. Of course for the more tech savvy construction specialists out there a power tool wouldn’t really live up to the name if it didn’t have wi-fi connectivity, a USB port for charging your phone and an accompanying smartphone app so that you can check up on how much battery power is left. Thanks BLACK+DECKER for filling that void – now we just need them to become available in the UK before the next bank holiday.

From $69, smartech.blackanddecker.com

7

CANON EF-M 28MM f/3.5 MACRO IS STM

CANON EF-M 28MM f/3.5 MACRO IS STM

Camera lenses are rarely known for their catchy nomenclature, but for those of us who are really into cameras then you’ll know from the name that this is a macro lens, designed for taking pictures of things REALLY close up, which is fast (f/3.5) and with a pretty wide angle of view (28mm). The really exciting thing about this lens though is the Macro Lite, which shines at the end of the lens to illuminate the object that you are photographing making it significantly easier to get seriously sharp images. Perfect for taking pictures of ants – now if only you could get them to stay still for a moment…

Available in June for £294.99, canon.co.uk

8

GARMIN VÍVOSMART HR+

GARMIN VÍVOSMART HR+

Garmin are not resting on their laurels this month, adding another fitness device to their roster hot on the heels of the Forerunner 735XT. The new wrist-worn tracker is another do-all device, with inbuilt GPS, water resistant to 5 ATM, and measures everything from steps, distance, calories, floors and heart rate. Phew! The coolest feature though is that no matter how, aherm, forgetful you are at doing activities, the HR+ will automatically work out what sport you are doing (if any) and how much intensity you are putting in.

£169.99, garmin.com

9

VUZE CAMERA

VUZE CAMERA

It turns out that up until now, getting your hands on a stereoscopic 360-degree camera has either been fantastically expensive or left at the mercy of whenever GoPro decide to shift their Odyssey rig. Thankfully Vuze have announced their new affordable 3D camera so that regular Joes like you and i can try our hand at creating VR video. We say affordable, it will still set you back more than £500, but that is a small price to pay given the competition, and for that sort of money you get eight full-HD camera, a lightweight body, a wealth of accessories (VR selfie stick, anybody?) and software to edit your holiday videos with.

Pre order for $799, vuze.camera

10

ROTO VR CHAIR

ROTO VR CHAIR

If you’re going to drop $599 on an Oculus Rift on top of the monster rig to play it on, you might as well go the whole hog and pick up this $499 motorised virtual reality chair to complete the epic VR experience. For you money you get a fully motorised chair that will spin you around, rumble when you get shot, simulate walking and reduce motion sickness. On top of all that it will keep your whole setup neat and tidy without dangling cables. Check it out in action here.

Available from July, $399 (including $100 early adopter discount, rotovr.com

11

LG ACTION CAM LTE

LG ACTION CAM LTE

There are loads of decent action cams out there, but LG have just thrown their latest Friend (a collection of add-ons we first saw at MWC16) into the mix. The clue to the headline feature on the LG Action CAM LTE lies in the name – it comes with fully functioning 4G (LTE) so that you can stream your extreme stunts in full HD straight to YouTube. If you’d rather edit your videos first you can record in full 4K/UHD from the 12.3MP camera and dunk it under a metre of water if you so dare. The battery life is also very healthy, lasting up to four hours of recording time.

Launch date and price TBC, lg.com

12

THE IMPOSSIBLE I-1 CAMERA

THE IMPOSSIBLE I-1 CAMERA

The name Polaroid is synonymous with instant photos, but then the company itself hasn’t actually made any film since it went bankrupt in 2008. At the 11th hour the Impossible Project stepped in to pick up production of the film but have only now announced their first instant photo camera, the Impossible I-1. The new camera comes with a unique flash ring for portrait photos, and using an app on your iPhone you can control aperture and shutter speed, a first for an instant camera. It also looks pretty stylish, which is just what you want when you’re using one of the trendiest cameras around.

£269.99, impossible-project.com

13

LOGITECH ZEROTOUCH

LOGI ZEROTOUCH

Phone mounts for your car a great when it comes to keeping your phone close to hand but other than that they’re pretty limited. Logitech’s solution is to make it a Bluetooth receiver that clips onto the air vents, and when coupled with a voice-controlled app your Android phone can provide hands and glance-free communication. As well as calling mum (you really should do that more often you know) you can also control Spotify or Deezer, and navigate your way home through a variety of sat navs. It’s like having your own personal Parker.

From $59.99, logitech.com

14

DEVIALET PHANTOM

DEVIALET PHANTOM

We first got to feel the gut-rumbling power of the Diavalet Phantom at the Gadget Show Live 2016, and wow, even Will Smith wouldn’t be able to provide enough boom to shake the room as this magnificent speaker could. It’s not cheap, but for your money you get a hermetically sealed speaker with 30 kilos of thrust force behind the woofers, pumping out music with a power of 3000w at an ear splitting 105dB. If you find that’s not enough wobble for you it can be paired with another Phantom to double down your dubstep.

From £1,390, devialet.com

15

HP PAVILION ALL-IN-ONE

HP PAVILION ALL-IN-ONE

Have Apple cornered the market when it comes to making desktops that look like object d’art? HP don’t think so, and their new Pavilion All-In-One looks like a fitting addition to the gallery. The desktop PC comes with an edge-to-edge display with a miniscule 6.4mm bezel (on average they are normally 26mm), and when paired with B&O PLAY speakers should make for a fantastic movie watching experience. The desktop also comes with a HP Privacy Camera, which pops down when you aren’t using it to keep you safe from any prying eyes. You know, just in case…

$699, hp.com

16

XIAOMI MIMAX

XIAOMI MIMAX

What we really need from a new phone is an even bigger screen… said no one in the last three years. But wait, that’s exactly what Chinese smartphone manufacturers Xiaomi have decided with their new phablet-dwarfing MiMax, which has a whopping 6.44-inch display. Despite being the same size as a small book, the phone is apparently still a pocketable 7.5mm thick, which is lucky as you’ll need to squeeze it in with all your loose change – the basic model costs a paltry RMB1499 (£160). It comes in three colours, has a massive battery (to power that screen obviously), and comes with MIUI8, the company’s latest Android skin.

From RMB1499, mi.com

17

LIBRATONE ZIPP & ZIPP MINI

LIBRATONE ZIPP & ZIPP MINI

It’s May and the sun is officially coming out. Along with a bucket and spade, any trip to the seaside would be incomplete without something to blast out some Bob Marley while you lap up the sun, and the Libratone Zipp and Zipp Mini seem like perfect beach boomboxes. Promising 10-hours battery life and 360-degree sound, the Zipp should be able to keep everyone suitably entertained, and if not a wave of the hand over the top of the device will silence it and keep those salty fingers off its interchangeable cover. And if you really want the pump up the party you can pair six of them together.

£229 Libratone Zipp, £199 Libratone Zipp Mini, libratone.com

18

PIQ MULTISPORT WEARABLE SENSOR

PIQ MULTISPORT WEARABLE SENSOR

If you’re anything like us you have probably go a drawer full of wearable sports tech that seemed like a good idea to buy at the time. That was before you quit the gym/stopped running/hung up your swimming trunks for good. Having one wearable for each sport seems like a wasteful (and expensive) habit, so PIQ have designed their wearable sensor to work across multiple sports and provide instant feedback to your mobile device. Currently it works for golf, tennis and skiing, but they hope that by the end of the year you will be able to use just the one PIQ device for eight sports in total and over 20 more in the near future. All you need to get is the right accessory for whatever whims you that month.

From £129 with tennis accessory, PIQ.com

19

LEICA M-D

LEICA M-D

Remember the days when your camera had only a couple of buttons on the top and you had no idea what your pictures looked like until it got developed? Well German camera makers Leica, famed for their exceptional quality (and price tag), are longing to bring those days back with their new 24MP shooter. The new camera features no screen on the back, no video, no jpeg processing and three frames per second shooting speed. Instead they have plumped for a single ISO control on the back, with aperture, shutter speed and shutter release frequency as the only other controls. When they want you to concentrate on ‘Das Wesentliche’ (‘The Essentials’) they mean it. Still, who needs features on a camera when it looks this stylish anyway…

£4,650, leica-camera.com

20

POCKETCHIP

POCKETCHIP

The Raspberry Pi might have stolen the headlines, but the $9 CHIP is worthy contender in the microcomputer contest, especially now that it has been packaged up into a retro handheld gaming console. By retro we’re talking a 16-colour screen with 8-bit sound and a clicky keyboard. There are 1000s of games available and you can code your own and share them as well as sticking the device to a 3D-printed VR attachment.

Available to preorder for $49, try out some games at getchip.com


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