Amazon Echo Show
Golly, Amazon have been busy this month. Not only have they released new Alexa-enabled tablets to their Fire range, they’ve also released the Alexa-enabled Echo Look for virtual clothes shopping, and the new Echo Show, a sort of(you guessed it) Alexa-enabled digital photo frame.
It’s no surprise that Amazon is pushing hard with Alexa given the Google Home is rapidly catching up, and the Echo Show wants to be even more of a hub for your home, doing all the normal Alexa tricky you come to expect but with added visuals, like video calling, playing Amazon Prime videos and pumping music from it’s powerful Dolby speakers.
Garmin VIRB 360
We love a good 360 action camera, but being relatively sedentary souls we rarely get a chance to use them (except when we were unshackled from our desks and tested them out for the July 2017 issue of BBC Focus magazine). The new VIRB 360 is the latest addition to Garmin’s VIRB range of action cameras, which like the rest of them is waterproof, voice controlled, can livestream and has an AR overlay to add GPS, speed and other technical wizardry to your video, except this time it’s all in 360 degrees.
The arduous task of taking a selfie from beyond arms length has just got marginally easier now that drone specialists DJI have released their tiniest new drone, the DJI Spark. Although it’s not the first drone that can be launched from your hand, or is gesture controlled, it does come with all the quality you’d expect from these most seasoned of drone makers.
It has four QuickShots (or modes to you and us) available, which shoots 10-second videos pointing the camera either straight down, flying away from, circling or spiralling up and around the subject, which should make for some pretty groovy (if not nauseating) Instagram stories. It’s also quick, reaching top speeds of 50kph and will work with the as-yet-unreleased DJI Goggles for some drone racing.
Is that worth a cool $500, with only a 1080p camera, when there are other, cheaper alternatives out there? Well that depends on if you like your drone coming in five millennial-friendly colours, Alpine White, Sky Blue, Meadow Green, Lava Red, and Sunrise Yellow.
Windows Mixed Reality motion controllers
When it comes to controlling yourself in virtual reality, the HTC Vive has its Controller and Oculus the Touch to market, but Microsoft has already got the ball rolling for their as yet unreleased Windows Mixed Reality headsets by announcing the Windows Mixed Reality motion controllers. Not the catchiest names we know, but if it works anything as well as the HoloLens we’re in for a treat.
The new controllers use the sensors in the headsets to accurately track your movement, which means, unlike its aforementioned rivals, you don’t need any extra equipment set up in your room. There is still no release dates, but dev kits are available to order with the ambition to get these new VR headsets on shelves by Christmas.
$399 with headset, microsoft.com
¿Hablas Español? This robot head with its expressive LCD eyes will teach your children Spanish. It’s aimed at kids aged between four and seven, with moving parts kept to a minimum thanks to the segmented head design. Youngsters interact with EMYS via simple voice commands, and by holding RFID-enabled tags up to the small screen in EMYS’s ‘chest’. To protect your child’s privacy, it bucks current trends by not being connected to the internet. It’s currently seeking funding on Kickstarter; if successful, it should start shipping early next year.
Microsoft Surface Laptop
Microsoft is relatively new to the hardware game and has made a habit of creating beautiful, but staggeringly expensive computers – fortunately, their latest laptop remains easy on the eye and a little easier on the pocket. It comes in four mysterious colours, platinum, burgundy, cobalt blue and graphite gold, and like the Surface tablets, the keyboard is covered in Alcantara for a cloth-like texture, which will certainly turn a few heads your local coffee shop.
Weighing in at a feathery 1.25kg, the Surface Laptop can apparently muster 14.5 hours on a single charge, all thanks to the new and improved Windows 10 S operating system and newest i5 or i7 Intel chips. All this despite the 13.5-inch, 100 per cent sRGB touch screen display sapping the battery.
From £979, microsoft.com
Luciano bluetooth speaker
Inside this ceramic, horn-shaped speaker is a Bluetooth-enabled 15W amplifier and a full-range three-inch driver, which should be enough to fill the average-sized living room. The body, meanwhile, is handmade in Nova, an Italian town that’s been famous for its pottery since the 18th Century. It’s available in red, blue, white, matt or gloss black, or 24K gold plate (if you’re feeling flash).
From $630, newblack.it
Orbitsound One P70
The latest soundbar from Orbitsound packs a 5.25-inch subwoofer and four two-inch full-range speakers – two facing forwards, and two facing sideways. This unusual configuration fills the entire room with sound, rather than having an optimal ‘sweet spot’, and means you can use the speaker in whatever orientation you like. It’s Bluetooth-enabled, and also boasts 3.5mm Aux and TOSLINK digital optical inputs.
SID 3D Camera
Remember back in the day when 3D was a thing? No, not that far back with the red and blue cardboard specs, but when we were all lapping up 3D TVs to watch the World Cup and Avatar. Didn’t really work did it, but then maybe that’s because we didn’t have our own 3D cameras to record footage on and VR headsets on which to watch them. Fortunately that time has arrived, especially with the SID 3D camera.
The tiny little device (similar in size to a GoPro) has two high quality lenses and is packed with features like auto-follow, live streaming and AR. You can also pick up a specialised gimbal for super steady shots. It has already smashed its Kickstarter target, so no doubt we can expect Wiggle Grams to fill up you social stream soon.
The atmosphere outside can be pretty choking at times, but there are a surprising amount of toxins floating around inside that can cause you a bit of bother too. “How much?” we hear you ask… Well if you had Awair you’d know.
By measuring the temperature, humidity, CO2, chemicals and dust, Awair gives the air in your home a score to indicate how healthy it is, and then provide you with information on how to improve it. Whether you choose to do anything about it or just stare at the data in the accompanying app is up to you, but if you ask us, anything that makes our homes a little healthier is a breath of fresh air.
OtterBox Venture Coolers
When camping in the bucolic British countryside it’s important to have a cooler that is certified bear resistant. OK, maybe not that important, but one that is durable, has secure latches (to keep out them bears, obvs), anti-slide rubber feet, and a myriad of organisational compartments is probably more useful. Handy that the new OtterBox Venture coolers have all of these in spades, as well as a few other fancy features, like a bottle opener and a wealth of other accessories like a chopping board and a drybox clip. Of course all of this is for naught if all you have after a week in the wilderness is a few warm beers and some spoiled meat, which is why the Venture coolers can keep ice frozen for a whopping 14 days!
Unfortunately they are only available in the US, which explains why the sizes are measured in quarts, so you have a 25, 45 and 65 quart capacity models to fill. That works out roughly 28, 51 and 73 litres respectively, so plenty of space for sausages.
From $249.99, otterbox.com
Kobo Aura H20 Edition 2
Many a relaxing read has fallen foul to a drop in the bath, or a holiday ruined by a quick dip of your favourite tome in the pool – made even worse when the book in question is an an eReader. This is, of course, a moot point if you have a Kobo H2O, which will handle a dunk up to two metres with ease. The new model also has brighter screen, which means a candlelit soak isn’t going to be at the detriment to your reading session.
Guess the only thing that’ll bring your holiday reading to an end is if you forget to charge it.