Amazon Echo Plus
Amazon are definitely ones for cramming as much Alexa in new devices as they can, but finally the cycle has gone full circle and they have updated their original and most popular Echo line. The new, smaller Echo has improved far-field technology for better capturing your voice and has a number of different styles as opposed to just white or black – it now comes in charcoal, sandstone, heather gray, oak veneer, walnut veneer and silver as well. It’s also significantly cheaper, down from £149.99 to £89.99.
If you do want to spend over a ton on Alexa then the Amazon Echo Plus looks the same as the original but has a bigger brain inside, which can act as a ZigBee hub for your home connecting all your smart home devices together, without the need for separate hubs for each device. It also features Dolby processing to provide better sound.
Amazon Echo Plus £139.99 + Philips Hue light bulb, www.amazon.co.uk
Acer Predator Orion 9000 Series
When it comes to nailing your opposition the gaming circuit, the first strike is with your rig rig, and oh wow does the new Predator series from Acer impress. This behemoth of a computer is powerful enough to support 8K UHD graphics thanks to liquid cooling, Intel i9 processor, 128GB RAM and up to 4-way AMD Radeon RX Vega graphics cards. It even has wheels to shunt it around! Truth be thold though, this might be a little overkill for us given the last time we got fragged at a LAN party was playing Quake…
From €1,999, acer.com
Poker, Magic: The Gathering, Plop Trump (yes, it’s actually a thing) – most of us have probably played a card game or two on those long winter nights curled up beside the fire, but it has never been an activity that screams “let’s get this partay staaaaarted!!”. DROPMIX on the other hand actively wants you to throw down some beats and boogie.
We have no idea how you actually play it, but DROPMIX is a card game-come-DJ set where you drop cards that hold special parts of songs or instructions onto the DROPMIX Board, which hooks up to your smartphone or tablet and blasts out mashups of hit songs, covering a wide range of genres. Skrillex vs Dolly Parton anyone?
$99.99 + $4.99 for an additional five cards, dropmix.hasbro.com
8bit Do SN30 Pro
Game controllers come in all shapes and sizes, but none can hold a candle to the SNES controller when it comes to nostalgia for the days games came in only two dimensions. This retro bluetooth controller is compatible with the Nintendo Switch, PC/Mac, Steam and Android and comes with rumble vibration, motion controls, a turbo function and USB-C. Good for games old and new.
Nest Secure alarm system
Nest has been striking fear into the the very hearts of would-be burglars with their home security cameras for a while, but now they’re turning up up to 11 with the Nest Secure system – a whopping 85db in fact! The three-part system includes a Nest Guard, which houses a keypad, motion sensor and that ear-burstingly loud alarm, a Nest Tag, which is a small fob you use to essentially switch off said alarm, and a Nest Detect, a door and motion sensor which sets the whole thing off.
It is a bit more expensive than other competitors out there, but it does look like a sleek bit of home security tech and being Nest you can be sure it’ll hook up nicely with your connected home.
Available 2018, $499, nest.com
Apple Watch Series 3
The iPhone X might have hit the headlines (it does look rather good after all), but there were a few other announcements from Apple this month, with the iPhone8 and Apple TV 4K also making an appearance. The one that caught our attention though was the new Apple Watch, which although looks exactly the same now features a processor 70 per cent faster, a barometric altimeter for tracking altitude and, most excitingly, has network access so you can take calls and stream playlists on the go. Perfect if a ballad pops up on your morning run. It also comes with a new fabric strap and an updated watchOS 4.
From £329, apple.com
Rarely does the idea of a Bluetooth lock send the heart a flutter with excitement, but when you come home to discover someone has worked out you leave a key behind the plant pot and has “borrowed” your 50-inch TV, maybe it’s time to get a little more enthused about home security.
Master Lock have been, well, locking things up for years, and their new key store is bluetooth enabled, so you need only to have your phone close to open it up and get the key. You can share a temporary code for any guests or builders who pop over while you’re out and has a keypad if your phone is out of juice. You’ll be sent notifications if anybody tries to tamper with the sturdy zinc body and the two-year battery will notify you if it is running low, with an emergency battery slot to give it a quick boost if you’re caught short.
Orbea Gain D40
This rather delightful looking bike has a special trick up its sleeve, or should we say chassis? Hidden in the central column is a 250w battery pack good for powering the rear wheel-hidden motor for 75km of range. You can even replace your water bottle for another battery when you pluck up the courage to tackle that seriously long cycle you’ve been promising yourself.
From £1,799, orbea.com
NBA connected jersey with NikeConnect
Like shooting hoops? Fans of NBA can follow their team both sartorially AND digitally at the same time with the NBA connected jersey, which is a smart top (no, not dinner party-smart) that connects to the NikeConnect app when you tap your phone to a special sensor sewn in. It’ll then show you the latest news and scores from your team. Not sure whether this is any easier than just having notifications from an app, though it definitely has street cred on the court.
Many of us don’t brush our teeth for long enough. This gumshield-like device, currently on Kickstarter, aims to solve that by reducing the time required for a thorough clean to 10 seconds. Its fast-moving bristles apply a toothpaste as they go.
RED Hydrogen One
This Android smartphone comes from RED, who make professional movie cameras. Its main draw is a 5.7-inch holographic display that shows 3D, virtual, mixed and augmented reality content. There’s also a USB-C port, microSD slot and a headphone jack.
From $1,195, red.com
No one wants to walk round honking to high heaven, but for those with a tendency to BO, monitoring one’s olfactory ‘presence’ can be a tad embarrassing. Waving an odour-detecting Bluetooth device under your arms is, of course, far more discreet…
¥30,000 (£205 approx), konicaminolta.jp (in Japanese)
Know a Lycra-clad cyclist who has everything? Bet they don’t have a pair of AR glasses that display their heart rate, ride stats and maps on a virtual heads-up display! These Raptor specs are the ultimate in eyewear-based showing-off…
Super Scout 73 Europe
This ‘pedal assist e-bike’ has a 250W motor, a top speed of 25km/h and a range of 32km, not to mention chunky tyres and styling that Action Man would be proud of. Best of all, you can ride one on UK roads without a licence…
Logitech CRAFT Advanced Keyboard
Controlling things with a dial is pretty cool, you just need to look at Microsoft’s, erm, Dial to show that. But what if you have a Mac? Logitech’s Craft is compatible with all PCs and Macs and has a ‘Crown’ that you can tap, touch and swivel your way through all sorts of different uses, like scrolling through windows or zooming in on something. It also looks pretty stylish and has automatic back lighting for you to twiddle your knob in the dark.
ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie
First we had selfies, then last month we moved onto “bothies“, but if ASUS has their way they too are about to be superseded by “wefies”. What is a wefie? Well, it’s the sort of photo you can take from the dual front cameras on the ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie, which take a 20MP photo with a really wide 120-degree field of view, meaning you can cram in more of the world around you while you take that all important beauty shot.
Extra bonus features include dual SIM slot, a curved display and it comes in some pretty classy colours. It’s also a darned sight cheaper than other phones coming out these days…
Moona smart pillow
It appears that just going to sleep on a regular old pillow isn’t good enough these days, what we need is one that regulates your body temperature throughout the night. Apparently the body needs to be at different temperatures through different stages of sleep, so the Moona pumps water at the correct temperature from a bedside device to your pillow cover to keep you nice and cool/warm. It also contains a sleep sensor so that it tracks the quality of your sleeps and can even wake you up by naturally raising (or lowering) your body temperature rather than using a noisy alarm.
From $249, kickstarter.com
ASUS Windows Mixed Reality Headset
The HTC Vive and Oculus Rift tend to grab the headlines, but the new ASUS MR headset is definitely one that will turn a few heads, not least because it is a thing of beauty (as far as VR headsets go). As well as looking cool and being light on the face, as part of the Windows mixed reality platform, the tracking works from inside out, which mean you don’t need to set up external sensors around the room to use it. And if VR is all becoming a bit much for you it’s easy to dip back into the real world just by lifting the visor. We can’t wait to get our actual hands on this virtual bit of kit when it comes out later this year.
We have loads more gadget news in the Innovations section of BBC Focus magazine, where we look for even more novel and unusual tech that could change the world we live in – find out what is in the current issue here.
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