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Smart lighting Why you’ll love Ikea’s clever bulbs

ULTIMATE 4K Laptops

Cutting-edge notebooks for work or play

Apple’s Phil Schiller …talks HomePod, iMac Pro, and the future EXCLUSIVE!

win!

A stereo sound system worth

£1,500

Travel gadget Guide

Essential tech and amazing accessories for your best trip ever!


Horizon

The best new tech heading your way Edited by Claire Davies

Hp envy x2 From £999, hp.com If you’re tired of juggling a laptop, tablet and other tech in order to work effectively on the go, then more robustly when you’re in the office, the always connected HP ENVY x2 could throw you a lifeline. Why? Microsoft’s new aluminium hybrid is being positioned as a complete mobile device that’s so powerful you’ll have no need for an extra tablet. It’s lighter than an iPad Pro and is serving up ample firepower. Everyone’s excited about laptops with Gigabit LTE connectivity, and the Windows 10 S, Snapdragon 835-running ENVY x2 is no exception, promising lightning-fast download speeds and a reliable data connection thanks to an x16 LTE modem. We get annoyed with poor battery life on tech, so we’re impressed with the ENVY x2’s 20 hours’ battery life brag. That said, the incoming ASUS NovaGo (see the next page) is promising 22 hours. Whether either claim is true to life remains to be seen. Chunkiness definitely has its place in tech, but not on this hybrid – its display is a mere 6.9mm thick. Looks-wise, it doesn’t set any new style rules, but there are crisp lines, a glossy magnetic hinge and a brooding colour scheme to enjoy. So if you’re on the lookout for a powerful, streamlined work and play machine, the HP ENVY x2 (shipping in February) could be the one to ditch your other tech for.

Wherever life takes you An integrated Qualcomm Snapdragon x16 LTE modem helps you to stay connected and gives faster 4G LTE speeds

tech-o-Meter

The best of tablets with a bit of Windows power – this could be great Matt Bolton, Editor

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Top 10

Wired for sound Bang & Olufsen is regularly tapped up to tune the audio on many of tech’s biggest and boldest devices, so we’re pleased, but not surprised, to learn that B&O has sprinkled its audio magic over the ENVY x2’s dual speakers

Port ahoy! While the modern versus classic port debate rages on, HP is covering a wealth of bases by equipping its new, always-connected laptop with a USB Type-C port, a microSD slot, SIM card slot and combo audio jack

Getting hands on With the Cortana-powered HP ENVY x2, you can touch and tap your way through oodles of work, get creative with sketching and drawing (using the HP Digital Pen and Windows Ink), or watch movies on its 12.3-inch Full HD touch display

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Horizon Auto

full-face Motorbike helmets

Nexx XG200 Scrambler afficionados: this is the helmet for on- or off-road pursuits, with its ’70s styling. Modern touches include an X-Matrix shell (the XG200 weighs a scant 1.2kg), double D-ring fastener and DOT, ECE and NBR safety approval. £300, nexx-helmets.com

TEST SELF-DRIVE Biltwell lane splitter Thoroughly modern, yet retro, the Lane Splitter is an ideal match for those fast vintage rides. There’s DOT and ECE approval, a double D-ring strap, and you even get audio pockets for your communication system. £184, biltwellinc.com

Bell bullit The modern-retro helmet scene doesn’t get any more classic than the Bell Bullit. With its clean lid style, optional bubble screen and gorgeous colourways, you’ll spend more time posing than riding. Features DOT and ECE approval and a D-ring strap. £400, bellhelmets.com 24 T3 f e b r u a r y 2 01 8

the car of the future Renault’s SYMBIOZ concept car is a vision of the self-driving car the company thinks we’ll be buying in five years – and we’ve tried it Most self-driving cars being tested are just normal cars with motors and sensors bolted on. With the SYMBIOZ concept car, Renault is doing it differently, building the sensors inside the body, and thinking about what the interior experience of a self-driving car should be. It’s the whole package.

The SYMBIOZ is a ‘Level 4’ self-driving car, meaning the driver can ignore the road and do something else, but only on certain roads – in this case, highways. So we headed to the highway, activated its autonomous mode… and put on a VR headset. While the car cruised down a real, open highway at 110kph, weaving through traffic, we watched a VR experience specially made for the car by Ubisoft, matching the car’s speed or acceleration in-game, meaning there were no motion sickness issues. It’s amazing how quickly it feels normal to see the driver kicking back. (The seats can recline heavily, for true relaxation.) That’s partly because Renault makes sure you trust the car, showing the vehicles it’s detected around it on three 12-inch OLED dash screens, and providing a HUD for the driver that shows when the car plans to change lanes. But it’s also partly because it works well enough that you stop worrying. This is way beyond cruise control or even Tesla’s Autopilot, and we love the idea of motorways becoming free time. Bring it on.


Horizon Fitness & Outdoors

Top ski goGgles for all Stay smart as you carve up the slopes

Oakley Airwave 1.5 If you have cash to spare, Oakley’s Airwave 1.5 are hard to beat. A built-in display integrates GPS, Bluetooth and onboard sensors to provide instant access to jump analytics (max speed, max air, etc), plus live mapping, buddy tracking and smartphone notifications.

£450, oakley.com

Dragon Alliance X2s This stylish goggle features patented Frameless tech, 200-per-cent-stronger Super Anti Fog coating, and a Swiftlock lens changing system. The design was dreamt up by snowboarding legend Bryan Iguchi.

£185, dragonalliance.com

heating up

BlazeWear Explorer Jacket A self-heating smart jacket could make the cold and damp more bearable, as outdoors journalist Damian Hall discovers The problem with clothes, unlike, say, buildings or vehicles, is that other than a few zips they have limited temperature control. When you’re heading into the mountains, environmental conditions can change swiftly and you can be caught out, which could be serious. Take note, then, of BlazeWear’s latest outerwear, designed to prepare you for the coldest of snaps. The Explorer Jacket (from £200, blazewear.com) subtly integrates state-ofthe-art TriZone Heat tech for precise levels of warmth at the touch of a button. With three adjustable heat settings, in-coat temperatures can rise to a super-toasty 55°C – on a freezing mountain, that will

definitely come in handy. A rechargeable USB power bank (lithium-ion battery) generates up to 13 hours of uninterrupted heat, making it ideal for longer excursions where temperatures might worsen. That power bank can also be used to charge your smartphone in an emergency. Because the waterproof Explorer Jacket is designed with Thermolite insulation tech, it’s respectably warm even without the additional heater, and its lightweight, high-performance wadding boasts excellent insulation, retention and heat distribution. But hey, who wouldn’t want the option of continuous, customisable heat when it’s on offer and ready to be switched on?

High-tech treads

hit the ground running Want a tough-ass running shoe fit for superheroes? You’ll need inov-8’s incoming graphene-infused shoes, then Windells X Anon MIG Wear glasses? Try Windells’s MIG over-the-glass (OTG) goggles. The company’s invested in Spherical Lens tech, which mimics the curvature of your eye, and has fitted the X Anon MIGs with Zeiss Sonar lenses.

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The problem with running-shoe grip is that it isn’t usually very durable. That looks set to change as running shoe manufacturer inov-8 has teamed with the University of Manchester’s National Graphene Institute to claim a worldfirst tech breakthrough: graphene-infused shoes. At just one atom thick, graphene is the thinnest material on Earth, yet it’s also 200 times stronger than steel. So when invo-8’s G-Series shoes arrive in the spring, you’ll be wearing the world’s strongest, stretchiest, grippiest and most resistant soles.


Horizon

GADGET GURU

T3’s master of the malt machine is here to get you on the home hop

Matt Hoskins, Rhyl

What do I need to get into homebrew? We’ve come a long way from the what-precisely-isthis-drink stage of home brewing. (It was supposed to be wine, by the way, if you happened to taste the 1987 vintage GuruBrew.) One could argue, if pushing things just a little beyond the bounds of plausibility, the craft beer revolution is just an extension of homebrew, but with better kit. So if beer’s your thing, you don’t want too much, and you have no interest in the lore of brewing, PicoBrew has you covered with its Pico C ($449, due for UK launch imminently). Slap in a PicoPak from one of its affiliated craft people,

ILLUSTRATIONs: stephen kelly

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give it a couple of hours and you’re ready to ferment over a couple of weeks. Results should be drinkable, though you’ll question the expense compared to an eight-pack. Those doing it the proper way will need a laundry list of bottles, tubs, meshes and scientific doodads for measuring pressure and such. The heavily hyphenated

ABOVE Sprouts, pickled onion, acorns… Recreating that 1987 vintage

When you’re ready to upgrade, there’s a bunch of devices that connect to apps on your phone – the BrewNanny is the queen

the-home-brew-shop.co.uk should be able to sort you out with a starter kit for around £60. When you’re ready to upgrade, there’s a bunch of devices that connect to apps on your phone. The BrewNanny monitor (around £372, with limited availability) is probably the queen of such things, keeping an eye on the temperature, gas, gravity and even the light levels. When the yeast has feasted and the hops have, er, popped, serve it up right: grab a suitable draft kit (Beer Hawk offers one for around £170), force some CO2 into your brew, and keep it away from the air until you’re ready to guzzle it.

send your questions to: inbox@t3.com or facebook.com/T3mag 3 2 T3 F e b r u a r y 2 01 8


Gadget guru

Cody Orville, Leith

How can I make my laptop battery last longer? Guru could answer this question in his sleep, because he often has to: the throngs of gadget fans do not stop to examine GaGu’s face or listen to his snores before they start burbling their queries in his direction. So imagine ol’ Guru laid on his side, padding his hands and feet like a dog running in a dream and reciting the following in a slightly worried, unclear and groggy voice. Turn the brightness of the screen down. Turn the volume of the speakers down. Stop playing games, and turn off any pointless visual effects. Switch from the discrete graphics cards to your motherboard’s integrated solution, if that’s an option. Power down radios you’re not using. Make use of your Windows or macOS power saving options‚ drag the slider on the battery meter to the left to use less power and conserve more battery. In the battery settings,

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change the level that’s regarded as ‘critical battery’ to something a little lower. If you’re on a MacBook, install the latest updates and use the Energy Saver section of System Preferences to do the obvious things this menu does. There are myths around laptop battery that have been perpetuated based on a mixture of outdated information and downright stupidity. Don’t, for example, think that leaving your laptop plugged in is going to knacker its battery. Nope! Unless there’s something very wrong with your charging circuit, this is a perfectly safe thing to do. And don’t bother putting an older machine into the freezer to boost its life; there’s the possibility of a slight effect on your battery’s chemistry on a temporary basis, but nothing that’ll last, and the rest of the machine might suffer. Definitely don’t poke holes in your batteries to let air into them, as this also lets the fire out.

ABOVE “Well, I can’t find any rules against it, so…”

Gadget Guru’s magic box What price freedom from infestation? A couple of hundred quid to the rat man, who chuckled at Guru’s rubbish electronic rodent repellers, put down a bunch of dehydrating (and, judging by the noise, absolutely delicious) bait, pointed out the massive hole in GaGu’s garage where the rats were getting in, and made friends with the family’s ineffective cats. By way of an apology to the felines after giving them the blame, Guru bought them a new gadget to ignore: the Frolicat Bolt (£26). It uses its motorised mirror to spang around a laser that they absolutely don’t care about, although to be fair, the manufacturer does say that “an intangible toy does not make for long-lasting fun”. Speaking of intangible toys, Guru’s begrudging purchase of a new clothcovered Amazon Echo (£89)

has caused no end of trouble, mainly because the junior members of the household literally come to blows over which Disney soundtrack should be playing on it at all times. Mary Poppins is winning, but GaGu is pretty sure Alexa’s going to gain sentience at some point and tell the squabbling youths to knock it off. Has constant (well, occasional) access to Alexa changed GaGu’s life? No. But his family’s new collaborative to-do lists have. Clan Guru is using Wunderlist (free, with apps for phones, computers and just about every electronic thing except for blasted Alexa) in combination with the deadly organisational skills and cutting sass of Mrs Guru. Every tiny thing is categorised, tagged, divided and fervently enforced. Should Guru deign to ignore a to-do, a snippy ‘sort your life out’ entry ends up on his personal list. Perfect for getting stuff done and bickering in equal measure.

Kerry Willis, Yeovil

Can I convert my bike to electric? If you’re still pedalling around under your own steam, then you’re really much fitter than Guru, and we salute you for your persistence. For cycle fans of a less enthusiastic nature, now might be the time to switch to e-power. But what if you can’t bear to part with your tried and tested steed? The good news is you can absolutely get that Raleigh Grifter running on battery power, though it’s not the cheapest thing to do. Ecotricity’s kits start at £200, but you’ll want to spend an extra £50 on a switchable 250W/1,000W motor to beat the government’s fun-limiting power restrictions. Then you’ll need a battery: Ecotricity’s £400 pannier rack battery, ugly as it is, is what you’ll want to provide that 1,000W wheel with enough go juice. But fitting properly, so your ride won’t fall to bits at 40mph, will cost you. At which point you’re better off spending the cash on a full ebike.

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Travel & gadget guide

Travel Gadget The

&

guide

Thinking of going somewhere amazing this year? T3 finds you the best hidden gem holiday ideas, and the brilliant tech you’ll need to make the most of your trip Words: Becca Caddy & Tamara Hinson Photography: Neil Godwin

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Travel & gadget guide

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Travel & gadget guide

The

Road Trip

Route 66 is overrated; Some of the world’s best road trips are much closer to home…

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The Euro road trip

fter a 10-year absence, F1 will return to France next summer when the French Grand Prix takes place at the Circuit Paul Ricard (which we tried out – see p84), near Marseille in Provence. And if Lewis Hamilton fancies a slightly less intense drive afterwards, we’ve got the ultimate road trip – the Route Napoleon. This spectacular journey links Golfe Juan and Grenoble, and winds through two of the country’s prettiest regions: ProvenceAlps-Côte d’Azur and Rhône-Alpes. It follows part of the 324-kilometre route taken by Napoleon and his men in 1815, when the exiled French statesman marched from Elba to Grenoble. Equally spectacular (although in a castles, not coastline, sense) is the Romantische Strasse (Romantic Road), which passes through southern Germany. Highlights include the dramatic Neuschwanstein Castle (Disneyland’s version was based on this 19-century fortress) and the historic city of Würzburg, which is surrounded by vineyards. For the sheer diversity of the

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scenery, we recommend driving from Bucharest to Vienna. After leaving Romania’s capital, you will pass through the Carpathian Mountains (home to Bran Castle, said to be Count Dracula’s former digs) before joining the high-altitude Transfăgărășan highway, which Jeremy Clarkson once conquered for an episode of Top Gear. He later described it as “the best road in the world.” After passing though Budapest (spending the night here will allow you to visit its famous ‘ruin’ bars, built into abandoned buildings), you’ll press on to the finish line – the beautiful Austrian capital of Vienna. For something a little closer to home, head to the Atlantic Highway – the road which weaves its way from the UK’s deer-filled Exmoor National Park to Land’s End, the westernmost tip of Cornwall. The highway’s total length comes in at around 240 miles, but this spectacular route isn’t one to be rushed. The best bit? You’ll be driving through some of England’s prettiest villages, which means plenty of opportunities for cream tea fixes.

The essential gear Kit yourself out for fun and safety when it comes to hitting the tarmac

Nintendo Switch

Huawei E5573 4G Mobile Wi-Fi

Thinkware F800 Pro

Nintendo’s latest release is kind of a big deal, because it makes the consolequality gaming experience portable in a compact and colourful design that will keep gamers entertained whether you’re in the living room, the back of a car, on a plane, or at a beach. £329.99, store.nintendo.co.uk

If the thought of not having internet access to entertain the kids on your next road trip makes you feel queasy, you need the Huawei E5573. It offers 4G-powered Wi-Fi for 10 devices everywhere, so just add a SIM with good Euro roaming. £59.99, amazon.co.uk

If you’re driving abroad, it makes sense to be prepared for every eventuality, which is where Thinkware’s latest dash cam comes in. Its CMOS image sensors let you constantly record what’s going on around your car in Full HD, with night vision and GPS to back it up. £349, amazon.co.uk

TomTom Go 6200

STK 5-port Car Charging Hub

NOCO Genius Boost Pro GB150 4000

Location tech specialist TomTom brings us the Go 6200, a state-of-the-art sat nav boasting worldwide mapping smarts, a built-in SIM card and Wi-Fi connectivity, so you’re always in the know about routes and traffic when you’re on the go. £339.99, tomtom.com

No more arguing over who gets to charge their phone. This STK car charging hub boasts five USB ports, and for ultimate convenience, its extension provides two ports in the front of the car and three in the back. £24.99, stklife.com

Breaking down is no fun, but in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language, it can be a real nightmare. Go prepared with this powerful jump starter that’s safe and can provide 80 jump starts on just one charge. £264, no.co F e b r u a r y 2 01 8 T3 3 9


Home

the setup

Each issue, we show you how to set up a key piece of connected-home tech. This month… Ikea Trådfri

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How hot?

There are two kinds of white bulbs in the Trådfri line: a straight dimmable variety, and one that lets you embrace the entire white spectrum. With the latter, you can switch the temperature of your lighting from a cold white, perfect for working, to a warm white, the best option for relaxing in the evening. Tie the temperature change to a timer via the app, and you can go from focused to flopping, automatically.


The Setup

Perfect panels

Three more items in the Ikea catalogue are compatible with the Trådfri system – the Surte and Jormlien LED door panels (£70/£100), which attach to a host of Ikea cabinets for a brighter feel to your kitchen; and the Floalt LED panel (from £50), a less useful but still cool oblong that projects a diffuse light into your room. Like the bulbs, you can add these items in later, and group them to control whole rooms at once.

Illuminate your home with the Swedish giant’s smart-bulb system There’s a wide selection of bulbs and control options on offer Ikea’s ubiquitous reputation as a DIY furniture manufacturer has been almost matched, at least in recent years, by its nous as a lighting supplier. The firm’s low-cost bulbs have converted many homes from compact fluorescent to longer-lasting LED. Now the Swedish giant has taken the next step, entering the world of smart lighting. There’s a wide-ranging selection under its Trådfri banner – individual dimmers, bulbs of different sizes and regions of the white light spectrum, sensors, and smart lighting panels for your furniture – as well as 10-bulb remote controls and, naturally, a router bridge to control the lot via a mobile phone app. And while we’re showing you how to set up the basic gateway kit (£65, including two E27 bulbs, the gateway and a remote) it’s worth pointing out that the most recent firmware makes Trådfri bulbs Zigbee-compatible; if you already have a Hue setup and you’re looking to expand, Trådfri bulbs (which include recently released RGB varieties, although these can’t be bought online outside of a £35 kit) are an inexpensive choice. It’s true that other rival lighting systems are not much more expensive when getting a full bulbs-and-gateway pack, and may have more options – while Ikea’s system is pretty expansive, there are no flood bulbs, and there’s no bayonet-fitting option without a £1 adapter – but the individual bulb price is excellent for doing a whole house, and they work really well. Ikea’s app isn’t the absolute best, compared with its seasoned competitors, but it does work with other smart home control systems. Ikea’s handy twistable dimmers (or ‘steering devices’), which can be tied to individual bulbs by holding them near, are a more handsome and intuitive solution than Philips’ rather ugly four-button remote. And you can get started with smart lighting without investing in a hub: a mere £15 gets you started with a simple bulb and dimmer combo, which you can expand when you’re ready. The other advantage is the super-easy setup process for Trådfri: you could be up and running in 15 minutes – and that includes the time it takes to screw ’em in.

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Home

Smart home surgery Your connected-home queries answered by T3’s experts

Q I’m getting back pain from sitting too long in Emma Dawes, Worcester

my home office. Should I buy a standing desk?

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Claire Davies replies: Adjustable desks that enable you to adopt a standing position are a good first step, Emma, but they’re not a complete solution. Before we go further, have you checked in with your osteopath or GP? It’s advisable to explore any pain you’re experiencing with a healthcare professional. You may also want to check out the Upright Go (£79.99, uprightgo. com), a wearable posture monitor that

prompts you (via a gentle vibration) to straighten when you begin slumping over. If you’re very sedentary, an adjustable desk can help you replace sitting with standing at various periods of your working day, enabling you to stretch and even walk on the spot. Dr Keith Diaz, co-author of a new study from Columbia University Medical Center on sedentary lifestyles, recommends moving about every 30 minutes or so. That could

involve walking on the spot, or popping to the kitchen to put the kettle on. One great option is the IQ Sit-Stand Desk by BakkerElkhuzien (£1,499, bakkerelkhuizen.co.uk), an advanced adjustable desk that works with Work & Move SitStand software that coaches you to move. If you want to try an adjustable desk, Varidesk (varidesk.com) has a range starting from £150 for a spring-assisted, rising laptop stand called the Soho.

send your questions to: inbox@t3.com or www.facebook.com/T3mag 62 T3 F e b r u a r y 2 01 8


Smart home surgery

Q Are there any apps that can Jamie Weeks, Brighton

help me redesign my home?

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Q My Amazon Jim Shipton, Carlisle

Matt Bolton replies: Good timing, Jamie – IKEA recently launched IKEA Place, an augmented reality iOS app that enables you to discover how different products will look in your home before you buy them. The catch? The app only covers IKEA products, but if you love the company’s style, you’ll have hours of fun. All of the 2,000+ products on IKEA Place are true to scale, giving you an immediate idea of what furniture will work best in your space. You can also share the image for a second opinion before buying. That sharing function is also offered by Amikasa (iOS, Windows). This 3D

floorplanner and room designer app enables you to digitally build and decorate rooms using furniture, flooring and wall colours from real brands. Begin by choosing your room shape, such as rectangular or L-shape, or create a custom floor plan. From there you can set the dimensions and decorate your space, exploring colour combinations and flooring materials, and dropping furniture from Amikasa’s catalogue into your digital room to see how it would look in real life. If apps don’t have the exact piece of furniture you’re interested in, choosing the closest alternative, in terms of size and colour, can still help you plan your home redesign.

Echo Plus is ignoring me. What gives?

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Nick Odantzis replies: You’re not the first person to feel misunderstood by Alexa. While Amazon’s Echo Plus is an impressive smart speaker, it isn’t foolproof, so you will run into occasional problems. When you say your Echo Plus is ignoring you, do you mean Alexa doesn’t respond at all or that she does, but not in the way you want? If it’s the former, make sure your Echo Plus is connected to Wi-Fi. If it isn’t, it won’t work properly – it can’t answer questions, process requests or stream media. Placement is a factor in how well the speaker performs. Amazon recommends placing the Echo Plus eight inches away from walls or other objects that may cause interference, such as baby monitors or microwaves. It isn’t a good idea to crowd your Echo Plus with knick-knacks and other tech, either, nor to leave it on the floor. Alexa may also have trouble hearing you if your Echo Plus is placed next to a noisy air conditioner or dehumidifier. Getting specific will also help Alexa understand more clearly what you want her to do – via the Alexa app, check to see what she heard compared to what you actually said. To help Alexa become more accustomed to your voice, use the app’s Voice Training feature, during which you’ll read aloud 25 phrases aloud in a ‘typical voice from a typical distance’ so that Alexa can better understand you.

Motion sensor heaters

Make any appliance smart with an easy upgrade Not every room or space in your home needs to be constantly heated, further hiking up your energy bills. Portable motion sensor heaters are handy for warming up conservatories, dining rooms, spare bedrooms, utility rooms and outside work spaces, and will only turn on when you walk into that room, pumping out instant heat, then switch off when you leave. These standalone motion sensor heaters are available from brands including Honeywell, with its Digital Ceramic Tower Heater, and Meaco, which recently launched a new range called MeacoHeat Motion. There are two models available: a smaller 1.8kW heater (£79.99) designed with two output levels to save energy, plus a one-toseven hour timer and fan-only mode for summer; and a larger 2.0kW heater (£99.99) with added oscillation to distribute heat across a 60-degree arc.

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State of the Art

Luxury 4K laptops Time for an upgrade? Don’t skimp: you need next‑gen computing with a next-gen screen Words: Alex Cox Photography: Neil Godwin

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What’s on test…

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Razer Blade Pro 4K A gamer’s dream 4K machine, filled with the highest-end components and taken to the absolute extreme of mobile performance. £3,799, razerzone.com

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HP Spectre 13 4K Distinctly thin, incredibly light, and surprisingly powerful, HP’s latest revision of its Spectre laptop goes 4K with style. £1,599, hp.com

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MSI GS73VR 7RF Stealth Pro 4K 4K gaming and performance muscle in a slightly more affordable – but no less luxurious – package. £1,999, msi.com


Luxury 4K laptops

ime to start seeing things differently. The rise of 4K screen tech has been impossible to miss, but it’s too good to leave in the corner of the lounge. Transplanted into the smaller screen size of laptop panels, 4K means a whole new visual experience. But it’s taken its time turning up. 4K laptops aren’t yet the norm, so if you’re looking for resolution today, look towards the high end. This isn’t a case of 4K screens being scarce. Indeed, factory upgrades mean 4K panels of

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all shapes and sizes are now abundant. The sluggish takeup of 4K in laptops is more of a power issue: driving a 4K screen properly needs strong processing power. You might expect to run games at full resolution, and end up sorely disappointed when your shiny new laptop can’t keep up with the pace – and 4K means a very real hit to battery life. And, realistically, 4K’s visual upgrades can be hard to discern, and add a slight price premium. When it comes to laptops for the masses, Full HD will often do.

For the tech cognoscenti, though, the drawbacks don’t outweigh the benefits. The visual clarity of a 4K screen in computer use can’t be beat. Text is smoother, images are sharper, and there’s more logical (if not physical) room for multiple windows and applications. Photo editing and video editing at full resolution is an absolute joy, and if you’re shooting in 4K it makes no sense to downscale the fruits of your labour. Plus, the fact that 4K is the premium option means it’s attached to premium hardware…

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State of the Art test 01:

Razer Blade Pro 4K

DESIGN Three machines with three different builds – there’s something for everyone efore we tackle the big boys, let’s single out the little gem: the incredibly slight Spectre is a design and engineering marvel. Retaining the super-slimline form of earlier iterations, it’s about the same size as an A4 magazine, both in thickness and in edge-toedge dimensions. It’s flat and clean, making a statement not with bright bling, but by being calm, cool, focused and really small. The Spectre’s screen hinges up over a bump at the rear, revealing a keyboard that, despite the base being only slightly thicker than the screen itself, has a decent amount of travel and a comfortable feel. There are certainly compromises here – notably the fact that you’ll need a dongle to expand beyond the Spectre’s three on-board USB-C ports – but we’re inclined to forgive them. The Razer Blade Pro is very different. It’s massive, incorporating a 17-inch panel, and forgoes slender electronics in favour of big, aggressive components and the cooling they require – truly the other side of the premium

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The incredibly slight Spectre is a design and engineering marvel coin. Not that it’s immensely thick, though. Everything’s packed into a 22mm aluminium shell that weighs in at a shoulder-wrenching 3.54kg. The extra width afforded by that screen means the Blade Pro’s trackpad has been moved, unusually, to the right edge of the keyboard to make it gamer-friendly (for right-handers, at least), and everything’s infused with Razer’s Chroma RGB lighting. The keyboard has its own distinct flair, using low-profile mechanical switches for a tactile, noisy click that feels very desktop. MSI’s GS73VR isn’t unreasonable in its specifications, but it’s no performance slouch despite sporting a slimmer profile than the Blade Pro. Made of cool brushed aluminium alloy, it’s a lot lighter than its 17-inch rival, coming in at 2.4kg, although its design is arguably less appealing, and aluminium’s lightness has a trade-off in terms of strength. The deep-travel SteelSeries-made keyboard, feels great, although we could do without the every-letter-looks-identical gamer font. 6 8 T3 F e b r u a r y 2 01 8

The Chroma-lit keyboard of the Blade Pro looks impressive and feels like no other, thanks to its custom mechanism

Specs CPU Overclocked Intel Core i7-7820HK (2.9GHz / 3.9GHz / 4.3GHz) Graphics Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 (8GB GDDR5X) RAM 32GB dual-channel DDR4 (2667MHz) Screen 17.3”, 4K (3840x2160) multi-touch IZGO Storage 512GB SSD RAID 0 (2x 256GB PCIe M.2) Ports SDXC card reader, Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C), 3x USB 3.0, HDMI 2.0, combo audio Connectivity Killer Wireless-AC 1535 (802.11a/b/g/n/ac + Bluetooth 4.1), Killer E2500 (Gigabit Ethernet 10/100/1000) Camera 2MP webcam Weight 3.49kg dimensions 42.4x28.1x2.25cm

TEST 01: WInner

HP Spectre 13 4K Just about the most luxurious laptop package you’re likely to find, awkward ports and all. We’re not sure how so much was packed into such little space


Luxury 4K laptops HP Spectre 13 4K

MSI GS73VR 7RF Stealth Pro 4K

BEST FOR DESIGN

The Spectre 13 4K’s display has minimal bezels, and it’s incredibly thin, even for a compact laptop like this

MSI’s technicolour styling won’t be for everyone, but it’s certainly thematic – and the keyboard feels great to use

Specs

Specs

CPU Intel Core i7-8550U (1.8GHz) Graphics Intel UHD Graphics 620 RAM 8GB SDRAM (2133MHz) Screen 13.3-inch, 4K (3840x2160) micro-edge multi-touch IPS Storage 256GB PCIe SSD Ports 2x Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.1 Type-C Gen 1, combo audio Connectivity Intel 802.11b/g/n/ac (2x2) Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.2 Camera HP Wide Vision HD Camera with dual-array digital microphone Weight 1.11kg dimensions 305x224x104mm

CPU Intel Core i7-7700HQ (2.8GHz) Graphics Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB GDDR5) RAM 16GB DDR4 (2400MHz) Screen 17.3-inch, 4K (3840x2160) IPS level panel Storage 256GB PCIe SSD, 2TB HDD (7200rpm) Ports HDMI 2.0, 3x USB 3.0, USB 3.1, USB 3.1 Type-C, Thunderbolt 3, Mini DisplayPort, combo audio Connectivity Killer Wireless-AC 1535 (802.11a/b/g/n/ ac + Bluetooth 4.1), Killer E2500 (Gigabit Ethernet 10/100/1000) Camera 1080p webcam Weight 2.43kg dimensions 41.18x28.49x1.96cm

Future shrinking Will we one day see proper graphics cards that fit within the space of the Spectre? It looks like the tech is on its way…

The insane power of the Razer Blade Pro means it’s a bulky beast, but gaming machines are currently in the midst of a size revolution. Nvidia’s Max-Q tech (a name co-opted from NASA, where it refers to the point at which the aerodynamic stress on a rocket in the atmosphere hits its peak) shrinks the company’s Pascal graphics technology

down to three times thinner than before and, when used in properly engineered systems, it can even run quieter and cooler. You can get Max-Q laptops right now – the £2,799 Asus ROG Zephyrus being the most prominent – but expect the increase in GPU-hungry 4K screens and an eventual price drop to take the technology more mainstream before too long.

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Exclusive interview

“Our

goal most best is not to be

but to be the Apple’s Phil Schiller talks hits, delays and the future Words: Dan Grabham 76 T3 F e b r u a r y 2 01 8


Xxxxxx

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Interview

“We knew it was no small thing to decide to replace Touch ID” nterviewing tech company executives is something of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you can expect them to be right on message with the company line. On the other, you can expect some insights that those further down the chain would feel beyond their station. And so when I was invited to meet Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, I went to the London apartment where our meeting was due to take place with some excitement about our discussion, which spanned some 40 minutes and a whole host of topics. Among other things, we talked about the new iMac Pro, Apple’s move into AR, the delay to HomePod and the process to get to iPhone X. It’s on that latter topic that we begin, with Schiller characteristically enthused. “It’s probably the boldest of the things we’ve done – thinking back to the start when the teams started working on [the device] and made proposals of some of the things we would ultimately do with the technology. “At the time, at the beginning, it seemed almost impossible. Not just almost. It seemed impossible. And to pull off what feels impossible and make it possible – and not only that, but just something we love using – is just a great achievement. “Clearly there was a point in the process where we had to commit to the fact that it would be a full top-to-bottom screen on the front with no home button, which means you’re counting on Face ID working as we’d hope, and being as good. “That’s an exciting moment, when you have to sort of… the old saying: ‘Burn the boats. Leave the past behind, and commit.’ Knowing that the team was willing to make that gamble was a key point early enough in the process.”

I

7 8 T3 F e b r u a r y 2 01 8

We mention that we were surprised the learning curve for the iPhone X gestures was unexpectedly short. “One of the things I find is that often with technology, it’s not the first try that tells you and informs you how it’ll be like to live with it, what it means to use it, how well you adapt to it; it’s the first time you set it up as your own. That’s when you really judge: what does this mean?” tech it out “Most people are comfortable with it within minutes – 30 minutes, whatever. It’s not the kind of thing you have to live with for a week or two to get used to. It doesn’t mean… you know, we’ve still got muscle memory sometimes and we might try to do something and we remember, ‘Oh no, that’s not how you do it’ - you want to swipe up on an iPhone 8 or 7, or on an iPad, and no, it doesn’t work that way. That, to me, is always the sign of some or our most advanced, best thought-out technology: they become intuitive incredibly quickly and change how you think about everything else you use.

Schiller acknowledges that Apple “knew what we had” with the Touch ID fingerprint sensor and that it knew what it had created with the home button through the years. “We knew it was no small thing to decide to replace that.” He adds that Apple believed it could make something people would love in its place, and would have even bigger potential over time. I say to Schiller that we’ve been surprised at how good Face ID is for Apple Pay. “Yes. That was on a long list of things we knew we had to deliver. The home button, at the beginning, really did one thing. Maybe two. It woke up your screen, and then it let you go to the home screen from any app. And then over the years, we’ve layered on many uses – the multitasking capabilities, evoking Siri, you being able to use it for Apple Pay, creating Touch ID. So Face ID had a much harder job for its first version than the home button had for its first version.” Apple notoriously doesn’t talk about products in advance (unless it’s the 2018 Mac Pro, when it did), but regardless I ask


Phil Schiller

whether Face ID could appear in more Apple products beyond phones (laptops and the iMac seem like an obvious option)? “We try not to get ahead of ourselves,” says Schiller with the look of someone who may have been asked this question before. “While we have many plans throughout the year for many things, we also are realists in that we need to create something, and that we need to make it great, and that we need to study, and we need to learn… all the user cases all around the world from everybody in every situation, before we then imagine some of the other things we might do.” team spirit We move on to talk about one of Apple’s strengths, the relationship between the hardware and the software and why that’s vital to Apple as a company. “It’s a very important thing. It’s something we think a lot about. It’s something that we have appreciated about the culture of Apple as a company, and something that we’ve actually worked to enhance as well. “One of the great things Tim [Cook] has done is to recognise the power of collaborative work at Apple; he encourages us all to really take advantage of that; and to not only work together, but to imagine things in our products that would not be possible had it not been for that collaboration. And those then turn into strengths that, as customers, we all benefit from. “That simple idea has extended to how you can walk up to your Mac, and it unlocks it from your Watch. It’s actually using very complex, speed-oflight calculations between the internet and your devices to understand proximity and privacy of whose device it is. So it’s very advanced technology, but with a very simple benefit. “Products [like] AirPods and Pencil could not work were it not for hardware and software and chip teams and radio teams, all working together to make something happen. And I think the latest feature that’s the result of this collaboration is Face ID. “Other companies certainly have had the vision of ‘Can you unlock something with someone’s face?’ but no one [has] actually delivered technology as advanced and capable and ubiquitous and consumerfriendly as Face ID. And that is the direct result of this collaboration, and how these teams work for years together on a simple powerful idea with all that technology. Our discussion progresses onto other products. I had on my list to talk about

AirPods, but Schiller wants to talk in detail about them before I’ve had chance to ask. “So frequently, I talk to customers who say, ‘My favourite product Apple has ever made are AirPods.’ And that’s just a really nice thing to hear. I love when customers respond that one of their favourite product is something this simple, and yet so much work went into it. “At the surface level, it’s an incredibly simple product. But the reality is it’s actually an incredibly complex product to make. Each AirPod really is its own computer, running software and hardware. And those two computers need to deliver this very clear experience that you want, and they have to work together, because we’re very attuned to synchronisation in audio as a species. “One of our favourite features is just the idea that you take it out and the music stops – you put it back in and it keeps going again. Again, that’s a simple idea, but took a lot of engineering to make it work quickly,

reliably, for all of us in all different ear sizes and different situations. And they have to work with this iPhone that may be in your pocket or your bag. And as you know, our bodies are big bags of water, which are really bad for radio signals to get through. “When we designed the AirPods, we were designing them partly with Apple Watch [Series 3] in mind. The idea that you can have, one day, a cellular experience on your watch [with] your AirPods.” One of the things Apple Watch excels at is fitness tracking, and I suggest to Schiller that we were impressed with how well the AirPods stay in when running with them, even if they’re not fitness headphones per se. “We all went through the same learning curve, which is: we expect them to not stay in that well. We’re surprised when they do, and then you realise, ‘I had no idea that the cables were having such an effect on how things stay in my ears’ and that when you remove the cable, there’s a bigger difference than we thought – both as a design team, the customers as we all use them; most of everybody goes through that realisation.”

“One of the great things Tim has done is to recognise the power of collaborative work at Apple”

No competition I move on to talk about the evolving relationship between the Mac and iPad Pro. Is the iPad Pro really the PC replacement it was touted as? Or is it rather a supplementary device to the Mac? “What we’ve learned, truthfully, is that it’s both, and that depends on the user,” says Schiller. “For some people, iPad Pro is a replacement for their computer. Not that you throw away your computer. People don’t do that. “But that it becomes your primary computing device. The way you mostly hear about this is people say, ‘I use a computer at my desk’ or ‘I use a notebook at my desk, but when I travel, I travel just with my iPad Pro’. It is so great in that situation. “So for those customers, the iPad has become their primary device, but they don’t think of it in their brains as competing with their previous computer. It’s just the computer they spend the most time with. “And then there are other customers who augment their computer experience. They use their computer a lot, but they also use an iPad for a task that it is clearly far better for than their computer. “I think that people love to watch movies on their iPad more than they do on a computer. People like to read on their iPad better than on their computer. “So depending on what those tasks are, for those customers they’re augmenting.

F e b r u a r y 2 01 8 T3 7 9


Man vs Tech

T3 vs F1

Circuit training

When Renault Sport F1 invited us to drive one of their Formula 1 cars we were excited – and worried. Could we really do it? Words: Dan Grabham

The Mission When Renault Sport asked us to come to France and test drive an F1 sports car, we couldn’t quite believe it. Did they really mean we’d be behind the wheel of a genuine F1 monster? And did they really mean ‘on our own’? As it turned out, yes we could and yes they did. However, that raised other questions, like who could possibly take on this task (who isn’t too tall to fit in the cockpit)? This was a job for T3.com’s intrepid Editor, Dan Grabham.


Circuit training

man tech

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Man vs F1

he 7am minibus rolled up to my hotel at Le Castellet, around 40km from Marseille in the south of France. Today was the day I drove an F1 car. It was a bleary-eyed start, but I changed into my overalls along with around 10 other willing participants. We’d be driving Formula Renault 2.0 cars in the morning (think: a step below Formula 3), among various other activities to get us prepared, followed by several laps in the Formula 1 car after lunch – providing we made the grade in the morning. First was a drivers’ briefing to learn about a few things we needed to be aware of regarding safety, and by 8am we were in a minibus going around the circuit for the first time, learning the layout. Back indoors, we loosened up with some gentle exercises followed by a briefing on the FR 2.0 cars. We were then sent off in the car in groups of three or four with a pace car in front. The pace car got gradually faster, and it was quite a challenge to get used to the Formula Renault car at first. After a Batak fitness/agility training session to test our reaction time, we were sent out again in the FR 2.0 car before an exercise to help us visualise the track. We had to ‘think’ our way around the track and compare the resulting time to our actual time in the car. The telemetry from our morning driving was analysed, which didn’t exactly look great: we weren’t accelerating hard enough and therefore not having to brake hard enough either. Still, having shown our natural talent (or, at least, basic competence), the instructor sent us through for our F1

T

RIGHT Dan studies the telemetry from the morning driving session FAR RIGHT Tucked into the cockpit, and nearly ready to go (once that steering wheel’s in, maybe)

8 6 T3 f e br u ary 2 017

seat fitting – at last we were about to sit in the car! The seating position is so low it feels unnatural – you’re almost lying down, and it’s extremely weird hardly being able to see over the top of the dash. are you ready? The brake pedal is so stiff it feels like it’s not a pedal at all. You really need to stamp on it to get it to work. As we found out later, the brakes are tremendously effective, but when real F1 drivers are going at full pelt they have to apply a Herculean amount of pressure to the pedal to slow the machine down. After lunch at around 1pm we were into the F1 briefing. This bit made

indeed. I was glad to be one of the first primarily because I didn’t want to wait around getting more and more nervous over time. To be honest, after all the talk about the clutch, I was most concerned about messing that up. I really didn’t want to stall the car in the pit lane (which someone did, while someone else misjudged the first corner meaning the circuit’s lorry had to be deployed for rescue). I stepped into the car and was strapped in so tightly I really wasn’t sure I’d be able to breathe well enough. Then came the familiar noise from so many Sunday afternoons watching F1: the wheel guns crashing into life as the tyres went on.

i stepped into the car and was strapped in so tightly i wasn’t sure i’d be able to breathe properly driving the car sound daunting, not least because of the clutch. The clutch on an F1 car is a paddle on the back of the steering wheel (there are actually two clutch paddles on modern F1 cars for a more precise start). The main question in my head at this point was about gearing – even when the instructor suggested gears that we should take some of the corners in, I was still worried about remembering what gear to be in at what time. Straight after the briefing, I was told I would be one of the first two people in the F1 car. A very exciting moment

The engineers rolled me out into the pit lane on a set of dolly wheels, and then turned me to face the end of the pit lane. Gulp… burning rubber Under the instruction of the race engineer, who was also standing in the pit lane speaking to me over the intercom, I was told to select first gear and then told to let the clutch out – again warning me to do it very slowly. As I did so the car moved forward and I accelerated. But not as much as I needed to. I realised that if I stayed


Circuit training

“I love these pedalpowered go-karts!” (Dan’s in for a surprise)

The car

The same V8s raced in F1 by Kimi Räikkönen and Romain Grosjean The F1 cars used are V8s from the 2012 FIA Formula One World Championship and are now Renault Sport F1 demonstration cars. They are speed limited – not that we ever hit it! – and the cars were originally raced under the Lotus name by Kimi Räikkönen and Romain Grosjean. We drove Grosjean’s old car, which usually resides on the right of the garage. These retired cars come with two articulated lorries and their own crew. The crew are a mixture of people who’ve retired from going around the world with the main F1 team, and several enthusiastic youngsters hoping to make the grade and step up to going on F1 race weekends regularly. f e br u ary 2 01 8 T3 87


Tested

THE DESIGN AWARD

THE DESIGN AWARD

Price From £1,499 Processor 1.9GHz quadcore Intel Core i7-8650U Graphics Intel UHD Graphics 620; Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 RAM 16GB LPDDR3 Screen 13.5”, 3000x2000 Storage 1TB Connectivity 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.1, USB 3.1, USB-C, 3.5mm audio Dimensions 31x23x1.5-2.3cm

premium pc

Microsoft Surface Book 2 Could this wonderful 13.5-inch laptop be the best you can get?

From £1,499 microsoft.com icrosoft has debuted a 15-inch version of the Surface Book 2, which is out in the US and is coming to the UK this year. But thankfully, the 13.5-inch edition has already made it to these shores. The Surface range has always been designed to showcase what Windows is capable of – and to take the fight for high-performance mobile computing to Apple. Microsoft has made no secret of the fact it’s targeting Apple’s creative heartland, and the success and usefulness of the Surface Pen is a big part of this assault. The Surface Book 2 is very much a follow-up to the original, but the landscape for Surface devices has changed a little now that Surface Laptop has arrived. Surface Laptop is a Surface Book for those who just want a laptop, leaving Surface Book 2 free of any traditional bonds to target those who want a laptop and a kick-ass Windows tablet they can use with Surface Pen. It’s a jack-of-alltrades, with complete versatility to go alongside awesome power.

M

9 2 T3 f e b r u a r y 2 01 8


Surface Book 2

colouring in Colours are brilliantly vibrant, and we love the display’s 3000x2000 resolution and 1600:1 contrast ratio

mode of choice The device offers four distinct modes: laptop, tablet, studio, and a viewing mode for streaming or doing presentations

These devices take the two-in-one convertible concept to the nth degree; they’re most certainly not like the Surface or Surface Pro. And if you remember Surface RT, well, we’re surprised Microsoft hasn’t been round to wash your brain of the memory, Men in Black-style. For our money, the 15-incher is too big. You simply don’t need a tablet that size, and it’s too big to be truly portable. Because of its unusual thickness – thanks to the unique hinge – it’s already a little bit of a struggle to get this laptop into a bag that’s specifically designed to be able to take a 13-inch laptop. While Surface Book 2 is similar to the original version, there are two big differences for us. The first is a beneath-the-surface tweak: the Core i5 version of the laptop now features fanless cooling. The Core i7 version still needs active cooling due to its greater power consumption (as do all models of the 15-inch). Second, the heft has decreased slightly with this new model. It’s 312x232x13mm (at its thinnest part),

so Surface Book 2 is slightly smaller and thinner than its predecessor, and it weighs 1.6kg compared to the original’s 2kg. Surface Book’s main issue is that it feels bulky compared to many thin and light laptops around at the moment – most notably the super-thin MacBook Pro.

Fulcrum hinge At 15mm, the MacBook Pro is slightly thicker than the Surface Book 2 is at its thinnest point; but while the MacBook Pro is uniform throughout, the Surface Book 2’s hinge means it’s much thicker in that area thanks to the fulcrum type arrangement. You do get used to it, though, and it enables you to position the screen at some pleasingly jaunty angles. However, rivals such as Dell and Lenovo have managed to produce clever laptops that don’t require such massive hinges. Surface Book 2 is definitely a performance proposition, with a price tag to match. The base model isn’t too bad, but given it doesn’t have a dedicated GPU, you would be

The 13.5-inch Surface Book 2 has a full keyboard, trackpad plus touchscreen

forgiven for thinking you need the upgraded model – which costs £500 more. That’s a hell of a leap.

Comparisons The base-level Surface Book 2 13.5-inch model gives you a seventhgeneration Intel Core i5 CPU, 8GB RAM, 256GB and an integrated GPU, for £1,499. By comparison, the Dell XPS 13 costs a lot less but admittedly doesn’t feature the same level of components. It starts at £999 for a dual-core Intel Core i3 CPU, the same RAM and around half the storage – with a Full HD InfinityEdge screen. Then there’s an XPS 13 with the latest-gen Intel Core i7 CPU, the same RAM and storage as the Surface Book 2, plus an Nvidia GTX 1050 GPU with 2GB GDDR5 memory – for £1,999. Meanwhile £2,499 gets you one with 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD and an Nvidia GTX 1050 GPU. The top configuration costs £2,999 for the same processor and RAM, but with a whopping 1TB SSD and a GTX 1050. A better XPS 13 model comes with an Intel Core i7 processor, 3200x1800 f e b r u a r y 2 01 8 T3 9 3


ReMarkable

quite simply

ReMarkable It’s a low-tech poster tablet, but is the ReMarkable too simple? £579 remarkable.com igital detox. That’s not a phrase you’d expect to see in T3, yet it goes hand-in-hand with the ReMarkable, a low-tech tablet aimed at paper lovers craving a digital sketching, reading and writing experience. In an age of digital overwhelm the ReMarkable focuses on work/ study without distractions – save for Wi-Fi to transfer files, it’s an internet-free zone. With the ReMarkable you can read, create, store and transfer documents, notebooks and ebooks (ePub, PDF), though heavy users will chew through the 8GB of memory. You can also bookmark pages, make notes and sketch with the responsive Marker stylus. We love the 10.3-inch Canvas touchscreen display, with its push-button page turners, but creating and transferring files was a mixed bag; the software was glitchy; reading isn’t as dynamic as it is on an e-reader; and we were unable to email bigger notebooks. Writing on the ReMarkable, however, is pure joy, complete with scratchy, ‘pencil on paper’ sound. A lack of blue light means it suits bedtime use, too. The ReMarkable is a niche device that’s desperate to bin your consumption of paper and help you work more effectively, without suffering digital overwhelm. At the high price we were expecting a smoother performance, but it’s still one of the sleekest, most promising bits of eco and mindfulness tech right now.

D

Verdict We’re impressed True paper-like experience; long battery life. We’d improve There’s no back- or front-light; and that price! The last word Only serious digital paper lovers need apply.

Check out reviews of the best tablets at T3.com: bit.ly/2qVzMWa

f e b r u a r y 2 01 8 T3 9 7


Competition

win! A Genelec high-end 2.1 stereo setup – with Learn to Play day 2018! We’ve teamed up with Learn to Play Day to offer sweetsounding stereo speakers with a powerful subwoofer There are few things cooler and more satisfying in life than the ability to play a musical instrument, but we know it can be a bit daunting to get started. That’s why we’ve teamed up with Learn to Play Day to offer a brilliant Genelec speaker system, to promote the FREE music lessons you can get all over the country on 17 and 18 March 2018! Over 100 music shops up and down the country are participating by holding totally free music lessons for absolutely anyone – 2017’s Learn to Play Day delivered over 12,000 taster lessons in locations such as shops, schools and studios. And Music for All, the charity behind Learn to Play Day (backed by the likes of Rick Wakeman, Jools Holland and Rick Astley), is aiming to make 2018 even bigger and better! The local venues across the UK will be holding introductions to a wide range of music instruments, from the classic to the modern, as well as workshops, demonstrations, and maybe even the odd appearance by local rock stars. Find out where you can go for a lesson near you at learntoplayday.com! Of course, if you want to learn an instrument, you’re probably already a music lover, so we’re giving away a pair of Genelec G2 active speakers and an F1 subwoofer. These are made using the same professional-level tech in Genelec’s speakers used for recording and broadcast the world over. These home versions are just as good, but easier to set up, and because the amplifier and speakers are all integrated, they’re just plug-and-play to get truly epic, crystalclear sound quality. For more information about these speakers, visit genelec.com To enter, simply answer the following question:

Which of these musicians is connected with Learn to play day’s charity? Ricky Martin Rick Astley Marilyn Manson Enter today at: bit.ly/t3genelec

Worth

£1,527

TOTAL!

The competition closes 15 March 2018. By taking part, you agree to be bound by the competition rules: futureplc.com/competition-rules. Entries must be received by midnight on 15 March 2018 (UK time). Open to UK residents aged 18 years and over. There will be one winner, entitled to two Genelec G2 speakers, and one Genelec F1 subwoofer. The prize is non-transferable and non-refundable. There is no cash alternative.

f e b r u a r y 2 01 8 T3 101


Best of the best best of…

Entertainment

However serious you are about your TV, movies and gaming setups, we’ve got the perfect buys for a tricked-out living room OLED 4K TV

Value 4K TV Sony A1 Series Incredible 4K HDR is only a tiny part of this awesome package. The panel (55- or 65-inch) and bezel are super-slim, it offers lightning response times, and great sound comes from a screen that’s also a speaker. From £2,800, sony.co.uk

Top-end 4K TV

HiSense N6800 This is some serious 4K quality for the price, with vibrant colours and HDR support, excellent detail, and a wealth of smart features. The design is sharp, and it comes in 50-, 55-, 65- or 75-inch sizes. From £549, hisense.co.uk

4K HDR projector Loewe bild 9 Loewe creates art just as much as it does high-end AV equipment, and its towering, sculptural bild 9 TV is as attractive as it is exquisitely powerful, with a hidden soundbar and top picture quality. £8,990, loewe.tv

Value 4K Blu-ray player

Optoma UHZ65 This projector brings cinema-like laser 4K projector to the home for an affordable price, meaning giant-screen Ultra HD detail with the richness of HDR. It’s unbeatable for home movie magic. £4,999, acer.com

Top-end 4K Blu-ray player

Xbox One S Yes, this is primarily a games console, but it’s a damn good UHD Blu-ray player too. Why pay more for something that just plays discs when you could be getting your game on with the money left over? £199, microsoft.com

4K streamer

Panasonic DMP-UB900 Clean lines, great software design and the processing power to create simply the best 4K picture you’ll get from a UHD disc. If you’re building a serious collection, this is the serious player for you. £600, panasonic.com

Universal remote Amazon Fire TV with 4K Ultra HD The new super-small Fire TV 4K offers Ultra HD movies with HDR support, as well as Dolby Atmos 3D audio where supported, for a seriously cinematic experience from a tiny box. £69, amazon.co.uk

TV soundbar

AV receiver Q Acoustics M3 This brilliant soundbar offers balanced drivers, room-filling sound and an integrated subwoofer. Massive audio in a small, attractive bar, ideal for adding cinematic sound, with no messing around. £299, qacoustics.co.uk

Portable games console Nintendo Switch Not the most powerful current-gen console, but with Nintendo’s legendary games line-up and the flexibility to play in stacks of different control configurations, it’s the best portable machine you can buy. £279, nintendo.com 10 6 T3 F e b r u a r y 2 01 8

Logitech Harmony Elite A dual-purpose remote, as at home in your hands as it is sat in the corner of your living room, controlling everything from your TV to your lighting. You can even control it from a phone app! £279, logitech.com

MArantz NR1608 Small enough for any set-up but packing in features, this receiver offers 7.2-channel surround, Dolby Atmos and DTS:X 3D audio, eight 4K 60Hz HDMI ports, Wi-Fi music playback and smart 4K upscaling. £595, marantz.co.uk

4K games console Xbox One X The most powerful console ever is a true technical marvel, capable of astonishing graphics in native 4K and HDR, and Dolby Atmos 3D sound. It even includes highquality 4K Blu-ray playback. £449, xbox.com/en-gb


Best of the best best of…

Audio

From wireless convenience to audiophile heaven, this is the gear you need to make the most of your favourite music Multi-room speakers

Wi-Fi speaker

Sonos One Pound for pound, this is a hell of a lot of speaker for your money, easily filling a room, and expandable through the versatile Sonos speaker range. Built-in Alexa support clinches it for Sonos. £199, sonos.com

Portable Bluetooth speaker

Naim Mu-so It’s expensive, but there just isn’t a better sounding or looking wireless speaker for the price. The sound is monumentally excellent, and it supports a solid range of streaming options. £1,199, naimaudio.com

Wireless over-ear headphones

Cambridge Audio yoyo M These portable speakers are made for wireless stereo sound and come as a pair (though you can use one on its own). They offer punchy audio in an impressively wide sound field, and look great, too. £299, cambridgeaudio.com

Wireless in-ear headphones

Bowers & Wilkins PX These stylish headphones are also technical marvels, boasting adjustable noise cancellation via an app. They pause automatically when you take them off, last ages, and sound absolutely fantastic. £329, bowers-wilkins.co.uk

wired over-ear headphones

Flares Pro These headphones plug into a mini-DAC you need to clip about your person, but the result is truly amazing sound for the size. It’s audiophile stuff, with beautiful stereo channel separation. £349, flareaudio.com

wired in-ear headphones

Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 The around-ear version of Sennheiser’s brilliant range offers supreme comfort, good portability thanks to a folding design, and – most importantly – fantastic sound quality in all situations. £127, en-uk.sennheiser.com

Portable hi-res player

SENNHEISER MOMENTUM M2IE The M2IE boast fantastically detailed sound, plenty of bass and dedicated versions for both iOS and Android. They’re comfortable too, and impossible to beat for the price. £70, en-uk.sennheiser.com

Astell & Kern Kann A substantial audio device at nearly 300g, but one that does incredible things. It’s a DAC in its own right, it’s an astonishing high-res player, and its massive battery will keep you rocking for days on end. £899, astellnkern.com

Bookshelf speakers

Hi-fi streamer

Wharfedale Diamond 220 These are great value, yet offer up 13cm Kevlar mid/bass drivers, deep-dish tweeters and outstandingly punchy sound. Place them next to a wall for the strongest output from the rear-set bass port. £179 (pair), wharfedale.co.uk

Naim Uniti Atom An immensely stylish streamer with a great screen, that’s compatible with a host of music streaming services. It’ll play anything on your network and via Chromecast, AirPlay and Bluetooth aptX. £1,999, naimaudio.com

Hi-fi stereo amp Cambridge Audio Azur 851A Nine easily selected inputs and Cambridge Audio’s own patented Class XD amplifier design combine to make this a truly unique and special amp, one that can stand up to any musical test. £1,400, cambridgeaudio.com

Turntable Marantz TT5005 Not a looker, but when it comes to practicality and sound, the TT5005’s automatic tone arm and moving magnet cartridge are unparalleled. It even includes a pre-amp for amps without phono input. £169, marantz.co.uk F e b r u a r y 2 01 8 T3 107


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