amazon echo Show vs echo spot hands-on
Samsung Galaxy s9
…leads our look at the year's most desirable tech – discover the gadgets you need right now
A 4K OLED TV worth
next-gen 4K TVs • smart assistants AR Glasses • connected fitness Electric vehicles • robot helpers
The best new tech heading your way Edited by Claire Davies
Samsung Galaxy S9 From £739, samsung.com
Sometimes the smallest changes have the biggest impact, a notion Samsung is seemingly throwing its weight behind with the Galaxy S9. At first glance, it’s easy to assume that Samsung’s new flagship smartphone is little more than a refined version of last year’s S8, with an almost identical hardware suite packed into a lush slab of metal and glass. Look closer, however, and you’ll notice some pleasing tweaks and innovations. Although the S9 has the same screen as the S8 – a 5.8-inch (6.2-inch on the S9+) QHD+ Super AMOLED display with 18.5:9 aspect ratio – Samsung has chosen to tweak the landscape mode so that the entire user interface now rotates to fit the widescreen format. The big news with the S9 is the innovative camera system. The 12MP rear camera features dual-aperture tech for improved low-light photography, where a fixed-size aperture – which is what basically all phones use – is ditched for one that expands and contracts just like the iris of your eye; the S9’s camera lets more light into its sensor when the surrounding environment is too dark, or less when the environment is too light. Slo-mo video capture has also been improved, recording at a much higher speed for even more dramatic results, and you can now turn footage into a video or gif (with music) for sharing on social media, or into live wallpaper for your S9. That 12MP rear camera and front-mounted 8MP camera are crucial in terms of delivering the S9’s other new features, AR Emoji and Bixby Vision. Yes, it seems that Samsung thinks
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Apple is onto something with Animoji – Samsung’s AR Emoji, a feature built into the S9’s camera application, enables you to take a selfie then turn it into a personalised virtual avatar. Hold the camera up to your face and AR Emoji will mirror your expression and pose, at which point you can take a picture of your AR Emoji or record a video (with sound) of your avatar mimicking your actions. Visual aids Bixby Vision is less fun but more practical. This image search feature works when you point the S9’s camera at an object, text or location, enabling you to identify or shop for different items, to translate foreign text and to identify locations. Although we’ve only had some brief handson time with the Galaxy S9, by focusing on how phone communication has moved from the ear to the eye – as evidenced by the S9’s camera system, AR Emoji and Bixby Vision – Samsung seems to have made a smartphone that’s confident to tweak its core hardware, then walk away to focus on other relevant features. The S9 could well be the phone to deliver Samsung’s most fluid, interconnected user experience so far – with a bit of extra fun thrown in.
Here’s looking at you The Galaxy S9’s new camera system sits at the heart of the phone’s new innovations such as ‘Super Slow-mo’ video, AR Emoji and an upgraded version of Samsung’s AI assistant, Bixby, which now delivers real-time object detection and recognition
A subtle makeover The S9, available in Lilac Purple, Midnight Black and Coral Blue, is slightly wider, heavier and shorter than the S8. Elsewhere, the Iris scanner hole is hidden in the top bezel, while the fingerprint scanner has shifted to beneath the phone’s rear camera
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Keep pace with Jaguar’s most exciting ride yet Jaguar’s stunning all-electric SUV, the I-PACE, is here to make driving smarter, greener and more enjoyable than ever, as Spencer Hart finds out...
It was over a year ago, in Los Angeles, when T3 first saw the I-PACE concept. Since then Jaguar has been busy finalising the design of this all-electric SUV and testing it in some of the world’s harshest conditions. The production model was recently unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show and it looks incredible. The I-PACE draws inspiration from Jaguar’s ambitious C-X75 supercar concept. Sit inside this SUV and you’ll
discover an interior space covered with tasteful, sustainable materials. You’ll also discover Jaguar’s most futuristic cabin yet, with dual screens and a system that identifies who’s driving and tailors the information (ie, range) and interior to suit your personal driving style and preferences. Also, with zero tailpipe emissions I-PACE owners won’t have to pay road tax or congestion charges, making driving in cities significantly cheaper.
The I-PACE has two electric motors producing 400PS, helping you accelerate from 0-60 in 4.5 seconds. A 90kWh lithium-ion battery keeps you going for around 298 miles – that’s London to the Lake District on a charge – and you’ll be able to get an extra 80 miles after just 30 minutes charging. The Jaguar I-PACE is available for pre-order now (from £63,495, jaguar. co.uk), and we can’t wait to put it through its paces.
Car cleaning kit Protect your precious upholstery from dirt, stains and crumbs Kaercher OC 3 Portable Cleaner
Black + Decker PV1820L Compact Pivot
Halfords Upholstery Cleaner
Blast mud and grime from your car with Kaercher’s portable pressure washer. The OC3 provides H2O welly with its four-litre water tank and five-bar pressure. An LED light warns you when the battery needs recharging.
The nozzle on Black + Decker’s cordless 18V vacuum pivots up to 200 degrees, giving you better access to crumb-filled nooks and crannies. And there’s a flipout brush for cleaning your dashboard.
Are your seats covered in sticky handprints, spilled drinks and general crud? This award-winning Upholstery Cleaner offers a fast-drying yet deep clean foaming action.
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travel sleep aids
The Sleep Mask Luxe Loved by frequent travellers and long-haul flight survivors, this luxury sleep mask, handmade with the finest fabrics, is infused with lavender to soothe you into sleep. The adjustable strap also ensures a perfect fit.
J-Pillow Travel Pillow
high-tech cruises for 2018 Travel blogger Victoria Philpott discovers the joys of a tech cruise, from go-karting on the ocean to ordering from a robot bartender Imagine go-karting surrounded by the stunning icebergs of Alaska or the azure waters of the Caribbean. Well, there’s no need to just imagine, thanks to the Norwegian Bliss cruise liner, launching this June. Norwegian is known for its good range of restaurants, bars and hot tubs on board its 16-ship fleet, but that sweeping new racetrack plus a space-themed laser tag course on the Bliss (from $1,049, bliss. ncl.com) gives you two new reasons to sail. Want to order drinks, make dinner reservations and book shore excursions from your smartphone while on the water? You can do so with Celebrity Cruises Virtual Concierge app when sailing on the
company’s newest ship, the Celebrity Edge (from $599, celebritycruises.com). It’s also home to the cruise world’s first cantilevered floating platform, known as the Magic Carpet. As big as a tennis court and able to move up and down through the ship’s 16 storeys, the Magic Carpet provides extra space to different levels as needed. On Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas (from $599, royalcarribean.com) you can have your cocktail mixed for you by a bionic robot bartender. As the biggest cruise ship in the world, it also has the tallest waterslide at sea, the Ultimate Abyss, plus a high-tech, immersive aqua show and a FlowRider for faux surfing.
You’ll need decent neck support if you want to sleep when travelling, so that when you nod off you don’t jolt awake. Step forward the J-Pillow, an award-winning travel pillow with built-in chin rest that helps you sleep while sitting or reclining.
Alpine Sleep Soft Earplugs These super-soft earplugs absorb ambient noise and snoring sounds, while, cleverly, alarms and loud speakers can be clearly heard.
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T3’s own circus strongman is all about the gains (of good advice)
Keela Sykes, Lewisham
How should I kit out my home gym? Start by considering your space, your motivation and your budget. Wasting money on a gym membership you never use (but which gives you access to a wide selection of non-rickety machines) might actually prove to be better value than filling a room with metal. If you’re sure, you’ll want to cover the main food groups of sweating: cardio, strength and flexibility. Naturally, start with the options we’ve reviewed on p76. Beyond those, an elliptical trainer, used in both forward and reverse, does wonders for your heart and lower regions in equal measure.
ILLUSTRATIONs: stephen kelly
Sole’s excellent cross trainers are a great choice; you can sync the E25 (£1,149) with your phone to set up workouts and track progress, and virtually boost its incline for a ramp up in intensity. For strength, a set that gives you the big four (squat, deadlift, bench and shoulder press) is the ideal – essentially, you need a barbell and
ABOVE Get your sweat on with tech, but big dumbbells are hard to beat
If you’re sure you want to start a home gym, you’ll want to cover the main food groups: cardio, strength and flexibility
a bench, and everything else is just dressing. Body Power’s brightly coloured rubber and chrome 160kg Olympic set (£420) won’t let you down, though you could spend half that and get something just as effective, such as Gorilla Sports’ £75 bench, which folds away and supports a 200kg load. Flexibility – your warmup, your stretches, all that good stuff – is the result of coaching and discipline rather than heavy machinery. To the App Store, then, for something like Seven (free with IAP) which challenges you to seven-minute workouts a day for seven months, and guides you through every step.
send your questions to: email@example.com or facebook.com/T3mag 2 8 T3 a p r i l 2 01 8
Jay White, Christchurch
Why are PCs suddenly so expensive, Guru? Eyeing up a new desktop machine and feeling like someone’s kicked your wallet square in the coin purse? You and GaGu both. We who wish to get our jollies from gaming are being pushed out of the market by those who instead want to jam consumer hardware into their garages and generate a lot of heat (and waste a lot of electricity) mining minute amounts of doomed cryptocurrency on the best graphics cards they can get their hands on. Retailers, facing shortages and a virtual run on the GPU bank, have responded by hiking up prices and hailing capitalism by flogging as many cards as they can at inflated rates. But don’t worry, reader, because good old Nvidia has a solution! Hooray! The plan is thus: retailers have been asked very nicely to restrict the number of cards they sell in a single transaction in order to save some for gamers. And
that’s about it. Which, frankly, is just about the most stupid solution ever, given that Guru presumes not many retailers see this as a problem at all: they’re selling cards, however misguided the buyers might be, at twice the retail price. The things are flying out the door. Why comply? This won’t last forever, certainly if someone can either ramp up production of GPUs or the muchbetter-for-mining ASIC devices that are designed to sniff out magical pseudomoney and nothing else. Sadly, the former isn’t too feasible, particularly as the crypto market is so volatile – overstock of graphics cards could be even more damaging to the market – and ASIC miners are a rare commodity indeed. At least, and this is small consolation, the fickle coinmunity likes to upgrade their rigs every five minutes. Keep an eye out for second-hand bargains on slightly toasted components.
ABOVE Smoothie magic!
Gadget Guru’s magic box Following a catastrophic visit to the local grease-slinger, during which repairs were advised for Guru’s clapped-out set of wheels that totalled far more than the car itself, he was given free reign to make a ‘sensible’ purchase to benefit the family. GaGu selected a nearly new Peugeot 2008 in Allure trim (from £16,969, though Guru paid a fair chunk less). Its Android Autocompatible head unit might have swayed his decision just a teensy little bit. It’s like a leap into the future considering his former car had only three working speakers and an engine compartment that smelled like fire. GaGu’s investment in a newish car means his more frivolous purchasing has been curtailed for a little while. Guru would love to drop some money on a computer. The new Dell XPS 13, now boosted to 4K, is absurdly lovely, and
there’s a big-boy self-built desktop PC in his future, no doubt. A new phone, like the £700 Huawei Mate 10 Pro, would also complement the motor. Alas, no – GaGu needs no more angry letters from his bank manager. Or even more polite, yet firm, ones. Not that Ol’ GaGu is without technological thrills this issue, mind you. Lobbing about GaGu Jr’s remarkably competent birthday present Campark action cam (about £40, and no doubt the same tech is available under different generic badges) has been enormously fun, particularly because its pocket-money price means it won’t be too onerous to replace if its waterproof case shatters to bits. The same disinterested offspring was also gifted an excellent Lego Boost starter kit (£150), the neglect of which has led Guru to make his own Johnny 5-style robot friend. At last!
April Jones, Swansea
What’s the best blender? Blenders are great for three things. One, chopping stuff up. Two, if you get a powerful enough one, making soup and heating it up at the same time. And three, destroying evidence. Forensic analysis of Guru’s blender could lead to his cleaner being fingered for all sorts of crimes. GaGu never touched it, officer. With that in mind, get a blender with the most powerful torquetoting monster of a motor you can find. The Nutribullet (from £60) is cute enough and is good for a smoothie or two. GaGu’s needs are more hardcore, though. Plunk down £650 on a Vitamix 750 Pro – its blades go at 270mph, and that’s all Guru needs to know. The KitchenAid Artisan Power Plus Blender (£649) is a designfriendly option, and promises the smoothing strength of three horsepower. Which seems like a good amount of horses.
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Meet this yearâ€™s list of the very best gadgets, people and technology developments shaping the world Words: Matt Bolton, Claire Davies, Nick Odantzis Photography: Neil Godwin
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The Boring Company Flamethrower
Literally one of the hottest products in this year’s Hot 100, Elon Musk’s Flamethrower looks like something Ripley might use to blast and burn rampaging Xenomorphs. It could just be a big, fancy blowtorch, but we think it looks cool as hell. $500 (£356.49), boringcompany.com
Imagine being able to see tiny details from 30 feet away, or having the ability to control robotic limbs with your thoughts. Anything’s possible with next-gen bionics. Ocumetics Tech has developed a bionic lens to supercharge our vision, while Open Bionics’ 3D-printed bionic arms for child amputees could be available through the NHS.
What do Hive View, Samsung’s The Frame and Tile Slim have in common? They were all designed by Fuseproject, the agency co-founded by creative powerhouse Yves Béhar. Fuseproject had a scorching 2017, netting ample ‘best design’ wins, and will be infusing extra hotness into 2018’s tech, including the L’Oréal My UV Patch.
Apple’s latest fitness tech, GymKit, enables cardio machines at your gym to wirelessly sync workout data with your Apple Watch – as long as the machine is GymKit enabled. The tech is still fairly new, with Technogym being an early partner in the UK, but as more machines become GymKit enabled, it’ll be super-easy to sync all of your workout data to your Apple devices, so you’ll have more information on your progress than ever. 3 6 T3 A p r i l 2 01 8
Xbox One X
Although it’s the most technically advanced console available, the Xbox One X has struggled for games. That will change in 2018 because a clutch of new titles are gearing up to put the console’s hardware through its paces – Sea of Thieves, Red Dead Redemption 2 and Crackdown 3, and more 4K support for existing games. Finally, Microsoft’s powerhouse will fulfil its potential. £449.99, xbox.com/en-gb
Tech is increasingly empowering travellers by breaking down language barriers. Google’s Pixel Buds (£159) enables users to speak in foreign languages, as do Bragi’s Dash Pro wireless earbuds (£299). Or you just need your phone: Microsoft’s Translator app turns languages into your native tongue.
When Nest released its Smart Thermostat, heating was suddenly the cool thing to talk about. Well, sort of. This year Nest could do the same for smart home security tech, bringing easy safety to the masses in a way other tech companies have come close to, but never quite succeeded. $499 (£355.78), nest.com
With this ‘airbnb of tech’ you can hire expensive gadgets or rent out your own. Lumoid tried this in 2014, but Wonder’s arrived at a time when tech is more accessible and diverse, resulting in a greater spread of gadgets for hire. It can be expensive – £243 for a loan of Microsoft Surface Studio – but it has huge potential. wonder.store
Real-time language translation
Nest Security System
Triumph Speed Triple RS The Speed Triple is a legendary naked motorcycle. Once a Daytona merely de-faired, the Speed Triple is now one of Triumph’s most advanced bikes. The style hasn’t changed much over the years – if it ain’t broke… – but it now sports the most powerful incarnation of that unbeatable 1050 triple engine at 150bhp. As well as a gorgeous fiveinch TFT dash; and in the case of the flagship RS model, cornerning ABS, keyless ignition and blingy Öhlins adjustable forks. £13,250, triumphmotorcycles.co.uk
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Disney’s streaming service
Spartan radiationblocking boxers
Our super-connected, always-on world is becoming more convenient by the year. And 2018 is set to see wireless charging set up shop in hotels, cafes, bars and restaurants. Soon we’ll be able to charge our phones while waiting at the bar to order a drink. Kinda makes those huge beer queues worth the hassle, right?
Probably arriving in 2019, Disney is planning to put all of its movies and TV in one place – that means, Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar and all other Disney movies, plus a bunch of original stuff, including a Star Wars TV show – for one price. It’s promised to be cheaper than Netflix initially, but sounds like it could be fantastic.
While the ‘low sperm count and smartphone radiation’ debate rages on, you can play it safe with these boxers. Designed for men who carry a smartphone near their crown jewels, they use high-tech fabrics to block 99 per cent of phone and Wi-Fi radiation. €42 (£37), spartanunderwear.com
Wireless charging everywhere
Ehang 184 Okay, so it’s probably built for billionaires who want something efficient yet impersonal to fly them back and forth to their techy hideout on some remote mountain top, but we’re still dreaming about taking our own flight in the Ehang 184 AAV self-flying taxi. Eco-friendly and powered by electricity, this low-altitude aerial vehicle covers short-medium distances and has a point-to-point smart flight feature. 10 minutes to get all the way across London? That’ll do.
OrbitSound Dock E30
Battery packs to power laptops
Orbitsound says this speaker is a gamechanger, and with the amount of tech going on, we can see why. First up is its AirSound technology, which uses side-firing speakers to spread the sound around the room, eliminating the idea of a sweet spot, so your music sounds fantastic everywhere. It’s also geared up for Wi-Fi streaming, and multi-room playback, as well as Bluetooth. It also has a Qi wireless charging pad on top, so it’s handy to have on the sideboard in other ways. It even has a groove on top for holding your devices upright, turning it into a mini jukebox. £399.99, orbitsound.com/en
USB-C has a mode as part of its spec that means it can push up to 60W of power, so it can charge pro-level laptops, rather than just phones – yes, people, laptop-boosting battery packs are finally here. The Mophie Powerstation USB-C XXL (£149.95) is just one example of a high-capacity universal battery, pushing 30W (enough for a 13inch MacBook Pro) to any USB-C laptop for up to 14 hours of extra juice.
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Millennium Falcon Ultimate Collectors Edition 7,541 pieces – LEGO’s biggest set ever. Fully rotating quad laser cannon. Han, Leia, Chewbacca and C-3PO minifigures sitting in a detachable canopy cockpit. Buildable Porgs. Clearly we’re talking about the greatest LEGO set ever created! It’s only being made in limited runs, so this huge, highly detailed version of Han Solo’s infamous Corellian freighter is a hot investment for LEGO and Star Wars fans, and the best toy this year. £649.99, shop.lego.com
HTC U11 EYEs
Tesla Model 3
We’re not selfie oversharers, but we’re keen on HTC’s selfie-centric dual-camera bokeh smartphone. Forget the surgeon’s knife – face slimming, eye enlargement and skin smoothing can be had (in photos, at least) via the U11 EYEs live beautification function. There’s even a suite of AR stickers to decorate your selfies. £355, htc.com
The clean air movement will infiltrate our homes, cars and wardrobes this year. Evidence? Blueair recently launched an incar air filtration system, the Cabin Air, and WAIR has begun shipping its anti-pollution air filtration scarves. There are umpteen air purifiers for the home, too, including the MeacoClean Air Purifier and Dyson Pure Link.
Smaller and more affordable than other Teslas, the five-seater Model 3 makes this year’s Hot 100 because of its impressive 220-mile range, active safety features, and generous spread of tech, including a 15-inch touchscreen with onboard maps, keyless entry and voice controls. From $35,000 (£25,111), tesla.com
It’s only been a couple of years since Roto VR introduced the concept of a motorised VR chair to the masses, but since then Roto’s propelled itself onto many ‘ones to watch’ lists and won ‘Best Product’ at the VR & AR World Expo for its VR Interactive Chair. Expect that excitement to grow monumentally when the chair ships later this spring.
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Smart air quality monitors Make sure you’re not breathing in any bad stuff at home with one of these smart air quality monitors. T3 uncovers the best of them the all-rounder
automated air cleaning
The Foobot won’t win any awards for its looks, but it offers a visual indicator of your air quality, so you can quickly check it and get an accurate overview. Tap twice on the top and the Foobot app will ping you an alert to give you a detailed reading. Foobot detects particulate matter and volatile organic compounds, among others, so you’re well covered. The app is straightforward to use, with a clear layout of each area of air quality, and a score shows how your home’s air stacks up against the WHO’s global health index; the tips could be more comprehensive and the timeline is a little hard to read. For automated cleaning, Foobot connects to a Nest thermostat to employ your home’s HEVC air con – neat, but not so handy in the UK. Alternatively, IFTTT offers a way to hook up to compatible Blueair purifiers.
The Blueair Aware is part of a suite of products from the Swedish company, which primarily makes air purifiers. The Aware can be paired with the majority of these, so when it detects poor air quality it tells the air purifier to get to work. This makes it an excellent solution for those who want clean air, but aren’t that bothered about monitoring it manually. As a standalone monitor, the Aware offers a wide range of air readings, including particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, CO2 and more. The unit itself isn’t visually that appealing, but the single LED strip gives you a quick overview of your air (which you can turn off at night, if you wish). In-app, you can choose the type of air to track, which will display in the Aware overview, while a graph gives you a comprehensive visual of how your air stacks up over time.
Verdict T3 SAYS The Foobot offers strong air quality monitoring skills and it’s relatively easy to use, with some useful smarts tacked on.
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Verdict T3 SAYS When paired with one of its purifiers, Blueair’s Aware is a neat fit-and-forget solution, and it’s a great, if unexciting, air quality monitor in its own right.
Smart air quality monitors
How to get the most from your air quality monitor place centrally
get to a garden centre
hook up to an air purifier
If you want to know how the air in your home is performing, there’s no point sticking it in the bathroom (although…). For maximum air monitoring coverage, install it in a central location. Failing that, get more of them!
If you’re struggling to improve the air quality in your home, pick up some plants. According to research by NASA, the best indoor plants for purifying your indoor air are aloe vera, English ivy and Boston Fern, among others.
The best way to purify your home’s air, other than opening windows or the aforementioned indoor plants, is to get an air purifier such as the Blueair Sense+ or the Dyson Hot+Cool, the latter of which monitors and purifies the air on demand.
THE DESIGN AWARD
the value option
best on test
netatmo healthy home coach
Thanks to its snazzy display, Awair gives you lots of info up front. A traffic light system reveals air quality at a glance, while an adjacent figure shows how it’s performing against the EPA’s guidelines. Awair differs in its monitoring by letting you check the type of air that’s important to you, such as CO2 or dust; pick one and the overall rating will adapt. At night, the display is a bit much, but it can be dialled back in-app; in Sleep mode it adjusts to the ambient light level. We love that there’s no jargon in the app (you’ll see ‘dust’ instead of ‘particulate matter’, for example), and when your air is bad, Awair goes to town with advice to help you improve it. While our air seemed good overall, we couldn’t get the high dust reading to lower. The other monitors seemed okay, so the Awair’s PM sensor might be a little over-cautious.
Netatmo’s take on the air quality monitoring scene is this smart but subtle cylinder. A single bar of light on the front lights only when you tap the top, so you’ll have to get up to check it (or just open the Healthy Home app), which some might prefer over a more ostentatious air monitor. The app is simple to use, giving you a neat overview of your home’s health, with a breakdown of each area. Curiously, the Healthy Home Coach doesn’t monitor particulate matter or volatile organic compounds, so it’s not as effective at checking your air quality as the others. What you do get that the others don’t offer is noise-level checking – handy for the baby room, while a Baby mode adjusts the threshold for heat to suit. Annoyingly, the monitoring timeline only lasts for 24 hours, so you’ll only be able to check recent events.
Verdict T3 SAYS Awair’s monitor is a fresh (so to speak) approach to air quality monitoring. It’s easy to understand and simple to make improvements.
Verdict T3 SAYS While this is an inexpensive way to get on the air quality monitoring bandwagon, a lack of organic and particulate checking gives it limited appeal.
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State of the Art
Smart workout machines Serious fitness improvements require a serious â€“ or better still, a serious and smart â€“ fitness machine. Three of the best face off Words: Damian Hall Photography: Neil Godwin
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Smart workout machines
elcome to a new era of indoor training: smart fitness. Long gone are the days when you’d thump away on a treadmill for 30 minutes, towel down, glug back a bottle of sugary liquid and think you were Steve Cram. Fitness technology, thanks in part to the likes of cycling’s marginal-gainsobsessed Team Sky, is big business. With so much at stake, investment has led to some very smart fitness machines entering the consumer market. Now, when you’re working out it can feel like you’re inside a computer game – you’re
competing against a rival on a screen, who could be a friend or stranger. A treadmill gives you a full body workout, not just your legs; you’re getting a marathon PB-targeted cardio workout and a strength workout in one hit/HIIT. You can cycle up the Tour de France’s notoriously hurty Alpe d’Huez without leaving your front room. All the while, live graphs and exhaustive data give you instantaneous performance feedback. These machines are often designed by Olympic athletes, so in turn training is hyperreal, smart and so much more effective. You can’t hide from the bombardment of
analytical data going in and out of your smartphone. There are many ways in which this increased connectivity and immersion means you train better and get fitter. You want to improve on that last workout and work on your weaknesses, because ultimately the workouts have been, well, not fun exactly (if so, they were probably too easy), but enjoyable nonetheless, and more satisfying. These machines and their experiences make you want to go back for more, and that’s how fitness is improved. But where do these cycling, running and rowing machines excel, and which is right for you?
What’s on test…
Technogym Skillmill Connect
Developed by Olympic rowing medalists, it’s the first gym rowing machine designed to improve anaerobic power, aerobic fitness and neuromuscular abilities all in one. £3,490, technogym.com
3 The world’s smartest pedal-powered indoor trainer. With automated resistance and comprehensive and immersive connectivity, it’s realism without the rain. £1,499, wattbike.com
Forget dreadmills; let the fullyconnected Skillmill’s data-tracking function assess your workout parameters and results, and store them in the cloud-based mywellness open platform. £9,680, technogym.com
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State of the Art test 01:
DESIGN Appearances matter, but ergonomics and usability are key for fitness machines hen seen first hand, the Technogym (the official supplier to the Olympics) Skillmill is the most surprising and compelling of the three smart fitness machines. Did an elephant jump on that treadmill, you can’t help but wonder. But there are very good reasons for its eye-catching design, namely that it’s far more than just a contraption for running and walking. The curved design and handlebars offer all sorts of workouts for power/strength, agility, stamina and speed by leaning forward to reposition the body on the handlebars. Cleverly, the Skillmill needs no power – it’s all generated by the user. So running costs (no pun intended) and carbon footprint are kept low. The Wattbike looks more robot than bike, compelling and deterring in equal measure. But despite the sci-fi looks, it’s very functional. Quick lever-adjustment locks enable you to tinker with the fit without having to faff around with stem spacers and torque wrenches. You can even swap out the handlebars (extension bars are included), allowing you to mimic the geometry of your real-life ride. Buttons controlling actions in
The Skillmill needs no power – it’s all generated by the user the Hub app, gear changes and switching between manual gears and ERGO mode are subtly incorporated into the hand grips. Small wheels on the back make it really easy to move the 44kg machine around. Designed in consultation with three Olympic rowing medal winners, the Skillrow, in contrast to the other two smart fitness machines, looks more familiar and streamlined. The foot holds are easily customisable, and the seat is surprisingly comfy. It’s ergonomic in use, with all settings easy to reach. Multidrive Technology means you can switch from a cardio workout to strength resistance with the turn of a dial. Its resistance is specifically designed to mimic the physics of an oar in water better than other rowers (Technogym calls this Aquafeel, adorably). The Skillrow can also be quickly collapsed into two parts for easy storage. 7 8 T3 A p r i l 2 01 8
Skillrow’s Multidrive Technology enables a quick switch between cardiovascular and power workouts
Specs Dimensions 2435x629x1280mm Weight 61kg Resistance 10 levels of air resisted rowing mode, three levels of additional power mode Connectivity User login through Bluetooth Smart, Technogym key, mywellness band, NFC, QR Code HR connectivity Bluetooth Smart, ANT+ Power supply Self-powered
TEST 01: WInner
Technogym Skillmill It’s the most eye-catching, intriguing and innovative of the smart-fitness machine designs, the most curious to use, and it invites entirely new exercises.
Smart workout machines Wattbike Atom
Precision magnetic resistance keeps Atom quiet, so you can train without waking the neighbours/your children
The Skillmill is user-powered: move frontwards and it goes faster; backwards and it slows
Dimensions 1000x500x1500(max)mm Weight 44kg Resistance Magnetic Connectivity Via ANT+ FEC/ANT+/ Bluetooth Smart Control HR connectivity Yes Power supply Mains adapter
Dimensions 1910x890x1540mm Weight 180kg Resistance Multidrive technology Connectivity Wi-Fi HR connectivity Yes Power supply Self-powered Surface trajectory control On-slat bearings Max speed No limit
Smart machine screen test The approach to screens differs between each our connected machines
There’s no console/screen provided with the Wattbike, so you need to use your smartphone or tablet, which clips securely on in front of you. This doesn’t feel like a flaw or disappointment, quite the opposite in fact, as most users will be more familiar with how their smartphone works anyway. Plus, it means workout data goes straight into your device and the excellent Wattbike
Hub app, rather than relying on a postworkout sync. The Skillrow and Skillmill do have native screens, displaying reams of stats as you sweat away, but you can simply clip in your smartphone too (but not yet a tablet), for additional performance feedback and to capture your workout’s key stats, or watch instructional technique videos.
A PRIL 2 01 8 T3 79
Man vs Tech
The Mission Weâ€™ve had enough accidents with tech to know that not all gadgets are created equal. With companies making some pretty bold claims about how tough their products are, we want to see if these supposedly drop-proof gadgets live up to their ambitious billing. How? By getting hardcore tech tester Chris Barnes to launch them from the top of a ladder ontoÂ a concrete floor, obviously.
tech vs gravity
it like itâ€™s
Are drop-proof gadgets as tough as manufacturers claim? T3 heads to the lab with a brace of tech and a very tall ladder to find out Words: Chris Barnes Photography: Neil Godwin
A p r i l 2 01 8 T3 8 5
Man vs Tech
icture the scene: your beloved smartphone plummets towards the ground, seemingly in slo-mo, as you helplessly watch the carnage unfold. We’ve all been there and the prognosis is rarely good – at best the phone still works, albeit with funky glitches, a compromised screen or some ugly cuts and bruises. At worst you face an eye-watering repair bill, a tortuous insurance claim or a pricey replacement. But that got me thinking: surely there are gadgets and accessories designed to accommodate the more butter-fingered tech users among us? And, if so, exactly how dropproof are they?
Climbing the ladder The plan for this test is to drop a selection of tech from their claimed maximum drop heights, then assess any damage. I’m not exactly enthralled with the prospect of returning a new phone in pieces, so I really hope the drop-proof claims stand up… Myself and the T3 testing team don our protective clothing and calibrate our sophisticated measuring equipment (um, a stepladder and tape measure). The testing begins with LaCie’s Rugged 2TB Thunderbolt USB C hard drive. Surrounded by a burly, non-slip orange bumper, this hard drive is clearly built for survival. Taking advantage of the Rugged’s 130MB/s Thunderbolt transfer speeds, I deposit a handful of video files, then scale the ladder, clutching the drive two metres off the ground. With breath held and buttocks clenched I send the hard drive plummeting towards terra firma. If you love something, let it go… rapidly towards the ground, so you can test its sapphire screen
8 6 T3 a p r i l 2 01 8
A brief moment of silence precedes an almighty crack as the tech hits the deck, pinballing along the ground. It doesn’t sound healthy, but when I scramble down the ladder to inspect it there’s barely a mark to be seen. LaCie reckons the Rugged drive is also crush-proof to one tonne, so naturally I dole out a few stomps from my size 10s for good measure. Plugging the hard drive back into T3’s iMac Pro, the video files are as I left them and open without issue. The verdict? LaCie’s Rugged puts the ‘hard’ in hard drive.
Shock and awe Next for the drop is Nikon’s vibrant Coolpix W300. Pitched as the adventurer’s companion, it has a
camera is still shooting away. Repeat tests produce similar results, although on one occasion the camera shuts down on impact and I lose the video… But it quickly boots up again, so no damage done. For the next test, we pair GoPro’s new 4K/60fps-toting, voice-controlled HERO6 with a heavy-duty Super Suit housing. GoPro doesn’t state drop limits, but even without the case this camera is built to last – we’re not aware of many gadgets that can handle 1,000-foot drops! Don’t believe us? Have a gander at the insane videos on YouTube. As such, our puny test is no match for the almost indestructible GoPro and it takes drop after drop in its stride without fail.
With breath held and buttocks clenched, i send the hard drive plummeting towards terra firma dizzying drop-height of 2.4 metres and can keep pace whether you’re scaling mountains or exploring the ocean. I start rolling at 1080p/60fps and am immediately impressed with the rich image displayed on the three-inch anti-reflection screen – the NIKKOR lens is the business. But when I drop the Nikon, will it take the impact like a champ or is this going to be a one-way trip to camera oblivion? Back up the ladder I go, climbing to 2.4 metres. This could hurt for Nikon. The loud bang on impact is followed by sweet relief as I discover the
This. Is. Sparta! As a busy writer who enjoys being active, my watch has to be smart to deliver phone updates and track my workouts, and it needs to look the part in meetings. Enter Suunto’s Spartan Ultra Stealth Titanium, packed with wrist-based heart rate monitoring, GPS navigation and tracking profiles for 80+ sports. At just 73g the Spartan is unlikely to leave a crater in the ground, but after flinging it from the ladder I was concerned for the safety of the vivid colour touchscreen. I needn’t have
Drop-proof gadgets Look at his cool demeanour as another gadget drops to its potential doom. The eyes of a killer…
when the going gets tough Six ace gadgets with the drop-proof guarantee
GoPro Super Suit housing As if GoPro’s burly HERO6 action camera wasn’t tough enough, the 60-metre waterproof Super Suit gives the 4K shooter an extra layer of protection against drops, rocks and shark attacks. £49.99, gopro.com
Suunto Spartan Ultra Stealth Titanium The touchscreen on Suunto’s fully-loaded sports watch is protected by sapphire crystal glass and a titanium/steel bezel. £599, suunto.com
Nikon Coolpix W300
Motorola Z2 Force Edition
This all-weather compact is drop-proof to eight feet, making it an ideal companion. Shoot 4K video, take 16MP stills and share with the world using built-in SnapBridge connectivity. £409.99, nikon.co.uk
The Z2’s ShatterShield screen is a serial phonedroppers dream, while the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor and 2.35GHz octa-core CPU prove this Android handset has brains as well as brawn. £719.99, motorola.com
Tech21 Evo Check case & Glass screen protector
LaCie Rugged 2TB Thunderbolt USB C
This lightweight case delivers three layers of protection while the Evo screen protector will save your display from cracks. £29.99/£34.99, tech21.com
LaCie’s nippy drive is dust- and water-resistant, drop-proof up to two metres and you can even drive a car over it, if that’s something you’re into. £169.99, lacie.com A p r i l 2 01 8 T3 87
THE DESIGN AWARD
Processor Intel Xeon W 10-core 3GHz Graphics AMD Vega 64 16GB RAM 128GB 2666MHz ECC Storage 2TB SSD Display 5120x2880 5K Retina display Connections 4x Thunderbolt 3, 4x USB 3, 10Gb Ethernet, SDXC card slot, 3.5mm jack, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2
£9,039 (from £4,899) apple.com/uk
Apple iMac Pro Apple unleashes its most powerful desktop ever, but disguises it in an iMac’s shell. Is this really the pro-level beast Mac users have been waiting for? 9 2 T3 A p r i l 2 01 8
he iMac Pro is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Actually, that’s underselling it. It’s a small nuclear warhead in sheep’s clothing. Somehow, Apple has packed a workstation with up to an 18-core Intel processor in a frame the exact size of the regular 5K iMac. The only thing more incredible than the engineering feat of producing it is the price you might pay for one. But this a truly pro machine, and that kind of power comes at a cost.
THE DESIGN AWARD
Specs appeal Apple provided us a pretty trickedout model (see the specs box above) for our review, with a price tag nudging the £10k mark. The ‘basic’ £4,899 model packs an eight-core, 3.2GHz Intel Xeon processor, a less potent 8GB AMD Vega 56 graphics card, 32GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD. It’s all hugely configurable, though – even beyond our beefy unit, you can
Apple iMac Pro
solo mission The iMac Pro is really suited to small creative offices – a workstation in a single, lowfootprint monitor saves a lot of space compared to rivals
choose a 14-core processor (a £1,440 upgrade from the basic option) or the 18-core top-end option (£2,160). Going from 32GB of RAM to 128GB alone costs £2,160. It adds up quickly if you’re planning to max it out. If you’re wondering what the benefits are of spending that kind of money on a supercomputer that fits behind a monitor, you can probably already rule out the iMac Pro as being for you, even if you could afford it. Video editors will see big benefits from having multiple cores to render demanding footage and play back in real time. Programmers compiling code will benefit from big parallel computing output. Extreme Photoshop users will find the giant RAM option useful. To make it worthwhile, you probably have to be someone who looks at the price of the iMac Pro, calculates how much time it could save them, and then works out whether the two balance out. Or a millionaire who just really wants the (admittedly irresistible) Space Gray finish for their desktop computer. And no one on T3 would blame you for that. Just look at it!
Port in a storm Minimalism be damned! The iMac Pro is packed with ports, and we love it. You’ve also got high-speed Ethernet. Old-school!
But the gist is, the reason this costs so much is that it’s using workstation parts like ECC (error correction code) RAM, which means your huge, vitally important work is less likely to become corrupted and crash apps out, losing you time and money. If you don’t need that, you can go cheaper.
The joy of overkill Okay, we’re finished being boring and sensible now. You want to know what it’s like anyway. We feel you. Obviously, it’s fast. Really fast. Everything you do is effectively instant, though that’s mostly down to the storage. Apple’s SSDs use some kind of mysterious technology to be just comically fast, even compared to what else is out there. We clocked the storage on the iMac Pro with write speeds of 3GB/s per second, and read speeds of 2.5GB/s. Just to be clear, that’s three gigabytes per second. This is part of what makes it so good for video work (see the box on the next page for our tame video pro’s opinion of what it’s like to actually use for 4K editing). But other Macs also have really fast storage (not quite this fast, but we’ve
One small downside to the iMac Pro’s design is that you can’t adjust the screen height, unless you get a riser
seen the MacBook Pros hitting 1.7GB/s), which makes them pretty much as fast for loading apps and stuff. The speed of the iMac Pro only really stands out from other Macs once you start doing something processor or graphics intensive. So naturally, the next thing we tried was a bit of video exporting. We like to tax things with a video export of a native Blu-ray file into a streaming-friendly MP4. The most recent regular 5K iMac managed to convert our 31-minute video in 27 minutes. It’s a tough challenge, and this is a respectable score. The iMac Pro managed it in under 10 minutes. 9 minutes 40 seconds, to be precise. That’s what we mean about the price being worthwhile if it saves you time – it’s a huge speed boost. It’s a similar story when it comes to graphics. The Vega 64 chip we have is AMD’s big powerhouse, meant to battle the top-end cards from rival Nvidia, and there’s big performance here. In Unigene Heaven benchmarks, it doubles the score of the 5K iMac, which is a good start. But that’s just theory. The more important fact is that, if you want to play games in 4K A p r i l 2 01 8 T3 9 3
Best of the best best of…
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 A1E 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, optoma.co.uk
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
OPPO UDP-203 If you’re a home cinema enthusiast and want the best picture quality possible, this is the player you need. 4K playback is impeccable, and Dolby Vision HDR support means amazing depth. £649, oppodigital.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
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 a p r i l 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 setup 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…
From wireless convenience to audiophile heaven, this is the gear you need to make the most of your favourite music Multi-room speakers
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. £249, 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
Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signature These are open-backed headphones, so they let sound in and out, but the quality is astounding, especially through a serious headphone DAC/amp setup – and they’re wonderful with compressed music too. £699, bowers-wilkins.co.uk
Portable high-res player
KEF M100 This blend of KEF’s traditional audiophile instincts with comfortable contemporary styling is a fantastic product, great value, and the best in-ear headphones, pound for pound, that you can get. £89, uk.kef.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 hi-res player, and its massive battery will keep you rocking for days on end. £899, astellnkern.com
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 a p r i l 2 01 8 T3 107
SPECIALS & GUIDES
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Published on Mar 9, 2018