SUMMER ESSENTIALS KIT FOR FUN IN THE SUN
HTC VIVE VERDICT
T BOS O R R AL TLE E R BU
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OO H T 1OO TRAILBLAZING TECH TO GET EXCITED ABOUT PLUS WIN OUR TOP 5 PICKS WORTH £2,000 CH E T GH OYS I H T
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TICES S I UR-HAV T FUUST M
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’S LE G O E N GOHOMSIO VA IN
BUILD A PRO SANDCASTLE GIVE YOUR CAR A HUD FIT A SOLAR PANEL EMOTION SENSING SMARTWATCH
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Heating up issue 10
Do these headphones give away the iPhone 7’s big secret? Find out on page 70
This month’s Gadget celebrates the innovators igniting tech with exciting new ideas. In our firstever Hot 100 list, we compile the cutting-edge companies, trailblazing trends and most amazing gear of the year. Featuring everything from phones to drones, coffee makers to 3D printers, leading tech giants and upstart start-ups, find out where your favourite gadgets rank and discover new ones. Disagree with our ranking? Think we’ve forgotten something or – better still – completely agree with us? Tell us what you would list at number one on Facebook or Twitter, our details are below. After staring into the coalface of new tech, you might need to cool down. I’d recommend checking out Dyson’s new fan (page 72). As well as offering a bladeless breath of fresh air, it filters out 99.5 per cent of allergens and pollutants – ideal for hay fever sufferers at this time of year! For more summer tech hacks like this, discover our must-have kit picks to take to the beach, survive a long flight and get the most out of a garden party from page 84. If you head over to our workshop section, you’ll also find out how to fit a solar panel to harness the sun’s power for yourself (page 104) and build a sandcastle like a pro (page 108). This summer will also see the return of the Olympics. If you’re inspired by the likes of Steph Curry’s shooting form or Usian Bolt’s last dash for the finishing line, discover fitness gear for every Olympic sport from page 52. Jack Parsons Editor
MEET THE TEAM...
Would you buy a VR headset this year? Dan Hutchinson Editor In Chief I already have a Samsung Gear VR. It offers Oculus tech and content for about a fifth of the price!
Drew Sleep Production Editor The only feasible one for me is PS VR but, while I’m a VR zealot, I’m trying before I’m buying.
Andy Downes Senior Art Editor It’s early days for VR games, but I loved piloting a starship and fighting off other players in Elite: Dangerous.
Harriet Knight Designer I would love one, but I think I would use it far too casually to spend that kind of money.
GET AN OLYMPIC UPGRADE WITH FITNESS TECH
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Google’s home invasion
Google’s plans to take on Amazon’s Echo
BRINGING 010 tRNTBL’s VINYL INTO THE FUTURE
OUR HOT 100’S TOP 5 PICKS WORTH
£2,000 PAGE 42
New record player shares what you’re listening to on Spotify
TURNS ANY 008 KNOCKI SURFACE INTO A TOUCHSCREEN
Don’t knock this controller until you’ve tried it
The Journey With 009 Enjoy EasyJet’s Sneakerairs Budget airline is testing out smart shoe tour guides
012 KICKSTARTER 10
The best 3D printers to back
Google Glass 072 Get For Your Car
New Hudway Glass adds a HUD to your dashboard
your Pet Into a 074 Turn Social MEdia Star
New spy camera allows world to remotely play with your pet
of the Kebab For a 076 King tasty night in
044 VIVE verdict
What to expect from the most expensive VR headset out there
get Beach Body Ready Without the Exercise
Electrocute your way to rock hard abs with this wearable
064 HOW ARE YOU FEELING?
New smartwatch claims it can monitor your emotions
066 Tech We Love
The most exciting new releases on our radar this month
068 THE SOUND OF PROGRESS
Enjoy a late night kebab without bothering with the big night out
This Egg Is The Only Remote You’ll Ever Need
A universal remote worth shelling out for
Can’t Hide From 080 Crime THis all-seeing 360° SEcurity Camera
New camera even allows you to view your home in VR
082 pocket Projectors
Watch movies anywhere with these mobile projectors
New lightning cable headphones hints at iPhone 7 secrets
New Fan 070 dyson’s Measures and Cleans the air around you 096 Calling Time Fan will trap allergens and dirt and send reports to your phone
Smartwatches have had their chances, did they live up to it?
GO FOR GOLD WITH OLYMPIC FIT KIT PAGE
Your Shed Off 104 Take THe grid
H T 1OO
SUPERCHARGE YOUR SUMMER
Install a solar panel to sup up your tool shed
see a Pop-up 106 Never Ad aGain
Set up ad-blocker to declutter your web browser
A sandcastle 108 BUILD like A Pro
Top tools to perfect the art of sand sculpting
Simple Way to 110 THe Change a Tyre
Tips and tech to get you back on the road in no time
112 Boost Your Wi-Fi Signal Combine your Wi-Fi and phone signal for faster internet
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What ever 114 happened to… PalmPilot
KICKASS KICKSTARTERS • NEAR FUTURE TECH LATEST LAUNCHES
Elegant design There’s only one button on Google Home, which switches it on and off. Everything else is controlled via voice, which means the device itself has a simple and clean design
GOOGLE’S HOME INVASION ETA WINTER ’16
Smart home hub Google Home will be able to control your lights, start the oven, play your music and more – if Google can get the deals signed with third-party services, that is
“You have Gmail”
Google unveiled Assistant at the same time as Home – the powerful software will help with responding to your queries and pulling info from the web
Of course, the device is going to work with other Google services, so expect seamless integration with Gmail, YouTube, Google Calendar and so on
Integrated microphone According to Google, a decade of voice recognition and natural language processing has gone into Home, so it should pick up your words flawlessly
Google says you’ll be able to customise the base of the Home device when it goes on sale: a choice of materials and colours will be on offer
A single speaker isn’t ideal for pumping out your tunes, but nevertheless Google says it’s going to be more than adequate as a music system
Google Home is small enough to hold comfortably in one hand and runs off mains power. The idea is that Google fans will have one installed in each room
LEDs on the top of Google Home dance around to let you know its working
GOOGLE: CAN WE ASSIST YOU?
Just like Amazon Echo has Alexa, Home will have Google Assistant. More than just an etheral voice, Assistant is the next stage of Google, drawing on the search giant’s vast databases to be even more personal than Google Now. It will also follow you around across platforms and devices, from Google Home to the new Allo messaging app. Allo is launching on iPhone and Android later this summer. It handles a lot of what Google already does, from booking movie tickets to finding travel directions, but it’s going to do it all more intelligently and with a more conversational, ‘human’ interface than ever before.
Google is jumping out of your phone (and your computer) into a new device designed to sit in your living room. You can talk to this device and ask it questions – and if you think that sounds a lot like Amazon’s Echo, you’re absolutely right. Google boss Sundar Pichai even gave Amazon a shoutout while launching the new hardware. It’s called Google Home, and it brings all of Google’s smarts into a chunky, webconnected, speaker-and-microphone combo. You can play songs, activate smart home devices, get answers to queries and tap into everything that Google knows about you and the world, all controlled through spoken voice commands. A lot of Google Home’s functionality is going to rely on partnerships with other hardware and software companies (to control your home’s smart lights for example), which may be one of the reasons why it hasn’t yet launched. One of the impressive things about the Echo is how quickly Amazon has added to its capabilities, even if it hasn’t yet gone on sale outside of the US. It’s also a hint of a post-smartphone future: speaking out loud to devices that are all around us rather than jabbing at a small screen. Behind the scenes it’s going to be powered by the newly-launched Google Assistant, which is essentially Google Now but with some extra chattiness and ease-of-use improvements on top. Sundar Pachai avoided telling us when, exactly, we’d be able to get our hands on Home only saying it would be out “later this year”. No price has been announced. Inside its oversized air freshener case, Google Home is essentially a microphone and speaker
KNOCKI TURNS SURFACES INTO A TOUCHSCREEN ETA DEC ’16 In its maker’s own words, Knocki can “make any surface smart.” It’s a central controller for the growing proliferation of smart home devices out there, and it wants to make interacting with them simpler and more intuitive. And it does it by making your walls, tables and other surfaces touch-sensitive. Imagine tapping twice on the wall to turn your lights on, or dragging your finger across
your kitchen table to lower the temperature: Knocki says its capable of controlling everything from televisions to smart blinds. You can even configure smart alarms to alert you when someone leaves or arrives home. The puck-shaped device hooks up to your home’s internal Wi-Fi and can be configured using its companion app for Android and iOS. It can be screwed or stuck to the wall (you
Wi-Fi enabled The Knocki team says it chose Wi-Fi for the device’s wireless capabilities because of its greater reliability and greater range when compared with Bluetooth technology
get some custom-made 3M tape included) or placed on a table or other surface. There’s no doubting the impressiveness of the demo that Knocki has put together – we are hoping that it matches the reality when the device ships at the end of 2016. Knocki’s developer, Knocki, raised more than ten times its goal on Kickstarter, so it’s obviously going to be in demand.
Put it anywhere
The beauty of knocking on surfaces is that you don’t have to look at displays or find buttons, and you can even control your gadgets in the dark
You can stick Knocki to any kind of hard surface around the home – it uses an accelerometer to detect knock patterns and the vibrations they cause
Simple setup Once you’ve picked a place for your Knocki, you run the Android or iOS app to decide what types of knock activate which types of actions in your other
Third-party integrations Knocki relies heavily on third-party integrations: WeMo, Nest, Spotify, Facebook, Philips Hue, Samsung SmartThings, IFTTT and others are already
Gently does it Knocki can respond to gentle taps or a series of knocks, and is tuned to ignore random vibrations that are naturally caused by the environment around it
ENJOY THE JOURNEY WITH EASYJET’S SMART SHOES ETA TBC If you want a demonstration of how smart clothing can actually be useful as well as innovative, look no further than the Sneakairs. Developed by budget airline EasyJet for what it’s calling “The Barcelona Street Project”. The smart sneakers in question hook up to your phone and give you directions around the city with subtle vibrations underneath your feet telling you where to go. The obvious benefit of the trainers is you can tour around a location without having
Bluetooth connectivity Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) is used to connect up the Sneakairs with your smartphone, so once you’ve set your destination, directions can be sent to the shoes
your nose stuck in a map, whether a paper one or one on your smartphone – in fact, you need never look like a tourist again as you walk around from landmark to landmark. Each shoe uses a miniaturised Arduino-type device, a Bluetooth chip and a vibration motor similar to the one packed into most modern smartphones. The Sneakairs aren’t the first set of smart footwear to use buzzes to help people navigate naturally, but previous efforts have only reached the prototype stage – which
The vibration motor is designed to spread the buzzing out across the soles of your feet, letting you know when you need to take a turn or retrace your steps
The Sneakairs use a custommade circuit board similar to an Arduino, with one of these smart panels fitted inside each shoe (bright orange EasyJet branding optional)
SNEAKAIR GUIDED TOUR
01 Connect the app
The first step is to connect the app to the Sneakairs themselves. The app is based on Google Maps and its integrated turn-by-turn direction feature for navigation.
02 One vibration: turn
While wandering around the city of your choice you get a single buzz in your left or right shoe to tell you which turn to take, based on your phone’s current GPS information.
GPS signals The accompanying app calculates a route and then uses the GPS capabilities of your phone to work out exactly where you are and where you need to go next
vibrations: 03 Two go back
Missed your turning because you’re so distracted by the surrounding beauty? Two vibrations in both shoes mean you need to retrace your steps.
vibrations: 04 Three destination reached Assuming your phone’s GPS is working, you’ll get three vibrations in both Sneakairs when you’ve finally reached your destination.
TRNTBL REINVENTS THE RECORD PLAYER ETA SUMMER ’16
Trntbl jumps on the recent vinyl resurgence bandwagon but the device also adds some distinctly modern touches to the classic record player. It allows you to stream your music to compatible speakers (like Sonos) and the integrated ‘scrobbling’ function identifies what LPs you’re listening to and builds up matching Spotify playlists for you. Bluetooth and AirPlay support is on the way, the makers of Trntbl claim, so it’s going to appeal to those with one foot in the digital music camp and the other in the traditional days of physical vinyl records. The turntable has been developed by the VNYL subscription service, like Netflix for LPs: you pay $39 (about £25) a month for any three new albums.
As the device recognises what you’re playing, Shazam-style, you can pick up where you left off on Spotify, or maybe encourage your friends to listen along even if they don’t have a slick, stylish Trntbl of their own. Two colours are available, ‘creme’ and black, and you can preorder one now for about $350 (£245) – after it launches later this summer, that jumps up to $420 (roughly £290). Whether you’re already a vinyl fanatic or if you’re thinking about becoming one ( you won’t be alone – vinyl sales jumped 30 percent in 2015), Trntbl is worth a long contemplation – especially if you already have AirPlay or Sonos kit set up in your home. You don’t have to sign up for the VNYL service as well, though that is an option if your local record store closed down years ago.
There are no physical ports on the Trntbl – everything is streamed wirelessly, via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or AirPlay, at a quality up to 1,411 Mbps as uncompressed 16-bit/44.1 khz audio
The gold-coloured, s-shaped tonearm ends in either an AT95E or OM5e cartridge, and it’s here that the Trntbl hides its clever song recognition tech as well
The two buttons on the unit are used to power it on and off and to switch between the two available playback speeds: namely 33 1/3 and 45 RPM
Sony PS-HX500 Turntable With High-Resolution Audio
The big party trick the PS-HX500 has is the ability to rip vinyl records to high-resolution digital audio, via a cable attached to your laptop. £450 | $600 | sony.com
The turntable plinth, available in ‘creme’ (or white) and black, is made from MDF, aluminium and plastic, and comes with feet that are designed to dampen vibrations
The belt-driven platter for holding your records is made from acrylic. Playback is cuedup manually though there is integrated support for autoreturn when the music finishes
There’s a built-in DAC and, according to VNYL, the the Trntbl can generate audio that’s significantly better than MP3s and very close to being CD-quality
Panasonic Technics SL-1200
The audio veteran has revived a classic turntable for the modern era with the Technics SL-1200 player, adding state-of-the-art components to a legendary and iconic design. Pricing is yet to be confirmed. TBC | TBC | panasonic.com
Gramovox Floating Record
Your LPs are held vertically in this kickstarted device – now on sale – and there are two powerful stereo speakers integrated into the design, so there are no extras necessary. £275 | $400 | gramovox.com
WHAT’S THAT SONG?
The makers of Trntbl haven’t revealed too much about the technology the device uses to recognise tunes, only that it’s detected directly from the needle and is Shazam-like in its operation. While you may well know what you’re listening to, the feature lets you build up Spotify playlists of your LPs and also enables your friends and followers to listen along via a ‘Tune In’ feature. It’s the beauty of vinyl records with some add-ons from the modern era included.
One of the most well-specced and high-quality turntables money can buy, and it also comes with a USB digital audio output for ripping your music to your computer. £760 | $1,100 | teac.com
10 3D PRINTING MUST-HAVES
As the first 3D printer for smartphones, this portable, battery-powered device uses the white light of the screen to harden what it calls ‘Daylight Resins’. It’s ideal for small-form projects. £55 | $80 | olo3d.net
Made entirely from aluminium and steel, this robust 3D printer should last for years. Able to produce quality print at speeds of 70mm a second, you can also use it for laser engraving.
£210 | $300 | trinus3d.com
Not all 3D printing projects go perfectly well – trust us, we’ve had our share of mishaps. But if your object needs a little bit of retouching, then you can use this device to heat any imperfections out. £105 | $150 | retouch3d.com
Designed to work as quickly and precisely as a large, industrial machine, this home 3D printer uses cutting-edge LCD technology and comes with its own online software.
£900 | $1,300 | uniz3d.com
05 CowTech Ciclop
This 3D-printed 3D scanner will cast its lasers over an object to produce a mesh of points that can be used to produce a printed replica. It’s a fully open-source project.
£80 | $120 | cowtechengineering.com
06 NEA 3D
While you may need a small loan for the top-end iteration of the machine, these powerhouses have been built to last. They use Fused Filament Fabrication technology to print the plastic layer by layer at 150mm a second.
£1,660 | $2,400 | nea3d.com
Fit your iOS or Android device to this 3D scanner and download the free app and within five minutes, you’ll have an eight-million-point scan of an object that can be exported and printed. £200 | $290 | eora3d.com
08 Skriware 3D Printer
Skriware combines a WiFi-connected 3D printer with an online platform packed with 3D models. As well as a 6x6x5-inch print area, it has a touchscreen and single-click printing.
£555 | $800 | skriware.com
09 3Dsimo mini
The Swiss Army knife of 3D printing, this combines a solder, burner and cutter with a 3D printing pen which not only expands your creative possibilities, but lets you carry out repairs too. £96 | $140 | 3dsimo.com
10 TIKO 09
Able to print as fine as 50 microns, TIKO is a gorgeous machine which fully encloses your creations and keeps all the hot stuff out of reach. Browser-based software completes the package.
£125 | $180 | tiko3d.com
014 H T 1OO
OO H T 1OO CUTTING-EDGE COMPANIES, TRAILBLAZING TECH AND THE MOST AMAZING GEAR OF THE YEAR
THERMAL IMAGING IT’S SO HOT RIGHT NOW Both the military and big businesses have used thermal imaging for years, but soon we’ll all be feeling the heat. You might think wanting to see a thermal signature sounds a bit of a niche interest, but so was GPS before it tumbled in price. Now it’s in our cars, smartphones, cameras and so many other devices. Thermography, as it’s more properly known, is on the brink of doing the same thing as sensors have dropped in price from $3,000 (£2,080) to around $300 per chip. The number of gadgets equipped with heat-seeking sensors is now expected to grow from about 500,000 to three million units in the coming years. In the here and now, low-cost thermography tech is being marketed towards emergency services and professional plumbers and electricians, but there’s no reason you can’t add a thermal imaging camera to your toolbox. As well as spotting overheating electricals, leaks and checking your home insulation, it’s also a fun way to spot animals when camping in the woods overnight.
£6,000 | $8,510 dji.com
DJI Zenmuse XT
£510 | $600 catphones.com
£200 | $250
Seek Thermal Compact
THE SUPERSUBTLE HEALTH TRACKER
TURN YOUR SOFA INTO A BUCKING BRONCO
GET CUSTOMMADE, 3D-KNIT SHOES
A REAL LIFE HOVERBOARD… NO, REALLY
The ‘smart ring’ is a wearable idea that has been bounded around a few times. Apple patented its own idea for a ring device with a built-in touchpad last year, while Visa will be giving Olympians a prototype payment ring to test in Rio – however, the health-tracking Oura Ring might be a better fit for athletes. Available to buy now, the Oura Ring pairs with your smartphone and tracks stats such as your heart-rate, body temperature, sleep patterns and more.
You can forget about 3D TVs, the next big thing in home entertainment is the ‘4D’ sofa. Immersit is, essentially, a series of pads that will work with any existing chair or settee (you can even use it with your bed, if that’s your kind of thing) and pump them up in down in sync with the action on your screen, whether it’s a movie or videogame. So next time you’re watching The Fast And The Furious, make sure you’re hanging on to your seat!
Don’t you hate it when you buy a nifty pair of shoes to find out that someone in the office has bought the exact same pair as you? Well, forget about that now. You can now get loafers woven to your specific design by automated knitting machines for about the same price. JS Shoes are 3D printed, so they can be customised online before you enter your payment details and the end result is ultra light as the machines make them in one go – there aren’t even any stitches.
Don’t worry Gadget readers, this is not one of those exploding two-wheeled scooters or some bizarre media stunt done with magnets – the Arca Board is an honest-to-goodness hoverboard – it’s actually like the ones you have seen in Marty McFly use in Back To The Future. Built by an aerospace company and powered by 36 fans, it can hover up to a foot in the air. Unfortunately, it costs just short of $15,000, so it is only going to be enjoyed by the super rich elite.
£260 | $370
£160 | $230
£60 | $90
£10,500 | $14,900
016 H T 1OO
95 TOMTOM IS TAKING ON GOPRO There’s a lot of action cameras vying for attention out there, but one of the most innovative devices is the TomTom Bandit. It’s the only one that removes the pain of editing with its ‘shake to edit’ feature. The company also continues to update the Bandit: a recent update means it now adjusts colour balance when underwater.
TomTom Bandit £240 | $400 tomtom.com
94 CAST NETFLIX ANYWHERE
Cast is a new way to share what you’re watching. Made of a settop box – or ‘community viewing hub’ – and a companion app, anything you watch through the hub can be viewed remotely through the app. You can then chat about what your watching through the app, with your friends’ comments appearing on your screen.
Cast: Community Viewing Hub TBA castbygenii.com
93 THE MOST ACCURATE TEMPERATURE There’s nothing new about a digital thermometer. But the Withings Thermos is different: it contains 16 infrared sensors that take about 4,000 measurements every few seconds to give you an accurate reading. It couldn’t be easier to use, you don’t even have to stick it inside your body: just hold the green tip against your forehead.
Withings Thermo £80 | $100 withings.com
FLEXIBLE PHONES IT’S TIME FOR THE ULTIMATE BEND TEST
Samsung’s first foldable phone is “right around the corner” according to Gregory Lee, CEO of Samsung in America. Rumours last year suggested the flexi-phone, codenamed Project Valley, would arrive in 2016, but its looking likely it will appear in 2017 as an alternative to the Galaxy S8 – similar to how Samsung currently has the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. Samsung isn’t the only manufacturer working on bendable devices, though. Lenovo has shown off a prototype phone that wraps around your wrist like a smartwatch and LG have been toying with similar tech for years.
COMMA.AI THE TESLA KILLER?
Do you like the idea of a self-driving car, but you think Tesla’s offerings are out of your price range? Then Comma.ai might be for you. This start up is developing an autonomous driving kit that you fit to your existing motor, and it only costs $1,000 (around £700). YouTube videos of prototypes ‘ghost riding’ in busy traffic proves the tech works (most of the time), but the cars look more like Doc Brown’s ragtag time-travelling DeLorean than Tesla’s sleek and futuristic Model S. However, Comma.ai has only been around for 11 months and has grand plans, including gathering a billion miles of data by 2018, so it’s certainly a manufacturer to watch.
ANSWER THE FRONT DOOR ANYWHERE
NEVER RUN OUT OF STORAGE
Next time someone rings your doorbell, you’ll know who they are instantly. The Ring Video Doorbell sends a live feed to your phone, even if you’re not home. Though the doorbell can’t unlock the door, it does have a speaker and microphone so you can talk to the person at your door. It also has motion detection and night vision.
The Nextbit Robin is a revolutionary smartphone that solves one of life’s biggest problems: a lack of storage. Combining 32GB of onboard memory with a 100GB in the cloud, the Robin backs up all your apps and photos to an external server and deletes them off your phone if you haven’t used them in a while, and they can be instantly restored in seconds.
Ring Video Doorbell £140 | $200 ring.com
RULE THE FISHING SCENE
Every fisherman famously has a tall tale about ‘The One That Got Away’, but that might be able to change. The Deeper Smart Fishfinder uses sonar to detect fish depth and location info, reporting it back to your phone or tablet via Bluetooth. The Fishfinder works with any rod and switches on as soon as it hits the water.
Deeper Smart Fishfinder
£275 | $400 nextbit.com
£160 | $200 buydeeper.com
PROJECT ARA BRINGING 87 NEW MEANING TO ‘UPGRADING’ YOUR PHONE The smartphone is arguably the ultimate gadget: we all have one and we all use it in dozens of different ways every day. But whether it’s surfing the web, taking photos, tracking our fitness or, you know, actually making a phone call, our phones are not really the best at what they do. For instance, for a really great photo you’re better off with a dedicated camera. For accurate work out readings, there are more on-point fitness bands. But what if you could customise your phone for a specific purpose, upping the quality of the camera when you’re about to go on holiday or adding extra healthtracking sensors when you’re off to the gym? This is the aim of Project Ara. One of Google’s so-called ‘moonshot’ projects, the aim is to produce a modular phone that you can physically upgrade by mixing and matching sensors as and when you need to do so. Originally announced back in 2014, Google has been beaten to the finish line by the LG G5 this year, which also has modular components. However, Project Ara’s customisation is much wider in its scope. Google has recently confirmed that the first Project Ara phone will arrive next year, with a developer kit arriving to third parties this autumn. If its successful, this could be the biggest thing to happen to phones since apps came along.
Ara was supposed to modular right down to a swappable screen and replaceable RAM, but the latest prototype appears to have gone back on this
Plug and play You don’t need to waste time fiddling with downloads for modules, you just to slot them in and they will work thanks to new Greybus software built into Ara’s OS
New kids on the block
Revo 01Samsung Modular TV 02 Acer Build PC In January, Samsung showed off a working concept that is made up of screens that can be used separately or seamlessly combined into a massive 170-inch screen. Ideal for a movie night! TBA youtu.be/id-DvZjBSBI
Intended to be simpler to upgrade than a conventional PC, you simply stack magnetic blocks onto Acer’s Revo Build to boost your graphics card or add extra terabytes of memory. £200 | $180 acer.com
TMA-2 03 AiAiAi headphones 04 Blocks smartwatch 05Fairphone 2 Danish audio company AiAiAi allows you to customise your headphones before you buy them and replace any parts when they wear out. With 18 modules to choose from, they offer 360 different combinations. £115 | $165 aiaiai.dk
Coming this September, Blocks is doing for smartwatches what Ara is doing for phones. Mix-andmatch modules, including a heart-rate monitor, a battery, payment sensor, by swapping out watch links. £230 | $330 chooseblocks.com
The phone with a conscious, this modular smartphone emphasises how its upgradable parts make it more sustainable and therefore eco-friendly. Fairphone also ensures all components are also ethically sourced. £415 | $600 fairphone.com
018 H T 1OO
TANGO GOOGLE’S AR TECH IS NOW A REALITY No, we don’t mean the ballroom dance or fizzy orange drink, but Google’s augmented reality platform. Three years in development, the first Tango-enabled phone will be available to buy this September. If you’re not sure what ‘augmented reality’ is, Tango has the same premise as Microsoft’s HoloLens: it intelligently overlays graphics onto real-world views using depth-sensing and motion-tracking cameras. At the launch of the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro, Tango was used to measure furniture and play a game of dominos, where the virtual pieces sat on a real desk. In the future, Google hopes that Tango’s 3D-mapping will help you navigate on-screen directions. More than a novelty, this could make a huge difference for the visually impaired. NASA has also been testing Tango on the International Space Station to see if it can incorporate it into robots. Lenovo also plans to incorporate Tango into more devices, possibly including headsets. But we’re not quite there yet, the demos at the Lenovo launch repeatedly failed to work, suggesting there’s a few bugs still to work out.
£350 | $500 projectara.com
Lenovo Phab 2 Pro
Complex camera array
As well as a 16-megapixel shooter, the Phab 2 Pro has a wide-angle camera and depthsensing unit as part of its Tango tech, which captures 250,000 measurements a second
Quad HD Display
The device has a 6.4-inch screen with pin-sharp quad HD resolution that adjusts for lighting conditions so you can appreciate the AR graphics
ARROW SMART KART LIKE REAL-LIFE MARIO KART It’s not just cars that are getting smarter – go-karts are too. The electric Arrow Smart Kart from Actev Motors has built-in Wi-Fi so you can control its settings with an app, use GPS to track its location and proximity sensors to automatically avoid crashes. The long-term goal is to use all this connectivity to gamify the karting experience, so you can play something like real-life Mario Kart. If you can’t wait to start throwing shells at your friends while racing, note that the Arrow is aimed at pre-teens. Actev Motors is betting that parents will be won over by the smart features, which includes being able to lower the kart’s maximum speed and setting a virtual boundary that if kids cross, the engines will automatically cut out. If this sounds like a novelty product that won’t amount to much, think again. Actev Motors is backed by Silicon Valley power player Tony Fadell, who previously worked on the iPod and cofounded smart thermostat maker Nest before selling it to Google.
As well as adding a Formula 1-style bodywork to your kart, you can also buy drift rings that reduce friction so you can perform donuts and bigger battery packs
The Arrow is powered by two 250W motors and also includes electronic regenerative braking to help keep the kart fully charged
£810 | $1,150
Arrow Smart Kart
tag heuer connected
£1,110 | $1,500 tagheuerconnected.com
Tag Heuer Connected
USB TYPE-C SUPER-FAST FILE TRANSFER
TAG HEUER CONNECTED THE SMARTEST WATCH When the Apple Watch was first announced, it was suggested that traditional watchmakers should be worried. Instead the 156-year-old Alpine brand TAG Heuer partnered up with Google to make the best of both worlds. The Connected is finely crafted out of titanium, with IP67 water resistance and a rubber strap, but it also displays notifications
from your phone and tracks your health. In short, it’s the best-looking Android watch, but it costs more than £500 more than other models. It’s a surprise, then, that Connected is in demand. TAG Heuer had to up production from 1,500 watches a week to 2,000 and it has confirmed it is developing a wider range of watches for 2017.
amounts of data and power very quickly. It’s also interchangeable: you only have to use the one cable to charge your phone, connect to your HDMI screen and back-up your files to an external drive. Its not all good news, cheap cables have been known to draw too much power and fry devices.
NO CLUMSY CABLES WITHTHIS VR BACKPACK
16 SENSORS ARE BETTER THAN ONE
Both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive VR headsets have to be tethered directly to your PC by a thick cable that has a notable habit of getting under your feet and making you stumble around. HP’s solution to this trip hazard is the VR backpack, which is essentially a laptop with straps and a belt containing batteries. HP has only shown off a working prototype so far, but MSI and Zotac already have similar devices on sale.
DSLR, it’s time to move over: there is a new type camera on the block that’s going to win over pro photographers. The Light L16 is as compact and portable as a smartphone, but it’s covered in 16 different sensors with varying focal lengths. Every picture you take stitches together photos from ten of these sensors, which Light’s creator claims reduces low-light noise and increases dynamic range, making for some truly superior results.
HP Omen X VR Backpack PC
While a cable might seem a bit niche, this accessory has been one of the biggest tech stories of the year. When Apple launched the new MacBook last year it only included one port, one for a USB Type-C. Google and other tech giants have also got behind the cable because it can deliver huge
£1,100 | $1,700
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80 5G IT’LL BE HERE SOONER THAN YOU EXPECT While many of us find ourselves waving our phones in the air just trying to get signal let alone 4G, the next generation of connectivity is already in the works. Researchers at the University Of Surrey’s 5G Innovation Centre achieved staggering speeds of one terabyte per second earlier this
year, and Ofcom says it’s likely the standard outside of the lab will be 10 to 50 gigabytes per second. This is much faster than 4G, which offers 15 megabytes per second. 5G connectivity is expected to roll out across the UK in 2020, but public tests could begin as early as next year.
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SMART IN-CAR INFOTAINMENT MAKING A DASH FOR YOUR ATTENTION 79 If there’s one thing that has driven us mad over the years, it’s being stuck in the slow lane when it comes to in-car gizmos. The industry isn’t as bad today, but it took a long time for it to replace cassettes with CDs, CDs with digital and FM with DAB. Thankfully, things may have taken a turn for the better with the in-car infotainment systems by Apple and Android. It’s a two horse race with Apple Car Play and Android Auto both making a promising start and are upgradable. Car Play replicates the iOS experience, to some degree, displaying eight of its icons per page and allowing you to prod them to call up voice-guided maps, Apple Music, Spotify, Audible, Tune In and Siri. You can also make calls and dictate messages. Auto is similar, although its maps contain traffic information and you can make calls via Skype. Android’s system also hooks into Google Now which lets it predict your movements based on the information that it gathers.
Wireless support Up to now, Auto needed you to have your phone plugged in but Google announced that it is introducing wireless connections
OK Google No need to mess about with the screen – Android Auto is getting support for OK Google which will work through your phone
78 DON’T LET THAT STRAY SOCK GO UNWASHED
77 THE CAMERA THAT YOU THROW
76 FORGET GUARD DOGS, USE A CANARY CAM
Eagles are supposed to have the best vision of all the birds, but you can make do with this amazing Canary instead. This security camera keeps a watch out for burglars. If they do end up raiding your home, the Canary will be recording high-definition video, so it’ll catch the cads in action before piercing their ears with a 90-decibel siren and sending an alert to your mobile. It even monitors air quality, temperature and humidity.
With this innovative clean machine claiming to your other half or mother that you were unable to clean your favourite T-shirt because the laundry was mid-cycle just won’t wash anymore. The Samsung Add Wash has an extra opening in the upper part of the main door so that you can chuck in any missed pieces of clothing, and you can even add in some more detergent without fear the water is going to spill out and drown you in a swamp of boiling-hot suds.
We may live in a throwaway society but when you toss this ball-shaped snapper, you’ll definitely want it back. It’s fitted with 36 individual cameras that simultaneously take a picture after you throw it into the air, the resulting image comes in at a whopping 108 megapixels. The 36 individual images are stitched together into shareable panoramic shots that sync to your iOS or Android phone. There’s an anti-theft mode too, in case someone tries to nick it.
Samsung Add Wash
£500 | $1,100
£1,150 | $1,650
$160 | $200
Canary security camera
ENCAPSULATING DAILY LIFE IN 140 CHARACTERS Remember the dark days before Twitter when you had to, like, talk to people? Yeah, we thought not. It’s hard to believe that the social media giant is ten years old this year, and it has flown into 332 million lives to such an extent that many of us rely on it for breaking news, cutting opinion, ridiculous tech rumours and a good old giggle. The 140-character shackles are coming off, Twitter Q&As and polls are hot and even GCHQ is tuning in.
Twitter Free twitter.com
74 MAKE YOUR GOLF SWING EASY AS 123 Michael Jackson made a white glove famous but he didn’t have the foresight to turn it into a sports training wearable. But then the Zepp Golf 2 sensor wasn’t around back then. Fixed to the back of your glove, the gadget syncs with an app and measures your swing, speed and hip rotation in the hope of improving your game. The verdict? It ain’t bad.
Zepp Golf 2 £30 | $150 zepp.com
73 THE NEXT RASPBERRY PI?
It may be 52mm x 42mm but the Micro Bit controller proves size isn’t everything. Packing a 32-bit ARM Cortex MO microprocessor running at 16MHz with 16KB of RAM, it’s designed to be part of the Internet Of Things. But key is its ability to be programmed, with the Beeb giving a million of them to kids in order to help familiarise them with tech.
Micro Bit £15 | $20 microbit.co.uk
72 CREATE A NETWORK OF MUSIC
When Yamaha decided to create a network of products that could work together wirelessly, it was music to an audiophile’s ears. Music Cast can network more than 30 of its products and allow them to be combined and controlled via an iOS or Android app. It means you can stream the same tune in multiple rooms and enjoy highquality sound formats.
Music Cast Free yamaha.com
£210 | $300
One Plus 3
ONEPLUS 3 A CHINESE SMARTPHONE WITH FEW EQUALS
You could count on one hand the number of people you know who own a OnePlus 2 phone given that it was unveiled on an invite-only basis. But although the handsets are now on sale, the start-up behind them has already moved on to the next model. The 5.5-inch 1080p HD-screened One Plus 3 comes with a Snapdragon 830 processor, a 16MP rear camera, up to 6GB of RAM and 64GB storage. As before, it doesn’t skimp on features, such as a fingerprint reader, yet it continues to ship at prices that undercut the top cells by half and come carrier-unlocked.
70 3D PRINTING WHY IT’S THE HOT END OF TECH With 3D printing having long shifted from the hobby market to the mainstream, the maker tech scene has boomed. Today you can buy 3D printers relatively cheaply, so while the Maker Bot Replicator 5 costs a couple of grand, you could head to Kickstarter to see a raft of inexpensive alternatives ranging from the Mini Toy 3D printer for kids to the smart unibody Tiki device. The future possibilities are wide open. Scientists are already printing human cells, chefs are layerig delicious food and an entire building was in Dubai was 3D printed over 17 days. You can start by heading to thingiverse.com, though: the designs being shared by the 3D printing community are truly inspiring.
THE ROBOT THAT CUTS YOUR LAWN
SHOOT YOUR WAY TO HEALTHINESS
This robotic mower will make your neighbours green with envy. Easily adjustable to 15 levels, the iMow robot is able to cut an average lawn to between 20 and 60mm in two hours and 20 minutes using both sensors under its hood to avoid any obstacles in its path and a perimeter wire to prevent it from wondering about outside of your garden.
Sales of the Nutri Bullet soared over the past couple of years due to its promise of healthy living and it’s become a staple ingredient of many a kitchen. Instead of juicing or blending fruit, veg and nuts, it ‘extracts’ them, which essentially means it breaks down their cell walls to an absorbable state to release copious body-enhancing vitamins and minerals.
£1,000 | $N/A viking-imow.co.uk
£70 | $60 nutribullet.com
E INK MAKES READING BETTER
Although bookworms still prefer hard copies, the introduction of E Ink screens, which work by applying an electric field to particles, was pivotal in moving people towards e-readers. The low-power experience on offer by the likes of the Kindle not only made the screen easy on the eye, allowed readers to engage with the most absorbing pageturner without worrying the battery would die before reaching the end.
E Ink screens
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£800 | $1,000 beoplay.com
BEOPLAY A6 MAKE YOUR MUSIC FEEL AT HOME The Beoplay A6’s stitched fabric exterior looks so good, it not only fits seamlessly into any living space, you’ll want to stroke it day after day. But, luckily, this is exactly what B&O intends you to do. While there is an accompanying app, to turn the volume up and down on this eye-wateringly expensive wireless speaker you can swipe right or left,
tapping to mute and touching to change tracks. With a couple of 60-watt woofers, two 30-watt tweeters and a 60-watt full range driver, you’ll want it up loud, though. The A6 will play any major file format and stream over Air Play, Bluetooth or DLNA. It’s also compatible with Spotify, filling any room with your favourite tunes.
£1,050 | $1,300 apple.com
MACBOOK TEN YEARS OF APPLE’S PREMIER LAPTOP Originally released in May 2006, the MacBook has virtually disappeared before our very eyes thanks to the release of ever lighter, thinner models. Yet at the same time, the laptops have been getting ever more powerful: the top-end MacBook Pro has a 2.5GHz quad Intel Core
i7 processor, 16GB of memory, a force touch trackpad, 512GB flash storage and a eyeball-splitting 15-inch Retina display. While there are cheaper Apple alternatives each is connected by two things: an incredible build quality and the refined and easyto-use operating system, OS X.
THE MOUSE WITH SWAPPABLE SENSORS
SEND CYCLING STATS TO YOUR PEEPERS
IT’S THE COMPANY THAT MAKES BB-8
THIS DRONE IS ALSO YOUR CAMERAMAN
Like a virtual lab mouse, this high-end PC gaming controller from Mad Catz invites user experimentation, allowing players to swap out its sensors, adjust the click force of the wheel and make use of analog control movement. Optimised to work with Windows 10 and coming with built-in memory, it’s also surprisingly comfortable with a variety of positions for your palm and pinkies, and it comes with a phenomenal build quality.
Designed for hardcore cyclists, the lightweight Varia Vision from Garmin provides you with a high-tech HUD simply by attaching it to your sunglasses. It displays performance data and navigation prompts in your line of sight. Helping to keep your focussed as you ride along, it works with a compatible mobile device and it can also be hooked up with the Varia Rearview radar system, so you’ll be fully aware of vehicles that are approaching you from behind.
You’re most likely to know Sphero from the insanelypopular BB-8 drone which rolled off the shelves just before Christmas – just in time for The Force Awakens. But the original spherical robot toy from 2010 – also called Sphero – is what drove the revolution. Fully programmable and controlled via a smartphone or tablet, it’s a tough polycarbonate cookie which can roll at up to 4.5mph. It has inspired a strong love of robotics and coding in many.
There have been many firsts in flight technology, especially with drones in recent years, but the innovation that has excited us the most has been the Solo 3DR’s ability to directly tap into a GoPro 12MP camera’s settings while it’s up in the air, allowing for stunning, on-the-fly shots. Best of all, it can stream recordable 720 HD images straight to a mobile. You can choose for its computer to take control of the camera or flight, turning it into the ultimate wingman.
Garmin Varia Vision £320 | $400
Solo 3DR drone
£170 | $180 madcatz.com
Mad Catz RAT Pro X gaming mouse
£100 | $130
£785 | $920 3dr.com
THE SMART HOME 60 AND WE’RE NOT TALKING DÉCOR HERE Technology is taking over every room of your house and we’re betting you’re more than willing to open your door to it. You’ve probably lay in bed dreaming about this moment for years but the ironic thing is, your smart home has the potential to be so advanced that it could even gently help you back to sleep. Although a survey of 2,006 UK households by PwC found that 72 per cent are not interested in buying any smart home technologies, 81 per cent admitted they could see the benefit of them. But whatever the findings, there is clamour from companies wanting to be involved – such as the classic videogame giant, Atari. To futureproof your home, you certainly have to do some research. Nest is one of the biggest ecosystems in the world right now and alternatives, such as Hive, are proving strong in the UK market, but we’ve seen a fair few companies coming and going. Let’s see what’s out there.
SOFA SO GOOD When it’s time to chill, ask Amazon Echo’s Alexa to dim the lights and play you some top tunes. Use Nest to adjust the temperature without getting off the sofa and put your feet up to watch some TV. If you have Sky Q installed, you’ll be able to watch record multiple programmes at once and view your favourite shows on your tablet.
SKY’S THE LIMIT If you’re worried about your plants, use some flower power from Parrot. It measures sunlight and temperature as well as soil moisture, sending alerts to your phone. During the dry summer, you can get Blossom to sprinkle the garden with water no matter where you are. Indeed, if you’re infatuated by the weather, you ought to get yourself a Netatmo weather station with real time information about air quality and temperature too.
CONNECT YOUR COOKING Kitchen cupboards have long been filled with discarded ‘time-saving’ tech. But with a Quooker boiling water tap, you can get the pasta going without waiting for the kettle to finish, and with the built-in temperature sensor of a Pantelligent frying pan, you can cook to perfection. Make the Samsung Hub Fridge a centre point and know what’s in your fridge by looking on your phone.
SUPERCHARGE YOUR SLEEP Sleepless nights can be banished with smarthome tech. The Eight sensored mattress sleep tracker analyses your snooze patterns and bedroom environment to help you nod off. To stir you again, Beddi is a cool clock with Spotify integration, a wake-up light and app-controlled alarm. Once awake, you can use an app to get the Nespresso Prodigio coffee maker to start your brew.
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£800 | $900
ROOMBA 980 THE ROBOT THAT CLEANS AFTER YOU Taking us a step closer to the Jetsons’ futuristic robot-led lifestyle is the 980, Roomba’s latest autonomous robotic vacuum cleaner. Set it down in a room and it’ll use its sensors to map its surroundings before scuttling around your floor sucking up all the dirt and dust it comes across.
£230 | £300 impossible-project.com
Impossible Project I-1
IMPOSSIBLE PROJECT I-1 BRINGING BACK POLAROID Adored by seaside photographers and partygoers for being able to spew out freshly-developed images within seconds, Polaroid cameras reached their peak in the late Seventies. They had been invented by Polaroid’s cofounder Edwin Land who unveiled the first model, the 95 Land Camera, in 1948 but the rise of digital led to Polaroid ceasing film production exactly 60 years later. At that time, the newly-founded Impossible Project snapped up the machines used to make the film. It then begun its own run of film and this year, it has started to make
its own camera too. The I-1 is the first new ‘authentic’ instant cam to be produced in two decades and replicates the feel of using a Polaroid. But while it shoots on true Polaroid-style film and has all of the quirks of the original right down to shaking the printout in the hope of getting it to develop faster, there are some modern twists. It now works with a smartphone app that lends manual controls and a remote shutter feature. But you can’t snap digital shots, and that’s where things get a little expensive – the film costs £15/$20 for eight shots.
It’s possible to get the Roomba 980 to vacuum an entire level of your home and it doesn’t particularly matter how large a floor space it has to cover. After a couple of hours, it’ll head off to recharge and then resume its monotonous task, even getting under the edges of rugs.
£45 | $40 nerf.hasbro.com
Nerf N-Strike Modulus ECS-10
NERF PACK SOME SERIOUS FOAM FIREPOWER We know there is a crazy amount of Nerf blaster models to select from, but when you’re looking to pop some spongy cellular material at your friend in cold-blooded foam warfare, you don’t really have much time to waste. Ever since the toy guns emerged in the late Eighties, they
have provided safe, but crazy, fun for millions, allowing for battles to take place just about anywhere, even indoors and spawning lots of different types of ammunition to mix things up a bit. Nerf wars are so popular that there are organised battles taking place in all four corners of the globe.
PHILIPS HUE SEE THINGS IN A DIFFERENT LIGHT £60 | $80 meethue.com
It was Thomas Edison who patented the first commercially successful incandescent lightbulb in 1879 but it was more than 120 years later before we began to see solid-state LEDs as a viable alternative. Better than the ugly energysaving bulbs that were extremely slow to light, LEDs are known for their long life, low power consumption and instant brightness. Philips Hue has taken LED technology further, with a range of lights that can change colour, be dimmed and, crucially, be scheduled via an app. As well as working with the likes of Apple’s Home Kit, Nest, Amazon Echo and Philips Ambilux televisions, you can turn these lights on an off manually no matter where you are and you can create whatever ambience you wish. But you’re not restricted to familiar-looking bulbs. The range includes the portable Hue Go, the flexible Hue Lightstrip Plus and the spaceage-like Hue Phoenix lamp. There are also some sizeable for recessed ceiling spots. For all of these, you’ll need a Hue ‘bridge’ that plugs into your Wi-Fi (it can be bought on its own or part of a starter kit) then, from that point on, you’ll see bulbs in a whole new light.
STREAMING WHO NEEDS PHYSICAL MEDIA ANYWAY? 55 With more than enough broadband bandwidth at our disposal these days, we can gobble up streaming media like a panda eats bamboo. It has already changed the way we watch TV and listen to music, not only leading to falling audiences for traditional channels but even causing a slump in digital song purchases. The tide has turned to such a degree that the BBC is considering it’s own Netflix rival and there has even been speculation that Apple will close its music download business in as little as two years. That’s despite some artists including Taylor Swift, Prince and Radiohead having at voiced anger at the small royalties on offer. But it’s not just TV and music. The trend hasn’t escaped gaming. In the early days of game streaming – which allows high-end gaming to be fed to low-end devices – Gaikai competed against OnLive. In the end, Sony snapped up the patents and launched PS Now.
WHAT CAN YOU STREAM?
Spotify is still a music streaming giant with more than 75 million customers and 20 million songs. Listen to tunes on ad-free streams via smart devices, computers and games consoles
Despite the furore over region-locked content, Netflix still has more highquality original shows than its rivals – notably House Of Cards and Orange Is The New Black.
While it, like Netflix, has lots of TV shows – The Grand Tour and Mr. Robot springs to mind – Amazon Prime is just as strong on movies from the likes of Interstellar to Paddington.
YouTube carried the Champions League final and it is going into live streaming in a big way. It even has a continuous live Sky News feed and launched a game streaming service.
£10/$10 a month
£6/$8 a month
£6/$9 a month
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SONY RX100 IV SHOOT SUPER SLOW-MO PHOTOS You could easily make a snap judgement when viewing this camera. It’s a compact with no touchscreen – what fresh hell is this? But slow down a second. This is the latest, fourth version of one of Sony’s top-of-the-range cameras, and there are very few which can beat it. At 20.1MP with a large one-inch sensor, 2.9x optical zoom and up to 40x super slow motion, it’s up there with the most professional cameras. It produces clear images and takes up to five minutes of 4K video, benefiting from immense processing power that also allows for 16fps burst shooting. The resulting images are of an incredibly fine quality, bursting with vibrant, true-to-life colours. The shots also benefit from lens-based image stabilisation that enables you to shoot in the lowest of lights. Each picture can be backed up to Sony’s Play Memories Online cloud – Sony’s answer to Apple’s iCloud and Photo Stream. Even better, you don’t even have to worry about the battery – the RX100 IV’s battery is good for approximately 280 shots.
Capture action images
The camera puts everything you need to hand with a flash that pops out, slow motion accessible through the mode dial and more
The 1/32000-second super-high-speed anti-distortion shutter allows you to take advantage of super-slow-motion shooting
Great lens You’ll get great images thanks to the 20.1MP, stacked 1.0 type CMOS image sensor with DRAM chip and the Zeiss VarioSonnar T*24-70mm lens with f1.8-2.9 aperture
£850 | $950 sony.com
Sony RX100 IV
FOUR EARS ARE BETTER THAN TWO
GETTING A LIFT HAS NEVER BEEN THIS EASY
While sounding like a gadget that the Dark Knight himself would be proud to use, the Batband is one of many headphones that bypass your lugholes and instead let you listen to music through the vibration of your jaw and cheek bones. By sending vibrations straight to your inner ear, it leaves your outer ear free to listen to whatever is going on around you, essentially letting you hear twice as much as normal, which is handy for when you cross the road.
The world ‘disrupt’ was pretty much made for Uber given the way it’s driven many of its competitors off the road. What started off as a luxury brand has become ubiquitous with so many of us hailing Uber drivers today – the six-year-old company is now worth a staggering $60bn. Using an app on your phone to book, track and pay for a ride seems simple enough and, despite a furious backlash from rival taxi services, Uber has become virtually unstoppable.
£130 | $200
£540 | $650 apple.com
IPHONE 6S THE BEST IPHONE EVER MADE
If Apple wants to keep taking a bite out of the ever-growing Android market, it has to make sure that its highest-end handset is at the cutting edge. Right now – until the iPhone 7 is released – the 6S is as good as it gets. It’s good news, then, that there’s plenty to text home about. Available in gold, silver, ‘Space Grey’ and ‘Rose Gold’, the 6S has a strong aluminium body, the fastest A9 chip, a 4.7-inch 326ppi screen (5.5-inch at 401ppi on the 6S Plus) and the benefits of ‘3D Touch’ – which lets you press harder on the screen to bring up extra options and menus. It also beats the iPhone 6’s 8MP camera with a 12MP version that’s capable of filming in 4K. But it is iOS and the quality of App Store which helps the 6S shine the most – but can Apple rely on this for much longer?
Dyson 360 Eye
Dyson 360 Eye
DYSON DISCOVER THE DIFFERENCE When James Dyson was frustrated by the poor performance of his Hoover Junior, he designed his own vacuum cleaner using the kind of cyclonic suction system he’d seen working in a sawmill. After countless prototypes, the world’s first Dyson bagless vacuum cleaner was launched in 1991. Since then, the company has grown exponentially, branching out into other electrical products such as fans and handdryers, using the same innovative approach to revolutionise its designs. Most recently, Dyson launched the Supersonic hair dryer, which measures air temperature 20 times a second to prevent extreme heat damage. With the motor housed in the handle, a high-velocity air flow is accelerated through its body to dry hair faster. The Dyson Pure Cool Link monitors and purifies the air, using an incredibly fine 0.9 micron glass HEPA filter to remove even the tiniest particles, eliminating 99.95% of allergens. It can also be remotely controlled via the Dyson Link phone app. Back in the realm of vacuum cleaners, the V8 is the most powerful cordless model yet and can transform into a handheld. Finally, due to launch this summer, the 360 Eye is a powerful robot cleaner that finally does the job properly, equipped with a camera to find its way around.
£500 | $720 dyson.co.uk
£300 | $400 dyson.co.uk
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49 A WATCH WORTH WEARING Unlike most Android Wear devices, Huawei’s own smartwatch is targeting the high-end consumer – its circular face gives it a classic look. Naturally, it pairs with an Android phone, but it’s also one of the first Android Wear watches to work with iOS. It’s an obvious rival to the Apple Watch and it offers a wide range of cases and strap options.
Huawei Watch £290 | $350 huawei.com
WINDOWS WONDER TABLET
While previous Surface Pro models have been billed as ‘the tablet than can replace your laptop’, this could finally be the one to actually live up to that claim. Faster and thinner than the Pro 3, it has Windows 10 as its OS and can run all standard PC applications. An optional cover keyboard makes it a true hybrid device, suitable for work and leisure.
Surface Pro 4 £750 | $900 microsoft.com
THE SMART STICKY BUTTON
A Bluetooth-enabled button you can stick to any surface, Flic can be programmed to trigger actions in wirelesslyconnected devices. You can turn the lights on or off, start music and alter the heating thermostat, for instance. It works as with the IFTTT service, too and, for extra versatility, the Flic has three triggers: click, double-click and hold.
Flic £25 | $35 flic.io
£490 | $700
AVEGANT GLYPH YOUR PERSONAL MOVIE THEATRE
While it may look like a VR headset, the Avegant Glyph is instead billed as the world’s first personal cinema. Enabling you to watch movies anywhere, it provides the illusion of a giant screen. Amazingly, however, there is no screen: instead, the Glyph uses a combination of advanced optics and microscopic mirrors to beam images directly into the user’s eyes. The fit is adjustable – there are magnetic, interchangeable nose pads in four sizes. As well as delivering an immersive movie-viewing experience, the Glyph doubles as a pair of audio headphones.
£60 | $100
LITTLE BITS ELECTRONIC BUILDING BLOCKS This Lego-like kit offers an easy way to learn about electronics, while making it more fun for youngsters. The plastic components snap together with magnets to create instant circuits with no bare wires. The bits are all colour-coded, too – blue for power sources, pink for inputs (buttons, sensors etc), green for outputs (lights, motors), and orange for connectors – so you can focus on being inventive, creating anything from a simple lamp to a self-driving vehicle. It’s not just for kids, either, as the range of kits includes one to create a smart home. Individual extra bits can also be bought and there seems no limit to what you can make, even hooking creations up to the internet.
WAKE UP TO A FRESHLYMADE BREW
IS IT A TABLET OR A LAPTOP?
Remember the classic Goblin Teasmade? Well, this is somewhat highertech: a smart coffee machine that cooks up a morning brew while you’re still sleeping. It’s a full bean-to-cup machine that you can operate remotely via a smartphone app. Of course, you can adjust the strength and it can make 12 cups in one go, poured into its carafe.
Samsung’s rival to the Surface Pro 4 features a sleek, portable design and a stunning 12-inch Super AMOLED touchscreen protected by Gorilla Glass. Based around a Windows 10 OS, the TabPro S can run standard PC applications – and stream Xbox Ones games. Unlike most rivals, it even comes bundled with a keyboard dock, making it a nifty mobile office.
Galaxy TabPro S
£180 | $255 smarter.am
£850 | $900 samsung.com
ULTRA-LIGHT FIXED-WING DRONE With the drone market dominated by quadcopters, it’s nice to see something different. The world’s first fixedwing drone, the Disco is designed to be ultramanoeuvrable. It’s also smart, offering take-off, landing and return home modes. A 2700mAh battery bestows it over 45 minutes of flight, while a 1080HD camera gives you a great view.
Xiaomi Mi Drone
£265 | $380 mi.com
Xiaomi Mi Drone
£170 | $TBA
XIAOMI MI DRONE AFFORDABLE QUADCOPTER
Best known for its smartphones, Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi is set to cause a stir in the drone market by launching this smart quadcopter at a reasonable and affordable price: around £265/$380 for the 1080p camera version, and £315/$455 for the 4K model. Sitting underneath the chassis, the Mi Drone’s camera can move a full 360° and features a 12-megapixel Sony sensor. A live video feed is beamed to your smartphone, which is, in turn, connected to the drone’s remote controller. Smart piloting features include the ability to fly to a certain point, circle an object and follow a road. A 5100mAh battery provides a flight time of up to 27 minutes. Both models of the Mi Drone are due to be launched later on this year.
MOTO G4 A BRILLIANT BUDGET SMARTPHONE
Previous Moto G models have offered excellent value for money and this is no different. It comes in two main flavours: the standard Moto G4 and the G4 Plus, which adds a fingerprint sensor, 16MP rear camera (rather than 13MP), while offering extra memory and storage options. Other than that, they’re similar in design and spec. Protected by Gorilla Glass, the 5.5-inch 1080p LED screen is the series’ biggest and sharpest. There’s also a faster Snapdragon 617 processor to run everything using Android Marshmallow, with no bloatware. Another key addition is Turbo Charging, giving up to six hours of usage from a 15-minute charge.
THIS IS THE CAR OF THE FUTURE
SMALL SPEAKER, BIG SOUND
APPLE WATCH MAKEOVER
NEVER HAVE AN EMPTY FRIDGE
A US-based venture, Faraday Future is focused on the development of intelligent electric vehicles. The firm doesn’t yet have a production-ready car, but it showed off a concept car at January’s CES. It has already built a $1 billion megafactory in Nevada and is planning a second in California. FF’s innovative, modular approach to vehicle design involves using strings of battery blocks in various arrangements, added to a chassis that can be modified to create different body shapes.
This diminutive Bluetooth speaker’s innovative design enables it to deliver the sort of audio quality you might expect from a unit twice its size. It produces a wide stereo sound field with enough power to fill the room. This is made possible by an innovative design featuring five custom drivers, assembled in three arrays. While the bass response is surprisingly good, an optional separate subwoofer can be added. The Core can be used in a multi-room setup, too, creating its own wireless network.
Apple’s smartwatch was touted as the smartwatch to beat when it launched just over a year ago. As well as sending iPhone notifications to your wrist, the touchscreen even features Force Touch tech, so a harder press triggers a different action. But while sales have outstriped Google’s Android Wear, the Apple Watch hasn’t been the success the company was hoping for. However, this might change with the WatchOS 3 update, which overhauls the device’s interface and adds lots of new features.
Ever opened your fridge to find that you’ve got nothing to cook dinner with? Don’t worry: we’ve all been there, and now Samsung can lend a hand. The Family Hub takes a photograph of its contents every time you shut the door, and you can use your smartphone to check what you have in stock no matter where you are. The Family Hub also has a 21.5-inch touchscreen built into the front of it, so you can get weather updates, view your calendar and even shop online.
Mass Fidelity Core
Samsung Family Hub
£415 | $600
£260 | $300 apple.com
£4,235 | $ 6,000
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ROBOT BUTLERS YOU RANG M’LORD?
When not showing Zenbo’s animated face, the touchscreen can display information or the live view from a remote wireless camera; Zenbo has its own camera, too
Like a standard digital assistant, you can give Zenbo voice instructions and it’ll respond in kind, his mouth moving with the words
According to most Fifties sci-fi movies, by now we should all have robots to do our housework. Well, this prediction is starting to become a reality with the arrival of several robot butlers. They won’t do the ironing, but they can help us interact with our smart homes, offering a human-like interface to control devices. Asus’ Zenbo features a touchscreen head with a face that shows emotions. When connected to your wireless network, it can control all sorts of devices and even let you unlock the door to visitors shown on its screen. Blue Frog Robotics’ Buddy is similarly cute and loves to play with children. As well as controlling smart devices, it acts as a personal assistant to remind you of appointments. It can even work as a security guard when you’re out. Even Segway is getting in on the act, launching a two-wheeled scooter robot that can take you for a ride, or just follow you around and take pictures. CMYK / .eps
Facebook “f ” Logo
Zenbo’s body contains its motor and other circuitry that enables him to communicate with smart devices, plus built-in speakers
£515 | $730 bluefrogrobotics.com
Buddy The Robot
£415 | $600
CMYK / .eps
34 TO VIRTUAL REALITY AND BEYOND
Facebook has a huge global audience. More than 1.6 billion people use it at least once a month. That’s half of all internet users – and that doesn’t even include Facebook-owned services such as WhatsApp. Facebook is also branching out into new areas, most notably virtual reality. As well as Oculus VR, maker of the Rift headset, it has also acquired Pebbles Interfaces and Surreal Vision. Facebook also has interests in 360° video, customer service chatbots and payment systems.
33 THE MOST EXPRESSIVE MIDI CONTROLLER It may look like a keyboard, but the Rise is a revolutionary MIDI controller. Its 5D Touch system offers five dimensions of touch as you play it: strike, press (continuous pressure), glide (portamento), slide (sound modulation via vertical movement on keys) and lift (speed of finger lift-off). Available in two-octave and four-octave versions, the RISE comes bundled with the Equator software synthesizer, Bitwig 8-Track digital audio workstation and a storage case.
32 ULTRA-THIN CONVERTIBLE LAPTOP
THE MODULAR FLAGSHIP PHONE
Measuring a slimline 10.4mm when closed, and weighing just 1.1kg, the Spectre is the MacBook Air of the Windows laptop world. It’s glamorous, too: crafted from carbon fibre and aluminium, it features a stylish two-tone finish. Powered by an Intel i5 or i7 processor, with 8GB RAM, the 2016 model is even faster than before. There’s Glass protection for the 13.3-inch or 15-inch Full HD touchscreen, which can be bent over backwards to turn the Spectre into a tablet.
As well as offering a plethora of high-end features, LG’s new flagship smartphone features a modular design. This means that you can slot in accessories, called ‘Friends’, to enhance the phone’s functionality. So far there’s the Cam Plus module with physical camera controls, including a zoom wheel, and the B&O Hi-Fi Plus for high-quality audio. Two upcoming accessories are the 360 VR visor and 360 camera. The battery also slots out without the need to remove the backplate.
Roli Seaboard Rise
HP Spectre x360
£600 | $800
£900 | $900
£530 | $750
ONE FOR ALL, ALL FOR ONE!
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£10/pm | $10/pm tidal.com
TIDAL MUSIC STREAMING FOR AUDIOPHILES
Owned by a coalition of high-profile artists including the likes of Jay Z, Beyoncé and Madonna, Tidal is a music streaming service with a difference. Its unique selling point is the delivery of high-fidelity sound via the lossless, uncompressed FLAC audio format – so you get CD-quality music, as it was meant to be heard. Offering a catalogue of 40 million tracks, along with 130,000 HD videos, the service is available in 46 countries. Tidal also features expertly-curated content and editorial. There are regular big album exclusives, too, from the likes of Kanye West and Rihanna. The main downside is that Tidal’s lossless HiFi subscription is pricey (£20 a month), although a cheaper standard sound quality version is also available at half the price.
£330 | $420
PICO PROJECTORS A POCKET PROJECTOR
Remember the days when a projector was a heavy, unwieldy device plonked onto a desktop during presentations? Well, nowadays you can purchase pocket-sized equivalents, known as Pico projectors. So, if you ever need to show something to a group of people, you can just plug your LED-powered pocket projector into a device and shine it at a wall for a big-screen image. You can even use it for an impromptu movie night with friends! While a host of manufacturers are now producing Pico projectors, our recommended buy is the AAXA P300. Although not quite as portable as some rivals, it boasts more inputs and superior contrast ratios.
26 28 VOICE CONTROL Formerly the stuff of science fiction, the concept of humans talking to their devices is now a reality. Apple’s Siri digital assistant for the iPhone helped popularise the idea of voicecontrolled devices, but since its inception in October 2011 things have moved on at a rapid pace. These days we’re voicing commands to all sorts of technology, from smartwatches to home hub devices, like the popular Amazon Echo speaker. Google has also taken note of the burgeoning market and has launched its own smart speaker, Google Home. While the AI side of things hasn’t yet been perfected, the future will surely be voice-activated.
27 EXPANDING ITS GALAXY OF STARS The multinational tech giant has its finger on the pulse of new tech in so many sectors it’s almost impossible to keep track of everything that it is putting out. Among this year’s launches are a new range of sleek smart SUHD TVs that feature amazing contrast levels, in sizes up to 89 inches. There’s also a 4K/UHD Blu-ray player, the Samsung Galaxy S7 smartphone, the Gear VR headset, Notebook 9 laptops, TabPro S tablet/computer hybrid and Internet-Of-Things-enabled Family Hub Refrigerator. samsung.com
£120 | $170 lumobodytech.com
Lumo Run smart shorts
WEARABLES GET YOURSELF CONNECTED There’s a lot more to wearable technology than fitness bands and smartwatches: the sector is set to explode with an array of new ideas. For starters, there’s smart clothing, with numerous firms developing new products. Levi’s and Google are collaborating on Project Jacquard to weave tech into clothes. Having acquired Runtastic, Adidas is working on new smart sports gear containing even more sensors. Also helping you to track your runs are Lumo Run shorts, Sensoria socks and the OM Bra. It’s not all about fitness, either: mind-reading wearables include Thync and Muse. Then there are ‘invisibles’ such as tech tattoos, wearable toys and even a GPS dog collar!
RASPBERRY PI ZERO THE TINY $5 COMPUTER As if the bestselling, credit card-sized Raspberry Pi computer wasn’t already small enough, the Zero is its little brother, measuring a mere 65 × 30mm. While featuring a slightly lower spec, it still packs a 900MHz CPU and is plenty powerful enough for most uses. Since the Zero runs the same system software as a standard Pi, you could plug in a mouse, keyboard and monitor – via port adaptors – and use it as a fully-functioning computer. However, its main intended use is as an embedded computer for all sorts of electronics projects. Its miniature form factor makes the Zero easy to fit into
tight spaces – even inside an old videogames controller to create an integrated retro console. With so many potential uses, and at an incredibly low price, it’s no wonder the Zero sold out within hours of its launch last November, and has been difficult to get hold of since. Fortunately, production has recently been ramped up, while an extra port on the latest version enables the connection of the Pi Camera Module. This opens up even more possibilities for user-created projects using the Zero. So, instead of simply buying gadgets, why not have a go at making one of your own?
“The Zero sold out within hours of its launch”
What will you make with yours?
01 Desktop message scroller
Create a mini desktop display to scroll text messages such as tweets. A Scroll pHAT LED matrix add-on (£18) is used, along with GPIO headers and various adaptors and cables.
02 Wireless audio station
Using a pHAT DAC add-on (£30) and a Wi-Fi dongle, you can build a wireless audio station that can be controlled from your phone to stream music through a pair of speakers.
Connect a camera An extra port on the latest version of the Pi Zero enables the connection of the official Pi Camera Module using a special adaptor cable
03 Retro games console
While turning a Raspberry Pi into a retro games console has always been popular, using the RetroPie emulation system, the Zero is small enough to be crammed inside the controller!
04 Miniature wheeled robot
Making Pi-powered robots is another popular pastime – and with the Zero, it’s possible to make them much smaller. Mark Cantrill’s Matchbot has a matchbox for its body!
£4 | $5 raspberrypi.org
Raspberry Pi System storage As with other models, the Zero’s system software, applications and data are all stored on a standard microSD memory card
Unpopulated GPIO header You’ll need to solder some GPIO pins to the Zero to connect Pi add-ons
Tiny form factor The Pi Zero is about half the size of a standard Raspberry Pi, making it even easier to fit into tight spaces for projects
05 Homemade flying drone
Weighing just 9g, the Pi Zero is ideal for powering smart DIY drones. The pictured costs $200 and is built using a mini quadcopter kit and PXFmini autopilot shield.
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HOLOLENS TRANSFORMS YOUR WORLD WITH HOLOGRAMS 24 Fitted for comfort
While many rivals are jumping on the VR bandwagon, Microsoft is taking a different track with its HoloLens headset. Rather than giving the wearer a view of a completely artificial scene, it superimposes 3D graphics onto their real-life surroundings, viewed through transparent lenses. The concept of augmented reality has been around for a while, layering helpful information onto a camera view, but the HoloLens takes it to a whole new dimension. You can walk around the ‘holograms’, and interact with them using gesture control. Although several games are in development for HoloLens, it may ultimately prove more useful in the workplace. Product designers can envisage their creations in 3D, and explore and discuss them with HoloLens-wearing colleagues. We may to wait a while yet, though: although a Development Edition is already shipping – for £2,000! – the consumer unit could be months or even years away.
The inner, cushioned band wraps around the user’s head and can be adjusted via a roller at the rear for a secure and comfortable fit
Since the HoloLens has a computer built in to its outer band, there’s no need for any connecting cables; it also features a head motion sensor
HoloLens Spatial sound speakers
As well as viewing virtual objects, you can hear them in 3D thanks to a spatial sound system – an item’s noise gets louder as you approach it
Wraparound, transparent glasses enable the wearer to still see the real world, while two inner lenses display the superimposed graphics
£350 | $500 actonglobal.com
RIDEABLES FINDING NEW WAYS TO TRAVEL
When most people think of rideables, the first thing that pops into their head is a hoverboard. While hoverboards are all the rage in the toy market, however, other rideables are leading the way for the practical purpose of transport. These small, electricpowered vehicles are useful for carrying riders short distances to a railway station or bus stop, where they are then portable enough to be carried on board. Options include fold-up scooters and self-balancing unicycles, but the electric skateboard is probably the best choice as they’re so lightweight and portable. A wireless remote is used for controlling speed, while the riders leans to steer as per usual.
THE ULTIMATE TV SOLUTION
GET BACK INTO THE GROOVE
Making digital recordings of broadcasted TV shows is great and convenient, but what if you’re heading out and want to take them with you on your mobile device? In effect, Sky Q lets you do just that by enabling you play them in its app on your tablet – a phone version is coming soon. When at home, you can also beam recordings to Sky boxes in different rooms.
Vinyl is experiencing a mainstream revival. Many audiophiles say it offers a warmer, more natural sound than CDs and other forms of digital music reproduction. In most record stores, you’ll now see a section full of oldfashioned LPs, whether reissues or new releases. And there’s a wide variety of stylish new turntables to play them on.
Sky Q £45 pm | $N/A sky.com
LOOK AS GOOD AS THEY SOUND If you want to shell out for some better headphones, the Momentum 2.0s are an excellent choice. As well as stylish looks and a padded fit, they deliver impressive audio quality. Bass is powerful without dominating the rest of the music, which features wide stereo imaging for expansive sound. Noise isolation is good, too.
Sennheiser Momentum 2.0
£160 | $230
£270 | $350
£500 | $600 apple.com
iPAD PRO THE DADDY OF ALL IPADS
Making the biggest splash at last September’s Apple event – partly due to a controversial smile-straightening demo – was the announcement of the iPad Pro. The biggest, fastest iPad yet, it’s a dream machine for creatives. The 12.9-inch screen of the original Pro – a 9.7-inch version is also now available – offers a resolution of 2732 × 2048 for stunning detail, while a brandnew A9X 2.26GHz dual-core processor packs plenty of power for multitasking with apps. An optional smart stylus, the Pencil offers unmatched sensitivity and is ideal for using the Pro as a graphic tablet. You can also add a smart cover with full a qwerty keyboard, making the Pro a potential laptop replacement.
THE BEST SMART SPEAKER
THE LITTLE DRONE THAT COULD
The redesigned Play 5 speaker features six speaker drivers powered by six separate digital amps. This helps it to deliver a big sound with impressive detail and deep bass. Using the app on your phone or tablet, it’s easy to play music from streaming services or local network storage, and compile multi-source playlists. It’s also ideal for a multi-room setup.
As you might of guessed from its name, the Micro Drone 3 is tiny – it stands at 5cm tall and has a 14cm diameter. Don’t let its size fool you, though: it has a hell of a lot of functionality – you can livestream video from its camera straight to a smartphone and view it in VR. This drone smashed its crowdfunding campaign last year raising over $3 million.
Sonos Play 5
Micro Drone 3.0
£430 | $500
£150 | £215
From £300 | $430
THE ONLY AFFORDABLE 4K UHD TV
Following HD, the next step up for television technology is 4K, aka Ultra HD – with a resolution of 3840 × 2160 pixels, scenes are rendered in stunning detail. The downside is that up to now it’s been expensive. So it’s exciting to see HiSense launching such an affordable model, the M3000, for £300. It’s also a smart TV with built-in Wi-Fi.
CAPTURE 360° HD VIDEO
IS THIS THE YEAR APPLE RETURNS?
With a growing section on YouTube, 360° videos are all the rage, immersing the headset wearer so they feel like they’re actually there. If you want to shoot your own, the Ricoh Theta S makes it easy and affordable. Capturing hi-res spherical stills or videos in Full HD, it can be triggered remotely from a smartphone and even offers HD live streaming.
While recent iPhone sales figures haven’t been quite so stellar, and the phone itself is playing feature catch-up with some Android rivals, the world’s biggest company is still on the rise. The iPhone 7 is rumoured for later this year, along with updated versions of other devices. Along with various OS updates, there will be an overhaul of Apple Music streaming service.
Ricoh Theta S
£300 | $350
£10/pm | $10/pm
£TBA | $180
THE MOSTWANTED SPEAKER
The Amazon Echo features a smart Siri-like digital assistant, called Alexa. You can ask her to play music from your Amazon Music library or Spotify. Other options include checking your calendar, searching for businesses and ordering stuff from Amazon. The Echo also works as part of a home hub, to control devices such as the Nest thermostat.
12 KICKSTARTER THE CROWDFUNDING KING While the concept of crowdfunding has been around for centuries, the modern web-based version has skyrocketed its popularity. And there’s no bigger crowdfunding platform than Kickstarter, which has raised more than $2 billion for over 106,000 campaigns. Every week, tens of thousands of backers pledge money to help kickstart projects in 15 categories. While the music, film/video and publishing genres are the most popular, it’s the games and technology categories that tend to raise the largest sums. You’ll see all manner of ingenious, and wacky, ideas on Kickstarter, so it’s a great place to look for exciting new products and, if they’re funded, receive them first.
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10 £560 | $695 samsung.com
Samsung Galaxy S7
SAMSUNG GALAXY S7 THE SUPERIOR PHONE
How on earth could Samsung top last year’s superb Galaxy S6? Well, while the S7 doesn’t look all that different, a host of minor improvements add up to make it the best flagship phone around. As before, it comes in standard and super-sized – with curved screen – Edge varieties, both featuring a quad HD AMOLED display for stunning visuals. Great overall performance is assured with an octa-core Exynos processor and 4GB RAM, so there’s no lag whatsoever, while built-in liquid cooling prevents it overheating. The S7’s superb camera is equipped with a Dual Pixel sensor, which lets you take sharp pictures in low light; it can do 4K video recording, too.
AMAZON’S ANSWER TO CHROMECAST
PLAY THE BIGGEST GAMES
This tiny USB device lets you stream content to a TV. Sound familiar? While clearly inspired by Google’s Chromecast, the Fire TV Stick comes with a remote control (or optional voice remote). Easy to set up and use, the Stick works with a good range of services including Netflix, YouTube, Spotify and iPlayer. It also offers a few games.
While it’s been out for a while now, Sony’s PlayStation 4 recently benefited from a price drop and it’s the home for an ever expanding line-up of top games. Exclusive titles include Uncharted 4, Bloodborne and Driveclub. Most exciting of all, however, is the prospect of the PS VR headset, providing an even more immersive gaming experience.
Fire TV Stick
Google selfdriving car
£30 | $40
£300 | $350
YOUR TICKET TO THE FUTURE
The search engine giant is pushing new boundaries in a way that Apple hasn’t done for years. Its self-driving car and Daydream VR headset are just two of many exciting Google projects in the pipeline. These include the Google Home smart hub, Project Ara modular smartphones and a new, smarter personal assistant for Android.
THE MOST AFFORDABLE TESLA YET
HD AUDIO FOR YOUR EARS
Tesla has forever changed public perception of electric cars as boring, by building vehicles with a winning combination of style, innovation and top performance. The only major downside is the price. That could change with the Model 3, an affordable five-seater that goes from 0-60 in under six seconds. It also offers a realistic 215-mile range and Autopilot option.
With its 24-bit depth and 96kHz or 192kHz sample rate, Hi-Res Audio completely outclasses CD quality, with a sound that’s 256 times as fine. Both Sony and Panasonic have embraced 24-bit sound, launching a range of hi-fi systems and headphones, while Chord Electronics’ DACs take the concept of Hi-Res Audio even further: up to 64-bit/768kHz.
Tesla Model 3
GoPro Hero 4 Black
£25,000 | $35,000
£400 | $600
£410 | $500
THE BEST ACTION CAMERA
GoPro pioneered the wearable camera for action/sports shooting. While many other firms have launched similar projects, GoPro is still the leader. The Hero 4 is its most advanced camera yet. It captures pro-quality video at up to 4K/30fps, slow-mo at 240fps and 12MP photos with a 30fps burst mode – and it’s also waterproof.
£190 | $250 nest.com
NEST 3.0 THE EVEN SMARTER THERMOSTAT Debuting in 2011, the Nest is a smart, self-learning thermostat that can help reduce heating bills. Subsequent models have added extra features and the Nest 3.0 is the smartest yet. With a sleeker design, it looks great on your wall and the new ‘Farsight’ motion-sensing system displays the set temperature or digital/ analogue clock whenever someone walks into the room. Extra temperature sensors make the Nest 3.0 more accurate, enabling it to better adjust the heating of your home, although you’ll need extra Nests to control multiple zones. Unlike previous models, it can also control the hot water. As ever, you can monitor and adjust the system remotely via a smartphone app.
DJI Phantom 4
Made from strong composite material, the gimbal is closer to the quadcopter’s centre of gravity. It features three-axis stabilisation
A secure mechanism means that the propellers can withstand drastic changes of motor speed, allowing the aircraft to be more agile and more responsive
4K UHD camera The Ultra High Definition camera boasts enhanced image quality compared to the Phantom 3 Pro
Magnesium core Embedded into the aircraft, a revolutionary magnesium core greatly increases rigidity to minimise unwanted vibrations, while also helping to keep its weight down to 1380g (3lbs)
DJI PHANTOM 4 AN INCREDIBLY SMART DRONE The latest smart drone from DJI has the ability to sense and avoid obstacles, making it much harder – though not impossible – to crash. Linking its remote controller to a smartphone adds some very smart features. The intuitive TapFly mode lets you fly with the tap of a finger. Just press anywhere on the live camera view within the DJI Go app and the drone will make a beeline for that point, only deviating to navigate around any obstacles in its path. Most impressive of all is the new ActiveTrack feature: just tap a subject – such as a person or vehicle – on the camera view and the
Phantom 4 will follow it around and even automate tracking shots to create professionallooking video footage. Mounted on an integrated gimbal, the 4K Ultra HD camera offers enhanced image quality due to lens improvements, plus the ability to capture 1080p video at 120fps for smooth slow motion. The Phantom 4 can hit speeds of up to 44mph in the new Sport mode, letting you fly faster than ever! Whichever you choose to fly it, this is one impressive drone that should also prove easier for beginners to pilot, potentially any avoiding costly crashes.
£1,230 | $1,400 dji.com
DJI Phantom 4
HOW DRONES ARE CHANGING THE WORLD
01 Automated agriculture
Drones are being used to monitor and spray farmland to help improve yields. DJI has launched the Agras, a dustproof drone designed for crop-spraying, which can cover up to ten acres per hour.
02 Making movies
Professional movie-makers are using high-end drones – such as the DJI Matrice 600 with Ronin MX camera gimbal – to film action scenes from any angle and achieve dramatic aerial tracking shots.
03 Search and rescue
Drones are ideal for searching for missing persons in challenging terrain, particularly if equipped with thermal sensors. They can also deliver essential supplies to stranded victims before they’re rescued.
04 Protecting wildlife
Sadly, poaching is a major problem. With the ability to get close to animals without spooking them, drones can be used to deter poachers.
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FITBIT BLAZE THE 2 ULTIMATE SMART FITNESS WATCH Fitbit has been making fitness tracking devices since 2008, and the Blaze is by far the smartest one available today. Fitting onto the wrist, it combines the functionality of a fitness band with that of a smartwatch – including call or text notifications and calendar alerts from a paired smartphone. There’s also a range of stylish straps available to buy and, since the 31.75mm (1.2-inch) colour OLED display is detachable, it can be slotted into a range different frames. The small touchscreen is used for navigating the watch and fitness features. There are stats galore, as the Blaze logs steps, distance, calories burnt, floors climbed and active minutes. It’ll even measure your heart-rate from the wrist – no need for a chest strap. The Blaze can be used to record various sporting activities– including running, cycling and weightlifting – and, if you fail to select an activity, its SmartTrack feature will automatically recognise and log it. Alternatively, start one of the FitStar workouts and you’ll get step-by-step instructions and coaching. After exercising, you can see a summary of your workout and how you’re progressing towards your fitness goals. The only real downside of the Blaze is its lack of built-in GPS, but the device can connect to your smartphone’s to record your running/ cycling route, meaning that its not too bad.
The Fitbit Blaze is designed to both boost fitness and be a fashion accessory
Smartwatch functions Basic smartwatch functionality includes a variety of analogue/ digital clock face options, along with connected smartphone push notifications, calendar alerts and music control
Heart-rate monitor An optical sensor on the rear of the device measures the wearer’s pulse and, therefore, heart-rate – the Blaze logs the resting rate and the rate during exercise, so you can compare them
Detachable display The Fitbit Blaze’s 31.75mm touchscreen can be slotted out of the metal frame and into another if you want to change your style throughout the day.
Pick your style
£180 | $200 fitbit.com
As with most smartwatches, there’s a wide array of strap styles to choose from, including leather and metal links, which come in three different sizes to fit wrists from 14cm to 24cm
DroneGuard BP 450 AW – Now you can go the distance with your drone and all the extra gear you need to capture amazing footage. This comfortable and protective backpack was built to give you all-day comfort, make it easy to customise your kit, let you deploy an All Weather AW Cover™ when needed, plus provide space for your tablet, sunglasses, jacket... and just about everything you need.
Find out more at www.lowepro.co.uk/drones or call 0845 250 0792
©2015 DayMen Canada Acquisition ULC.
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1 VIRTUAL REALITY ENTERING A BRAVE NEW WORLD By strapping on a VR headset and viewing the 3D graphics displayed on tiny screens in front of your eyes, you can be immersed in an artificial world. Built-in sensors track your head movements and adjust the virtual view accordingly, along with the sounds played via headphones. For interaction, some VR systems also feature Kinect-style motion tracking. While the first commercial VR gaming systems were launched in the early Nineties, the bulky headsets were uncomfortable and the 3D visuals primitive. And, while a passable illusion was produced, some users experienced headaches. Cue the Oculus Rift, which raised $2.5 million in a Kickstarter campaign and got everyone excited again. Further headlines were made when the company was bought by Facebook for an astonishing $2 billion. Following a series of prototypes, the first consumer Rift headset was launched in March
– compatible with PC – but with so many rivals close behind, and more emerging, it’s hard to pick a headset right now. HTC’s Vive works with high-end PCs, but also employs motion tracking as you walk around the room. For console gamers, the more affordable PlayStation VR is due out in October for £350. For those on a budget, Samsung’s Gear VR costs just £80, but requires a compatible phone, while Google Cardboard headsets can be bought for as little as £5. So, virtual reality is for everyone.
“Built-in sensors track your head movements and adjust the virtual view”
Ever since Google launched its low-tech Cardboard platform a couple of years ago – to stimulate interest in, and the development of, VR apps on Android – it’s been suspected that a superior version would follow. Due out this autumn, the Google Daydream platform could be a game-changer, set to popularise VR in the mobile market – although it seems you’ll need one of a brand-new range of compatible flagship phones to use it. The headset itself will feature a high-quality system-on-chip for rendering visuals at 60fps on a low-persistence display, eliminating any ghosting. It will also come with a mini handheld controller.
ENTERS THE GAME
Google’s new Daydream VR will debut this autumn
Win our top five hottest gadgets
WIN OUR TOP FIVE HOTTEST GADGETS Get your hands on a Samsung Gear VR, Fitbit Blaze, DJI Phantom 4, Nest Thermostat and GoPro Hero 4!
So you’ve seen our picks of the most exciting tech in the world right now, but what good is that if you can’t get your hands on any of it? That’s why we’re giving our five hottest gadgets to one lucky reader. Yes, that’s right: we’ll kit you out with the latest DJI drone, a Fitbit Blaze fitness tracker, a GoPro Hero 4
action camera, a Nest Thermostat to manage your smart home and a Samsung Galaxy Gear VR headset. This fantastic prize bundle is worth a whooping £2,000, so you’re going to have to work for it. Read back through our Hot 100 feature and then tell us the answer to the following question.
HOW MANY CAMERAS DOES THE PANONO HAVE?
A. 360 B. 36 C. 13
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We spent a week fighting space pilots and swimming with whales to test out Oculus’ biggest VR rival You’re a space pirate firing lasers at robots. You’re under the sea with a whale swimming by. You’re playing mini golf on a mountaintop. You’re rocketing through space at super speed. Shooting zombies. Fighting skeletons. Throwing balls. Catching balloons. Hitting stuff. You’re having the time of your life. This is the true reality of VR. Yes, you’ve probably done all of these things hundreds of times in other videogames, but have you ever actually been the one in the game, doing them for ‘real’? With the HTC Vive, you are Player One. Not an avatar on the screen, or a camera behind a gun – you turn your head and you can look around. You poke something and it
moves away from your hand. You bend over to pick something up and you actually move down to grab it. It sounds simple, but the technology needed to pull off this feat is a lot more complex than it sounds. With the HTC Vive you’ve got a hell of a lot of computing power funnelled through a few wires and pumped into your eyeholes in glorious higher-than-1080p. And you’ve got two controllers that, when you look down in the game (or lift your hands) can be anything, from a bow and arrow to a tennis racquet. We’ve had some serious hands and eyes-on time with the Vive, and now we’re here to tell you whether it’s worth buying.
HOW MUCH ROOM DO YOU NEED? For starters, the Vive has got stricter requirements than any videogame, tech demo or games machine that you’ve ever owned. You’ll need a really bloody powerful PC to run the headset (we’ll go into more detail on that later), but you’ll also need a good amount of space. This isn’t going to be something you put in front of your TV and expect it to be fine, especially if you have bone china or breakable family heirlooms sitting on shelves. You will swing, and sometimes you will have absolutely no idea that you’re about to punch a wall, a chair, or a beloved family member. We unpacked the Vive in an empty area within Gadget Towers, with a square playing space of around 2.5m x 2.5m. Suspending the two ‘base stations’ on lighting rigs (stolen from our photography department – shh, don’t tell them). This meant we had a good area to work with, although you only officially need 2m x 1.5m if you want to get set up at home. Our advice, however, is to use the biggest space possible – while the Vive will warn you if you’re close to the edge of the play area, it’s easy to accidentally swing that little bit beyond the invisible walls and hit real-life ones. The Vive’s controllers aren’t cheap, and while they’re built of sturdy stuff, you don’t want to be knocking them around too much – there are a lot of important sensors hidden inside them. You may also struggle with placement of the base stations. They need to be up high, in opposite corners of your playing area – and its fair to say that not everyone has lighting rigs from a photography studio just hanging around at home… and you can’t steal ours. Fixing them to walls will work, but it’s something you need to think about before you buy. Once you have your physical space ready to go, however, the software set-up process is simple enough. All you need to do is follow some straightforward instructions as they are beamed through the headset, walk around your playing area and you’re good to go – that’s it. If it weren’t for the base stations and the room requirements, this would be a dream to get started. As it is, there’s a lot of planning involved, so make sure to think about this before anything else.
Okay, so you’ve got the space, you’ve strapped your base stations to a pile of boxes and a confused sibling, and you’re ready to play. The next thing to think about is the headset itself, because you’re probably going to be wearing it for a while. Adjustable straps on the left, right and top of the head make it easy enough to fit it to anyone’s noggin, and the cable trailing
While the Vive offers a larger movement area than its main competitor, the Oculus Rift, you physically need a large play area if you want to use it properly. The headset works in conjunction with two mandatory ‘base stations’ that will need to be fixed high in the corners of your playing area. They point down into the area and, combined with the cameras and sensors on the headset itself, create a 3D image of the environment around you.
As you might expect, this won’t suit everyone, but the required space is actually smaller than you might think. You’ll only need an area of 2m x 1.5m to create a playing space, with a maximum distance of 5m between the two base stations. The toughest part for many will be physically attaching the base stations up high on walls (or on poles), because setting up the Vive headset itself is as simple as following some quick and easy instructions.
Your gaming PC
You’ll need to have your powerful PC close by as the cable from the headset will need to remain plugged into this while you play
You’ll need to place these no more than 5m apart, but your playing area can be as small as 2m x 1.5m if necessary
During the set-up process, the Vive app will have you walk around your playing space so it knows exactly where your boundaries are
over the top of the headband is kept neatly in place with strapping. Thick padding surrounds the lenses, ensuring that no outside light will get in while providing a soft surface for your face. It’s just as well, because the Vive headset is actually fairly heavy, weighing in at a hefty 555g. Yes, you’re effectively strapping half a bag of sugar to your face and then flailing around. For short periods of play, it’s really not a problem – the padding does it’s job really well, the nose pad is comfortable, and once
The Vive’s library isn’t limited to videogames, there are also plenty of ‘VR experiences’ like The Blu: Encounter
Get them high For many, the biggest challenge will be fixing the base stations high up. You can attach them to walls with brackets, or use poles
you’ve got the sizing right for the head straps it’s very secure. But if you’re playing for more than 40 minutes or so, you may start to really notice the weight the headset. You’ll get the best results from the lenses inside when the headset is secure on your face, so we ended up tightening the straps a great deal, and the result was a pretty embarrassing red mark when we finished our round of 18 holes in Cloudlands: VR Minigolf. We looked like a superhero that had a bit of a cry.
At the moment, this isn’t really too much of an issue. Many of the games offered by the Vive are short-term experiences or minigames, which are over in 20 minutes or less. Even if you do play for a long time, taking a short break is usually a good idea just to reacquaint yourself with the real world and let your eyes rest for a while. As games become more involved, and longer, it may be that the Vive’s weight becomes more of a talking point, but in reality, during our playtests we didn’t notice any major discomfort.
What surprised us, in fact, was that we didn’t experience more discomfort from the games themselves. We genuinely expected a degree motion sickness to affect us as we played, even if most of the games saw us standing still. Thankfully, the team behind the Vive did its research, and the result is a smooth, slick experience that runs consistently at 90Hz – which basically means there are 90 frames every second. This is considerably faster than the 30fps or 60fps that many modern games consoles manage, and the smooth images help the eye keep focus and avoid sickness.
In fact, the only time we really experienced any nausea was when other people wondered inside our playing area, between the base stations and the headset. This sometimes resulted in the Vive losing our own position, and the viewpoint moving up and down just a fraction of an inch. When you’re stood still and your view starts shaking, you’re bound to feel a little sick. That was the point where we raised the headset off of our head, revealing our sobby superhero face, and politely told the people around us to back the hell up, and carried right on playing. This was also the only point during our extensive playtests when the Vive showed any signs of inaccuracy; we were absolutely blown away by how spot-on the hardware was. One of the oddest – and most quietly brilliant – moments of our entire time with the Vive was early on in our experiment. We lowered the headset over and adjusted the straps, and rather than feeling blindly for the controllers, we simply looked around for them in the virtual world. There they were, floating two feet off the floor in our digital view (in reality, they were sitting on the desk on the edge of our playing area). We simply walked over to them and picked them up. We didn’t miss. We didn’t have to feel around for them. We just reached down and picked them up.
The little divots, located on the front of the headset, are used as reference points so that the base stations can track your position
THE KIT YOU’LL NEED FOR VIVE
The Vive package doesn’t just include the VR headset, which has a front-facing camera and 32 sensors to provide full-360° motion tracking. You also get two Lighthouse base station sensors for greater accuracy and a pair of motion-sensing controllers. £690 | $800 | htcvive.com
Chillblast Tristar Gaming PC
This is where the Vive gets expensive. You can upgrade your existing gaming PC for around £800 to make it VR-ready, but if you have to buy one from scratch, try the Chillblast Tristar with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980T graphics card and Intel Core i7-6700K processor. £2,000 | $2,900 | chillblast.com
SENNHEISER HD 558
The Vive comes with headphones, but they are basic earbuds, so you might want to upgrade. 3D headphones for VR, like the Ossic X, are in the works, but in the meantime try these cans. The offer great sound and are padded for comfort – ideal for hours spent in the Matrix. £160 | $180 | sennheiser.com
These two small buttons on the side of the controller may escape your attention entirely, but they offer more control for grabbing items in the game by simply tightening your grip
This touchpad can act like a computer trackpad if you need to scroll, or it can serve as a button if the game requires it to
Pull the trigger
Probably the most-used button on the controller, this is usually used to select things in the game (point and pull), or as method for ‘grabbing’ with your in-game hands
Gaming has never been so intuitive – look down at your hands and the controllers can literally become whatever the game requires. And, thanks to some slick design, they offer plenty of options, whether you’re using it as a racquet or a gun.
It sounds stupid, but you have to remember that we were basically wearing a blindfold as we did this. All we could see what a 3D recreation of the controllers, but it was all we needed. Whenever we looked down, or raised our hands, the controllers were exactly where we expected. After years of playing with inaccurate Nintendo Wii and PlayStation Move controllers, it was a revelation. The two controllers feature 24 individual sensors – many of which are on the ‘hoop’ at the top of the controller. The base stations in the corners of the room fire invisible rays around the play area, and these sensors can send information back to the base stations to give an accurate reading of exactly where they are in 3D space. The result is a controller that, no matter how much you twist or swing, is always exactly where you expect it to be.
This isn’t the only unique quality of the controllers, however. Unlike most modern gamepads, which feature analogue sticks for 3D movement and control, a Vive’s controller
“As we peered over the edge of a mountain we felt real vertigo” instead features a touch-sensitive disc that is located where your thumb naturally rests. This can act like a computer trackpad for scrolling or movement, but it also clicks, allowing games to divide up the pad into whatever ‘buttons’ are required. In one rudementary demo the four directions blew up four different coloured balloons. In another, it let you choose between six ammunition types for your gun. In another, pointing at the ground in front of you and pressing anywhere on the pad transported you to that point. The possibilities are endless. We still haven’t tested these pads in any serious gaming encounters – we’re not sure, for example, how good they would be in a Call Of Duty-style game, where accurate movement is vital. But they are so adaptable that it feels like a natural extension for a controller that can literally become anything that a game needs it to be.
It’s at this point in an article like this that we’d start talking about the physical design of the product, and how it looks. The Vive enjoys a rather uncommon status as a device you rarely see from the outside, but that doesn’t mean the design hasn’t been thought through. The headset packs in 32 sensors, so, just like with the controllers, the base stations always know where it is in 3D space. On the front of the headset you’ll also find a forward-facing camera. This captures data from the room around you, theoretically ensuring that you don’t hit anything during a particularly intense game of Job Simulator. And, like the controllers, it’s astonishingly accurate – we always knew exactly where we were in
The Rift’s biggest benefit is not only in its comfortable (and removable) built-in headphones, but also in its allround design, which is much sleeker than the Vive’s.
The Vive headset is larger and heavier than the Rift, but features a forward-facing camera to help map the world around you, and adjustable lenses which are great for players with glasses.
STAY IN CONTROL
While Oculus will be releasing similarly-tooled motion controls to the Vive in the next few months, right now the only controller option is that of an Xbox One.
Two controllers come bundled with the HTC Vive, and offer great accuracy. They include rumble motors for feedback, triggers, grip buttons and touchsensitive pads under each thumb for scrolling.
You’ll need a little more power if you want to meet the minimum requirements for the Rift – with a minimum of 8GB of RAM compared to the Vive’s 4GB.
The Vive needs a fair bit of power, as it requires a minimum of an Intel i5-4590 processor, or an AMD FX 8350, as well as a HDMI 1.4 port.
PLAY THE GAME
The Oculus has a small library of exclusive games, including the fun Lucky’s Tale, whilst also enjoys all of the games on Vive, making it the best option on game choice alone.
the game; with the headset on, the real world faded away from our mind. In fact, this was what blew us away the most with the Vive (and VR in general). Videogames, movies and books can transport your mind to different worlds, different realities. But nothing – nothing – can do it like VR. With the headset on and the headphones in, we were gone.
Most of the Vive’s game lineup isn’t exclusive, meaning you’ll be able to enjoy it on Oculus as well. However, it does have plenty of options thanks to its Steam integration.
As we peered over the edge of a mountain we felt real vertigo. As bullets flew at us we flinched and turned away. The Vive creates a reality that, while obviously fake – yes, we know we’re not really a space pirate – feels so real that it’s easy for the real world to melt away. You won’t care that people are laughing at your ridiculous flailing as they watch you
Job Simulator sounds stupid, but it’s actually a fun sandbox which shows off the Vive’s motion controls
play, because you’re firing a shotgun at flying plates, balloons and UFOs. When the headset is on, what you see feels real. And that is why VR, and the HTC Vive, is something that everyone should try.
Unfortunately, it’s not something that many people will get the chance to experience – at least not yet. To get started with the Vive, which on its own is a cool £690/$800, you’ll also need a ‘VR Ready’ PC, with a powerful graphics card and processor. For a computer with the minimum system requirements for headset, you’ll probably spend at least £800/$1000, making the whole system cost close to £1500/$1800. If you already have a compatible PC you’re in a much better position, but those running the kind of specs you need for a Vive are the minority. The reality is that you will have to prepare yourself for few months without food if you want a Vive.
Anthony Godsell, 28
“I thought VR was very immersive and intuitive in the game, the headset was rather comfortable but the wire completely breaks immersion and is super annoying.”
Here is the Gadget team’s and friends’ first reactions to the HTC Vive and its games
Steve Holmes, 25 “As far as responsiveness and precision go, this is better than what I’ve seen from Oculus. However, the price really needs to come down.” Poppy-Jay Palmer, 23
“The rhythm game was brilliant! I’d love to try out the others. But I can’t really see myself buying one unless it costs about £30.”
Clare l’Anson, 33
“The controllers responded instantly to any movements I made. I can’t wait for this to become more affordable and for multiplayer modes.”
Harrison Harman, 22 “I found the HTC Vive headest to be light and undisturbing during play time. £700 for such a new-to-the-market device is inviting, in my opinion.”
Rebekka Hearl, 26
“AudioShield, the Vive’s virtual reality rhythm game, is great fun and a tough workout! The rhythm is easier to follow at higher difficulties.”
To see more on this, head to our YouTube channel
Jack Parsons, 28 “Right now, the games remind me of Wii Sports. They are fun and family-friendly, but very short and don’t justify the Vive’s hefty price tag.” Alicea Francis, 26
Harriet Knight, 25
“Loved it! It was strange having to readjust to reality afterwards. Can’t wait for an affordable model to become available, or to try it with a treadmill.”
“It’s so responsive and intuitive to use that it felt very strange to rejoin the real world! Considering how new it is, the range of games is fantastic and will only get better. ”
Kym Winters, 27
“Incredibly immersive. The quality of the controls varied from game to game but at its peak it completely surpassed my expectations, a truly surreal experience.”
Stephen Williams, 38
“The headset was a bit unwieldy and stopped me feeling truly immersed but the controls were good and a lot more responsive than I expected.”
The Vive packs in two 1080 x 1200 OLED panels that combine for a 2160 x 1200 resolution, and the screen refreshes at 90Hz for a smooth visual experience
There are 37 sensors inside the Vive’s headset, along with the forward-facing camera, and, combined with the base stations, these produce seamless a VR experience
Headphone socket In-ear headphones come as standard, and offer good immersion into the VR world, but if you have surround-sound headphones the experience will be even better
INSIDE THE VIVE
There’s no getting around it – the Vive is pretty hefty. The head straps do a good job of holding the headset securely, and the padding is fantastic, but after a long play time it can start to become uncomfortable.
This is, of course, not counting games. The Vive comes with three games that are bundled with the headset – Job Simulator, Fantastic Contraption and Tilt Brush. These are all fantastic in their own ways, and each does a great job of demonstrating just what the Vive can do, but you’ll definitely want to start expanding your library when you’ve tried each game at least once. Check out our ‘Best Of The HTC Vive’ boxout overleaf to get a few recommendations of what to consider, but remember to factor in game costs when you’re thinking about the overall price of the Vive Right now, there aren’t really all that many VR games and in many cases they’re either tech demos or just short minigames that you’ll try a few times before putting down. A few are deeper, offering a few hours of gameplay compared to a few minutes on a loop. Games studio Bethesda recently confirmed it is adapting one of its most popular games, Fallout 4, for the Vive. This will be the first big open-world game for virtual reality (Vive or otherwise), but isn’t slated to arrive until 2017. Bethesda also said it is working on a version of a first-person demon shooter, Doom, but it was vague about whether this would be a game or just another ‘experience’.
Ultimately, however, it’s thin pickings at the moment, and there is no truly ‘triple-A’ title that defines the hardware. That is bound to change as VR becomes more commonplace, but as with many devices, early adopters might be waiting a while for the blockbusters to start landing, and by that point a slim and cheaper version of the Vive will likely be available. Another reason for this lack of triple-A titles is the ridiculous amount of graphical power that is required to push the graphics over to
Setting up the Vive’s hardware may be a chore, but the end result is more than worth it
the headset, and power the two 1920 x 1200 displays inside at 90 fps. When you consider that a gaming PC is considered good if it can run a game at 1080p and 60fps with the graphical settings pushed up to the maximum, you’ll understand why getting similar graphical fidelity in the HTC Vive’s headset is a challenge. Right now this is the sort of hardware you buy for an experience, rather than a specific hardcore game. That’s by no means a bad thing, as long as you know it going in. Just don’t expect a dedicated version of Grand Theft Auto for the Vive any time soon.
The HTC Vive is astonishing. We challenge you to put it on and play without uttering the word ‘wow’ – we actually did our own test with a bunch of normal ‘humans’ and the consensus was that the Vive is a game-changing piece of kit. There’s no doubt that the Vive is impressive, but as with many great gadgets, this is only the first generation of proper VR. What that means is you’re looking at a very cool and futuristic device that is also bulky, lacking in certain features, and laden with compromises. The games are fun, but are not anything to write home about, compared to the blockbusters on PC, PS4 and Xbox One. The computer you’ll need to power it comes at a premium. The headset itself is bulky. All of these issues will start to fall away as the technology advances and becomes more affordable, but for now it’s a very expensive toy. But you know what? We love toys like this. Okay, so it’s not the perfect VR headset, but what first-generation device was ever perfect? Where the Vive succeeds is in its tech. The sensors work, the 110° FOV feels natural, the controllers are fantastic. It’s not perfect, but it’s a start. A very exciting start. Everyone should try the Vive; whether you should buy it is a very different question, but it needs to be seen, felt… experienced, to be believed and appreciated.
THE BEST OF THE HTC VIVE SPACE PIRATE TRAINER
For many people, VR is all about shooting stuff. With this brilliant title your controllers become guns and you must destroy increasingly-tough robots, or whip out your shield and defend from their laser attacks. It looks fantastic and it plays really well. £11 | $15 | spacepiratetrainer.com
CLOUDLANDS: VR MINIGOLF
Crazy golf doesn’t get much crazier than this, with courses that span mountain peaks, icy blocks and more. It’s incredibly intuitive, and the physics are spot-on, so you’ll really get a feel for how hard you need to swing your club every time.
Set in a world where sentient robots have undertook all human jobs, step into the Job Simulator to learn what work used to be like. The game’s real strength, aside from its sense of humour, is its ability to surprise you as you try new things.
£15 | $20 | cloudlandsvr.com
Free | jobsimulatorgame.com
Free | store.steampowered.com
£7 | $10 | bit.ly/thebluevr
This series of minigames, inspired by the brilliant Portal titles, is mostly just a bit of fun, but as it was one of the games used by HTC to demo the Vive, it’s well worth downloading – plus, it’s free!
This underwater adventure isn’t really a game as such. Really, it’s just a great way of demonstrating the kind of experience that VR can offer. Explore a coral reef, delve in the deeps or have a close encounter with a whale.
Go for Gold
This summer sports fans are spoilt for choice. In addition to the usual staples like Wimbledon, the Tour De France and the US PGA Championship golf tournament, the Invictus Games returned bigger and better than ever in May, Euro 2016 has prompted its usual football frenzy, and London is set to host another athletics spectacular with the Anniversary Games from 22 July. However, all of those events will be overshadowed by the 31st Olympic games in Rio, taking place this August. Athletes from all over the world, all at the peak of their physical performance, will compete across 306 events to prove they are the best at their chosen sport. Meanwhile, the best the rest of us can do is cheer them on from the sidelines, or more likely, from in front of our televisions. If you’re fed up with being an armchair athlete, read onto discover the best fitness kit to give yourself an Olympic upgrade. While we’ve focused on strength training, agility, endurance and water sports, whether you’re into fencing or the canoe slalom, artistic gymnastics or Greco-Roman wrestling, you’ll find something here as we’ve picked the best gear for all 42 Olympic sports.
MEDAL-WINNING FITNESS KIT TO MAKE YOU A CHAMPION
COMBINE DIET, TECH AND TO GET GAINS! £70 | $100 skulpt.me
Skulpt Chisel A handheld deep tissue scanner that can tell you your body’s muscle quality and body fat percentage, so you can figure out which muscule groups you need to work out.
Gain a better insight into your workout!
01 Install the app
To get started, you will need to make sure that your app and Chisel are linked, so download the app and sync. Once this is complete, you may find that you will have to update the firmware on the Chisel before you begin scanning.
02 Orientate your stats
Finding and joining a gym can be intimidating. Also there’s the risk of ‘doing it wrong’, meaning you can damage muscle tissue and bone if you’re going into fitness blind. Of course, nothing beats a head-start with a qualified personal trainer to get your form and routine right, but what comes after that? First of all, form and positioning is the most important thing you will need to pay attention to, so you’ll need to make sure your footwear and clothing is suitable for lifting weights. Secondly, training for strength is different than training for massive muscles, so if you are
looking for lean muscles or bulk, your workout and diet will need to reflect this as your body will be needing nutrients for muscle growth and recovery. To inspire growth, though, you will need exercise-specific weights such as rubber-based kettlebells or radial weight plates to offer you excellent grip for individual lifting. As well weights, routine and diet, a fitness tracker which is designed specifically for weight training, such as the Push Assist, is useful for monitoring your progress and routine, and it offer suggestions based on the data generated.
Get an understanding of how the Chisel works by letting it complete its assessment of your body, this will be a measurement of your stomach legs and arms, more to get you used to the device rather than an all-round scan.
03 Complete assessment
Once all three main groups are scanned, it’s time to get all of your data scanned and logged, including your back and glutes! This is when you will need to have your water sprayer as the Chisel won’t get a reading off of dry skin.
Be on point!
Put the competition in your sights
Put the mint into your Badminton game
£140 | $210 | iqbowsights.com
£140 | $215 | victorsport.com
Why not beat the competition with, arguably, the most accurate bow sight on the market: the Field Logic IQ 5? Featuring adjustments for windage and elevation for accuracy as well as a retina lock!
The Victor Jetspeed S10’s frame and shaft are comprised of high modulus graphite, with the frame fused with Nano Fortify and the shaft spliced with Pyrofil, making it the lightest racket on the market right now.
Accuracy and timing are crucial in fencing, so what better way to train then using the customisable Favero EFT, a target board that spurs you on with up to nine different training modes.
£325 | $540 favero.com
WITH YOUR Keep your footing £50 | $70 athletec.io
Corner These lightweight, wireless trackers designed to record your punches and monitor your progress over time will be available to preorder this month, on sale in December.
With wrestling, the best gadget you could have would be one that glues your feet to the floor, and in the grip of Adidas’s Adizero Varner Wrestling Shoe, you get the next best thing.
£65 | $95 | adidas.com
Get your swing on!
Analyse your swing with the Zepp golf tracking system; a wearable device that simply clips onto your glove. It works with an app that can replay your stroke or putt. £130 | $150 | zepp.com
Gathering data from all axis’
Lightweight by design
Within each of the Corner units, there are three accelerometers that are responsible for recording and gathering the data necessary to provide you with your stats
The units maintain a Bluetooth connection to your phone, meaning that your data generated from your workout will be transferred in real time.
The Corner trackers allows for use on your gloves or hand wraps, and their light weight construction means they wont hinder your speed, you won’t notice that they’re there
We’ve all seen the movies with the fitness montages featuring shadow boxing with wrist weights to the tune of Survivor or Kenny Loggins. It all looks glamorous enough, but boxing isn’t a picnic. It’s one of the most visceral sports around. You have to be prepared to take a hit, but by using specially designed training aides, such as Corner, you can learn how to throw better punches and reduce your foe’s hit count. In a sport that is all about split-second choices, agility and speed, your training regime will be the difference between standing tall or
eating the floor, this is where Corner comes in to its own. Simple and lightweight, Corner’s design allows it to slip into your hand wraps, leaving you to focus on your technique while Corner generates a breakdown of your stats, in real time, to your smartphone. Your trainer will be able see what you are doing, but so will the Corner app, building up a picture of your punch’s speed, last thrown punch style, punch-rate as well as total punches, giving you more than enough information to know if you need to train to hit harder, faster, or if its time to take pity on the competition.
Hit your target whatever the distance
Using infrared lasers for gauging distances between you and your target, the Bushnell Elite 1 Mile Conx has a range of five yards to over 1,750 yards, helping you hit your mark.
£585 | $700 | bushnell.com
Rhythmic or trampoline, the Dartfish app will allow you to slow footage of your gymnastic routine for immediate review and annotation as well as sharing for analysis. £5 a month | $5 a month | dartfish.com
KEEP WITH A TRACKER The art of hitting a ball
Improve your Spike technique with the Spike Mate, a ball-holding structure designed to rest on a basketball hoop and let you train individually or as a team. £350 | $500 | spikemate.com
Shoot hoops and nail stats
By wearing a tracker on your wrist and installing a sensor on the hoop, Shot Tracker builds up a comprehensive training pattern to help you improve. £N/A | $100 | shottracker.com
Training for agility is broad arena, and one that has been occupied with obstacles designed specifically to train agility for centuries. Obstacles, such as the ladder, are used to help build tendon strength and a quickness of the feet, and simple cones on the floor to be slalomed in and around help focus balance, strength and coordination. So with many devices geared up to help you become faster, what can be used to train agility? The real game-changer, in terms of tech, has been the introduction of more sensors. The Moov Now, for example, incorporates its own Omni Motion sensor which generates data from a gyroscope, accelerometer and a magnetometer. It combines this data to generate a 3D landscape of how your impact and speed are affecting your progress, and it relays this via a voice coach. This kind of advancement means that your goals can be tracked and you can be coached in a way that is unique to you and your movement rather than just tracking your speed and footsteps.
£200 | $300 jabra.co.uk
Jabra Sport Pulse
Use the Polar M400 to track your runs
01 Get in sync
After syncing the M400 to your phone via Bluetooth, all you have to is get outside, wait for a GPS signal, then cycle through the list for the relevant activity and begin.
Kickstarter with horsepower
The idea of a device to monitor your horse’s wellbeing and track your stats is a great way to build a deeper understanding or your riding partner’s abilities.
to 02Connect your PC
£80 | $110 | equisense.com
The Polar M400 relies on a desktop app to sync its results, maps and program data. To upload your info attach your device via the USB port and allow it to sync data.
back 03 Look at stats
Meet your high-tech opponent
The Joola Buddy Pro will take on the role of opponent and blast balls at you from across the table with varying speed and movement, just be ready! £200 | £285 | thorntonstabletennis.co.uk
£120 | $180 polar.com
Instant isn’t always best; it’s wise to sit back and review data. In the Polar Flow app, you can review your work with a breakdown of your speed, distance and cadence.
Zepp Tennis Swing Kit
ONE LOVE FOR Tennis, as a sport, has often seemed to be the definition of duality. On the one hand you have the very pleasant aspect of summer sports; on the other, you have cutting-edge competitiveness, sweat and sheer force where your ball skill, form, racket handling and aim are what makes you succeed. So in the information age, how does tennis fare? Very well, it would seem. With sensors such as the Zepp Tennis Kit or the Sony Smart Tennis Sensor attached to your racket, the sheer enormity of data generated from a single serve will be enough to help you understand how hard you are hitting the ball, what your angle or slice is – and that’s simply the racket talking. With gadgets like the Adidas Mi Coach you can get an idea of how you are moving on the court, allowing you and your instructor the chance to review where you are versus where you should be.
Adidas Mi Coach
The tracker is designed to fit in your shoe and map out your movement by relaying data to your smartphone. £55 | $60 | Adidas.com
£85 | $100 zepp.com
Zepp Tennis Swing Kit
MAKE SURE YOU’RE ROAD-READY WHEN HEADING OUT Cycling is one of the most commonplace hobbies and it is a favoured means of transport for most commutes. It’s also a high-speed and very competitive sport, whether on the slicked race track, or off-road in a forest. So, how do you gain that competitive edge in a cycling duel, and is there a shortcut to improvement? With cycling, it’s a tough blend between the bike itself and your own physical attributes as to whether you are going to be hitting the goals you desire. There are many factors at play, ranging from maintenance oils for specific weather, tyre treads for terrain, right down to the wind drag of your clothes or helmet. Many people forget that training your muscles can make all the difference. Making the most of the cycling machine at the gym or the weighted leg presses can give you the strength you require. So when you next set that cycling goal, remember: it’s down to you as much as your bike to get that speed down.
£450 | $650 nordictrack.co.uk
Nordic Track GX5.2
A wrist strap-based sensor, dedicated to tennis which gauges your swing, power and backhand, among other serves.
£75 | $90 | en.babolatplay.com
Zipp 404 NSW Carbon Clincher rear wheel
A lightweight, high-end wheel set designed for competitive speed. Featuring opposing magnets to help you go faster. £1,400 | $2,000 | Zipp.com
GPS tracking sunglasses with glance detection to bring up your speed and distance on an builtin HUD. It can takes pictures and video of your journey, too. £370 | $500 | bit.ly/reconinstrmnts
TRAIN TO £70 | $80 trainingmask.com
Rocking up to a marathon with a week of training and a killer playlist on your phone is admirable, but destined to fail. Endurance training is gruelling. Conditioning your body to overcome continuous strain and exertion isn’t just about the physical acts involved, but also your mindset. Simply taking into account the nutritional element that your body will require alone will require patience, understanding and a lot of willpower, so set gradual goals to get into shape. Coach assistance from a tracker such as the Moov Now or the Jabra Pulse can help you get motivated as well as help you improve with every step simply by informing you of your heart-rate or, in the instance of the Moov, provide advice relevant to your progress based off of the data being sent to your phone. In terms of clothing and footwear, wear something lightweight and moisture absorbent: the last thing you’ll want is to break focus over a wet T-shirt. Finding the right shoes can be an absolute minefield, but dedicated long distance running shoes are a must. Regardless of brand, it’s a wise idea to get your feet tested to know what size arch you have, as this will greatly affect your shoe choice.
Training mask 2.0
Soft on the skin
Adjust your breathing
Constructed from neoprene, the Training Mask is designed to be as soft and lightweight as possible, and it won’t slow you down or irritate your skin
You’re going to look weird in this, so why not customise it. You could choose to be a Star Wars Stormtrooper one day or the Joker the next. It’s your workout, so you make the choices
The Training Mask comes with a selection of air-resistant valves to give you full customisation of your training routine, allowing as little, or as much air in as you see fit
Trionz Body Fit
A remarkably lightweight, antibacterial compression top, made from a light copper nylon fabric that fits the body neatly to give support to your muscles, reducing fatigue as well as absorbing moisture. £45 | $80 | trionz.co.uk
Take your ball skill further
The Mi Coach smartball is a football with a difference. Featuring an integrated sensor and a companion app, you will fast learn the power of your kick and learn ball mastery tricks like a pro. £150 | $200 | adidas.co.uk
Garmin ForeRunner 235
An all-in-one GPS and heart-rate tracking watch that will allow you to monitor your progress on long-distance runs or treadmill workouts. £280 | $250 garmin.com
Know what’s below you and where you’re going
Cut through water by practicing on land
£3,500 | $4,950 | raymarine.eu
£1,190 | $1,720 | concept2.com
The new 12-inch eSeries Raymarine navigation tablet gives you touchscreen navigation of your maps and access to sonar, all in a durable tablet.
Using the Concept 2 Dynamic rowing machine is the best way to build accurate form and strength, as well as burn calories while perfecting your rowing skill.
TRAIN LIKE AN Going underwater with your tracker was a great divider when it came to gadgets to help you train. With some instances where the owner would be forced to modify their beloved device via a third party for underwater use (hello, Fitbit) or own more than one tracker, one for land and one specifically for water use. Today, it’s no surprise that the advancements with underwater trackers is several leagues ahead of what it used to be, with devices designed to give feedback from your every movement in real time – and not just in an app after you sync the device, but also devices that will tell you if you are off-course via HUD-like LED’s attached to your goggles. Devices to help you train for marathon swimming, or just swimming in general, needn’t be down to which tracker you wear on your wrist, more and more devices are taking the route of using your head as basecamp, freeing your attention away from your wrist, and keeping your eyes focussed on your goal.
Take the hits and keep moving
An intelligent body armour giving high degrees of motion able to stop a kill strike, as well as generate data for later review? This is what the folks at UWM are offering in the form of the Lorica MKII.
£TBC | $TBC | uwm.tv
£160 | $200 Xmetrics.it
Waterproof balls are a must
The Molten IWR Rubber ball consists of an 18-panel construction and utilises a Maxigrip surface for better grip.
WHITE-KNUCKLE RIDES AHEAD
£20 | $60 | moltenusa.com
£89 | $175 myinflatables.co.uk
Stick it to the competition
Intex K2 Challenger
The Kabo CC90 is an innovation in itself, made of 90 per cent carbon, it’s designed to be lightweight and has a concave profile to aid ball control. £60 | $85 | kabohockey.co.uk
Getting yourself ready and in shape to even get close to competing in a canoe sprint is one thing, but you’re also going to require a canoe, or at the very least a kayak. So it’s good to know that to get started in canoeing, you don’t need to be spending a fortune… just yet. Before you even start looking at trailers or roofing mounts for your vehicle, you should consider your skill level first. A canoe sprint is something you can compete in individually or as a team, therefore your choice of canoe should reflect this.
With basic lightweight inflatable kayaks, such as the Intex K2 Challenger, to get you started, you and a friend can have fun practicing steering down a river. Alternatively you can opt for some something a bit more practical such as the Riber One Man Kayak Deluxe – which has prices starting at just under £300. This would certainly get you cutting the water, and, at 20kg, it’s a formidable weight in the water, which will help you gain speed, but, at the same time, it’s not so heavy that its going to cause you grief getting it to and from dry land.
Tag, you’re it!
The Optimeye X4 Athlete Monitoring system uses accelerometers and GPS to track and calculate your acceleration, heart-rate as well as analyse impact.
£TBC | $TBC | performbetter.co.uk
Get beach body ready without exercising
£150 | $455 sixpad.uk
Six Pad Abs Fit Ideally used in conjunction with exercise, this wearable shocks your stomach muscles with a painless electrical charge to make them flex and help you achieve the elusive six-pack.
GET BEACH BODY READY
Electrocute yourself for rock-hard abs and muscles While there’s no substitute for good oldfashioned exercise to keep you fit and healthy, MTG’s Six Pad – endorsed by Cristiano Ronaldo – offers a way to keep your muscles moving even when you’re sat at your desk or lounging in front of the TV. It works by delivering electrical impulses through pads affixed to the skin, to repeatedly contract and relax the muscles beneath. Used regularly, this can help you to develop a toned body, including that elusive six-pack. Now, you may well have seen similar products before, based on the concept of EMS (electrical muscle stimulation). Most
of them comprise either physical boxes of electronics hooked up to wires and electrode pads, or bulky belts to wear around the waist. So the ability to simply affix a slender Six Pad to the skin, via reusable adhesive gel sheets, is a real boon. Whether using the Ab Fit or Body Fit model, its lightweight, soft silicone design enables it to fit to the contours of your body and be worn comfortably under most items of clothing. Powered by a lithium-ion battery, the Six Pad delivers a 23-minute training programme with an adjustable level of stimulation. So it seems it might just disprove the old adage of ‘no pain, no gain’.
HOW DOES EMS WORK? Since your muscles react naturally to electrical impulses sent from the brain telling them whether to contract or relax, they can be stimulated to do so artificially by applying a small electrical current directly through the skin. EMS (electrical muscle stimulation) technology was first employed in the Sixties to aid the training of elite athletes in the then Soviet Union. With the potential for substantial performance gains, it’s no wonder that the concept soon became popular worldwide. EMS also found additional uses in the field of medicine, ranging from physical therapy to pain reduction. Complicating matters slightly is the fact that muscles comprise thin fibres of two types: slow-twitch and fast-twitch. It’s the latter type which need to be developed to create a well-toned body, although this normally requires intense physical training. Fortunately, EMS can be made to selectively stimulate these fast-twitch fibres. While the many EMS systems on the market employ a variety of frequencies, the Six Pad devices focus on 20Hz, found – by leading EMS expert Professor Toshio Moritani – to be the optimum frequency for higher oxygen consumption and effective results.
£110 | $360 sixpad.uk
Six Pad Body Fit
WORK YOUR ARMS
Fixing to your stomach, the main Abs Fit Six Pad features six EMS pads to stimulate your abs to aid development of a well-defined six pack. The smaller Body Fit model, featuring two EMS pads, is more versatile and can be attached to various parts of the body to tone your arms (biceps), legs (thigh muscles) and waist. Note that you’ll need two Body Fits if you want to work on both arms or legs simultaneously. Potentially, the Body Fit could stimulate other muscles, although – for safety reasons – you’re advised not to use it above the neck or anywhere near the heart.
How are you feeling?
HOW ARE YOU
FEELING? £70 | $100 gowatch.alcatelonetouch.com
Alcatel OneTouch Go Watch It’s a smartwatch that claims it can ‘hack’ your emotions. The Alcatel One Touch Go Watch is a customisable smartwatch at a smart and affordable price.
This mood ring smartwatch claims it can monitor your emotions Designed to be ultra-durable, waterproof, shockproof and dustproof, this new smartwatch from Alcatel OneTouch is intended to withstand all the bumps on the road that your adventures might take it on. With the Go Watch you can monitor your health and fitness progress without having to worry about your gadget picking up any knocks and bruises. Three features can track your activity in a simple and fun way: there’s the Heart Rate monitor, Daily Activity monitor and a Workout Mode. And you can share everything to social media with a few quick taps. Syncing with your iPhone or Android
device via Bluetooth, you can also get the weather forecast, control your music, your phone’s camera shutter and more. However, what really sets the Go Watch apart from the rest is the ability to ‘hack’ your emotions. That’s right, your smartwatch is also monitoring how you feel. A long press of the Go button under the watch’s screen triggers the ‘emotion pulse’ feature which analyses your heart-rate and data from other sensors for ten seconds. It then gives you a read out, such as ‘Go Chill’ or ‘Go Scream.’ Surprise, surprise, these readings (complete with emojilike icons) can also be shared on social media.
WHAT YOUR GO WATCH READING SAYS ABOUT YOU
Has your life been much too sedate lately? Let loose and allow yourself to get a little crazy.
Go for a swim, go snorkelling or heck, even take yourself skydiving. We can only guess what this result means.
You spend too much time with your feet on the ground. Jump on the spot because the Go Watch says so..
All those pent up feelings need some release. Scream your head off - you’ll feel much better.
Alcatel OneTouch Go Watch
Heart-rate monitor The Go Watch’s heart-rate monitor, which it uses as part of its fitness tracking and emotion sensing, works by shining a green LEDs onto your capillary veins. Built-in optical sensors then detect the amount of blood flowing through your wrist at any given moment. When your heart beats, the blood flow in your wrist — and the green light absorption — is greater
OF THE BEST FEATURES Forecast the weather
With a press and a tap you can get a handy little weather forecast on your wrist. You can swipe through a – surprisingly accurate – five-day forecast for your location.
Green LED Light reflected into photodiodes
Control your music
Tapping on the music icon lets you see what’s playing and play, pause and skip through your tracks. In our testing session it worked very well with the Google Play Music app.
WHAT MAKES THE GO WATCH TICK How are you feeling? Hungry? Crazy? Like screaming a the top of your lungs? Chances are that your Go Watch already knows this. Press the Go button on the Go Watch to take your emotional pulse. Using a combination of three instruments – an accelerometer, a gyroscope and that all-important heart-rate monitor – Alcatel claims that the Go Watch can tell how you’re feeling. Once the watch has collected all this data it present its findings with one of eight colourful graphics that aims to sum up your emotional state and then provides you with some suggestions, such as ‘Go Love’, ‘Go Chill’, ‘Go Taste’ and more. You can then select the related theme and show your friends how you’re feeling by (over)sharing the little graphic on social media. But we’re not convinced that there’s any ‘hacking’ of your emotions going on here. The Go Watch feels more like a mood ring and it seems just as vague and inaccurate. Is ‘Go Taste’ even an emotion? Do your feelings only ever fall into one of eight ‘types’? This feature feels like it’s meant to be a bit of lighthearted, meaningless fun, rather than offering any serious analysis of your emotional state. All in all it’s a fun, but rather trivial, way to share tidbits of yourself online.
Turn off the lights. Light some candles. Put on some Barry White. You know the deal.
Put on your favourite dance tune and turn it up loud! It’s time for you to get in to the jam, come on and slam.
Take a photo
The Go Watch can remotely control your smartphone’s camera. With a quick tap to your watch, a three-second countdown begins before your snap is taken and saved.
@ GO CHILL
You’ve obviously been stressed and overworked recently. It’s time for you to relax and get your groove back.
Bring up notifications
Notifications from your smartphone appear on the Go Watch almost instantaneously, from texts to tweets, so it’s quick and easy to make up your mind whether to dig out your phone.
Even the sensors on your Go Watch can feel your stomach rumbling. Treat yourself to a hearty meal.
tech we love
TECH WE LOVE ❤
The best gadgets on our radar this month
Shoot and share The TG-Tracker has its own Wi-Fi connection that works with your phone so that you can post your exploits online faster
£280 | $350 getolympus.com
Olympus TG-Tracker Sense of adventure The camera has built-in field sensors, including GPS, a compass, thermometer, accelerometer and barometer to track every aspect of your adventure
THIS SWISS ARMY 4K ACTION CAM IS EVERYTHING-PROOF
If Batman wore a body cam, it would be the TG-Tracker. As well as shooting 4K video, this camera is packed with helpful tech, including Wi-Fi, a 60-lumen flashlight and a host of sensors to track your adventure. You might reasonably expect the TG-Tracker to be quite delicate, then, but Olympus says its pretty much unbreakable: its waterpoof up to 100 feet, crushproof up to 220 pounds of force, and freezeproof to -10°C.
TURN YOUR iPAD PRO INTO A MACBOOK Supercharge your iPad Pro’s productivity with this Brydge Pro keyboard add-on. Typing feels as natural as using a proper laptop, while time-saving shortcut keys make it easy to exit any app and search files. Brydge Pro £130 | $190 | brydgekeyboards.com
£40 | $50 leefco.com
BUDGET FITNESS BAND GOES THE DISTANCE If you don’t want to drop £100+ on a Fitbit, try the Withings Go. It’s not much to look at, but it can track running, walking, swimming and sleep patterns. Its low-power E Ink screen means it can last for eight months on a single charge. Withings Go £50 | $80 | withings.com
PHONE USB STICK BOOSTS YOUR MEMORY BY UP TO 256GB There’s an alert that every selfie snapper dreads seeing on their phone, but inevitably does: ‘Cannot Take Photo’. This happens whenever your phone is running out of storage, so you spend ages staring at your phone deciding which pictures to delete, missing the thing you actually wanted to take a photo of. Help is available, though: Leef iBridge is a simple plug-in for iPhone or Android that allows you to expand your memory. Offering from 16GB to 256GB extra storage, the iBridge is USB stick-sized for added portability.
TECH WE LOVE ❤
VR GOGGLES FOLD UP FLATTER THAN A PHONE
£15 | $N/A microbit.co.uk
Google’s Cardboard and Samsung’s Gear VR headsets both call themselves ‘mobile VR’ as they work using your phone, but neither are particularly portable. Speck’s new Pocket-VR headset works with Cardboard VR tech, but it folds up, so you can carry it around with you. Speck Pocket-VR £50 | $70 | speckproducts.com
LEARN TO CODE WITH THE BBC’S POCKET COMPUTER
Best of both worlds
£500 | $720
The speaker array is powered by a mix of digital amplifiers with hi-fi analogue crossover, combining the best of old and new audio tech
Orbitsound Air Sound Bar A70
Touch and glow Stroke the front of the A70 and its buttons will light up softly, so you can quickly control the audio source, Bluetooth, power and volume
THIS MODEL DEATH STAR ACTUALLY FLOATS There has been a raft of floating maglev speakers recently and we unashamedly love them all. But this glowing Death Star is a particular treat with a six-hour battery. Hellosy Star Wars Death Star Levitating Speaker £160 | $230 | amazon.com
As well as supporting wired inputs, you can enjoy highquality, quick streaming using apt-X Bluteooth and NFC
COMPLETE YOUR HOME CINEMA WITH A SIDE-FIRING SOUNDBAR The problem with soundbars is that you often have to be facing them head-on to feel their benefit properly. This is great if you get first pick of where to sit, but rubbish if you’re stuck in the corner, out of range of the sonic sweet spot. The Orbitsound A70 fixes this by delivering immersive 300W sound wherever you are in the room, thanks to extra neodymium drivers fitted on either side. The A70 also includes a wireless subwoofer for added bass.
QUIRKY VAX MAKES CLEANING QUICKER This 750W-power vacuum cleaner’s cylindrical shape isn’t just a funky design choice, it also makes cleaning less of a chore. It offers more manoeuvrability and rather than tugging it around, you can always just flip it and carry on hoovering. It also comes with a range of tools. Vax Air Revolve Pet £150 | $215 | vax.co.uk
Have These Headphones Given Away iPhone 7’s Big Secret?
HAVE THESE HEADPHONES GIVEN AWAY
iPHONE 7’S BIG SECRET? Meet the first on-ear headphones without a headphone jack While the Audeze Sine headphones don’t boast either a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection, they lay claim to being the world’s first fully integrated Lightning port headphones. With it being heavily touted that the iPhone 7 will be saying bye-bye to the traditional 3.5mm audio jack, the Lightning port is likely to be the primary way for users to connect their headphones to their iDevice. This new form of connection opens itself up to some pretty remarkable technology and in the case of the Audeze Sine, it comes in the form of the Cipher cable. Not only can this cable boast support for the pass-through of 24-bit audio, there’s an integrated DAC for
audio reconstruction as well. Audiophiles can also be pleased with the embedded amplifier for great bass delivery. But perhaps even more impressive is the Sine’s claim at being the world’s smallest planar magnetic set of headphones on the market. Usually left to overly large headphones, this technology uses flat, micron-thin magnetic drivers to produce low-distortion sound considerably better than your standard driver. When the world’s biggest tech company releases the next must-have smartphone, will the Audeze Sine be the ultimate audio partner? At £450/$500, we reckon it could be.
£450 | $500 audeze.com
Audeze Sine These headphones are the world’s first on-ear planar magnetic headphones, equipped with a detachable 24-bit high-resolution Lightning cable instead of a 3.5mm jack.
Audeze Sine Planar technology
The reconstructed 24-bit audio goes through Audeze’s own planar technology, capable of providing punchy and dynamic sound. The size of the headphones allows for improved air movement, which means better bass and treble control for listeners.
Air circulation To keep music distortion to the absolute minimum and to improve audio playback, air is captured within the magnetic space either side of the headphone and spread out evenly
Patented Fazor technology Planar magnetic drivers Each set of planar magnetic drivers are built from thin modules that offer enough scope to regulate sound much easier than standard audio drivers
Audeze’s Fazors are small acoustical elements positioned within each side of the headphones. They allow for greater transparency of tracks and extended frequency response
Lightweight neodymium circuits The Sine headphones boast reduced weight and thanks to the magnetic flux density of the high-spec neodymium circuits used within
02 DAC reconstruction
As the music flows through the Cipher’s DAC, it’s not only converted between analog and digital, it’s also reconstructed to help improve audio playback. As it converts, it’s sent to the over-ear drivers.
01 Enjoy 24-bit beats
While you’re listening to Apple Music, the Cipher cable bypasses the iPhone’s internal DAC and instead directly streams 24-bit audio through the cable’s own integrated converter. The chip architecture allows for better pass-through of music through the Lighting connector.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD WE EXPECT FROM THE iPHONE 7? As well as the 3.5mm audio jack being dropped, it’s also likely we’ll see a host of new changes to be implemented with the iPhone 7. Leaked photos have suggested that a dual-camera system is likely to be added, akin to what we’ve seen from the Huawei P8 and LG G5. The actual specifications of these cameras are not yet known, but improved performance in low-light conditions is a near certainty. It’s also likely that Apple will once again take the lead with producing two variants of the iPhone 7, with a smaller 4.7-inch device and enormous 5.5-inch offering the most likely sizes. There’s also some notion that we may see Apple’s A10 processors, currently being manufactured by TSMC, but there’s no concrete information on this as yet. But just how likely is all of this new tech? Phil Morris, editor of iCreate, feels like the iPhone 7 could be a game-changer: “Everything points to a dual-lens camera setup. Expect a pretty similar design and a super-powerful A10 chip, but no headphone jack or antenna band on the back.”
Dyson Pure Cool Link Purifier
YOUR SURPRISINGLY DIRTY HOME We get fans-on with Dyson’s new smart air purifier
It may look like another of Dyson’s famous bladeless fans, but the Cool Link removes 99.95 per cent of indoor allergens and pollutants. These irritants are too small to see with the naked eye and include gases from cooking and central heating, mould, pet dander and pollen. Essentially, it’s a vacuum for the air in your home that everyone, from asthma and hay fever sufferers, to just plain clean freaks, will benefit from. While most purifiers capture particles that are 30 times smaller than a human hair and can enter the lungs, Dyson has gone one better. “What we have focused on with the
Dyson Pure Cool Link is the next particle size down,” says engineer Matt Kelly, “which are small enough to pass into your bloodstream.” These physical pollutants get trapped inside the mesh of the purifier’s dense glass filter, but behind that sits a second filter designed to absorb the harmful and strong-smelling chemicals released by cleaning solvents, deodorants and scented candles. The price tag is pretty high, but its running costs are low as it has the same power consumption as a fluorescent light bulb. It purifies all year round, and it also doubles up as a fan to cool you down in the summer.
£350 | $500 Dyson.co.uk
Dyson Pure Cool Link Desk This air purifier has been designed for use on desks and worktops, tackling smaller spaces than the Cool Link Tower. It can be tilted for more targeted airflow.
£450 | $630 Dyson.co.uk
Dyson Pure Cool Link Tower Standing tall at just over 40 inches, the Cool Link Tower has been engineered to purify larger spaces, like an entire room. It’s also suitable for placing on the floor.
purify your surprisingly dirty home
MONITORING AIR QUALITY
The ‘Link’ part of the name refers to the fact you can hook up the purifier to your smart device to control and monitor it remotely. Two sensors, located in the base of the Dyson Pure Cool Link, constantly monitor the surrounding air. If they detect a particularly high level of contaminants – when you’ve burnt the toast again or the flowers are in full force and hay fever is raging – the machine will ramp up its operation. The information recorded by the sensors is also sent to the app on your smart device, allowing you to track the air quality in real time, as well as keep a record.
Aperture After passing through this slot, which runs around the back of the loop, the air travels along the inside wall and exits out the front
The two airflow paths travel around the hollow insides of the loop and out through the aperture, providing you with a smooth stream of air, no blades required
Mixed flow air impeller An internal fan draws air in at the bottom and forces it up through a diffuser that separates the airflow into two paths
Filter shroud A perforated shroud surrounding the base protects the filters and helps to channel airflow into the machine. In auto mode, the purifier will adjust airflow accordingly
Glass filter Dense mats of glass fibres prevent particles from escaping. There’s more than a square metre inside, but it’s pleated to fit into a small space
Brushless motor The motor driving the air impeller is inside a casing that reduces vibration and therefore noise, providing smooth oscillation as the Cool Link Purifier sweeps the room
Carbon filter Carbon granules have a huge surface area that absorbs smells and harmful toxins, such as paint fumes. This layer soaks them up like a sponge
Heating element The surrounding air is heated to keep it circulating past the sensors using convection so that a small sensor chip can detect odours and toxins
Optical sensor This sensor detects ultrafine pollutant particles – such as pet dander – when they block light between an emitter and a receiver
Add Google Glass To Your Windscreen
£35 | $50 hudwayglass.com
Hudway Glass A power-free satnav display that sits on your dashboard and reflects the map from its companion app, directly onto your viewpoint.
The Hudway Glass works with a variety of apps so you can try different displays
TO YOUR WINDSCREEN This budget-friendly HUD displays augmented reality satnav and more A satnav map, displayed right in front of your windscreen? Sign us up! The Hudway glass is intended to be just that. By cleverly bridging the gap between map app and an actual satnav, and initially designed to help rally drivers keep focused on the road while driving at high speeds, it’s a well-crafted cradle for your phone to lay in with a translucent screen that reflects the phone’s display. As phones
can turn from useful machines to deathcausing distractions very quickly, if used when driving, the Hudway Glass eliminates the user’s need to interact with the phone at all, and reduces confusion with directions by having them right in front of you. The UK has a ban on phone driving as, in short, it’s a distraction that causes dangerous driving, and in some cases, death. A survey
from Brake.org.uk listed that of a broad selection of in-car crash footage, 22 per cent was a result of distraction. Further research showed drivers handling their mobiles on the road had a 35 per cent drop in awareness and reduced lane control. All of these facts indicate that this hands-free phone cradle could help pave the way for safety on the roads by keeping your eyes on the road.
IT’S ALL AN OPTICAL ILLUSION Suckers for NFC
Flip the lid
The Hudway Glass comes with an NFC sticker which is programmable to switch the Hudway app into HUD mode upon contact with the cradle when the phone is placed on it, saving you time, but, again, reducing any phone contact while using the device
The Hudway Glass’ screen is manoeuvrable and coated with an reflective coating to give you optimum visibility of the HUD as well as the road. Angle it so that you can get the best view of the app while seated, making sure that your view is as close to the windscreen as possible
Which way up With the HUD app installed on your phone, you can preset a destination to use later with or without internet connection. For use with the cradle, you have to select HUD mode from the app, which will show an inverse image on the screen, allowing the glass to reflect a ‘correct’ view of the map
FIRST APPS FOR HUDWAY GLASS Hudway – GPS Navigation HUD
The official app for the Hudway Glass device, this free download has some of the most striking HUD displays available, in particular its snaking 3D road view.
As well as displaying your current speed and alerting you when you’re over the limit, this other official app from Hudway will warn you about nearby speed cameras and radar.
Free | iPhone/Android
Free | iPhone only
Navmii GPS World
Sygic Navigation And Map
Navmii includes offline maps and spoken directions. HUD features cost extra, but this does include a sci-fi speedometer that looks like the sort of thing Tony Stark would use in an Iron Man suit. Freemium | iPhone/Android
Like Navmii, you’ll have to pay for HUD support, but what you get for your money is a strong allrounder, displaying your speed, travel directions and camera alerts. Freemium | iPhone/Android
Tease Your Pet With A Laser And Make Them Internet Famous
TEASE YOUR PET WITH A LASER AND MAKE THEM
This camera lets you play with your pet remotely and livestream it Our pets are valued family members and we all like to make sure they’re well looked after at all times, even when we can’t be there ourselves. The Petcube essentially fills the void left when you’re not there, adding a virtual presence that can potentially help reassure your cat or dog that they are not alone. Basically a Wi-Fi-connected camera, users can watch a live feed of their pet on the go
£200 | $200 petcube.com
Petcube A wireless camera that enables you to remotely watch, play and even talk with your pets as well as share them with other animal lovers online.
through a free companion app for iPhone, Android and Apple Watch. The Petcube has a 138° wide-angle lens to make sure you can always see your pet. Thanks to the built-in microphone and speaker, owners can actually talk to their pet – if that’s your sort of thing, and if your pet is smart enough to hold a conversation. Live audio is transmitted and kept in sync with the
video feed, so you can see when your pet wants to make contact. And there’s also a built-in laser that can be used to remotely play with your pet and keep it entertained. Too busy to keep an eye on your pet because you’re at work? You can also ‘share’ your Labrador and livestream to the world so other animal-loving app users can watch and play with your pooch remotely.
The Petcube connects to your home Wi-Fi network, enabling you to remotely connect to it in seconds. Use the app to confirm the connection
A 5mW 3R-class laser emits from the top of the cube, enabling users to remotely play and tease their pet. Of course, the laser is certified and completely safe
Two-way audio If you’re the type of person who likes talking to their pet, the Petcube’s two-way audio stream, through its built-in microphone and speaker, will be perfect for you
Its aluminium casing holds up well to everyday life, but it also uses an easy-wipe coating to remove hair and slobber left by your pet
Each Petcube unit has 128-bit encryption, which uses an authentication process to stop unscrupulous people gaining access to your Wi-Fi network
CROWDSOURCE CARING FOR YOUR PET There are people who out there who absolutely adore pets – even other peoples’ pets. So the fact that Petcube makes it easy to tune in to a live feed of other people’s pets all over the world is going to be a big plus. Through the companion app, you can choose to tune in to any live Petcube feed, or even open up your own secure connection for others to view your animal. As well as watching a livestream, users can use the laser feature to play with other pets and even take a photo of them with its camera. The app also has a plethora of social media features, where you can follow your favourite celebrity pets, share your own photos and curate a library of the cutest pets around. What really warmed our hearts is the connection with certain dog and cat shelters, where you interact with and show some love to the pets that currently don’t have a home. Just don’t blame us if you fall in love with one and decide to adopt it!
King of Kebabs for a lads night In
£70 | $97 prezzybox.com
FOR A TASTY NIGHT IN
Kebab Rotisserie Grill A versatile machine that allows you to cook an array of meats in a healthy rotisserie style, filling them with flavour.
Make your own DIY doner kebab and more Say goodbye to long queues at the takeaway on a Saturday night. The 21-litre Kebab Rotisserie tabletop grill has a multitude of cooking attachments so that you can make your own deliciously rich meat treat at home. From kebab skewers, to succulent rotisserie chicken to shawarma kebabs or even fish and vegetables, it does it all. It’s a well-known fact that we all love to be king of the barbecue, well now that can include the rotisserie as well. The device’s timer ensures that your meat is cooked perfectly without you having to worry about cooking temperatures, simply set the dial to the time recommended
in the instructions provided and you’re ready to go. Like a slow cooker, you can walk away, entertain your guests and check in on the food a short while later. It’s important to keep in mind, though, that the meat may take a while to cook, so unless you prep ahead of time you might find it quicker and easier to just go down the local takeaway. The only major downfall of this device is the recipes. The booklet only provides a simple selection, leaving you short of flavourful and unique ideas for your party. The device is easy to clean and easy to operate and the sight of your carefully-crafted skewers will definitely have that wow factor.
Kebab Rotisserie Grill
BIG NIGHT IN STARTER PACK Beer Pump
This tap turns your canned beer, both 440ml and 500ml, into a tasty draught-style beer in the comfort of your own home – perfect for a night in when you want to avoid the pub. £35 | $50 | funfoodproducts.co.uk
Italian Stonebake Pizza Oven – Deep Pan
If kebabs weren’t enough, crack out the pizza maker for thin, medium, thick and deep dish crusts, maybe even top it with some kebab meat. £50 | $70 | funfoodproducts.co.uk
Smart Stirring Popcorn Maker And Nut Toaster
Producing approximately 24 batches of popcorn per serving, this gadget also has a device that prevents your popcorn from burning. £40 | $60 | iwantoneofthose.com
In case anyone wants onions with their kebab and the thought of chopping them makes you cry before you even begin slicing, these onion goggles will alleviate that stress. £15 | $20 | bit.ly/onionframes
With this projector you can turn any wall into a big screen and stream epic fails, cute cat clips, Netflix or music videos from your smartphone. £20 | $30 | luckies.co.uk
01 Get ready
Once you’ve prepared all your ingredients, attach one rotisserie fork to the spit, with the fork facing the centre, and tighten the screws. For a doner kebab, slide the meat through the centre of spit or hang skewers off of the fork.
02 Attach the spit 03 Set the timer Place the ‘solid’ end of the spit in the drive socket located in the centre of the drip pan which should be slotted into the base of the interior. Place the grooved end on the spit support located at the top interior of the grill.
Close the glass door and set the timer, a leg of lamb for a doner kebab will take about an hour, shish kebabs a little less. Once the door is closed the inner light will turn off, the element will turn on and the spit will rotate.
This Egg Is The Only Remote You’ll Ever Need
IR learning The Smart Egg can learn the IR code from any infrared signal that emits from your electrical devices, automatically uploading the code to its cloud database for later use
£60 | $90 aico.tech
Smart Egg An all-in-one remote control hub system that also boasts device-learning capabilities to give you extra control over your devices. You can even use it to automate all of your home gadgets.
THISEGG IS YOU’LL EVER NEED Combine the remotes of your electricals in to one EGGcellent product
As gadget lovers, we’ve got an extortionate amount of remote controls littered all over the place. Not knowing which remote does what is a real pain, so an all-in-one remote hub system can be particularly handy. The Smart Egg looks to integrate all your remote controls into one secure cloud-based database, with its accompanying app enabling users to enter special functions for each remote. Although each remote’s bindings are stored in the cloud, it’s the Smart Egg’s built-in IR sensor that enables it to wirelessly connect to any electrical item you may own. It goes far past just your TV and audio systems, with
certain lighting systems, air-conditioning units and smart appliances also compatible. But, as well as being a remote control vault, Smart Egg is remarkably clever. It uses Bluetooth to track the position of your smartphone, enabling users to control any appliances in the close vicinity, while those out of reach are disconnected. Perhaps even more impressive is its learning behaviour, which will look to toggle features of your appliances; for example Smart Egg can set timers on your TV, or even regulate the temperature of your air conditioning unit. We’re not yolking around with you here, this really is one smart egg.
Smart Egg Smart cloud hub
Save money on bills
The Smart Egg’s cloud server contains over 5,000 remote controllers and just under 120,000 IR codes already available for users to download and use on their electricals
By enabling Eco mode, the Smart Egg can automatically adjust the temperature from your heating systems and set them to a more eco-friendly temperature
Tracking movements with beacons The built-in Bluetooth beacon continuously tracks your paired smartphone for its location. It then sends the controls for the electricals that are close by
MAKE YOUR ELECTRICALS WORK AUTOMATICALLY Intelligent timer
Control from anywhere
The Smart Egg can add a timer to any appliance, even if it doesn’t come with one as standard. It’s a handy tool to have when it comes to powering off devices
Chances are you’ll have electricals dotted around your home, but thanks to the Smart Egg’s 20-metre indoor wireless range, you can stay in control at all times
MORE THAN JUST AN APP
The Smart Egg app acts as a hub for the egg. While usually used for adding, removing and editing the key bindings of electrical devices, it’s also useful for automating features on these machines as well. There’s also a series of premade modes to help explore other areas of your electricals’ capabilities. Its Temperature Monitor mode enables you to track your home temperature change, while the Auto Mute option will automatically mute the TV when you receive a call. We’re only scratching the service with what this app can really do!
The smartest thing about the Smart Egg is its ‘indoor positioning technology’. For this, it uses Bluetooth to track your smartphone’s position, with devices being activated when your location is tracked in its vicinity. At its limit, Smart Egg can track up to 50 metres away. This enables you to use all the pre-existing controls for these appliances, but without ever needing to download the controls on to your smartphone.
GET SMARTER WITH IR LEARNING
The Smart Egg uses IR Learning, a handy tool that enables devices to ‘learn’ the code from an infrared signal emitted from a compatible electrical device. In terms of the Smart Egg, the built-in IR sensor can ‘clone’ the remotes that you own – bindings and all – if you’re unable to find and download the remote from the Smart Egg’s library of 125,000 different IR codes. The learning side of things will then look to automatically put the bindings in a logical order for owners to use on their device in the future.
Crime Can’t Hide With This 360-Degree Security Cam
CRIME CAN’T HIDE WITH THIS
All-seeing 4K camera offers peace of mind on the go Okay, so the Allie Camera may look like an large webcam, but it’s, in fact, one of the most sophisticated 360° cameras we’ve ever seen. While its primary use will be to monitor your home, it can also be used for recording events, livestreaming to YouTube. The camera consists of two 8-megapixel sensors that are positioned back-to-back, with both containing its own fisheye lens and a 188° field of vision. Essentially what this means is that the Allie Camera is able to capture a full 360° view without any blind spots. Recording can be done at 4096 x 2048 resolution and at 22fps, which is remarkable for a security camera of its size. There’s a built-in microphone as well, and all of this kit can be controlled via the comfort of a paired smartphone. But to top it all off, Allie is the company behind Allie VR headsets and it capitalises on the camera’s 360° view. Users can immerse themselves in their recordings, or live security feeds for that matter, using VR. The Allie Camera offers a package that few rival camera systems can offer and at £500/$500, can you afford not to invest in one?
Image signal processing There’s an array of handy shooting tools to improve the quality of your recordings and livestreams, including auto white balance, noise reduction and auto gain
Control with gyroscopic sensors By pairing your smartphone to the Allie Camera, it’s possible to control the feed with your device’s gyroscopic sensors. Its 360° view can help pull off some cool shots
£475 | £500 allie.camera
Allie Camera A 360° camera that combines the abilities to monitor your home via a livestream, record high-quality videos and even produce VR-quality footage thanks to its giant field of view.
KEEP YOUR HOME SECURE
The Allie Camera features two fisheye lenses, which each camera having a 188° field of view. It means that the camera boasts to have no blind spots in its recordings
Connect to Wi-Fi The Allie Camera connects to your Wi-Fi network, enabling you to monitor live feeds and record video from your home, or remotely on your smartphone or tablet
The main use of the Allie Camera will be to keep a close eye on your home, whether you’re there or want to connect remotely. Users can tune in to a direct live feed of their camera via their phone, and use either manual or gyroscopic controls to view a full 360° – so it remains easy to keep an eye on your kids, or even your pets. The app has a range of tools to help customises your view, which is useful if you want to keep a recording of the feed as a backup.
There’s also all the necessary procedures to follow to prevent people from accessing your feed. While many cameras falter in the dark, the Allie Camera proves to be a hit. Ten infrared LED bulbs sit around the circumference of the camera, producing a crystalclear video feed in the dark. In total, the camera can record up to 30 feet in front of it and its surroundings in the dark, which is comparable to many high-end security systems on the market.
MAKE YOURSELF YOUTUBE FAMOUS Livestreaming to YouTube is one of the most prominent features of the Allie Camera, and it provides an easy way to showcase your footage to the world. While people may not be interested in watching your home, it could be used for recording things like concerts, sporting events, or even a spot of vlogging. Live recordings are sent straight to the cloud before being uploaded, but users can also choose to save the recordings locally. This is particularly useful if you wish to perform some edits to it before sharing with the masses.
Record in the dark Around the circumference of the Allie Camera sits ten infrared LED bulbs. These offer enough power to make recording in the dark possible and at a decent quality
Stream to YouTube A built-in direct upload feature enables users to log in to their YouTube account and start livestreaming the video feed from the camera
VIEW 360-DEGREES IN VR
If people choose to use a VR headset, especially if it’s one of Allie’s own VR headsets, to watch your footage, they’ll be able to experience it in full 360° glory. The smartphone sits snugly in the front of the Allie VR headset, with the VR app and built-in optics working together to create immersive streaming that all stems from your camera. They’ll be as close to attending your event, but from the comfort of their sofa.
12cm m 12c
£420 | $600 | aaxatech.com
£400 | $490 | amazon.com
£370 | $390 | dell.com
HD 800 lumens
HD 90 minutes
HD 80 inches
PROJECTORS WATCH MOVIES ANYWHERE WITH THESE MOBILE PROJECTORS Brightness
HD HD ready 3D
NEO JDX Vista V2 3D
£280 | $305 | asus.com
£245 | $350 | sony.com
£225 | $320 | neojdx.com
HD 200 lumens
32 lumens/ Laser light 120 inches
3D 2 hours
£370 | $525 | dosowls.com
£330 | $420 | aaxatech.com
£325 | $460 | epson.com
HD 115 lumens
2hrs 10 mins
Philips Picopix PP3414
£320 | $450 | lg.com
£300 | $340 | aaxatech.com
£280 | $450 | philips.com
HD 2hrs 30 mins
HD 300 lumens
Odys Picto II
Tronfy Full Color 130”
£215 | £305 | odys.de
£210 | $300 | rif6.com
£58 | $68 | tronfy.com
2hrs 30 mins
Supercharge your summer
SUMMER TECH CAN MAKE YOUR SUMMER BETTER THAN EVER BEFORE
Historically, we have tended not to carry much technology with us during the summer months for a variety of reasons. Gadgets can easily get damaged in water or even when left under the hot sun for a few minutes, for example, but we have now reached the stage where the materials and knowledge available lets manufacturers make products that are able to withstand whatever is thrown at them. On top of this, they have taken things much further and created a selection of devices that can multitask. No longer do you need a singular device for each activity because
you can pay a little extra and cover multiple tasks in one purchase, and at no stage has the quality been lost through miniaturisation or flexible components. We will highlight the best accessories to take with you for the most popular summer activities and also how to make more of each event. Whether you are watching the Olympics or taking a trip to the beach, there are many products available to minimise hassle and help you concentrate on what is important: enjoying yourself. Whether the weather holds up or not, you will have a much better summer if it is supercharged.
â€œNo longer do you need a singular device for each activityâ€?
Supercharge your summer
Supercharge your summer Keep it steady Clever touches, like the ability to keep the Soft Shell steady when serving, are extremely useful. These handles don’t affect its movement, but they steady it well when needed
The beach was always a dangerous place for any personal possession, and for obvious reasons. Salt water and sand have never worked well with electronics, but you can now rest easy in the knowledge that there are products which will take a trip to the beach in their stride. You can make ice cream while having fun, some wireless speakers are fully waterproof and are able to offer musical accompaniment when you are swimming, and cooking food and cooling drinks are no longer off limits when with friends near the sea. With superb portability, lightweight components and toughness that we have not seen before, a trip to the beach no longer needs to consist of a quick swim and sunbathing. You can now party with friends, cook a meal and do all of the social networking you like without fearing for your expensive toys, and with all this comes the potential for a much more social experience in a setting that is perfectly created for enjoyment and relaxation. The beach has always been a wonderful place, but it just became more fun than ever before.
A fun look The Soft Shell’s exterior works with its colour scheme and materials to create a product that will look good in any situation, even in the kitchen when it’s not in use
£30 | $35 industrialrev.com
YayLabs! Soft Shell Ice Cream Ball A fun way to make ice cream. Ingredients go inside the ball and after a few minutes of throwing it around, you can serve homemade Mr Whippys all round.
Two easy chambers There are two chambers that are used to make the ice cream. Insert ingredients, such as cream and sugar, in one end and ice and rock salt in the other end
£200 | $230 lotusgrilluk.com
Lotus Grill XL
THE LOTUS GRILL IS PERFECTLY PORTABLE
If you can find a friendly beach that allows barbecues, the Lotus Grill is be the ideal tool to quickly cook some piping-hot food on a summer’s day. It’s light, easy to carry, and with battery-powered fans and a reasonable combustion time, you will be the star of the beach party whenever you want to be.
at 01 Freezing below zero
AN EXTREMELY TOUGH AND ACCURATE WATCH
Rock salt is added to reduce the freezing point of the ice. This stops it melting too early and causes the ingredients to freeze more evenly, and, in turn, offers the classic ice cream texture we know and love.
The Casio G Shock GW-3000M-4AER offers every possible feature you will need for a day on the beach. It’s waterproof, shock resistant and solar-powered, so you can roll in the sand, take a swim in salt water and do anything else and it will still offer satellite-powered accuracy and infinite battery performance.
£200 | $290 | casio-europe.com
Mix the two parts
When you move the ball around, the ice and salt naturally move in a random motion and mix with your ingredients. It is airtight, so the ice will capture the ingredients and form a clean, sandless mixture.
and 03 Stir shake
FILM EVERY SECOND OF YOUR DIVES
You need to stop after ten minutes to stir the mixture to ensure consistency. At this point you roll it for another ten minutes to complete the mixing process which will ultimately create a familiar treat.
Dive masks are a required item for many beach dwellers, but the Liquid Image Model 305 takes things further by incorporating a five-megapixel CMOS camera which can film every moment and also snap 12-megapixel images. Even better, it is light enough to feel just like a normal dive mask when underwater. £85 | $120 | liquidimageco.com
CARRY THE COOLEST COOLER WITH YOU
SHARE MUSIC WITH THE MIGHTY SPEAKER
USE THE SAMSUNG GALAXY S7 ANYWHERE
£310 | $450 | coolest.com
£25 | $35 | morrisoninnovations.com
£570 | $830 | samsung.com
The Coolest Cooler is perfect for keeping drinks and food chilled on the hottest of days, but it is the extra features that make it stand out above the rest. There is an integrated high-quality blender, Bluetooth speaker, USB charger, cutting board and too many other features to mention. It’s one hell of a versatile beach gadget.
The Mighty Speaker is perfect for the beach. It works with most mobile devices and it is also completely waterproof. One charge gives you six hours of use and the dustproofing will add protection against sand, but perhaps the best feature of all is that it floats! It’s the perfect toy to keep you and your friends entertained by the sea.
The Samsung Galaxy S7 can be immersed in 1.5 metres of water for 30 minutes and still work perfectly. With included dust resistance and a sturdy design throughout, the S7 is the perfect communications tool for any beach visit. Indeed, these tough features will be beneficial in every aspect of your life, whether on the beach or not.
Supercharge your summer
TRAVEL ESSENTIALS Few people like travelling, especially long flights, but there are devices available today that will makes things a bit easier to manage. You no longer need to accept the ‘comfort’ that an airline or hotel offers you because you now have the ability to give yourself some relaxing moments whenever you feel the need, and most of what can help is not expensive at all. There are clothes that can carry a variety of personal and important objects, cameras that will keep a memorable trip alive forever and
even luggage that you can track wherever it is in the world. Jet lag can be countered by a sleep mask and all of the rest of your tech can be carefully and securely stored in cleverly-designed kits that ensure you will never lose anything. Travelling is either about getting to a destination of your choice or being an integral part of a trip, so it makes sense to cut out all of the menial tasks and make the most of every second. With these products your next trip could be a whole lot easier.
THE CANON EOS 1300D CAPTURES EVERYTHING
The 1300D is fast gaining a reputation for photographic prowess and it’s not just the relatively low cost that makes it stand out. It can capture full HD movies, 18-megapixel images and these can be shared instantly using its Wi-Fi and NFC hardware. In a time when phones are dominating the world of photography, products like this highlight that sometimes a ‘real’ camera is just as flexible while producing superior photos every single time. £305 | $500 canon.com
Canon EOS 1300D
SAFEGUARD YOUR PERSONAL SPACE
CHARGE EVERY DEVICE YOU OWN
KEEP YOUR TECH ORGANISED
£15 | $20 | gadgetduck.com
£25 | $45 | anker.com
£40 | $60 | cocooninnovations.com
The Knee Defender promises to protect your precious legroom on long flights, but is likely to prove controversial with other passengers. Placed at the top of either arm of the tray table, the miniature device, about the same height as a house key, keeps the seat in front of you locked in place, so they can’t recline backwards.
Travelling usually requires the use of a phone, a tablet and potentially a laptop if you need to get work done, but keeping all of these powered is tricky. With the Anker PowerCore 20100 you can charge a phone seven times over and it is portable enough to keep with you all of the time. It saves lots of unnecessary hassle.
When you carry tech with you, there will be an inevitable collection of cables and other accessories that you need to keep safe. The Grid It Organizer Pack is the ultimate solution for keeping everything in one place and with four different cases in the pack, you will have the right solution available for every trip.
Enjoy the flight The integrated neck pillow will prove to be a life-saver on flights and saves you having to purchase accessories that you will likely lose anyway
A disguised surprise The zipper also works as a bottleopener which perhaps, more than any other feature, highlights how much thought has gone into the Koala Hoodie
In-hood cushioning This padding ensures a comfortable feeling when relaxing in a taxi, in a chair or anywhere else. It also helps to keep you warm
Look after your glasses
Keep the air flowing Air vents ensure that air is circulated, as it needs to be in order to keep you cool. The Koala Hoodie caters for almost all weather conditions
You can keep your sunglasses or reading glasses safe in a speciallydesigned pocket. The pen pocket and secret pocket only add to the flexibility available here
Secure your phone A passport holder
A phone pocket is integrated into the jacket and you can also purchase an optional charger to make sure your digital assistant is secure and powered at all times
Every travel detail has been catered for including a crucial passport holder. Lose your passport and the entire trip could be ruined in an instant
Handy thumb holes
£95 | $140 koalahoodie.com
Thumb holes are built in which effectively turn the ends of the sleeves into gloves. This is useful if you find yourself in unexpectedly chilly situations
THE SMARTEST LUGGAGE EVER MADE
It’s likely that the contents of your suitcase when travelling total much more than you expect, and most of us secure our possessions with a simple lock. The Bluesmart, however, comes with location tracking, a digital lock, a scale, USB battery chargers and more. When used with its app, this becomes a brilliant and secure solution. £420 | $450 | bluesmart.com
Koala Hoodie This crowdfunded hoodie is tailor-made for travel with a built-in neck pillow and eye mask along with 13 other features to make your trip easier and more comfortable.
THE BEST PERSONAL SOUND QUALITY
TAKE CONTROL OF JET LAG
£130 | $150 | sennheiser.com
£150 | $310 | re-timer.com
The Sennheiser MM 100 headphones are practical because there are no wires to get in the way on a long flight, thanks to their Bluetooth connectivity. They include a concealed microphone, effectively making the headphones a high-quality headset, and open ear cups to give you the best possible sound quality.
Don’t waste the first few days of your trip adjust to the time difference. Re=Timer’s goggles use a soft green light to stimulate the part of the brain responsible for regulating the body clock and can be used at certain times of the day to reprogram your brain into sleeping when you actually need to and beat jet lag.
Supercharge your summer
FESTIVAL FUN Festivals are unforgettable experiences, there is no doubt about it, but you are also spending time with a very large group of strangers and it can be easy to get lost in the moment and indeed become invisible. We will show you how to stand out with a very clever pair of shades and how to best share your music with friends when the bands have stopped playing. We’ll also demonstrate how to ensure that all of your tech is powered throughout the entire event without having to carry bulky chargers 14 hours of battery life is cleverly incorporated into each pair of Drop Shades
around. Security is also of great importance, but it is quite easy to keep your devices safe, as we will show you, and you can even negate the need to spend hours struggling to put up a tent. A lot of preparation is usually required to fully enjoy a festival and at times even more work is needed when you get there, but with some useful tech the experience can be smoother than ever. Take the right gear, spend time with the right group of people and simply enjoy the music.
£35 | $50 getdropshades.com
Drop Shades A fabulous pair of shutter shades that light up in time with the music. If you are out partying, they are a surefire way to get yourself noticed and maybe even and make some festival friends.
NEVER LET THE MUSIC STOP
There will be times when you and your friends want to party while no bands or artists are entertaining the crowds, and the UE Boom 2 speaker is the perfect tool for this. It is a small Bluetooth speaker that will blow your mind when you hear the sound that it can produce. It packs quite the punch for a 7 x 2.5 x 2.5-inch speaker and 15 hours of battery between charges makes it highly practical as well.
£110 | $200 ultimateears.com
UE Boom 2
A SOLAR-POWERED BACKPACK? YES REALLY The BirkSun Boost Classic is a super-cool backpack that will suit any look and any festival, but it has a trick up its sleeve which makes it truly stand out. You can keep all of your devices charged using the backpack’s solar technology, which makes it incredibly useful during long festivals and camping trips. £70 | $100 | birksun.com
From wood to food The effect when wearing DropShades is sure to make you stand out from the crowd
The Camp Stove creates a smokeless campfire by only burning wood which can be used to cook meals and to keep warm.
See what’s happening A free LED light is included to keep an eye on the stove or to read while camping. Much care has gone into the practicalities of the design
£110 | $130 WeSellElectrical.co.uk
BioLite Wood Burning Camp Stove With USB The BioLite Camp Stove can generate electricity for phones and is powered by burning wood. It can also cook meals and boil water in a few minutes.
Charge your gadgets You can charge a phone or tablet by plugging it in to the port on the front. No direct electricity is needed to keep your stuff powered
CAMPING KIT MAKE YOUR OWN CAVE IN SECONDS
There are few things in life more annoying that putting up a tent, but if you buy The Cave you will be able to inflate your temporary home in just under a minute! The quality of the materials is superb and the design makes it more stable than much of the competition. You can now easily build a makeshift cave anywhere. £515 | $750 | heimplanet.com
THIS KIT COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE
The Bear Grylls Basic Kit contains a set of useful tools that could make a camping or backpacking trips much easier and potentially save your in an emergency. The kit includes waterproof matches, a cotton ball to use as tinder, a fold-up knife, snare wire, a pocket guide full of survival tips and much more. £20 | $30 | gerber-store.co.uk
KEEP CLEAN WHEREVER YOU ARE
We’ve all been there after a few days camping – sweaty, grubby and just generally unclean. Well, the Helio Pressure Shower can solve all of that. You pump it with your foot and you can clean dishes, your muddy dog and, most importantly, your own filthy body when you need to. It will greatly improve any camping trip. £105 | $100 | nemoequipment.com
KEEP YOUR POSSESSIONS SECURE
The Original SPI Belt is designed to let you store a phone, headphones, cards and cash in the smallest space possible. This is important at festivals, and the fact that it can be worn under clothing means that others will not know what you have with you. It’s a simple, but essential festival accessory that can work everywhere. £20 | $30 | spibelt.com
THE ESSENTIAL FLASHLIGHT
A powerful flashlight is a must-have tool for any camping trip, but with the Eton Scorpion you also get a USB charger and AM/FM/NOAA weather band digital radio. There’s no need for batteries, thanks to its solar panel. All in all, this is a very impressive and flexible piece of kit – it even has a bottle opener. £50 | $45 | etoncorp.com
Supercharge your summer
ÂŁ400 | $565 campingaz.com
Campingaz 3 Series LS Plus Barbecue Perfect for preparing a family feast, this gas-powered barbecue has 2,800 square centimetre cooking area with cast iron top and a fold-out side burner.
GARDEN PARTY Garden parties are often a gamble because a lot can go wrong. The food must be cooked well, the drinks need to be cold and the atmosphere is a crucial factor, which can be difficult to achieve in a garden. There are, however, a variety of tools that can make the experience much more pleasurable for your guests. Lights that can be programmed to pulse in any colour are available, as is a topof-the-range barbecue that cooks all of your food to perfection. Drinks can be kept cool
Dishwasher friendly After a long day of partying cooking burgers, the last thing you want to do is clean. Fortunately, the grill disassembles into pieces fit into a standard sized dishwasher
outside and people can be kept warm when the sun goes down, and the end result should be an event that your guests will remember for some time to come. Your preparation time can be minimised and by being able to take the stress out of making sure everything goes well should let you to enjoy the party too. Burnt sausages, a poor quality music player and a cold evening are not the best ingredients for a good garden party, but you can now resolve all of these problems before they even occur.
The Playbulbs will automatically light up when it gets dark and will power themselves for up to 20 hours using solar energy from the sun
A very clever app Each Playbulb can be customised using a free app. This gives you multiple colour and behaviour options plus the ability to make changes in an instant
They are water resistant and so can be placed outside for extended periods. Installation is very easy and the entire set-up process only takes minutes
Part of the cast iron grill is modular, so you can easily swap it out for a wok, pizza stone or even a non-stick paella pan
Cause a stir by preparing your own barbecue sauce. The 3 series side burner is great for preparing sauces or other sides
ADD SOME COLOUR TO A GARDEN PARTY
Light when you need it
Perfect for the garden
Cooks more than burgers
The Play Bulb solar lights are designed to work like normal garden lights in that they automatically turn on when it gets dark, but they can do so much more than that. As well as being weather-resistant, these solar lights are intelligent and, when paired with their free companion app, you can customise the colour of the lights, add pulsing or rainbow effects and easily add any atmosphere you want to a party with a couple of taps of your device. You can now create a chic disco feel outside. ÂŁ30 | $40 playbulb.com
Play Bulb Solar Lights
Garden party An immersive experience An extra-wide glow is emitted from all four sides of the TV onto the wall behind. The end result is an experience that makes the TV feel much bigger
£1,500 | $2,185 philips.co.uk
Philips 4K UHD Razor Slim TV
MAKE THE LAWN PERFECT
You will want your lawn to look smart in preparation for a garden party, but with so much to organise it can be difficult to find the time to do everything. Enter the Husqvarna Robotic Lawn Mower which is silent, can work over most terrains and which will ultimately save you a lot of time and effort. £1,000 | $1,450 | husqvarna.com
© Paparazzofamily | Dreamstime.com
Light up your room with an Ambilight TV from Philips. It comes with every possible feature you will need to catch all of the action of any sporting event.
Pixel-perfect pictures More than 8 million pixels and ultra HD upscaling technology ensure that the picture you see is as close to the real thing as possible
Apps and extra The Google Play store is available and the TV comes with 16GB of expandable memory to ensure that you can work and play as well as watch
CELEBRATE A SUMMER OF SPORT KEEP THE DRINKS FLOWING
CATCH THE BIG EVENTS
£110 | $160 | dometic.co.uk
£750 | $1,100 | benq.com
A garden party shouldn’t be interrupted by constant visits indoors to get drinks and so the My Fridge MF-6W will help to keep the drinks flowing. With space for up to six large bottles and continuously variable temperature cooling to 16°C below ambient, you can be sure that the drinks will be more than cool enough to enjoy.
A projector has the advantage of offering a much bigger display space, in the case of the BenQ 1080ST+, up to 100 inches, and also being more portable than a TV. With the 1080ST+ you also get 1080p quality and 3D capabilities so you will be able to see all of the action as if you were really in the crowd.
HEAR EVERY GOAL AND EVERY SCREAM
When you are watching sporting events you will also want to hear every important moment as realistically as possible. The Sony 2.1-channel Soundbar lets you immerse yourself in the roar from the crowd and the satisfying sounds of when a javelin meets the ground or a ball meets goal. It will greatly enhance your sport viewing. £240 | $350 | sony.com
KEEP THE ATMOSPHERE WARM AND FRIENDLY
RECORD 3,000 HOURS OF SPORT
£335 | $490 | chillchaser.co.uk
£310 | $450 | tivo.com
If your guests start to get cold, the atmosphere could quickly turn cool as well, but the whole idea of a garden party is to be outside. With a Cronus III table heater your can help select people grab some much needed warmth and you can even control the output remotely. This could extend the party time substantially.
The TiVo Roamio Pro DVR is the ideal accessory for your summer sporting event binge because it can record up to 3,000 hours of TV and also record six channels at a time. With unified search, built-in wireless and mobile streaming, there really is nothing missing here.
Don’t turn the page just yet
DON’T JUST YET
See which travel e-reader will bookworm its way to your heart
£110 | $120
£145 | $210 bookeen.com
AN E-READER WITH THE LARGEST OF SCREENS
AMAZON’S SHARPSCREEN READER
Oasis, H2O, Ocean – there’s definitely something in the water when it comes to these latest e-readers. With the Ocean, though, you get text flowing beyond the normal screen size, giving 79 per cent more reading space on its eight-inch edge-to-edge display.
While the Kindle Oasis is Amazon’s flagship device, this budget beauty undercuts all of its rivals. The third-gen model is still without audio features but it uses low-power Carta E Ink technology and comes with a built-in light. But at 205g, it’s heavier than the Oasis.
We would like to say the Ocean hasn’t cut any corners in terms of design but it has, right there on the bottom left. But it’s missing more than that tiny piece: while it’s solidly built, Ocean is uncomfortable to hold due to its sharp edges.
The Ocean’s 800MHz chip makes it the slowest of the e-readers featured here and it is prominent when compared to the other devices. The Ocean has a 160ppi paper-like, antiglare display, a month’s battery life with Wi-Fi disabled and it weighs 300 grams. You can expand the 4GB storage space to 32GB via microSD.
The Paperwhite takes the familiar Kindle form of a six-inch screen surrounded by a reasonably wide black plastic frame but it’s symmetry really is nothing to write home about. Still, it’s function over form: you simply tap the screen to turn the pages or view the menu.
Features One of the nicest things about the Ocean is that the screen is flush with the bezel and this makes going page-to-page in a book pleasurable. It also uses a font called Caecilia which is designed to make reading easier.
Verdict Spec-for-spec, Ocean is a few years behind in the reading class and it is in danger of drowning very fast.
Features The latest Paperwhite introduced an eye-pleasing 300ppi screen and a crisp, readable Bookerly typeface. You almost feel like you’re reading a proper book thanks to the typesetting engine
which lays everything out in the same way as you’d expect on a printed page.
Performance This is no slow finger reader. It’s got a 1GHz processor and 512MB of RAM together with 4GB of storage and access to the Kindle cloud. It zips through page turns like World Record-holding pageturner Howard Berg.
Verdict Paperwhite versus Oasis may sound like a new Britpop battle but this is no cheap imitation: Paperwhite is top value.
“The Oasis comes with a book-like case that doubles as a battery booster” £270 | $310
£140 | $175
Kobo Aura H20
THE E-READER YOU CAN DROP IN THE POOL
IT’S THIN, LIGHT AND VERY EXPENSIVE
Kobo has made a splash in the e-reader market with the dustproof and waterproof H20 proving to be the perfect beach-bound summer blockbuster. Since it is IP-certified, it can be plunged in up to a metre of water for 30 minutes – as long as the port cover is closed, anyway.
With Oasis, Amazon has given the Kindle an overhaul to produce an e-reader pitched at the luxury end of the market. It comes with a book-like case that doubles as a battery booster, enabling it to be powered for months on a single charge. It ain’t cheap, though.
Even though, at 6.8 inches, the 265ppi touchscreen is only a tad larger than the six-inch Kindles, it looks much bigger. But it feels heavier and heftier too. The angular back is more stylish than the front, making it nice to hold.
Features Aside from the built-in front light, there are 24 font sizes and 11 different font types. The H20 works with the Pocket app and lots of file types including ePub, PDF and MOBI. The Kobo e-reader store has access to more than 4 million
books although it can be more expensive than Kindle.
Performance You can expand the memory up to 32GB with a microSD card and you’ll have no problems familiarising yourself with its interface: the SimpleTurn feature makes flicking through pages as easy as tapping left or right. But, despite having a 1GHz processor, PDFs prove painfully slow.
Verdict Go elsewhere if you want 3G (this is Wi-Fi-only) but dive in for a supportive, well-built reader.
You’ll instantly notice how thin the Kindle Oasis is. Although the side you comfortably grip is 8.5mm thick, it tapers down to just 3.4mm. A couple of wellplaced buttons let you flick through the pages or you can tap the 300ppi six-inch glasscovered screen instead.
Features Since it has 60 per cent more LEDs, the Oasis is brighter than the average Kindle. The light is shone from the side so it doesn’t sear your eyes and you can adjust it to suit your needs. It’s
also a lightweight: it comes in at just 131g.
Performance What it lacks in not having any kind of audio facility, it makes up for in speed. The text flies on to the page and its performance will help you zip through the thousands of books you can fit into its 4GB of storage.
Verdict Undoubtedly the most advanced e-reader. It’s not waterproof but with crisp text and access to the vast Kindle store, it’s not wet behind the ears either.
CALLING TIME THE SMARTWATCH HAD ITS CHANCE, DID IT LIVE UP TO IT?
SMARTWATCHES – THE GLOSSARY While smartwatches aren’t the most complicated gadgets around, you might come across certain terms that you’re not 100 per cent sure about. Let us guide you through the jargon by summarising all the key terminology that you’re likely to come across:
How far we’ve come: Pebble was the first smartwatch, crowdfunded through Kickstarter in 2012
here have been key moments in recent years when it was easy to believe the smartwatch was the ‘Next Big Thing’. Take the time the Pebble attracted over $10 million from Kickstarter backers in May 2012, for example; or the event in San Francisco in September 2014 where Apple CEO Tim Cook finally unveiled the long-awaited Apple Watch. The biggest names in the industry – Google, Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, LG, Sony et al – have jumped on board the bandwagon, but it seems increasingly likely that this bandwagon has now ground to a halt (or is slowly going around in circles). These gadgets
By today’s standards the Pebble isn’t a game-changing gadget, but in 2012 it promised the future – a customisable watch that linked-up with your phone to keep you more connected than ever. Smart notifications! Call screening! Running and cycling stats! It quickly caught the imagination of the early adopters in the tech community and looked destined for mainstream success. Then the big names got involved: Google announced Android Wear in March 2014 with Motorola, Samsung, LG, HTC and Asus listed as partners. That summer, the Samsung Gear Live and LG G Watch debuted, closely followed by the circular Moto 360. Again, the
“It’s possible to make a powerful computer small enough to wear” haven’t swamped the market as much as their makers might have hoped. Is the smartwatch fad over already, or is there life in it yet? With smartphones now reaching something of a plateau in terms of specs, features and sales, and virtual reality still too expensive for the casual consumer for the time being, there’s a gadget power vacuum ready to be filled. The question is whether smartwatches have already lost their chance to fill it.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF SMARTWATCHES
Like VR, the smartwatch era was launched by a plucky independent company looking for funding on Kickstarter, in this case it was Pebble. The campaign broke Kickstarter records, raking in a total of $10,266,845 from 68,929 backers wowed by the technology.
excitement was palpable, and Android Wear had the advantage of a huge ecosystem of apps behind it right from the off. “We’re right at the beginning in a new phase in the miniaturisation of technology, which means that it’s finally possible to make a powerful computer small enough to wear comfortably on your body all day long,” said David Singleton, director of engineering at Android, on stage at Google I/O 2014. “There’s a huge opportunity to bring rich user experiences to these devices.” Sensors gathering data around the clock; voice control for when your hands are busy; digital identification protocols to pay for items or breeze through hotel doors with a wave of your wrist; smartwatches promised all this and more, and because everyone already had a smartphone with them, wouldn’t everyone also want a smartwatch too?
ANDROID WEAR – the smartwatch operating system based on Android, developed by Google and compatible with Android and iOS phones, if you have an Android Wear app installed. Supports smart notifications, Google Now, voice control and more. ATM – short for ‘atmospheres’, you’ll see an ATM specification if your smartwatch is waterproof. The number in front of the ATM indicates how many metres underwater you can go before the watch is going to start to get damaged. PEBBLE OS – a customised smartwatch OS developed by Pebble for its own range of smartwatches, which works with connected Android and iOS devices. Its features include notification support, activity tracking and customisable watch ‘faces’. STANDALONE – essentially, able to work without a phone tethered to it. Most smartwatches offer some level of standalone functionality, such as GPS tracking, Wi-Fi connectivity or the option to cache music tracks on the device and listen on the go. TIZEN – the operating system you get on your smartwatch if you buy a recent Samsung model. It’s fully compatible with Android devices and (to a limited extent) iOS devices, offering notifications, custom faces, watch apps and more. WATCHOS – The operating system for the Apple Watch, based on iOS and compatible only with the iPhone. It supports voice control, smart notifications, Apple Pay and one-to-one messaging apps.
ANDROID WEAR PEBBLE OS WATCHOS WATCHOS
COUNTING STEPS HEART-RATE MONITORING SLEEP TRACKING BUILT-IN GPS MOBILE NFC PAYMENTS DIRECT WI-FI CONNECTIVITY OFFLINE MUSIC PLAYBACK VOICE CONTROL MAKE AND TAKE CALLS CUSTOMISED WATCH FACES *Note that this chart lists the capabilities of Android Wear, but in some cases (e.g. heart-rate monitoring, GPS) you also need an Android Wear watch with the right components.
Samsung was one of the first companies out of the door with an Android Wear smartwatch, but it soon struck out on its own with new models based around its proprietary Tizen software. The South Korean firm got into smartwatches faster and harder than anyone else, and already has seven different models to its name in two years. But the warning signs started to show. Sales estimates drawn up by analysts pegged
smartwatch sales at anywhere between 4.8 and 6.8 million for 2014, some way short of the one billion smartphones shifted over the same 12-month period. Was it possible that despite the hype, there were just not that many people who wanted a smartwatch? Even trailblazer Samsung was pausing for thought, putting a hold on smartwatch production. “We’ve been introducing more devices than anybody else,” Samsung’s
Young-Hee Lee told the Wall Street Journal in March 2015. “It’s time for us to pause. We want a more perfect product.” The scene was set for Apple to ride in and save the market, doing for the smartwatch what it had done for the MP3 player and the smartphone, bringing clarity to a struggling, fledgling product – or at least, that was the theory. The Apple Watch was unveiled in September 2014 and eventually went on sale in April the following year. “Apple is poised to captivate the world with a revolutionary product that can enrich people’s lives,” Apple chief Tim Cook said at the time. “It’s the most personal product we’ve ever made.” Apple’s design guru Jony Ive weighed in to speak about blurring boundaries between physical object and UI, and creating “unparalleled personalisation” for users. So what went wrong?
WHAT IS A SMARTWATCH FOR, ANYWAY? Like Android for smartphones, Google’s Android Wear OS works on lots of smartwatches made by different manufacturers
The cascade of reviews of the Apple Watch – many of which went into eye-watering detail – are a helpful litmus test for the state of
Fitness tracking has proven to be one of the most popular features of the Apple Watch
“Smartwatches want to usher in a change in our behaviour that we just aren’t ready for” the smartwatch market in the spring of 2015. Journalists and users alike struggled to work out exactly what the purpose of the Apple Watch or indeed any smartwatch actually is. To tell the time, obviously. But a regular watch can do that, and so far smartwatches haven’t been compelling enough to get all that many seasoned watch-wearers to make the switch, or to tempt masses of nonwatch-wearers to begin slapping a gadget on their wrists. It’s not yet a must-have bit of kit. The Apple Watch reviews praised its build quality and design but none of the reviewers sounded like they would be using one in the long term. CNET’s Scott Stein described it as a “phone accessory”, calling it “beautiful and promising” before concluding that: “You don’t need an Apple Watch.” “In the end the Apple Watch is, above all, a satisfying indulgence,” wrote Yahoo Tech’s David Pogue. “It’s a luxury.” Over at the New York Times, meanwhile, Farhad Manjoo offered up one of the most positive takes on
the new wearable, saying it ultimately felt like an extension of his body. Even Manjoo had his reservations, though, particularly around the intuitiveness of the interface and the hitand-miss voice control. “The Apple Watch is the most capable smartwatch available today,” mused The Verge’s Nilay Patel. “It wants to do and change so much about how we interact with technology. But that ambition robs it of focus: it can do tiny bits of everything, instead of a few things extraordinarily well. For all of its technological marvel, the Apple Watch is still a smartwatch, and it’s not clear that anyone’s yet figured out what smartwatches are actually for.” In other words, where’s the ‘killer app’ for this device? Where’s the app or feature that makes the majority of the general public think, ‘I absolutely need one of those?’ The truth is that almost everything a smartwatch does can be done more easily and more conveniently on a smartphone, and that’s a
problem if you’re trying to shift millions of high-tech wearables out of your factory. It seems smartwatches want to usher in a change in our behaviour that we just aren’t ready for: checking updates from our wrists instead of unlocking our phones. Rather than freeing us from the addiction of the smartphone screen, these watches make matters worse – the screen might be smaller, but it’s there all the time, so notifications and distraction are just a flick of the wrist away. Many Apple Watch owners have reported ditching their wrist-based computers after the novelty wears off, in the same way that someone might strap on a FitBit for three months and then rather quickly lose interest in it. “It doesn’t really do anything that anyone needs, and even when it does, it doesn’t always work like it’s supposed to,” wrote one such user, Gizmodo’s Casey Chan, in April 2016 (a year after the watch’s debut). We’re focusing on the Apple Watch because it’s the highest-profile and bestselling smartwatch out there, but the reservations people have about Apple’s wearable can be applied to the rest of the market as well. In real life, these devices have few advantages over a smartphone (“Most Watch apps just end up being a shell of the iPhone app” wrote Casey Chan), and the tasks they do excel at often take too long to complete due to memory issues.
THE WEARABLE FUTURE Perhaps the smartwatch is destined to always be a niche product. But even if that’s the case, and even if the reaction to smartwatches has been lukewarm so far, there is hope for its future. We’ve said that smartwatch sales don’t compare favourably to smartphone sales, but they’re not a disaster – one market research firm puts smartwatch sales at 4.2 million for January to March 2016, obviously a big jump on the 2014 figures. Apple hasn’t reveal sales figures for the Apple Watch, but Tim Cook has confirmed that it has sold more units in its first year than the original iPhone did back in 2007. Of course the landscape was a lot different back then, but it’s still an interesting perspective, and suggests at least 6 million of us have forked out for an Apple Watch. George Jijiashvili of industry analyst CCS Insight thinks smartwatches still have a bright future. “Now that we’ve gone past the phase of experimentation, dominant form factors, features and operating systems are emerging,” he tells us. “There are now clear use cases beyond notifications, including emphasis on wellness and contactless payments.” The growing choice of styles and increasing number of apps are signs that the smartwatch ecosystem is healthy, he concludes. “Smartwatches certainly haven’t changed the technology landscape, but they are not in terminal decline,” says Juniper Research’s
James Moar. “What the devices now need is a price drop to be seen as more accessible, and to be less ‘additional’... Smartwatchspecific or smartwatch-optimised features, such as payments, authentication and more standalone capability, will make them seem less like an [add-on] for a smartphone.” Recent announcements suggest Google and Apple may have come to similar conclusions. Last month Apple unveiled WatchOS 3, the next software update for its wearable. Launching in the autumn, this will completely overhaul the interface, ditching the idea of app ‘glances’ in favour of a more familiar app dock and a mini control centre for toggling key functions on and off. Smart replies will make messaging easier and there will be a greater emphasis on fitness tracking. Google has announced its doing much the same for Android Wear 2.0, but will also be making its smartwatches more autonomous. You won’t need your phone nearby to use apps on your Android Wear device. Rather, it will be able to communicate through Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or cellular instead of depending on a tethered phone or cloud
Kevin Lynch, Apple’s VP of Technology, unveils the simplifed WatchOS 3 at WWDC 2016
syncing. Crucially, the ability to install apps directly onto your smartwatch will also make Android Wear more friendly to iPhone users as it will no longer matter that their smartphone uses a different app store. Time will tell if these new features plus the improved hardware that’s in the pipeline, will be enough to get a smartwatch on every wrist. Certainly as the smartphones innovation tap starts to run dry, wearables of some form or another are still in the best position to fill the gap.
“Smartwatches certainly haven’t changed the technology landscape”
SMARTWATCH APPS YOU SHOULD TRY
Free | Works on both Apple Watch and Android Wear
Free | Works on both Apple Watch and Android Wear
Free | Works on both Apple Watch and Android Wear
Free | Works on both Apple Watch and Android Wear
This organisation app is probably already familiar to you, but it comes into its own on a smartwatch, where you can set up reminders, tick off items on a to do list, and search through your notes.
No one does street mapping quite as accurately or as intuitively as Google does, and it has apps for Android Wear (of course) and the Apple Watch, though the latter one is a little more limited.
One of the best uses for a smartwatch is giving you running stats and info on the move, and Runtastic leads the pack as far as this type of app goes. It’s packed with features and options.
Identify a song without having to yank your phone out of your pocket thanks to the magic of Shazam for smartwatches. Oh, and you can get the lyrics to the tune up as well so you can sing along.
One of the best and biggest apps on all three smartwatch platforms, Uber lets you hail a taxi from your wrist in a growing number of cities in the world, quickly and easily. Free | Works on Apple Watch, Android Wear and Pebble OS
DEVICES TO MAKE YOU GIVE SMARTWATCHES A SECOND CHANCE
MOTO 360 V2
£260 | $300 | apple.com
£290 | $350 | huawei.com
£230 | $300 | motorola.com
PEBBLE TIME STEEL
SAMSUNG GEAR S2
£200 | $250 | pebble.com
£320 | $450 | withings.com
£240 | $300 | samsung.com
Perhaps not the smash hit Apple was hoping for, but it’s selling equally as good or even better than the first iPhone did. It is the obvious choice if you own an iPhone and want a smart wearable to go with it.
The plucky independent company has some great smartwatches on the market, but which is the best? The Time Steel for our money, both in terms of looks and functionality, though a Time Steel 2 is also on Kickstarter right now.
The Huawei Watch is functional, stylish and one of the first Android Wear watches that has the ability work with iOS too. The price is a bit steep but you’re unlikely to be disappointed with your purchase.
If you prefer a more traditional, normal-looking watch with just a dash of smartness, the Activité has you covered – the small dial on the front shows you how close you are to your daily steps goal.
This is the second-generation of the Moto 360 and one of the best Android Wear devices around – it looks the part, can be customised in a variety of ways and it makes the most of the improving Google watch OS.
If you can overlook the fact this runs Tizen rather than watchOS or Android Wear, it’s actually a very competent, useful smartwatch, and Samsung has nailed the design style along the way as well.
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HOW TO TAKE YOUR SHED OFF THE GRID
The humble shed, once just a small repository for garden tools, broken furniture and spiders, has now become a worthwhile addition to your home. People turn them into pubs, meeting rooms cinemas or even retro gaming caves, but if you’re thinking of bringing your shed kicking and screaming into the 21st century then we’ve got just the project for you. Sure, you can run an extension cable out from the house for electricity in your
shed, which is fine until you run over the lead with a lawnmower or the kids trip over it and bring the whole lighting system crashing to the ground, but just think how much cooler it would be to have your own electricity rig set up in your shed and have it solar-powered? This workshop will guide you through the equipment to buy and the (relatively) simple set-up needed to have solarpowered lights, plugs and, in fact, anything you like in your shed.
Solar panels are easier to install than you’d think
Install a solar panel to power up your tool shed
Picking the right battery for the job shouldn’t be that tricky, but one that was recommended to us was the Genesis NP 100. Obviously it’s a 12V battery and, therefore, perfect for our needs, and its 100Ah (amp-hour) capacity means that you’ll be able to store up plenty of juice for those darker days.
You’ll also need a charge controller, which takes the electricity from the solar panel and transfers it to the battery. There’s a wide variety of shapes and sizes to choose from, but EP’s Solar View Star range is perfect for the job, as the LCD display lets you monitor the state of the whole system with ease – and it also comes with a range of safety features, too.
£40 | $57 | enersys-emea.com
SPS lighting kit
One of the main purposes of a solar panel linked to your shed would be to provide light, and this all-in-one kit is just what you’ll need. It comes with two bulbs and holders, ten metres of cable, a switch and a fuse. Because the bulbs are energy-saving ones, they manage to kick out 60 watts and not too use much power.
£60 | $70 | epsolarpv.com
£40 | $57 | maplin.co.uk
PLAY IT SAFE
There are no restrictions when it comes to installing a solar panel system on your shed, but common sense has to play an important part, though. Research everything thoroughly, speak to a professional technician to make sure your doing everything correctly and include the right circuit breakers to cut the power in the event of an accident or power surge. Finally, if the shed is going to be accessible to youngsters, ensure that everything is tucked away in a safe place, away from the kids. As with everything electrical, it’s much better to be safe than sorry.
Obviously, the main piece of kit you’ll need is the solar panel itself. To keep things nice and simple, we recommend you get a small panel to start with – which will be easily enough to run lights and a few sockets in your shed. For this example, we’re plumping for a 10w model, but feel free to go a little higher if you’d prefer. £20 | $50 | sunstore.co.uk
How to Take Your Shed off the Grid
01 Catching those rays
02 Controlling that charge
03 Wiring it all up
04 Blowing a fuse
05 Connecting everything up
06 Let there be light!
The first thing to do is attach your solar panel to the roof of your shed. Some panels, like the one pictured above, come with their own brackets to help with attaching them. Make sure that you attach the panel to a south-facing roof if possible, and ensure that the panel isn’t ever in the shade – trim any trees or overhanging bushes if needs be. The solar panel isn’t going to be useful if direct sunlight is being blocked.
The wires coming in from the solar panel will be standard cables with positive and negative wires, so you can use a standard 13-amp cable to connect everything up. The next connection is from the charge controller to the battery, so (using the 13 amp cable) run the positive from the controller to the positive on the battery and vice versa with the negatives. As it’s a 12-volt system, you need to make sure that the batteries match the same voltage as the panel.
Run the two wires (positive and negative) out to a standard wire distribution block and then connect them to the first two points. You can run off cable from the other side to various plugs and devices that you want to run from the panel. Just make sure that when you add something on the top connections of the block that you also run a short positive and negative line to the next two blocks to continue the live connection – as shown in the image here.
The next piece of kit you’ll need is the charge controller, which will need to be attached to the wall of your shed. The controller takes the electricity from your panels and stores it in the batteries you have connected to it. It’s important that you follow the controller’s instructions when connecting everything up. It’s marked on the controller where you need to insert the positive and negative connections and where to attach the wires out to the battery.
When you are connecting up the wires for both the battery and the main feed out, it’s important to add a small fuse into the loop for added protection against surges and the like. You want to look out for blade fuses for this one. If you don’t know what they look like, you likely have them installed your car connected to the live wires using spade connectors. We would recommend a 15-amp fuse for the battery and a 20-amp fuse for the main feed
If you want to add any light switches, then we suggest that you run the negative feed straight through from the distribution block through to the actual light itself, but put the break on the live feed. Then, when you press down the light switch it’ll turn on the light (hopefully, anyway). Just make sure that you buy a 12V lighting kit – and make sure that you use energy efficient bulbs, which could use just 22W per hour.
NEVER SEE A POP-UP AD AGAIN Install an ad blocker to get
We should start by stating for the record that we’ve not nothing against adverts appearing on websites. After all, why shouldn’t the people that supply the content for you get something back in return, but we are becoming increasingly less tolerant of the sites where two or three autoplay videos load up when you arrive on it, which are then joined by several animated banners. Thankfully, help is at hand through the numerous ad-blocking programs that are available for any browser or operating
system. These work by being small pieces of code, called extensions, that are added to the main browser software to enhance its capabilities. They’re often very small pieces of code, so they can be added in seconds and really add useful functionality to your software. Best of all, you can tailor them to your needs, which means you can allow adverts on less-intrusive websites and only block the adverts from the ones that are slowing your browsing down. Here’s how you do it in just six easy steps…
rid of annoying adverts and auto-play videos
“They can be added in seconds and can add useful functionality to your software”
SELECTIVE ADVERTISING The chances are that there are probably only a handful of sites that you really want to cut down the advertising on, and so are happy to browse others where the adverts are less intrusive. What you can do for these is something called ‘whitelisting’, which is where you build up a list of trusted websites where advertising
is allowed and, therefore, not blocked through your ad blocker. Using AdBlock as an example, if you go through to the options for it then, under ‘Customize’, you can either just add URLs to the sites you want blocked, or head through to a tutorial to help you write scripts for whitelist filters.
Never SEE A Pop-Up Ad Again
REMOVE ADS FROM EVERY SCREEN AdBlock
01 Not so user-friendly
Websites like this one pictured above are becoming all too common. You click on the link and, depending on the speed of your computer, have to then wait until all the autoplay adverts, animated banners and additional adverts load. Thankfully, though, help is on the way thanks to your friendly neighbourhood Gadget team.
02 Getting an extension
Most browsers now have extensions, which are small pieces of software that can be downloaded and added to the browser. For this example, we’re using Chrome so a quick search reveals AdBlock to be the most popular one – different browsers and operating systems prefer different software, but we’ve made a list of them on the right for you.
If you are running a Chrome or Safari browser, then the only choice you really need to consider is the brilliant AdBlock. It’s relatively easy to install and it will speed up your Internet experience considerably, making browsing the web fun and easy once more. Available for: Chrome, Safari Free | getadblock.com
Mobile devices are just as prone to the horrors of intrusive advertising as any other operating system – in fact, more so, as they can block your entire screen. It’s arguable that with data prices what they are, there’s even more need for an ad blocker on your phone. iPhone and iPad users won’t find a better one for Safari than Salavat Khanov’s 1Blocker. Available for: iOS Free | 1blocker.com
03 Very easy to install
Because you’re only adding the extension to Chrome rather than downloading a whole program, it’s very easy to install – you don’t even have to quit and restart the browser. Just click on the ‘Add To Chrome’ button in the top right-hand corner of the window, and then, on the next window that pops up, just click on ‘Add extension’.
04 Time to pay up
You then get the honour window, which is AdBlock’s developers way of asking you to contribute to the costs of running the software. If you use it and find it useful then we obviously recommend that you bung a few dollars their way, as apparently the extension has five full-time developers working on it.
Although you can limit the amount of pop-ups on mobile devices by going through to the browser setting and disabling pop-ups, nothing quite beats a dedicated browser that’s created specifically to make mobile internet quick simple and less intrusive on your data package. For that purpose, Adblock is one of the best. Available for: Android Free | adblockbrowser.org
Those people who prefer to use Mozilla’s Firefox over Chrome or Safari would do well to download Adblock Plus for their favourite browser. It works similar to the other software featured on this list and, like most of the other more popular extensions, Adblock Plus also blocks all known malware domains, too. Available for: Firefox Free | adblockplus.org
05 Tweaking the options
Now the extension has been installed. If you look up to the top-right-hand corner of your window then you’ll see the icon for AdBlock with a number next to it – which is the amount of adverts the extension has blocked on that particular page. Click on the icon to bring up options – including the choice to ignore ads on the page.
06 Nice and quick
Go back to the original page with the extension activated and you’ll see a difference in the amount of ads displayed, speeding up the time the page takes to load and also the amount of time taken to navigate around the site. If you’re on a site that’s not that intrusive, though, then you might want to stop AdBlock to help support the site’s owners.
After the problems with Internet Explorer and the copious amounts of extensions that used to slow the software down to a crawl, Microsoft has been cautious with its new browser, Edge. You can get this ad-blocker for it though, and it appears to work pretty well. Available for: Microsoft Edge Free | edgeadblock.com
BUILD A SANDCASTLE LIKE A PRO Liven up that day on the beach by creating your own sand-sculpted masterpiece
Crudely depositing a bucket of sand on the beach and calling it a ‘castle,’ just doesn’t cut it anymore. The bar has been raised by professional sand architects – with names like ‘The Sand Guys’ or ‘Archisand’ – that create enormous and fantastical tableaus out of sand and water. What’s more, they are making money doing so. Competitions, such as the U.S. Sandcastle Open in San Diego, offer over $21,000 in prizes each summer. While a certain degree of artistic ability is required to make something that will get you recognised in the world of sand sculpturing, creating something for yourself that looks half-decent is still within the grasp of many of us. You will need tools, though, and the more thought you put into the ones you get, the easier the job will be. And while you might not like the attention you’ll draw to yourself by starting up a petrol-powered rammer on the beach (or the £1,800 price tag), you can get started with the bare necessities and just a few pounds of investment.
01 Picking the perfect spot
The first job is to find the perfect spot on the beach to build your sculpture. You obviously want to do it where there’s enough space, and close enough to the waves so that getting up and down the beach with water isn’t a massive pain. Also, you’ll need to make sure that the sand is the right consistency to build on, try and aim for a spot that’s close to where the harder, wetter sand meets the finer stuff.
02 It’s all about the base
When you’ve built up your base you’re then ready to start forming your structure. In our list of tools we’ve recommended bringing a couple of buckets with you, and if you cut the bottom out of one of them then it makes the perfect tool for building towers. You can fill up the bucket (making sure the sand is damp enough to keep the structure’s shape, and then simply lift the bucket off of it.
Build a Sandcastle Like a Pro
TOOLS OF THE TRADE
No sand artist’s tool kit would be complete without these essentials. Usually they paint their tools all in bright colours, too. Why? So that they can easily find them if you drop them in the sand, obviously.
Aqua2Go Water Sprayer If you want your sandcastle to last more than a few minutes then you’re going to have to keep it wet. So you can use this sprayer to lightly douse your masterpiece and ‘glue’ it together. £110 | $160 | aqua2go.eu/en
Belle RTX Rammer
If you have oodles of money and are determined to become a pro then you might want to invest in a rammer, as the more compact you make the damp sand, the more likely it’ll all stay in one place. £1,800 | $2,600 | bellegroup.com
Three gallon bucket
If you invest in a sprayer, you’re still going to need a lot of water, so make sure you’ve got a supply of high-quality buckets to hand. You want heavy-duty builders’ buckets at 14 litres (three gallons) each. £15 | $20 | screwfix.com
re am sti me .co m
| er ch cat n o t Pho
When you want to add some detail to your work then that’s when a palette knife will come in handy. If you’ve often pondered on how sculptors make such intricate designs, well, it’s by using these. £5 | $10 | anself.com
If you make a (small) mistake then the easiest way to cover it up is with a standard paint brush, like you do with painting. Lightly dust the area you want to cover up and your error will disappear before your eyes. £5 | $10 | farrow-ball.com
You can scoop out circles from your sculpture with a small spoon, sure, but a much neater, easier and mess-free way of doing it is with a humble, yet surprisingly accurate, melon baller.
Adding the detail
Once you’re happy with the shape then it’s time to add detail, and that’s when your tools will come in handy. You can use the wider ones for shaping and smoothing the edges (and making pathways) and then the smaller ones are ideal for adding brickwork, patterns and doorways. Don’t worry if you make a mistake, you can use sand to retouch imperfections or use the brush to sweep the error away.
Neat and tidy
As you’re cutting into the sand you’ll notice that a lot will be falling out, collecting at the edges and making everything a little messy, and that’s where the tubing comes in. The sand should be light enough to be blown out of the way with ease. If you need anything for more stubborn removals, though, or just need to smarten up some of the edges, then the brush is perfect for that.
£3 | $5 | amazon.com
Straws work fine too, but all the pros use surgical tubing to gently blow away any loose sand from their designs. The extra length lets you get into hard-to-reach areas. £6 | $8 | amazon.com
THE SIMPLE WAY TO CHANGE A CAR TYRE It’s the stuff of driving nightmares, but our workshop is heaven sent…
There’s nothing worse for car owners than hearing that awful repetitive thud coming from one of your wheels that signifies that you’ve got a puncture. And, for some unexplainable reason, it usually seems to happen when you’re in the middle of nowhere, your phone battery is flat and it’s chucking it down with rain in the middle of the night. The reality, though, is that changing a car tyre isn’t quite the nightmare you might think it is. Sure, there are definite things you need to do – as well as a whole long list of things to avoid doing – but if you’re careful and follow our instructions, then you’ll be back on the road in no time at all. We’ve also got a round-up of the kit that’s sure to make it even easier for you, from a cordless impact wrench to remove stubborn nuts to an inflatable jack that’s powered from your car’s exhaust. If you want to repair your puncture in style, then you’ve come to the right place.
01 Get yourself level
“Changing a car tyre isn’t quite the nightmare you might think it is”
If possible, make sure that the car is on a level part of the road before changing the tyre. If you’re on a main road, put on your hazard lights and make sure that the car is switched off and the handbrake is on. Now, if possible, remove the wheel’s hubcap and use a wheel brace to loosen the nuts on the wheel (but don’t remove them). If the wheel has a locking nut, then make sure you know where the key for it is.
02 Jack it up
Now get the jack ready and look underneath the car to find the jacking point for that corner of the vehicle – they’re usually close to the corresponding wheel arch. If you can’t find one then look for the best spot along the car’s sill for the jack to go. Lift the car slowly and carefully, and if the jack is lifting at an angle, then lower it and position it in a better location until you’re sure it’s lifting up straight.
The Simple Way to Change a Car Tyre
WHEELY GOOD GEAR Westfalia Car Jack
This is genius. 60 quid buys you an inflatable cushion that can lift over two tons up in the air. The advantage of this car jack over traditional ones is that it can lift two wheels at once, it’s perfect for uneven and soft surfaces, and it connects straight to the car’s exhaust to inflate it. Brilliant. £60 | $85| westfalia.net
Ring 12V Air Compressor An essential piece of kit, a batterypowered air compressor can inflate a tyre in just under three minutes. All you have to do is set the pressure gauge, attach the nozzle and that’s pretty much it. You can also use a compressor for bike tyres and inflating camping gear, too. £25 | $30 | bit.ly/ringauto
So you’ve got a puncture and you then remember that your spare is flat. What do you do? If you’re prepared for anything then you’ll have a can of this in the back of your car. Attach the can to your tyre’s valve, fill up the tyre with the temporary solution and it seals the puncture – it’s easy as that. £10 | $14 | holtsauto.com
Clarke Impact Wrench
Surely one of the most irritating and embarrassing scenarios is that, after a puncture, you’re unable to remove the nuts with a brace. The solution is costly but guaranteed to make the job a lot easier. This impact wrench whizzes round at up to 2000 RPM and has a maximum torque of 200Nm. £70 | $100 | bit.ly/clarketools
03 Swapping the wheels
When you’re sure that the wheel is completely off the ground, remove the nuts and lift the wheel off of the axle. Now slide on the spare tyre and securely attach it with the wheel nuts. You should tighten them all gradually by hand and in a star pattern – so always putting the next nut in across from the last one, doing a full clockwise turn before moving over to the next nut.
04 Get back on the road
Using the wheel brace, continue tightening the nuts (still using the star pattern) until you’ve tightened them as much as possible – try not to use too much force as this can unsettle the jack if you’re not careful. Now, lower the car to the ground and remove the jack from underneath the car. Before you put the hub cap back on, though, go around the nuts one last time tightening them as much as possible.
BOOST YOUR BROADBAND SPEED An iffy name but brilliant kit, Boosty is perfect for turbocharging your Wi-Fi
Despite the fact that broadband has now been around for years, it’s still sadly the case that many people are struggling with a poor connection. As the demands of the internet increase, and more and more people use it to stream TV, films, music and online gaming, there’s a number of users that are being left behind simply because the area they live in doesn’t have a strong enough internet signal. One solution is to have your internet upgraded with fibre optic broadband, which will improve things dramatically, but if you’ve got a smartphone in the house that’s not using anywhere near the amount of data given to it on your
contract, or you can’t get fibre optic broadband in your area yet, then there’s now a new solution that might be able to help you. Boosty is a small device that plugs into your router and is able to boost your home’s internet signal by up to three times by pairing your home connection with that of your smartphone. It spots when your connection is lagging a bit and helps it out by stealing a bit of your phone’s data allowance. It’s a smart idea, but how does it work? And will it end up costing you a fortune? Luckily for you, we have the answers to these and many more questions in the following workshop.
£70 | $100 boosty.com
Boosty Crave faster broadband? Help is at hand with Boosty, the simple-to-use device that uses the data from your smartphone to boost the strength of your home broadband signal.
Sucks power The power for the Boosty comes from the device (PC, laptop or tablet) that you’re connecting it to for the Wi-Fi boost. Attach the USB cable here, and then plug the other end into the main device
Using the Ethernet cable that comes with your router, connect up the Boosty by inserting the cable into the device and then into the back of your router
Should anything go wrong, then you don’t need to panic. Just press this button to reset the Boosty box and try again
ALTERNATIVE TECH TO GET YOU ONLINE
The Brck is basically a portable Wi-Fi device that has been designed to be used in the most remote locations, where it’s practically impossible to get a phone signal. £175 | $250 | brck.com
If you need to set up a Wi-Fi hotspot, then the TP-Link is the device for you. All you have to do is insert a SIM card into the Link and it can then be shared with up to nine users simultaneously. £40 | $90 | tp-link.dk
BT 600 USB Wireless Adapter
Linksys Range Extender
£20 | $30 | shop.bt.com
£80 | $80 | linksys.com
Stick it in a computer without a Wi-Fi card and it’ll connect it up to your network. It’s also dual band, too, so you can use it with other devices.
If you’re trying to use a single router in a large area, then the RE6500 from Linksys will ensure that you don’t get any dead spots, as it’s one of the best Wi-Fi range extenders on the market.
Boost Your Broadband Speed
Good 3G/4G coverage
HOW IT WORKS
As we’ve already mentioned, Boosty works by combining the signal from your Broadband connection with that of your smartphone. But how exactly does it do it? And does that mean you’ll get clobbered for additional data fees when you get your next phone bill? For Boosty to work, you’ll need a ADSL connection with a speed of up to 12 megabits per second (Mbps) and an Android or an iPhone with a decent reception (at least two bars) and 3G or 4G, too. Connect everything up and then, when you browse the Internet, you should notice a marked improvement on your browsing speeds. Boosty works by ‘topping up’ your broadband connection only at the times when it’s really needed – therefore saving your data allowance. For example, if you wanted to watch a 3Mbps video stream but you’ve only got a 2Mbps connection, Boosty will only add the extra 1Mbps that’s needed. If you have a powerful enough mobile signal, then Boosty can increase the speed of your home Broadband by up to three times. You do have to be careful if you have a limit on your phone’s data, though, but the Boosty Link app is perfect for this, as it allows you to control exactly how much data Boosty can use each month.
SET UP BOOSTY
01 Your smartphone connects to your home Wi-Fi network
02 Boosty combines the connection speeds...
03 ...giving you faster internet!
01 What’s in the box?
02 Finding the app
03 Setting a cap
04 Time for a Boost!
Setting up the Boosty really couldn’t be easier. In the box you get the Boosty itself (which is surprisingly small), a short Ethernet cable and a USB power supply. Make sure to carefully read through the instruction leaflet that comes with it – it starts by giving you an overview of the device and exactly what it can do.
If you’re worried that you might use too much of your data then there’s an easy way to get around that, as the first screen you come to when you open the Boosty Link app allows you to set both the day of the month that you reset the data and also a cap the data you use. Obviously you don’t need to worry about this if you’ve got unlimited data.
Now you need to find the Boosty companion app, Boosty Link, on your smartphone. This is the app that will allow your phone’s 3G or 4G connection to be combined with that of your home broadband’s connection. The app is available for both Android and iOS, so go to the relevant store and download it.
With the app up and running, now is the time to connect the Boosty to your device and then use the Ethernet cable to attach it to your router. Go back to the app on your phone and test the connection to see if its working. When everything’s running okay (which is should do without any trouble) you’re good to go.
Whatever happened to...
Built for pockets
A stylish stylus
At 12cm x 8cm x 1.7cm, the plastic-cased PalmPilot was small and light – it weighed only 5.7 ounces, or 161 grams
Stored in a socket moulded into the right-hand side of the device, the stylus could be used to tap and make strokes on the screen
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By using strokes of the stylus in this area of the screen, it was possible to enter text. The strokes had to be learned by the device
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Lots of apps
Each of these reassignable buttons took you to various apps. Third-party apps were also available and the PalmPilot could sync with software from the likes of Lotus and Microsoft
The PalmPilots offered a pixel LCD screen as standard. The PalmPilot Pro added a backlit screen, perfect for after-hours working
Whatever happened to…
High-fives for the first successful stylus-input PDA Credited with popularising the Personal Digital Assistant, the PalmPilot was an upgradeable pocket-friendly organiser which became a natural extension to a PC for millions of people. The sleekly-designed device enabled users to keep a calendar, a to-do list and an address book while utilising a calendar and a memo pad. It could sync data, run thirdparty apps and – crucially – interpret single strokes made on the 3.4-inch monochrome screen as letters. This made inputting remarkably easy and it helped that the interface was refreshingly uncluttered. Even better, early PalmPilots could keep going for up to three months on the same pair of batteries.
Fact file… Year of launch: 1996 • Will Smith stars in Independence Day • Deep Blue computer beats a chess champ • Germany won the Euro 1996 championship “The connected organiser that keeps you in touch with your PC” Official advertising slogan
Buy one today
• Original Price: £250/$300 • Price Today: £5/$10 There are many used PalmPilots around on eBay and you can pick them up very cheaply. Indeed, many auctions don’t attract a single bid, so it’s very much a buyer’s market. You may struggle to find a debut Pilot 1000, but, with just 128K memory, you’re better off going for at least a PalmPilot Professional which added a backlit screen and a megabyte of memory. Ensure it comes with a cradle for data syncing and don’t worry if the manual is missing – they’re available online.
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