HOVERBOARDS 2.0 READY FOR ANOTHER RIDE?
50 TECH TOP KIT THAT WON’T BREAK THE BANK
CATCH ‘EM ALL WITH THE POKEMON GO PLUS
DYSON TAKES ON ROOMBA’S ROBO-VAC
CUT THE CORD WITH WIRELESS POWER TOOLS
Souped-up soakers making a splash
BEBOP 2 DRONE
CHROMEBOOK’S iPAD PRO KILLER
BUYS STAR TECH
WIN ANY WATER FIGHT
TAKE A DRONE SELFIE
Sharp shooting tips for any device
WORLD’S SMALLEST 4K ACTION CAMERA
TRY VR FOR LESS
4K TV projector hybrid tested
THE RASPBERRY PI OF RETRO GAMING DIG DEEP INTO YOUR DNA DEWALT’S INDESTRUCTIBLE SMARTPHONE SET UP A FIREWALL
HOME CINEMA FOR THE 4K GENEATION
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Rolling back issue 11
Discover real-life tech inspired by 50 years of the Enterprise from page 82
Warning: I’m about to drop a ‘c-bomb.’ That’s right, the forbidden word. The one thing a tech writer should never say. Here goes: cheap. Cheap tech is considered an insult, as if it implies low quality or that it’s a knock-off of a more premium brand. But I actually prefer getting a great deal on something affordable than the inevitable guilt that comes from splurging on a lavish luxury. That’s why this month’s issue is packed with 50 impulse buys, made of the best tech that won’t break the bank, including the new Moto G4 and a cutting-edge HDR TV that’s just £300. Plus, we’ve thrown in some top tips to help you save money on more expensive items, including how to get a better phone contract, plug-ins that will automatically scan websites for compatible vouchers, and reveal the best time to buy anything and get money off. Start saving from page 16. If you’re more interested in discovering devices of desire than basement bargains, rest assured we also have you covered. We get hands-on with Philips new Ambilux 4K TV/ projector hybrid, exclusively stocked by Harrods (page 48); explain the secrets behind a new working hoverboard, beloved by millionaire playboys (p40); and reveal the eye-watering price of smartphone privacy (p80). Whether you have a high-end DSLR camera or just use the camera in your pocket, find out how to take fantastic photos with any device – even a drone – from page 26! Speaking of drones, make sure you enter our Parrot Bebop 2 giveaway on page 14. Jack Parsons Editor
MEET THE TEAM...
What Star Trek tech would you most want to try? Dan Hutchinson Editor In Chief One to beam me up! Being able to teleport places would really make the commute much easier.
Drew Sleep Production Editor Time travel, obviously. I’ll nip off into the future and grab some new tech to feature for next issue.
Andy Downes Senior Art Editor As someone who spends their free time playing first-person shooters, I’d love to try a real-life phaser.
Harriet Knight Designer Oculus Rift, PS VR and the rest are great, but for truly immersive virtual reality I’d love to try a holodeck.
MEET THE ROBOT BUTLER OF YOUR NIGHTMARES
WIN ANY WATER FIGHT WITH SOUPED-UP SOAKERS
REMIX CLASSIC GAMES WITH THE POCKET CHIP
FIND OUT WHY CHATBOTS ARE THE NEW APPS
Seen something you like? Let us know online with the hashtag #GetThisGadget TWITTER @GADGET_MAGAZINE
Smart 006 The Pocket Watch
Meet Monohm’s so-called ‘anti-smartphone’
Subwoofer That 008 The Sits On Your Wrist
Drop the bass wherever you go with this new wearable
SpotMini Is The Robot Butler Of Your Nightmares
BEBOP 2 DRONE WORTH
£400 PAGE 14
This monster is the latest from Google’s robot division
012 KICKSTARTER 10
Smart home accessories
gives Any 009 Geoorbital Bike Any Electric Boost It only takes 60 seconds to fit this supercharged wheel
Take the perfect picture with absolutely any device
Your Door 060 Answer From Anywhere
Ring Video Doorbell livestreams your visitors to your phone
Best of Both 062 The Worlds?
Ubuntu Convergence offers a new way to use your devices
More Control Over 064 get Your Coffee
Enjoy barista-quality coffee with Gaggia Anima Deluxe
Dig Deeper Into Your DNA with 23AndMe
068 034 TV That Goes Beyond 080 Tech We Love 048 The The Screen Trek Tech 082 Rugged Phone Is 052 This Hard As Nails 088 Rise Of The Chatbots Gaming’s Should you Cut 054 Retro Raspberry Pi 094 the Cord? Win Any Water Fight
Souped-up soakers and nextgen gear making a splash
As if a 65-inch screen wasn’t enough, Philips latest TV has a built-in projector
Explore your ancestry and more The hottest new year on our radar this month
Real-life kit inspired by 50 years of the Enterprise
Hands-on with tool maker Dewalt’s first ever smartphone
Find out why you’ll soon be talking to robots online
The Pocket Chip gives you old-school handheld gaming
Battery-powered garden tools put to the test
world’s smallest 058 4kthecamera
The magnetic Mokacam proves bigger isn’t better
50 TECH IMPULSE
Rules For the Perfect 102 8Home Cinema Top tips for setting up your projector and more
Up Your Own Smart 106 Set Home Firewall
Protect your Internet Of Things with the Bitdefender Box
The Perfect 108 Cook Pulled Pork Roll Nail Through 110 Don’t Live Wires
An ideal guide for pigging-out
Detect pipes and wires to avoid major DIY disasters
up On A 112 Stand Surf Board
The surf’s up, and soon so will you be too
Never miss an issue with our special subscription offer on page 100
What ever 114 happened to… Atari 2600
KICKASS KICKSTARTERS • NEAR-FUTURE TECH LATEST LAUNCHES
THE RUNCIBLE IS THE SMART POCKET WATCH ETA SEPT ’16
Runcible rather brazenly markets itself as the ‘anti-smartphone’. Don’t worry, it’s not going to attack your mobile or cause it to melt instantly on contact – it does want to replace your phone with a device that does many of the same tasks, though, while being much more elegant and much less distracting along the way. It’s modelled on the old-school pocket watch (now only carried by characters in period dramas, hipsters and the town ‘eccentric’), and is a flat, circular device with a screen on one side and a camera on the other. Style and sustainability are important to Runcible’s makers, too, with the wooden backs used on some models sourced from sustainable forests, and a high level of repairability and customisation built in.
Even the software is open source, so you can continue to upgrade and tinker with the Runcible long after you’ve bought it (and even if manufacturer Monohm disappears). It’s more of a miniature tablet than a phone in many ways, but one that’s going to be easier to ignore if you want to stay in the moment. The software it runs is based on Android but the device will never ‘beep, alert or otherwise interrupt you’ say its developers. It doesn’t look like Monohm are using “like a rolling phone” in its marketing of the Runcible, which is a shame considering that it looks a lot like a smooth pebble. If you can get in on the Runcible’s Indiegogo campaign before it ends then you can preorder a device for between $400-$600 (around £300-£450).
Twist to zoom
The Runcible is packed with the same connectivity as many a mobile phone: Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth are all built into the circular device
The Runcible’s round touchscreen display measures a modest 2.5 inches in diameter and has a resolution of 640 x 640 pixels (that’s around 256 pixels per inch)
When using the Runcible’s seven-megapixel camera, rather than pinching at the screen to zoom in or out on an image, you twist it like a camera lens
A Snapdragon 410 quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of flash are pretty poor specs for a phone, but you can upgrade both its software and physical parts
The Runcible runs an operating system called BuniOS, which is based on Android 5.1, but it’s designed to be much less distracting while staying as functional as possible
Key functions So what can it actually do? Make calls, take photos, give you directions, run apps, browse the web... but it’s designed to blend into the background at the same time
THE POST-SMARTPHONE ERA?
This is a lot like a smartwatch but it offers lot more too: it’s a mini computer than can then power screens of any size, from phones to tablets and two-in-ones. TBC | getneptune.com
Sony Xperia Ear
Stick the Xperia Ear in your ear and you need never take out your phone again: messages, appointments, directions and calls will all be streamed to your smart earpiece. TBC | sonymobile.com
Most of you will be familiar with the Echo from Amazon, though it’s still US-only. It does many of the jobs a phone can, but uses voice interactions instead of a screen. £140 | $180 | amazon.com
Just as Runicble promises not to annoy you with alerts, Punkt’s mobile phone wants to simplify our lives by being less smart. No internet access or apps, it just makes calls. £230 | $300 | punkt.com
Wired for sound The current version of the Basslet only works with wired headphones, so you can use it with any device with a 3.5mm audio jack (sorry Bluetooth fans)
Smartwatch-esque design The Basslet looks like a smartwatch without a screen, but there’s a powerful little haptic engine in there. The 24mm strap can be replaced if you wish
Fast charging The device’s makers say it can be charged up in just an hour for six hours’ worth of playback) – you can do this via USB, and the wearable’s magnetic charging
Sender dongle Plug your headphones into the sender and the sender into your device of choice. The bass sounds are beamed at very low latency to the Basslet
Full body experience Basslet’s makers say you’ll notice the vibrations only on your wrist to begin with, but the sensation will soon spread until you feel the beat all around you
BASSLET IS A SUBWOOFER THAT SITS ON YOUR WRIST ETA Dec ’16 The smaller a speaker, the more portable it is, but the less powerful it becomes: that’s why top-end audio kits can take up half your living room if you’re not careful. The Basslet wants to get around this constant compromise between size and quality by offering a deep bass-producing subwoofer that sits on your wrist and goes everywhere with you. The haptic engine squeezed inside the Basslet (alongside a battery) kicks out some solid bass beats (at frequencies from 10Hz to 250Hz) so you can literally feel the music pulse as well as listen to it. You can use it with your phone, computer or instrument and as well as music, it also works with games, including virtual reality. Basically, anywhere you might want a better audio experience.
It works via a sender dongle that sits between your headphones and whatever device you’re plugging them into, beaming the notes at just the right time and frequency to your wrist. We can’t vouch for its quality but the people who’ve used it seem impressed. It’s silent to the outside world, lasts for six hours on a single charge and prices start at €100 (£85).
SMART SNEAKERS CONTROL GUITAR PEDAL How about this for another wearable music accessory: Converse’s All-Wah sneakers let you remotely control a guitar pedal. Developed with CuteCircuit, you just have to move your foot and a micro-sensor will measure its flex and communicate this via Bluetooth to a connected wah pedal, phone or computer. Sadly, neither Converse or CuteCircuit have announced a release date or price.
60-SECOND INSTALL PROCESS
The GeoOrbital fits over 95 per cent of bicycles on the market and comes in two sizes: 26 inches and 700c (which covers 28-inch and 29-inch bikes too)
01 Tool-free wheel installation The GeoOrbital wheel can be installed in 60 seconds without the aid of tools, though we think that’s assuming you’ve taken the old wheel off before you start.
02 Attach the wheel Puncture-proof tyre
The solid foam tyre around the edge of the GeoOrbital is designed to protect against punctures so you don’t need to worry about getting a flat tyre
The battery can recharge itself whenever you’re rolling or not using it, and takes about three to four hours to charge up when you get back home
Without pedalling you can hit top speeds of up to 20mph and, of course, that goes up if you’re going to put some effort in yourself
GEOORBITAL GIVES ANY BIKE AN ELECTRIC BOOST ETA Feb ’17 If you don’t want to invest in an entire electric bike, what about just the wheel? The battery-powered GeoOrbital affixes to most bicycles to give you that extra little boost when you need it – apparently it takes only 60 seconds to install, even if you’re not an experienced bike repair expert. It’s compatible with “nearly every bicycle” say its maker and it has have tested it on hundreds of models. There are two sizes to pick from and they are guaranteed to work with any bike using rim brakes and 26-inch or 700c wheels (including 28-inch or 29-inch sizes) according to its official blurb.
Without pedalling these neat add-ons can get you up to top speeds of around 20mph and offer a range of 12-50 miles depending on the bike, the way you ride it, the terrain and how much effort you’re prepared to put in along the way. Once you’ve stopped, the wheels take between three and four hours to recharge. Whether you want to arrive at work without sweating buckets along the way or you’re just not as fast on the pedals as you used to be, the GeoOrbital can help. Preorders for the GeoOrbital are now being taken for $800 (around £615).
The front fork drops on to the GeoOrbital wheel as shown, and you then need to tighten the axle nuts so the wheel won’t suddenly fly off on the road.
03 Fix the straps
The wheel comes with straps to fix it in place and there’s a separate lock for the battery that can be removed if necessary (and can be used as a USB charger).
04 Install the controller
There’s a small control module that you need to fix to the handlebars – this lets you turn on the GeoOrbital’s power as and when it’s needed.
Hydraulic arm The arm at the front of the SpotMini, which is an optional appendage, lets it pick up objects and right itself in the case of a fall
Onboard sensors The SpotMini uses a variety of cameras and sensors, as well as markers installed inside the test facility itself, to find its way around
Delicate touch The claw at the end of the hydraulic arm may not look too dexterous, but it’s capable of handling objects with a certain amount of gentle care
SpotMini is a digitigrade animal, like a dog or a cat, with knee joints that bend backwards – it means the robot can get around quietly and nimbly
While it isn’t explicitly stated, its been hinted that the SpotMini is waterproof, and it can be kitted out with casing for the outdoors
SPOTMINI: THE ROBOT BUTLER OF YOUR NIGHTMARES ETA TBC The rumour is that Google – or Alphabet, technically speaking – wants to sell the Boston Dynamics robotics lab, but the company keeps on producing droids that are getting smarter, quieter and more productive. The SpotMini is the latest, a domesticated version of its 2005 model, that can empty the dishwasher, pass you drinks and climb the stairs.
Boston Dynamics says it’s one of the quietest robots it’s ever built and the body is packed full of sensors to enable it to duck under tables, walk up flights of stairs and even get itself upright again after a fall. At the front of the SpotMini is an extendable arm with a claw at the end of its arm: it kind of looks bit like a little giraffe and its distinctive arm – or neck – is what helps makes the robot so useful. From the short YouTube clip Boston Dynamics has released, it also appears to be more careful and delicate than a lot of similar droids we’ve seen in the past – and if you want a robot helping around the home then it needs to be a machine that’s not the domestic equivalent of a bull let loose in a china shop.
We crunch the numbers of the SpotMini
Weight (with arm attached)
Minutes of operation on a single charge
All-electric No hydraulics involved
The number of years Boston Dynamics has been in operation
SpotMini help around the house youtu.be/tf7IEVTDjng
Human operation Right now a lot of the tricks that SpotMini can do requires a human operator, but the droid will become more and more autonomous
SPRK+ MAKES SPHERO’S CODING BOT EVEN SMARTER ETA Out Now Sphero has been in the rolling gadget game a long time now, and recently released a BB-8 replica much to the delight of Star Wars fans everywhere. Its latest device is the $130 (£100) SPRK+, a programmable robot that is designed to get kids interested in coding with the aid of an intuitive app for Android, iOS and Amazon devices. With an eye on younger folks, it’s waterproof and scratch resistant, and can be paired with a smartphone with a tap (via Bluetooth, with a 30-metre range). It has an accelerometer and gyroscope to find its
way around, plus LED lights for that extra bit of entertainment. Sphero says the rolling robot ball is good for approximately an hour’s use between charges. Almost as exciting as the hardware is the software that comes along with it: the free Lightning Lab app lets you (or your children) work on robotics projects and collaborate with other users from anywhere in the world. You can use it to navigate around an obstacle course, as the engine for a Lego car, or anything else – your imagination is the limit with what you can do.
10 SMART HOME ACCESSORIES
We’ve seen a few smart doorbells appear on Kickstarter but this one is specifically for Europe. Your phone acts as your key and Nuki is easy to install over existing locks. £235 | $310 | nuki.io
A versatile smart oven that can cook certain prepackaged meals with a scan of their barcodes. Tell Tovala what you need or let the oven look up the right recipes online.
£220 | $290 | tovala.com
This handy device has been a phenomenal success on Kickstarter: the simple all-in-one home monitoring system is affordable, simple and batterypowered, so it works everywhere. £75 | $100 | blinkforhome.com
Simple, smart, wireless music streaming around the home – Musaic can play tunes from mobile devices, computers and a variety of platforms wherever you place it in a room.
£280 | $370 | musaic.com
05 Buddy Guard
This uses a smart camera to keep an eye on your home, disabling itself when it spots your face in the shot or senses the presence of your registered smartphone.
£175 | $230 | buddyguard.io
Comprising a hub and then one or more sensors, Notion is designed to detect different actions: door knocks, temperature, smoke, water leaks, the presence of people and more.
£100 | $130 | getnotion.com
Promising ‘a softer take on home security’, Point doesn’t have a camera but uses sounds and temperature changes to keep you informed about what’s happening at home. £85 | $110 | minut.com
This unassuming button can be programmed to control plenty of kit in your home, from music and lighting to smart locks and thermostats, and it’s superbly simple to use.
£120 | $160 | senic.com
A stern-looking video camera security system, packed with enough sensors to tell you everything that’s going on at home through your phone. It gets smarter over time too.
£150 | $200 | canary.is
10 Piper 08
Another video camera security system, but unlike Canary, Piper doesn’t have any ongoing costs for cloud storage streaming. It also ties in with various other bits of smart home kit.
£190 | $250 | getpiper.com
WIN A PARROT BEBOP 2! One of four quadcopters up for grabs
The skies the limit with a Parrot Bebop 2! This quadcopter is ideal for beginners as it only requires a phone or tablet to pilot it, while its featherweight design is surprisingly robust and the propellers automatically stop in the event of a collision. If you lose control of the drone, its Return Home function will steer it back to its take-off point using its built-in GPS system. The Bebop 2 is ideal for anyone that fancies themselves an aerial cinematographer and wants to
capture their own unique films from the skies – in full HD as well! As well as having a 14-megapixel camera, the Bebop 2 is fitted with all the latest sensors and has a much improved 25 minutes of battery life. You can pilot the drone through your smartphone or tablet, too, so anyone can pick it up and start flying straight away. It’s also incredibly simple – if we can fly it around a room inside without taking anyone’s eye out, then you can too!
FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN ONE OF FOUR PARROT BEBOP 2 DRONES, EACH WORTH £400, ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTION:
QUESTION: HOW LONG DOES THE BEBOP 2’S BATTERY LAST?
A. 25 HOURS B. 25 MINUTES C. 25 DAYS
Enter today at www.gadgetdaily.xyz TERMS AND CONDITIONS The closing date for entries is 26 August 2016. Please be aware that answers must be submitted to the above website only. This competition is open to residents of the United Kingdom and Ireland only. Imagine Publishing has the right to substitute the prize for a similar item of equal or higher value. Employees of Imagine Publishing (including freelancers), their relatives or any agents are not eligible to enter. The editor’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. Prizes cannot be exchanged for cash. Full terms and conditions are available upon request. From time to time, Imagine Publishing or its agents may send you related material or special offers. If you do not want to receive this, please state it clearly on your competition entry.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CHECK OUT: PARROT.COM
ONE FOR ALL, ALL FOR ONE!
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50 TECH IMPULSE
BUYS Top kit that won’t break the bank and price hacks to save you money
As your jaw hits the floor and your mouth salivates over the latest pieces of kit that sits tantalisingly in every Gadget magazine, your wallet starts to make a run for it. It knows you can’t resist rooting around for spare pounds in your desire to own cutting-edge tech. But trailblazing tech doesn’t have to be expensive. For every premium device, there is usually a more affordable alternative that may lose
a few features here and there but is still exciting and, more to the point, useful in your day-to-day life. Over the next few pages, we’re going to take a look at the kit that manages to astound and amuse despite their lower than expected prices. We’re going to look at alternatives to the leading tablets, consoles, cameras and smartwatches and the free apps that can save you money.
£150 | $200 olfi.co.uk
Olfi 4K HDR Action Camera
THE AFFORDABLE ACTION CAMERA
If you want a solid, versatile action camera that won’t leave you eating dirt for the rest of the month, you should consider snapping up the Olfi. Costing less than half the price of a GoPro Hero 4, it films at 24 frames per second in 4K and offers up to 120fps slow motion. And, because it’s rugged and comes with a waterproof case, this 16MP camera should cope with most situations you throw at it. Controllable via an iOS or Android app, this camera outputs some impressive images, thanks to built-in stabilisation and a backlit Sony Exmor R CMOS sensor that cuts down on noise and grain. It also benefits from High Dynamic Range for greater image detail.
LENOVO YOGA TAB 3 There are lots of cheap tablets around but the poor quality of many is a bitter pill to swallow. The Yoga Tab 3, on the other hand, has some unique features, from a 180° rotating eight-megapixel camera, to front-facing speakers with Dolby Atmos – which is particularly ideal when watching Netflix. It runs Android 6.0 and has a long battery life, too. £150 | $200 lenovo.com
PARTHICA GAMING KEYBOARD
Beautiful and responsive, this keyboard has 93 configurable keys, five macro buttons and ten for multimedia, so you can tailor it for exactly how you play games. Throw in anti-ghosting, support for Windows 10 and the ability to access configurations when you load a game and you’ve got yourself a perfect tool for gaming on a budget.
While you probably use your smartphone when listening to music on the go, having a cheap portable player frees up much-needed space on your phone and also means you can listen to high-quality music files. The Fiio M3 supports WAV and FLAC files and while it only has 8GB of internal storage, this can be easily boosted to 64GB with a microSD card. Its battery lasts a full day.
£40 | $50 speedlink.com
£50 | $55 fiio.net
THE SIMPLE SMARTWATCH
£175 | $100 pebble.com
It’s strange to think that it’s been five years since the Pebble e-paper watch attracted more than $10 million and almost 69,000 backers on Kickstarter, yet the makers have deemed it time for a direct successor. Attracting close to $13 million, the Pebble 2 smartwatch appears to be a slimmer, lighter wearable that also manages to clock in at a third the price of its Apple Watch equivalent. Admittedly, it is hard to make a direct comparison between the two devices – they’re very different, conceptually. The Pebble 2’s monochromatic e-paper display lacks touchscreen functions and it relies on you fiddling with the side buttons (the flagship stainless steel Time 2 has a colour display, incidentally) to navigate around its menus. But the Pebble 2 is still in a healthy position thanks to a bunch of built-in features, such as a heart-rate monitor and a suite of fitness tools including an activity and sleep tracker. It also has a microphone so that you can issue instructions. It’s a shame that the watch doesn’t have a personal assistant. Amazon’s Alexa is available on the Pebble Core, which is a screenless device aimed at runners, but the lack of an audio output on the Pebble 2 means it won’t be ported over just yet. Pebble 2 is no waste of time, though. Able to work with both iOS and Android devices and with a battery life of up to seven days, it’s still definitely one to watch.
BEST BUDGET SMARTPHONE Strictly speaking, a phone isn’t an impulse buy. Normally you have to spend ages comparing specs and contract prices, but the Moto G4 offers so much for so little, its a no-brainer. There are certainly lots of features to catch your attention. Quite aside from being able to spruce up the rear using the customisation service Moto Maker, with the Moto G4 your eyes can feast on a 5.5-inch screen that not only boasts brilliant viewing angles, but also offers full 1080p HD. There’s a 13MP camera on the back of the phone and a 5MP selfie-snapper peering out from the front. There’s also just as much good stuff going on inside, too. If you go for the G4 Plus, you will still get the eight-core Snapdragon 617 1.5Ghz processor, 2GB of RAM, up to 32GB of expandable storage and Android 6.0. You’ll also get an enhanced 16MP camera and a fingerprint scanner. Best of all, though, you can use either phone without worrying too much about battery life. If you opt for the additional Turbocharger, the handset can overcome one of the bugbears of high-end phones, staying active for up to six hours following just 15 minutes of juicing. Sure, the Turbocharger makes the phone feel like its melting, but there’s no denying that this is hot stuff.
The rear of the Moto G4 is home to its 13MP camera, complete with colour balancing dual-LED flash, 4x zoom and slow motion video capabilities
Flip off the micro-textured back and you’ll be able to slip in a microSD card to give the phone extra storage capacity, adding up to 128GB
There’s no skimping on this 5.5-inch HD screen, with a resolution of 1920 x 1080, although it does make the overall phone feel cumbersome
£170 | $200 lenovo.com
BLAG A BETTER PHONE CONTRACT TIP
DO SOME HAGGLING
BUY LAST GEN
Try and do your deal in person rather than online. That way you can try and get some movement on the tariff. Threatening to leave your service provider usually works.
Going for the latest devices will prove to be more expensive and their tariffs tend to offer less movement. Consider the last-gen model instead – it’ll still be powerful.
CHECK YOUR USAGE
DROP CUSTOMER SUPPORT
SHOP FOR INSURANCE
Are you really using up all your minutes and do you need that much data? Monitor your usage properly and you could drop a price band.
If you’re happy with the handset you have or you are flush enough to buy your next phone outright, SIM-only deals offer the most attractive tariff prices.
Some providers, such as Giffgaff in the UK, are ‘run’ by their customers. By offering forums and dropping customer support lines, you pay less.
Some phone providers will try and flog you phone insurance. If you really want it, shop around for the best price rather than just mindlessly ticking a box in the shop.
BACK-TO-BASICS FITNESS TRACKER Remember the Duracell bunnies that were said to go on and on and on? They had nothing on this device. The battery of the Withings Go activity tracker lasts for eight months without any
need to recharge, which means you can walk, run and swim and let this water-resistant gadget work in the background. It uses an always-on E Ink display and it syncs with its own
Health Mate app. You’ll be kept up to speed with how active you’ve been and you can also set goals and judge the remaining distance before you reach them. It also doubles as a sleep tracker.
SAVE MONEY WHILE BROWSING
1HOT UK DEALS
Positioned to the right of the URL bar in Chrome, this plug-in will show you the top 39 deals as shared by users of Hot UK Deals.
Available for most browsers, you are not only notified if the product you’re looking at is cheaper elsewhere but given a direct link. getinvisiblehand.com
When you sign up and join honey, you’ll be able to discover coupon codes instantly whether you’re in the US or the UK.
£50 | $80 withings.com
THE EASY E-READER Amazon’s brand-new Kindle Oasis has a luxurious black leather charging cover and well-placed buttons that make turning the pages feel like second nature. At £270 ($290), though, you may not have enough cash left to actually buy any books. By snapping up an aptly-named Kindle Paperwhite, though, you still benefit from a 300ppi display, Wi-Fi and built-in light while saving more than half the price of the Oasis. Sure the light is 60 per cent less bright but how much are lightbulbs these days? The main thing you won’t benefit from is the battery life which, on an Oasis, is many months. Given the Paperwhite lasts a mighty eight weeks, though, you’d have to be on a long vacation or particularly engrossed in a novel to be unduly troubled.
This price tracker for Firefox, Chrome and Safari will show you the history of a product so you can see its price fluctuations over time.
£80 | $80 amazon.com
Aimed at US consumers, PriceBlink will find lower prices and coupons as you shop, which should save you loads. bit.ly/priceblinkbrowser
£35 | $35 pokemongo.com
£5 | $10 amazon.com
A WEARABLE TO CATCH ’EM ALL
Nintendo’s new gaming craze has seemingly taken over the world. In case you’ve been living under a Geodude these past few months, Pokemon Go is a free mobile game that uses GPS to hunt monsters in your neighbourhood. It also uses your phone’s camera to display them as though they are actually
in front of you. Now here’s something you might not know: this wearable can give you an advantage over other players. The device vibrates when there’s a wild Pokémon in your immediate area, and with the push of the button on the top, you can throw a virtual Pokéball to capture the creature.
THE LAZY WAY TO MAKE TEA We can’t think of any other gadget that’s as decadent as this, but costs so little. A tiny battery-powered propeller at the bottom of this mug spins rapidly to swirl your morning brew for you. Press the button on the handle and watch as your hot beverage slowly starts to spin, until it’s a veritable steaming whirlpool, freeing up your time so you can break out the Hobnobs. It also comes with a lid, so you can take your self-stirring drink with you on the way to work. Of course, the irony is, you’ll still need a spoon to get your tea bag out, but what do you expect for just £5 ($10)?
THE BEST TIME TO BUY JANUARY
• LAST YEAR’S •TELEVISIONS TECH • VIDEOGAMES
MARCH • CAMERAS
• DESKTOP • OUTDOOR • DESKTOP COMPUTERS DEVICES COMPUTERS • LAST YEAR’S • BABY • LAST YEAR’S SAMSUNG GADGETS SAMSUNG PHONE PHONE
NANOBLOCK Lego and gadgets go hand in hand – Raspberry Pi case, anyone? – but as much as we love Denmark’s greatest export, Nanoblocks are not only cheaper, the tiny of their bricks allow for intricate designs. With patience, you can build just about anything £10 | $10 | nanoblockuk.com
AUDIO PRO ADDON T3
Sonos is the king of multiroom speaker systems, but if you’re not bothered about listening to music in every room of your house, then the Audio Pro Addon T3 provides fantastic audio at a wallet-friendly price.
CRANK UP THE VOLUME
£165 | $215 | audiopro.com
These cans have been around for about a decade but they are still in-tune with listeners. They offer very balanced, almost crystalclear sound and, because they are closed-back, they are very good at isolating you from external ambient noise, letting you keep your music largely to yourself. Since its dynamic transducers are good at producing low-level audio, you don’t have to crank up the volume to ear-splitting levels and risk damaging your hearing. You’ll also find they are also comfortable and more than bearable over prolonged listening sessions. They’re not wireless, but they do come attached to a lengthy cord. Sennheiser HD 201 | £20 | $20 | sennheiser.com
LEXAR JUMPDRIVE M10 With this USB 3.0 flash drive you get 64GB of storage that’s locked down using EncryptStick’s 256-bit AES encryption. It’s an affordable device that puts your mind at rest, even if your data falls into the wrong hands. £40 | $25 | lexar.com
LEARN TO FLY
£75 | $85 blasehelis.com
Nano QX RTF
JULY •AMAZON PRIME DAY (12 JUL)
AUGUST • LAPTOPS
• LAST • LAWN YEAR’S MOWERS iPHONE, iPAD, MAC
This tiny palm-sized drone may have no frills, especially when compared to higher-end models that have features like GPS or cameras, but with self-correcting stability and the ability to perform some agile stunts, it’s heaven-sent for beginners. Handling a lot like a £1,000 quadcopter, but without the price tag, the Nano QX RTF is ideal for those looking for a cheap trainer drone to log some serious air miles before they try and fly a more expensive model. Easy to master and with eight minutes of fly-time per charge (yes, for the uninitiated, this is actually considered an average battery life in the drone world), the QX RTF is also easy to repair if you should damage it when you crash it (and you definitely will).
• BLACK FRIDAY (25 NOV)
THESE GADGETS SAVE MONEY PLUG 1THIS MONITORS USAGE As well as letting you switch off your appliances remotely, the WeMo Insight Switch monitors your usage and lets you know just how much energy you are using. belkin.com
£50 | $50
THE MOST EFFICIENT BULB
As the world’s least wasteful lightbulb, the Nanoleaf One costs less than a dollar to power for an entire year and it also works with Apple HomeKit, using Siri’s voice control. nanoleaf.me/en/
£25 | $25
SHAVER 3THIS SELF-CLEANS Cleaning a shaver with a brush to remove excess hair is no fun task. Many Braun shavers self-clean, making them hygienic and longer lasting than many of their rivals. braun.com
£150 | $190
HIGH-QUALITY, BUT CHEAPER, COFFEE
A Nespresso coffee maker at home may sound like an indulgence, but for a few coins for each cup of Joe, you’ll avoid handing over notes in your local coffee shop. nespresso.com
£140 | $150
DOWN 5POWER YOUR SHOWER The French-made Hydrao helps you to save water by flashing when you have reached a limit of 50 litres. It is said to reduce water use by an average of 25 per cent. hydrao.fr/en/
£65 | $90
£100 | $100 samsung.com
Samsung Gear VR
TRY VR FOR LESS
The current problem with VR is that, like 3D television sets, is that you can’t be certain that the phenomenon is going to be a longterm success. If you’re a wary of investing a hefty price in any of the ‘A-list’ headsets, the Samsung Gear VR lets you dip a toe at a sixth of the price of the Oculus Rift.
Gear VR is actually made by Oculus and it relies on you having a compatible Samsung Galaxy phone which slots into the front. The headset then uses its gyroscope, accelerometer and proximity sensor to engross you in a virtual world. There’s plenty of content to play with at samsungvr.com.
BLEND ON A BUDGET
£30 | $40 lakeland.co.uk
Davina Personal Blender
Millions of Nutribullets have been sold and, while they’re reasonably inexpensive to begin with, the Davina Personal Blender still slices their price. Endorsed by the UK television presenter Davina McCall and only available in Britain’s Lakeland stores, it’s a stylish and elegant machine that will look right at home on your kitchen top. It’s very easy to operate and it comes with a blade, a couple of beakers and two sip lids. You can make juices, smoothies and shakes in less than 30 seconds and have the liquid blend straight into the cup, although you do have to chop some of the ingredients rather finely and put it through it paces a couple of times for a truly smooth drink.
Ultra HD It may not have 3D capabilities but that appears to be a ship that has long sailed. Here you get a crisp 43-inch Ultra HD 3840 x 2160 panel
Do you have lots of digitally-stored photos, music and movies? You can watch them direct on the television via its USB 3.0 input. H.265 capability lets you stream 4K
Don’t fret too much that you can’t access a lot of 4K content right now. This television will upscale content to Ultra HD to give you a clearer picture of the action
£300 | $400 hisense.co.uk
GET A 4K TV FOR UNDER £400 Don’t you just hate it when you think you’ve invested in the most cutting-edge tech only to find there’s something shinier around the block? Just as 4K televisions were started to be placed in the corner of the living room in many a home, High Dynamic Range (HDR) TV sets have emerged as the Next Big Thing. The HiSense M3000 – or 43H7C as its known in the US – is a quality budget TV set which offers the staggering, vibrant realism of HDR and access to its 1,073,741,824 colours at an affordable price that matters less if something better comes along in the next couple of years.
But that’s not to say that the M3000 isn’t futureproof. This 4K visual box of delights has a quad-core processor, HDMI, USB and H.265 connections, smart television functionality and Ultra HD upscaling. What’s more, given that Ultra HD Blu-ray players are only just coming to market and HDR broadcasts are still a few years away, you’ll be ahead of the curve for a good while. For now though, there’s plenty to keep you busy. Awaiting you through the LED-backlit screen of this China-made TV are apps, a media player and a web browser. You can also sit down and enjoy the built-in UK Freeview.
WHICH TV PACKAGE IS BEST VALUE? 300 Number of channels
Tuning out when choosing a TV deal? You’re not alone. Researching what’s available in your area, the channels on offer and whether the sweeteners used to entice you to sign up are worth it is no easy task. On balance, though, a Virgin TV, phone and broadband deal looks pretty good. One deal works out at around £35/month and gives you six months free Netflix subscription. Key things to consider are the channels you want. BT, for instance, gives cheap access to Premier League and Champion’s League football. Sky and Now TV offer Sky Atlantic.
Sky TV Original Bundle £20/month
200 150 100 50
Virgin TV M+ £15/month BT Entertainment Plus £10/month TalkTalk TV £10/month Now TV £6.99/month Cost per month
FREE APPS THAT SAVE CASH
By constantly analysing flight prices, you can discover the optimum time to buy your ticket and the best airports to fly from. iPhone/ iPad/ Android
DOODLE AWAY WITH THIS 3D PRINTER PEN
We’ve all thought about buying a 3D printer, but then balked at the massive price tag. This is not a problem for the 3Doodler Start, which costs just £50 for a basic model or only £100 for the ‘super mega pack’ that includes extra plastic cartridges. While it does lack the practical applications of a proper
3D printer, instead you get to enjoy the sheer magic of being able to draw in three dimensions. In case you were wondering, the 3Doodler Start pen works a lot like a glue gun: you shove a stick of plastic (available in a range of colours) in the back of it and a heating element melts it, so you
assemble strands to build towers, figurines, Harry Potter glasses, photo frames – basically, whatever you want. Technically, this is a child’s toy, but while the boxes recommends users are at least eight-yearsold, we take particular joy that it specifies no upper limit!
This details discounts from the biggest retailers around. Each sale you make is tracked and money is added to your account. iPhone/ iPad/ Android
3 HOTEL TONIGHT
Surplus hotel rooms are sold at a discount. Great for the last minute. iPhone/ iPad/ Android
It works on a subscription basis, but there’s a 30-day trial and you get discounts on lots of restaurants, from chains to indies. iPhone/Android
5MYSUPERMARKET Create a list and this app will seek out the best supermarket to buy the items from. It compares your basket with 11 stores. iPhone/ iPad/ Android
£40 | $50 3doodlerstart.com
PLAY MOBILE GAMES ON YOUR TV £130 | $150
When the fourth generation of Apple TV was announced, the company paved the way for third-party apps. It meant developers could create games for the device for the first time, effectively turning it into a games console. But it wasn’t without its problems. Game developers were instructed that their games had to include support for the tiny Siri Remote which restricted how, they could be controlled. Thankfully, with the forthcoming tvOS 10, that decision is being reversed, allowing games to be
specifically made for ‘proper’ control pad-based controllers. The graphics are not going to beat those of the PS4, but this will at least allow for the creation of more console-like games for the device. It’s game on for Apple TV at last.
£30 | $40 raspberrypi.org
Raspberry Pi 3
LEARN TO CODE WITH A POCKET-SIZED PC
The latest version of the Pi is only a few months old and if you’re searching for an inexpensive computer on which to perform general day-to-day tasks, look no further. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are built into to the top-end Model B as standard and you get 1GB RAM, four USB ports, HDMI and a MicroSD slot. But what can you do on it? Well, given its powered by Linux, you can download LibreOffice, which is a free full office suite akin to Microsoft Office or Google Docs. You can also play games including a host of retro titles, learn to code with Scratch, surf the web, email and produce a media hub. All for less than a delicious meal for two.
TILE BLUETOOTH TRACKER
If you’re forever losing stuff, this tiny Bluetooth tracker will allow you to quickly find it. After attaching various Tiles to the items you’re most likely to misplace, you can use your smartphone to detect the Tile’s signal once you get within 100 feet of it. It even works the other way around – pressing the Tile lets you find your phone.
The smell of grilled food is certain to make you salivate, so don’t let undercooked grub make you sick. You can stick the iGrill mini into your cooking delicacies and it will tell you when the right temperature has been reached. Bluetooth connectivity means you get an alert on your phone when it’s ready. You can also make use timers and enjoy lots of recipes, too.
£20 | $25 thetileapp.com
£40 | $50 weber.com
This is made from softer material than its big brother, Shine, but that’s the only real difference between the two – that said, it’s falling behind the Shine 2, which is thinner and stronger. For a ridiculously low price, though, Flash measures your activity and sleep and syncs the data with your phone, telling you the calories you’ve burned, steps taken and your sleep quality. £25 | $30 misfit.com
FLIP BETWEEN A LAPTOP AND A TABLET
£215 | $280 asus.com
Asus Chromebook Flip C100PA
A lot of attention is paid to operating systems of Apple and Microsoft but you should spare a good, long hard thought for ChromeOS. When it was launched in 2011, it was met with great scepticism but Google has kept the faith and infused it with some great features, the latest of which is support for Google Play apps. As the name suggests, the Asus Chromebook Flip C100PA notebook runs ChromeOS. At its heart is a quad-core RK3288X Rockchip processor running at 1.8GHz, and it also has up to 4GB of RAM and 16GB of eMMC storage. We’d compare it as an alternative it to an iPad Pro because it has a nifty trick up its sleeve: the ability to flip into a tablet. That 10.1-inch wide-view angle LED display may flap behind Apple’s flagship tablet but it hinges back over the keyboard and becomes a touchscreen marvel that can be used for up to nine hours on a single battery charge. Sounds good? That’s not even the half of it. It also has topquality stereo speakers that pump out high-fidelity surround sound at up to 80dB, making it great for enjoying your music or watching movies.
become a hot shot
H T SH T
1 Take the perfect picture with any device One of the key features of modern life seems to be that every bit of tech is equipped with a camera of some kind. That’s great news for making sure that all aspects of our life are documented as we’ll nearly always have a photo capturing device to hand. When you start to become serious about photography, though, you’ll start to look for ways to get the most out of every camera you encounter, whether that’s something that’s
included as an incidental feature – such as on a tablet – or a bona fide DSLR camera which is solely intended for taking great shots. We’ll be taking a look at a variety of cameras that help you to get the best shots and how get the most from their features – further good news is that many of these products won’t break the budget, either. There are many styles of photography and photographer these days – there’s much
more to it than quick family snaps. While those are still high priority, you’ll also find that people want to experiment with action cameras or drones and many people don’t want the hassle of owning a big camera at all. Don’t worry, though, we’ve got you covered from tablets and mobile phones, through more adventurous bits of kit, and dedicated DSLRs so you can get the shot you want no matter what you’re using.
5 Shoot and share 1
iPad mini 4
We don’t like to encourage so-called ‘iPadography,’ but if you’re going to use a tablet to take pictures, try this one. The smallest member of the iPad family has an eight-megapixel iSight camera with an f/2.4 aperture lens that features five elements. £330 | $350 | apple.com
This action camera features a 16MP sensor and can record 4K video. There’s a free companion app, while an integrated microSD card reader enables you to plug it into your computer wire-free. A variety of mounts are available, too. £200 | $400 | tomtom.com
Canon EOS 13OOD
The perfect DSLR for newbies, it won’t break the bank while also helping you to achieve fantastic shots. It’s got a high-res sensor, manual control, is compatible with a number of accessories and has Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity for sharing on the go. £370 | $600 | canon.com
This self-flying drone is controlled directly from your smartphone. You can select a variety of different flight movements, and let the drone do the rest for you. This makes it ideal for capturing those moments in life where you don’t have a spare set of hands to take photos. £755 | $1,000 | hexoplus.com
With a dual-camera design created with the help of much respected camera brand Leica, the Huawei P9 packs a lot of punch for a phone camera – and it’s cheaper than an iPhone. It has also got sleek looks, manual control and the neat ability to shoot in raw format. £380 | $500 | consumer.huawei.com
become a hot shot
How much is it going to set me back? Make no mistake, photography can be an incredibly expensive hobby – the more you get into it, the more you’re likely to want to spend on your kit. This is where combining your photography gadget with something you use for something else – a tablet or a phone, for example – can help you to cut costs. If you’re looking for a new phone, and you take a lot of photographs, it makes sense to pay a lot of attention to the photographic specs of every phone you consider. The most popular phones on the market may not necessarily be the best for photography, especially if you’re looking to take some creative control over your shots. Huawei has introduced the P9 which it has designed in conjunction with Leica. It features a dual-camera setup, where both sensors work together to produce one image. This increases the amount of detail that you’ll see in your images, and you can take manual control, altering settings such as shutter speed. You can also shoot in the universal DNG raw format, which gives you greater flexibility when editing your images. If you’re perhaps a little less serious about your shots, but you still want to take the odd snap every now and then, put some thought into your tablet of choice. Attempting to use a large tablet as a camera can be quite difficult, but if you opt for something smaller, such as the iPad Mini 4, then it’s much easier. You have basic controls with an iOS camera, but there’s some fun elements, such as time-lapse, and filters that you can employ to great effect. Thinking about getting involved with drone technology? You can get some bargain drones, but for those that are a bit more intelligent, or easier for the average Joe to
Lenses should be your first port of call when looking for DSLR accessories
Choose your style The first thing you can do to help you decide on the type of camera you want to own is to think about the type of photographs that you want to take. It might sound obvious, but there’s no point in owning a camera that you never use because it doesn’t do what you need it to do. While it’s true that standalone cameras tend to produce higher-quality images than smartphones, the benefit of the latter is that you’ll always have it on you, which is perfect for those opportunities that suddenly pop up without any warning. If, however, you want to be more considered about your photography, setting
out with the specific intention to take shots, then a DSLR could be the best option for you. If you’re an extreme sports fan and want to capture shots from your adventures, then an action camera is the way to go as you don’t need to worry about it getting wet, and you can attach it to your helmet, handlebars or simply about your person. Drones are the big buzzword of the moment, with all manner of options available for sublime aerial shots. Finally, a tablet often has a bad reputation amongst ‘real’ photographers, but it’s possible to get some great snaps with one, and if you’re likely to mainly be taking your shots at home, or places you’ll have your tablet with you, then it makes sense to use what you’ve got rather than investing in another gadget.
Huawei P9 camera tips and tricks
01 Turn to Pro
Flick up the Pro mode from the bottom or side of the screen and you can be in control of all sorts of settings, including shutter speed, focusing type and white balance, giving you lots of great control over how your final image will look.
02 Reach shallow depths
Recreate the DSLR look with the Huawei’s shallow depth of field mode. It’s a fully-automated feature, but it can make certain shots stand out from a typical phone image. Use it sparingly, though, as it can look fake with certain subjects.
03 Switch on RAW
Shooting in RAW format gives you greater flexibility when editing in programs such as Photoshop. You’ll need to be in Pro mode to activate raw shooting, which you’ll find alongside a standard JPEG which you can share in any normal way.
become a hot shot
The Rule Of Thirds
To give your photos a pleasing look, avoid placing the subject in the centre of the frame. Instead, imagine lines splitting the frame into equal thirds both horizontally and vertically. By placing the subject on a point where these lines intersect, you should find that your images look more professional than if you don’t consider your composition carefully. Once you’ve learned the rule though, don’t be afraid to break it every now and then if the subject warrants it.
“You’ll want to start thinking about accessories for it sooner rather than later” control, you’ll be looking at spending a chunk of cash. If you’re not sure if a drone is for you, perhaps consider one of the cheaper options to see how you get on with it. Something like the Hexo+ drone is clever as it can be instructed what to do from your smartphone and it’ll jut get on with it, leaving you free to cycle across mountain ranges – or whatever else you like to do on a Saturday afternoon. When it comes to DSLRs, luckily, there’s something on the market for pretty much every budget. At the top of the tree there’s cameras like the Nikon D5 and the Canon EOS 1DX Mark II which are used by professionals, but will set you back several thousand pounds. On the other extreme, there’s the Canon EOS 1300D, a fantastic entry-level camera which you can pick up for just a few
hundred quid. It’s a brilliant choice if you’re not ready to splash serious cash as you can learn more about photography by using it, and, being as it’s compatible with a huge range of lenses and accessories, you can expand your system when you’re ready.
Will I need to invest in any other accessories? How much you want to spend on photography gear varies greatly depending on the budget that you’ve allocated for yourself, the type of photography you want to do and what’s available on the market. You can spend ten times the cost of the initial investment if you want to, but, equally, you can spend nothing and just enjoy the
product on its own. You may find that if you purchase a DSLR that you’ll want to start thinking about accessories for it sooner rather than later. The obvious choice is additional lenses. The Canon EOS 1300D comes with an 18-55mm kit lens, which is good to begin with, but you may soon desire another lens to add to your arsenal. A good second lens is a fixed (also known as a prime) 50mm f/1.8, which can be picked up relatively cheaply, and forces you to experiment with different compositions, moving around the scene and so on, way more than a zoom lens can. Once you’ve purchased your first prime lens, you might start to think about other types of lenses. There’s zoom lenses, macro lenses, wide-angle lenses and other specialist optics to choose from depending on your needs. It’s a good idea to research which lens goes with your subject interest – for example, if you like to photograph portraits, a wide-angle zoom probably isn’t the right one for you. Similarly, if you love shooting sweeping vistas, a 100mm macro lens isn’t particularly necessary.
become a hot shot
Pimp your phone camera
become a hot shot
Manfrotto PIXI Tripod
This Italian-designed miniature tripod is actually designed for cameras, but you can get an adapter to use it with your phone, too. It folds up nicely to double as a rugged selfie stick or grip for shooting videos. £25 | $25 | manfrotto.com
Olloclip 4-in-1 photo lens
Expand the possibilities of your iPhone camera, with four lenses to include fish-eye, wide-angle, 10x macro and 15x macro effects. Lenses slide on quickly for maximum ease of use. £60 | $80 | olloclip.com
BitPlay Snap Pro
Make your phone more like a serious camera. This case features a camerastyle grip (which can be removed, if needs be) and can be paired with a series of interchangeable lenses. £100 | $130 | snap.bitplayinc.com
Kitvision Lens Set
This set is very similar to what Olloclip and BitPlay offer, but cost much less. The set includes macro, fish-eye, wide-angle and polarising lenses and come with a carry case.
£35 | $45 | kitvision.co.uk
Luxi Universal Light Meter
Place the device over the smartphone camera to get accurate readings to help determine shutter speed, aperture and ISO, perfect if you’re using an app which gives you extended control over camera settings. £20 | $30 | bit.ly/luxilight
Tired of your iPhone filling up with all your shots? Plug in the Leef iAccess and you can transfer your files to a microSD card to free up much-needed space. £40 | $50 | leefco.com
Joby GripTight GorillaPod
Use what’s around you to keep your phone still with a GorillaPod. The flexible legs can be adjusted to sit on table tops, grip fence poles or trees. £15 | $15 | joby.com
IK Media iKlip Grip ‘Selfie’ Stick and Stand
Perfect as a selfie stick or monopod, this can also be used as a handle stabiliser, desktop tripod, or you can attach it to existing tripods. £50 | $60 | ikmultimedia.com
Edit on the go Adobe Photoshop Express
Photo Editor by Aviary
For those familiar with Photoshop’s desktop apps, it makes sense to download the free mobile version. Use the slide bars to make adjustments, or let the app do it automatically for a hands-off approach.
More than two million combinations This simple-to-use but wellof effects, overlays and filters can be functioned editor gives you both enjoyed with Pixlr, making it a fun serious editing functions and fun app for editing your shots. Create filters and effects to mess about with. collages and montages, too. It also functions in your The app is free, but you can expand its functionality browser, so you can use it on most computers, too. with in-app purchases.
iPhone/ iPad/ Android | Free
iPhone/ iPad/ Android | Free
iPhone/ iPad/ Android | Free
become a hot shot
lens then you’ve got a lot of margin for error, and the more you use it, the more you’ll get to know how to frame your shots. Lastly, the Canon 1300D has the potential to be the most complicated camera to use – but only if you want it to be. It has a full range of automatic scene modes to get you started with though, before moving on to semi-automatic modes (aperture priority and shutter priority) and lastly manual mode. There’s not a huge amount of dials and buttons to bewilder you as you may find on a more expensive model, so it’s an excellent choice for the first time DSLR owner to get to grips with the fundamentals of DSLR shooting.
But which takes the best photos? You can get surprisingly good photos when using a smartphone
It’s not just DSLRs which have additional lenses, though – you can now pick up small lenses to use with your smartphone. Although they tend to be on the cheap side, you can get some fantastic results if you’re willing to put the time in to experiment with getting the most from them. Other accessories you may want to consider include a tripod, flashguns, remote releases, reflectors, backdrops and something to carry all your gear in.
Which is the easiest to use? Another great thing about the current photography market is that there’s something to suit every skill level. When you’re just starting out, you may not want something too difficult and daunting to get to grips with, but if you’re intending to take your photography seriously, you probably want something you can grow with. Out of the products we’ve been using, the Hexo+ drone is the simplest to use as it’s just a matter of telling it what to do and off it will fly. You’ll need to put some thought into where you intend to fly it, but other than that, using the product itself is incredibly simple.
Next up is the iPad Mini 4. You can make it more complicated if you want to by adding different apps, but the native camera app is very simple to use. For that reason, you may find it a little frustrating if you’re looking to get more serious about your photography. The Huawei P9 has fully-automatic modes so you can snap and go, but it also has a wellstocked ‘Pro’ mode. This gives you the option of changing ISO (sensitivity), shutter speed, exposure compensation, AF mode, metering and white balance. You can also shoot with one of the settings in automatic, and the rest in manual, if you prefer, which will give you a good degree of flexibility. Switching on RAW format shooting is a good idea if you like to experiment in Photoshop as you’ll be able to bring back any lost detail. Another interesting feature of the Huawei P9 is the shallow depth of field effect – it recreates the look of using a DSLR and is a fully-automated mode making it very easy to use. Using the TomTom bandit is a simple process. You simply switch it to either video recording or stills capture and press a button to start video recording or take a shot. The downside here is that there’s no screen to help you compose your shot, so it’s all about guesswork. However, with a large wide-angle
When it comes to photography gadgets, it’s all about managing your expectations. You can’t expect to get the most amazing photos in the world using the humble camera of an iPad Mini, and there’s a reason that professionals don’t use entry-level models. The iPad Mini 4 takes reasonably good shots if you’re taking them in well-lit situations, and if you only intend to share them to the likes of Facebook and Twitter. There are some tips and tricks to bear in mind to help you get the best from an iPad. For a start, you can still employ the same rules of composition as if you were using a ‘serious’ camera. Try and avoid using the front-facing camera if you can, and keep the iPad as still as possible for the sharpest images. If you’re thinking that you’ll want to print out your images, the Huawei P9 is good for smaller prints, while the Canon 1300D gives you the flexibility to print as big as you’re realistically likely to want to. If, like many of us, the furthest your photos will ever go is your Instagram profile, then something like the Huawei P9 is a fantastic option. It’s not quite something that will make existing DSLR owners chuck their equipment in the bin, but, for a smartphone, it produces some excellent imagery – especially if you’re mainly using the camera in good light. Photographs have good colours, a decent amount of detail and are generally
Experiment with apertures with 01 Start wide Images can look dramatically different depending on aperture. As a base, start from your lens’ widest setting. This is shot at f/1.4, and has a pleasing shallow depth of field effect, but is perhaps a little too soft in places.
02 Tweak a little
Next, try stopping down a little, to narrower, but still wide apertures such as f/2.8 or f/4. This shot is f/4 and is a good balance between a satisfyingly blurred background and the retention of main subject’s detail.
become a hot shot
Take a drone selfie with Hexo+
01 Pick a spot
Be sensible when choosing somewhere to fly – the drone can’t avoid obstacles, so avoid people, landmarks and private property.
02 Choose your surface
Place the Hexo+ on a flat surface to prepare it for takeoff, it won’t take flight if it’s placed on an incline.
03 Tap ‘Take Off’ © Matt Georges for Squadrone System Hexo+ 2016
Choose the flight path you want and tap the screen to take off – the camera will start shooting when it reaches the selected position.
well-exposed. So, if your main photo-taking opportunities are holidays and days out, you should be very impressed with what it can do. In low light, the quality drops, getting worse the darker it gets – so if you’re often photographing in darkened conditions, it may not be the best camera for you. The TomTom Bandit creates good videos and stills, but with a niche look and style that will suit only a certain type of photographer. The Hexo Drone+ has a similar problem – it’s not something you can use for every day family and holiday shots. Meanwhile, the 1300D produces vibrant, well-saturated and detailed images. You can get some great shots with the kit lens, but as soon as you start introducing prime lenses, you’ll better see that beautiful shallow depth of field effect that shooting with a DSLR brings. Meanwhile, the large sensor makes
04 Go hands-free
Place your smartphone in your pocket and the drone will follow you, allowing you to get on with whatever stunt that you want to capture.
05 Ready for landing
Tap ‘Pause’, check that the ground below is level and there’s nothing in the descent path before hitting ‘Land Here’.
the 1300D much better for low light shooting than any of the other products mentioned here – try to keep the ISO (sensitivity) setting to a relatively low value though for best quality shots.
If I had to choose one, which one would it be? It’s difficult to say which is the best camera for you as it varies so widely between different photographers. However, if you’re thinking about investing some serious time and energy into photography, then plumping for the Canon EOS 1300D would seem like the obvious choice. It’s the only one here that should see you through several years of learning and growing. As you buy accessories
Find the 03 coveted ‘sweet spot’ Every lens has a sweet spot, at which the aperture will be at its sharpest. This is usually between f/8 and f/11. In this image, shot at f/8, it’s very sharp, but is perhaps not suited to the macro subject.
for it, you will be able to upgrade to a better camera safe in the knowledge that your existing accessories remain compatible. If, however, you’re just somebody who likes to take the odd snap or two, but wants them to be of a high quality when you do take them, then the Huawei P9 is a great choice. If you’re adventurous, the drone and the action camera are excellent choices, but are more suited to video work than stills. Whichever camera you end up going for, whether it’s one from our list or something entirely different, the best advice is to get out there and experiment. Try different subjects, try shooting at different times of day and make sure you check out all of the different settings which are available to you. Most people fall in love with photography the more time they spend doing it – we hope that you’ll eventually feel the same way.
Know 04 your subject At f/14, everything is in focus, but the image is uninspiring. This aperture may work well for other subjects. As a rule, use narrow apertures for landscapes, while very wide is great for portraits, and still life.
Win Any Water Fight
E R T WA T FIGH Souped-up soakers and next-gen gear that’s making a splash this summer
The barbecue is out of the shed. Your sandals are on. The hammock has been dusted down and broken out for another year. Summer is finally here, and there’s only one thing left to do… it’s time for a water fight. Gone are the days of 99p pew-pews from the local off-licence and filling shoddy water balloons until they burst over your shorts. Never again will you faff around, tying knots
and attempting to funnel water through the miniscule opening of a 50ml water blaster. We’ll show you the sprayers that you’ve been waiting for your whole life. Whether it’s just banter or all-out war, there’s a water blaster for you. It’s more than just a game; it’s an institution. Summer is not complete without a watery family feud and a change of dry clothes. It’s time to step up
your game as you choose your weapon for 2016. We’re here to guide you in your quest to be the best. Let it be known that, when it comes to water fights, you take no prisoners. Expect carnage. Expect a good soaking. Expect families or friendship groups to be ripped apart at the seam. As long as the hose is out and there is blood running through your veins, absolutely no one is safe.
Win Any Water Fight
An water war hero is only as good as their weapon, and whoever is unfortunate enough to get left with the Super Soaker Double Drench is a wet man walking. Unlike the rest of the handheld soakers, this one doesn’t have a conventional trigger. To operate it, you have to pump it by pulling back the forend. The constant movement makes it very hard to aim, as you’d imagine, and, quite frankly, the whole thing is a nuisance. There’s nothing worse than being stuck in a compromising position on the battlefield, pumping away and continually missing while everyone else has a clear shot of you. Their water artillery fire quickly soaks its way through your shorts and T-shirt, right down to your underwear. But that’s not the only design flaw. The fact that there is an almost miniscule hole in the cap will be the downfall of many. While you’re jerking the blaster around so much, trying to take aim while you shoot the damn thing, water likes to find its way from the blaster’s water chamber and onto your arms. You’re left with no ammunition and not a chance in hell.
£15 | $20 nerf.hasbro.com
Super Soaker Double Drench
PUT RIVALS IN A
You’d like to think that a cyclone would turn the tide of any battle. The Tornado Scream delivers just that with a spinning nozzle that unleashes a wide stream soakage of comeuppance. With a one-litre capacity and a range of 10.6 metres (the same as its brother, the Squall Surge) this is one to watch. It’s also pretty easy to use. It needs to be pumped at regular intervals, and the trigger does exactly what a trigger usually does when you pull it. It’s the ‘easy mode’ of Super Soakers. It can also be a bit annoying, though, as it uses a hell of a lot of water, forcing you to constantly reload. However, as far as reasonably-priced water blasters go, this one is sweet. The screw cap both makes it easy to fill up again and stops water splashing all over the place if (read: when) you find that you’ve forgotten to close it. The dual-action spray is also a surprisingly great feature that ensures your target, no matter how swift on their feet they are, always gets drenched.
£15 | $20 nerf.hasbro.com
Super Soaker Tornado Scream
BRINGING OUT THE BIG GUNS
If you are a seasoned water fight veteran who doesn’t have time to mess around with pipsqueak sprayers and water balloons, this is the weapon for you. Just hook this bad boy up to the main hose pipe for a stream of fresh, icy ammunition that lasts until the bailiffs come because you’ve racked your water bill sky high. Fizz Creations’ Water Cannon will give you an edge over any other blaster on the planet for one simple reason: it’s the only hose-operated soaker with a tripod, as far as we know. That’s endless firepower with little effort. Perfect. Take all your opponents out in one burst by barely lifting a finger. Pull up a chair, even; you don’t need to be standing to operate this beast. It’s the ultimate drenching machine. No longer do you have to hold your weapon with two hands, and no longer do you have to get into the line of fire. Shoot from the sidelines and watch and laugh like a supervillain as the water fight spirals into chaos. Like every weapon, it does have its flaws. It doesn’t have as much reach as some of the other handheld contraptions, so you have next to no chance against a nimble sprinter with a few water balloons. You also can’t really run around with it without unscrewing it from the hose, detaching the legs, and then screwing it back up again, By then, your target would have got away anyway, bone-dry clothes and all. But it’s big, it’s powerful and it gets people wet. When your targets try to run indoors to the safety of the no-shoot zone, it’s time to strike. Line up the nozzle, then get ready, aim and fire!
£30 | $45 fizzcreations.co.uk
Fizz Creations Water Cannon
Win Any Water Fight
T A H T R E T S A L THE B
£20 | $20 nerf.hasbro.com
Super Soaker Floodfire Blaster
War is wet. Or it will be according to your targets when you shoot them with this beauty. You’ll be standing over them, dry and laughing maniacally. Like with Fizz Creations’ Water Cannon, the Floodfire has a hose input located on the bottom, rewarding you with a limitless supply of water. Obviously this little detail means you can’t really run around with it while it’s attached to your hose if your pipe is only five feet long. But this is 2016! Hose pipes are long enough to wrap around the Earth’s circumference nowadays, sometimes even twice. Run around to your heart’s content and get trigger happy and let the water flow from the Floodfire for, pretty much, forever. Unlike the Water Cannon, this blaster can also be used without connecting it to a water supply. Just fill up the hefty 1.27-litre capacity tank, screw it shut and be on your way, back to stalking your enemies in the bushes. It’s also got the furthest reach of the batch, at a whopping 38 metres. Unfortunately, that also means it’s a pretty heavy weapon, perhaps even too heavy to be bothering yourself with.
£15 | $15 nerf.hasbro.com
Super Soaker Squall Surge
This one is kind of a baby version of the Tornado Scream, and do you know what? Sometimes, less is more. Ditch the bulky Scream and pick up where you left off with the Squall Surge. With its pressurized-trigger system, it can shoot water up to ten metres. No more ducking. No more running. No more raised hands as you beg for mercy from your eight-year-old kid tracking you with the nozzle of the Water Cannon. They want a shootout, so you’re going to give them one. There are no obvious downsides to this weapon. It is, unquestionably, the full package. Even though it’s smaller than its bigger brother, the Tornado Scream, it still takes a good while to empty. By the time you need to surrender and reload, to fill it up again, your enemies will be soaked. It’s also light, meaning you can chase people with it without being dragged down. Looks can be misleading, and your opponents will scoff just before you get them all with your pint-sized blasting machine.
BLITZ THE H T I W Y M E N E WATER BALLOONS
£15 | $10 bunchoballoons.com
X-Shot Bunch O Balloons Launcher Pack
This is war, and in war no one’s got time to mess around, especially with trying to tie knots in balloons. Tying up balloons is hard enough when the balloons are filled air, never mind icy-cold water. That is where Zuru’s X-Shot Bunch O Balloons is going to help you out. You’ve never seen water fight weaponry quite like this. Bunch O Balloons is going to change the way you think about water balloons forever. Almost unbelievably, it fills and self-ties 100 balloons in less than 60 seconds. But don’t see Bunch O Balloons as an excuse to slack off and let your comrades do the heavy lifting. If anything, it saves you a hell of a lot of time which can use for the perfect surprise attack. Usually, you can fill and tie one balloon in, what, one minute? And then you have to throw the thing and pray that it hits someone. Bunch O Balloons has already saved you 99 minutes of messing about. That leaves you free to grab and lug 100 balloons to an ambush point in a matter of seconds, throwing them as far as 15 metres using the X-Shot Launcher. With great power comes great responsibility, and large amount of water balloons to carry around.
SUPER-SOAKING STATS Capacity
Water Cannon Double Drench
Floodfire 11.5 metres
Bunch O Balloons
Bunch O Balloons
HOVERBO £11,500 | $14,900 arcaspace.com
Arca Board A genuine hoverboard – that actually floats, no wheels – which is capable of moving in all possible directions. It’s available now and you can even control it with your smartphone.
ARE YOU READY FOR ANOTHER RIDE?
Do you remember hoverboards? Those twowheeled devices that were all the rage? They went literally from boom to bust: the musthave Christmas present one minute, then they were being pulled from retailers after YouTube videos surfaced showing knock-off models exploding. Well, those mini Segways were just the tip of the iceberg that we call ‘rideables,’ the branch of tech that’s trying to reinvent the wheel and change the way we get around.
On the fringes of this field, you’ve got companies like Arca Board and Hendo that are tinkering around with things like minature jet engines and liquid nitrogencooled superconductors to fulfill millionaire playboys Marty McFly ambitions. But there’s so much more to see including supercharged skateboards, high-tech unicycles, self-folding electric scooters and smart skates that slip on over your shoes.
YOU CAN FLY At first glance the Arca Board looks like a experiment or a vanity project and this assumption grows when you watch the demonstration video. It is like nothing else available, but you can buy an Arca Board if you have lots of cash. At $14,900 for the main board we are not talking small change here, and this is for a mere three minutes of hovering with a six-hour recharge time. Pay another $4,500 for the Arca Dock and you can recharge the device in 35 minutes, but no matter how you look at it, its practicality is not
going get better anytime soon. However, the fact that the Arca Board really does work and that the experience must be like nothing else means that for some it will be worth every cent. Sometimes it makes sense to create something just because it is possible and the good news is that it has the potential to pave the way for more practical hoverboards in the future. People laughed at the first car and the first plane, but we should know by now that a completely original product like the Arca Board is likely the first of many.
HOW DOES THE ARCA BOARD HOVER? Strong, safe and light Aerospace-grade materials are used to ensure strength in a structure that is as lightweight as possible. The cooling system also ensures safe temperatures under intense pressure
Tons of power LiPo batteries provide 272 HP and a lifting capacity of 110 kg for up to three minutes using the standard kit, presuming a person of average weight is on board
Sensing and stabilising Proximity sensors work with the main stabilisation system to ensure the smoothest and most level ride. The fact it actually works is an important breakthrough
The power of air There are 36 Electric Ducted Fans built in to the Arca Board which generate the physical force needed to keep it off the ground. It still hovers even if some fail
Controlling the power The motor controllers ensure that accurate forces are applied in different areas depending on the terrain in order to keep the Arca Board stable at all times
Futuristic hoverboards are here already
FUTURISTIC HOVERBOARDS Lexus Slide
The Slide uses liquid nitrogen, magnets and the perfect application of superconductors to create a hoverboard that looks like a skateboard, but which can float above the ground – at least if its made of metal. The science behind the Slide is indeed very impressive, but it is still a work in progress and not currently available. TBC | lexus-int.com
The Flyboard Air recently set a world record with a flight distance of 2,252.5 meters which is remarkable when we consider that the previous record was just 275.9 metres. It uses four engines and a logic system for stability with the results already proven in impressive fashion. TBC | zapata-racing.com
Before the Flyboard Air broke the world record, the Omni hoverboard was the king of the hovering hill. This model works like a helicopter in that it can be moved in any direction with props pushing air downwards to create an upward force, but it’s still in prototype stage. TBC omnihoverboards.com
Hendo 2.0 Hoverboard
Originally a Kickstarter project, the Hendo hoverboard does not aim for a highly aesthetically-pleasing look, but rather to offer a floating experience right now. Using four hover engines and opposing magnetic fields to provide lift, this product feels more realistic and practical than many other offerings. £7,710 | $10,000 | hendohover.com
The M1 is an original concept that manages the clever trick of looking exactly like a typical skateboard or longboard, but having motorised components to give it an extra kick. The simple lines and colours add a modern twist to the classic form, but it is the insides that make M1 really shine. The motors are in the rear wheels and this offers a variety of advantages when using it â€“ responsive control, for example. There is an associated app, swappable batteries and smaller details that come together to offer an experience that feels familiar and fresh in equal measure. It is a highly practical motorised skateboard and one that could potentially be used for much more than entertainment with commuting in busy towns seeming to be an obvious use. The remote control ensures that you will be able to control the speed exactly as you need and with safety in mind throughout you can be reassured that you are in good hands. LED lights, a comfortable remote design and water resistance add to the practical nature of what is one of the very best futuristic skateboards available today. This could be the rideable that changes the way you travel in the future.
SKATEBOARDS Every detailed considered
Extra features include front & rear LED lights, regenerative braking and the powerful Inboard Vision Mobile App. Itâ€™s reassuring to see how many details have been implemented with great care
ÂŁ1,080 | $1,400 inboardskate.com
Keep boarding for longer The swappable Power Shift batteries ensure that you can keep going for longer than many competing products. The batteries can even charge your phone when not in use
Practical specifications The range of seven to ten miles and a relatively low charge time of 90 minutes ensures that practicality has also been catered for. It is a complete product
Remotely control Inboard The RFLX Remote is designed to sit comfortably in the hand and to ensure that you are unlikely to drop it. Acceleration and deceleration work in a very natural way
The Manta Drive The motors are housed inside the rear wheels. This ensures much less friction and more predictable acceleration, meaning you won’t fall off in shock
A CLEVER MOTORISED SYSTEM
£TBC | $TBC ninebot.com
Ninebot One S2
The Manta Drive design, which puts the motors in the rear wheels, ensures that the acceleration you experience is consistent throughout. It also means that the power coming from the rear is much less likely to cause an unexpected dead stop when you decelerate. An obvious concern surrounds the fragility of such positioning of the motors, but the manufacturer assures us that the motors can stand up to all conditions that a normal skateboard would have to deal with.
SKATE SPEED-O-METER Inboard M1™ £1,080 | $1,400 | inboardskate.com
24 mph Boosted Dual+ £1,155 | $1,500 | boostedboards.com
22 mph ZBoard 2 £1,000 | $1,300 | zboardshop.com
The Ninebot One S2 may look like a futuristic object that isn’t capable of being used for more than having fun with friends, but the reality is very different. This unicycle has a 30km range and a top speed of 24kph which are both within the range of classing it as a personal commuter device. Pull down the foot stands and it will run over rugged surfaces, grass and can deal with 15° slopes. A mobile app is used to manage functions, such as personalising settings, running diagnostics and upgrading the software. The fact that it is only available as a preorder at this time shouldn’t be a concern because it follows the Ninebot One E+, which has been very well received. Rigorously-tested technology and fun features ensure that the Ninebot One S2 will likely become one of the most popular unicycles of modern times.
£990 | $1,280
Bolt £695 | $900 | boltmotion.com
£1,390 | $1,800 focusdesigns.com
Marbel Board £1,080 | $1,400 | ridemarbel.com
SBU V3 £1,150 | $1,495 solowheel.com
Carbon Series Street £1,185 | $1,600 | evolveskateboardsusa.com
Goes the distance
THIS ELECTRIC SCOOTER IS A The price of a working hoverboard keeps them in the realm of science fiction for most of us, while electric skateboards and unicycles are always going to seem childish to some. Fortunately, the weird world of rideable tech comes in infinite varieties. One such iteration that we wouldn’t be embarrassed to be seen riding to work on is the Inu electric scooter. With a slick curved design and chrome finish the Inu looks a bit like a Vespa from the 23rd Century. Its top speed is 25km/h (15mph) and, depending on which model you buy, it has a range of 20 to 40 kilometres on a single charge. Charging also only takes three hours from a standard wall outlet. The Inu is also surprisingly portable – it collapses with a tap of your phone – so you can also take it on a train. This isn’t the Inu’s only high-tech feature: its equipped with a phone dock, GPS tracker in case it ever gets stolen, and even it’s hooked up to the internet, so you can use your phone without worrying about wasting data. The big downside to the Inu is the price. It costs €3,000 (about £2,520/$3,330), though you can reserve it now ahead of its Spring 2017 launch for just €300 (£185/$245).
The top Inu model can do up to 40 kilometres (25 miles) on a single charge. It’s top speed is 25km/h (15mph)
Smart engineering The Inu isn’t all flashy style, under the surface it also has solid engineering including springbased suspension and regenerative braking to top up your battery as you go
Self-folding chassis £2,520 | $3,330
With a tap of your smartphone, a recognised hand gesture or voice command, the Inu will fold itself up in just five seconds to about the size of a suitcase for easy storage
TAKE A RIDE ON THE WILD SIDE
Rocket Skates R10
£925 | $1,100 | ecorecoscooter.com
£2,785 | $4,000 | bpgwerks.com
£600 | $700 | actonglobal.com
This conventional-looking device is designed to look like a traditional scooter, but it does not scrimp when it comes to its modern features. Each charge of battery offers 20 miles of travel and, with energy efficiency quoted at $1 for 500 miles, running costs should be negligible. The air wheel option will be the best choice for most people because it offers more comfort when travelling over rough ground, and, finally, the price makes it affordable for many who want to try a modern electric scooter.
This odd-looking rideable is described as a combination of tank, skateboard and motocross bike, because it is capable of running over all terrains. It is not a device for the daily commute, sure, but tearing around on the DTV Shredder looks like fantastic fun and will be a blast at sporting events where both endurance and bravery are a requirement. It’s great to see a device that takes the best features from so many other vehicles and combines them all to make something that is completely new and innovative.
We have mentioned these Rocket Skates previously in Gadget, but they certainly deserve a place in this selection too. As it stands, they are the best powered skates that you can throw your money at and with good reason. You can use an app to adjust the skates’ speed, remotely control directions and view all of the stats you need. Throw in an amazing aesthetic design, which is ultra-cool and other features such as a 12mph maximum speed, and you are in for a completely new kind of skating experience.
£1,490 | $2,140 lopifit.com
TAKE YOUR FOR A WALK The Lopifit is a near perfect combination of treadmill and bike, which at first appears to be a crazy idea, but it is one that offers many advantages once you get over the curiosity of other people staring at you. The premise of this rideable involves walking on the main section at normal walking pace which is then translated by a sensor and pushed up to normal bike pace using an electric motor. The end result is a leisurely walk, but at a much greater pace and with the potential to carry some luggage with you which makes for a solution that works on many different levels. It is available to buy now so you can jump on this unusual method of moving around immediately, and because the Lopifit is already a tried-and-tested ridable, you can enjoy a futuristic, and completely new, experience in a traditional form. The idea is good and the implementation is realistic, hence the immediate availability, but it may take some time to feel completely comfortable with how you look when riding the Lopifit. If you are happy to be different, you will benefit greatly from one of the most innovative and practical rideables we have seen so far.
Big Wheel Drift Trike
£1,025 | $1,330 | goped.com
£30 | $30 | razor.com
£1,850 | $2,400 | sfdindustries.com
The most conventional scooter on this list uses two powerful lithium battery packs to produce an 8-mile range and a top speed of 12mph, for a scooter that’s pretty damn fast. Charging is taken care of by a simple port and an included charging cable which ensures that you should have all of the power you need wherever you are. The design is surprisingly appealing because it combines a traditional design with bang-up-to-date portable power. It’s an excellent choice for your first motorised scooter.
It’s hard to believe that you, or your kids, can own a makeshift pair of roller scates for such an affordable price, but it is now perfectly possible. These skates act similar to Heelys in that they attach to your footwear, and their afterburner-like sparks are activated by a special heel action. Even the youngest of children should be able to work out how to use them in minutes. All that is left to do is to own a decent sense of balance and to enjoy the experience because they seem to offer everything they promise and more.
This resembles something between a wheelbarrow and a conventional tricycle. It puts you as near to the ground as possible, while hurtling you along at great speeds. It is a much more traditional rideable than most of the others featured here in these fine pages, but it is a good example of what can be done with a modern design that is not supplemented by any add-on technology or gimmick. This vehicle is, simply put, all about power and giving you the thrill of your life. Just be careful when riding it.
The TV that goes beyond its screen
£4,000 | $5,260 harrods.com
Philips Ambilux 4K Razor Slim TV Based on existing Ambilight technology, the new ultra HD Ambilux sees your TV’s picture projected onto the wall behind creating a halo of light and action.
THE TV THAT GOES
ITS SCREEN As if a 65-inch 4K screen wasn’t enough, Phillips projector hybrid also takes over your walls
Philips Ambilux 4K Razor Slim TV
ant to buy a new TV but have absolutely no idea where to start? You’re not alone. Today’s TV market is awash with more models than you could shake a remote controller at, differentiated only by a serial number. It takes something out of the ordinary for us to get excited, and that’s exactly what Philips has been doing with its Ambilight LED projection technology. Unlike 3D TVs, it has the potential to be a real game-changer and makes us question the future of traditional TVs. Philips has now taken this to a whole new level with the Ambilux. By using a number of projectors that are built into the back of the TV, a copy of the image being shown of the screen is cast onto the wall behind it. No less than nine projectors, shaped in an arc formation, form a halo of motion around the TV. The individual projections are beautifully stitched together to create a genuine representation of whatever you are watching or listening to.
Having had the joys of testing the Ambilux for the entirety of the European Championship, we can say it’s every bit as impressive in person as it is on paper. When you first see it at work, it’s hard to know what to do with your eyes. Maybe our brains aren’t the quickest, but it’s a real change to traditional TV viewing. For example, if a face is projected onto the wall, it’s hard, at first, to know where to look. You’re drawn to the wall, meaning you need to train your brain how to watch TV again. The Ambilight effect works by remaining in your peripheral vision, but after a few hours of use, you quickly get the hang of it. If it is a tad confusing to start with, but what it isn’t is gimmicky. This isn’t technology for the sake of technology, and it’s an engineering feat to get those nine projectors working in perfect harmony, and at just 17mm thick, that’s even more impressive. There isn’t a one setting that works for all, so you’ll need to dive into the TV’s settings to set the Ambilux to your tastes. At its simplest, there are six presets to
The TV that goes beyond its screen
The Ambilux’s Ultra HD screen has over eight million pixels
put into action. At one end of the scale, ‘Relax’ projects a softer version of the image you’re watching, and at the other is ‘Extreme’, which provides a powerful, dynamic representation of the image on the screen. You can alter the size of the effect too, but even at its smallest, it’s very noticeable. And reducing the size that far sort of defeats the object. It is easy to get caught up in the Ambilight technology and not pay attention to the quality of the actual 4K screen – you know, the one you’re actually supposed to be looking at. The first thing you’ll notice is it’s absolutely humongous at 65 inches. Design-wise, as we’ve already mentioned, it’s very svelte, but in truth it doesn’t look much different to any other TV from 2016. It’s a sophisticated effort from Philips nevertheless, using quality materials and finishes. Our favourite bit is the bezel, which is really narrow, giving you seemingly even more picture to enjoy. The stand has been carefully crafted too, and comes with a high-quality chrome finish. We won’t list all of the connectivity ports, but suffice to say, Philips has everything covered. Picture quality is truly exceptional too. Been impressed with HD before? Well, 4K has four times the resolution of that. That means an amazing amount of detail. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have 4K Netflix or Sky Q either, because this TV has Ultra Resolution upscaling tech to improve image quality regardless of original content. We did spot some noise artefacts creep in when upscaling, but nothing really noticeable. Expect a sharp image with exceptional contrast and where blacks are
deep and whites are white. Philips appears to have nailed the colour saturation perfectly too, creating an effortlessly bright picture. The TV ships with Android TV. Love it or hate it – we find it buggy – it does give the full smart TV experience and access to the Google Play store. Having a online collection of films, TV, music, apps and games is a boon, and there’s 16GB of expandable onboard memory.
the right content to project onto the wall. If you’re into streaming music to your TV the Ambilight engine will accurately react to the dynamics of the music that is being played. It’s like a rectangular disco ball in all its Seventies Saturday Night Fever glory, but we’d rather room-filling sound came from a Air Play speaker. Sound quality is admirable for a huge TV – and rated at 30W – but if sound is as important to you as your viewing experience, you’ll probably want to invest in a decent soundbar to upgrade to a real cinema experience. Obviously that ramps up the price even more. And when you’re paying £4,000 for a TV, you want everything to be perfect. One thing we can’t stress enough is you need for the ‘perfect’ living room. The optimum distance, according to Philips, between the TV and wall, is 20cm. It needs to be placed in front of a flat wall too, because the Ambilux doesn’t work when projected onto a corner wall – which will rule out a lot of potential buyers. Energy consumption is likely to be higher than the average TV, too, given it has nine projectors to power. We’d like to say by how much, but Philips hasn’t released an energy consumption rating yet. A bit suspicious, but if you’re paying £4,000 for a TV, an extra few pounds on your bill won’t be disastrous. For those few extra pounds you do get serious ‘Wow Factor’. This isn’t necessarily a TV for a family, but it could be the ultimate sololiving addition. It shouldn’t work as a concept, but it’s guaranteed to turn heads. This could be the future of home entertainment.
“Ambilux doesn’t work when projected onto a corner wall” We spent hours and hours gaming with the Ambilux. Fast-paced action games, such as the recent Doom reboot, could get distracting quickly given its constant flashing light show, but more mellow, slow-paced adventures, like The Witness, helped to create a wonderfully immersive environment. It’s all about finding
The Ambilux’s projection can match what’s on screen or the music you’re listening to
Philips Ambilux 4K Razor Slim TV
MAXIMUM PROJECTION SIZE: 3 METRES IDEAL DISTANCE FROM THE WALL: 2O CM
100-inch display Because the images from the nine projectors are stitched smoothly together, the Ambilux effect can spectacularly stretch to three metres at its largest
Mood lighting Ambilux works by using a builtin viewing mode appropriate to what you are viewing. The ‘Extreme’ mode is bright and fastmoving and perfect for gaming
The perfect setup
For optimum performance, the Ambilux needs to be positioned 20cm from the wall. You need a plain wall, and most importantly, a flat one
There are nine tiny pico projectors at the back of the TV, shaped in an arc formation, which mimic and project the image that’s on the TV to the wall
EXTEND THE AMBILIGHT EXPERIENCE The Ambilight experience doesn’t just stop with your TV, because you can get it to ‘talk’ to your Hue products. With your smart bulbs and lamps connected to as normal, open the official app and select the bulb you want to add. Set the brightness and immersion level, and your lights form an extension of your TV projection.
This rugged phone is as hard as nails
THE WATER TEST DeWalt claims that the MD501 is has an IP68 rating, and we were impressed with it’s abilities to handle water – it operated while submerged, even after we left it drowning for a good 15 minutes or so. The phone isn’t designed for constant underwater use, but it survived without any issues.
£380 | $545 dewaltphones.com
DeWalt MD501 A ruggedly-built Android smartphone boasting an IP68 waterproof rating, as well as rustproof and weatherproof exterior, dual-SIM capabilities and Android Lollipop preinstalled.
COME RAIN OR SNOW
Thanks to the MD501’s waterproof (and dustproof) design, it can also comfortably handle any weather you care to throw at it. The phone is designed to operate between -20° and 60°, so whether the sun is beating down or you’re in a blizzard, you won’t have a problem.
THIS RUGGED PHONE IS AS
HARD AS NAILS
Rugged and tough, the DeWalt MD501 is a contender to Caterpillar’s throne While Caterpillar might have something of a monopoly on the rugged smartphone market right now, tool maker DeWalt wants in on the action. The DeWalt MD501 is its entry into the world of tough phones for tough environments. This category is on the rise at the moment, with people who work in construction, or travel to remote parts of the world, looking for something more hardy than just a standard smartphone. While the DeWalt MD501 does not offer the same 5m waterproofing as the latest CAT phone, it does have plenty of other tricks
up its sleeve. The dual-SIM feature is great for those that want the best of both worlds – work and home life. It’s also water, weather and dustproof, so it stands up to pretty much anything, and while it may not have the thermal camera that the new CAT S60 offers, it does have a sharp five-inch display and, considering its ruggedness, it remains fairly slim. It also offers expandable memory for those that want more space for their photos and videos, which is just as well considering that the MD501 comes with a disappointingly average 16GB offering of built-in storage.
The screen is strengthened with Gorilla Toughened Glass 3, making the glass display one of toughest around – perfect for hardcore work situations. We didn’t attack the phone with a hammer, but did give it a good knock around, and the MD501 handled it like we were tickling it with a feather.
The DeWalt phone conforms to MIL-STD-810G standards, meaning you can drop this bad boy from up to 2m onto concrete. It also means that the phone is resistant to chemical spillages and vibrations – perfect for those that work in hazardous industrial environments.
BUT DOES IT WORK AS A PHONE? The MD501 offers some great benefits, including dual-SIM slots for business users that don’t want to carry around two phones, and a genuinely impressive camera that takes pretty good shots. It’s not exactly going to challenge the Samsung Galaxys and iPhones we’re used to, but there are lots of small, clever details here. Qi wireless charging, for example, means you can power up the device without compromising on the waterproof nature of the case. It’s a really considered device. This extends to the design, too, which offers excellent grip and a sturdy feel – you really won’t need to worry about throwing it in your bag, into your pocket… or even on the floor. The biggest downside of the MD501 right now is that it is only running Android 5.1 Lollipop, which feels really dated compared to Marshmallow. Apparently the DeWalt team is working on an update, however, which would make this phone a fantastic choice for those needing seriously tough handset.
Remix Retro With Handheld Gaming’s Raspberry Pi
There’s a touchscreen You won’t need a mouse, as the Pocket Chip’s screen is a resistive touchscreen that functions as one. It’s a 480 x 272 display, just like Sony’s PSP handheld console
Built for games
The Pocket Chip’s keyboard has been specifically designed for comfortable gaming – the cursor keys function as a basic D-pad, with Pico-8’s buttons on the right
Next Thing Co. really wants you to customise the Pocket Chip, to the point that dedicated input/output points have been left exposed at the top of the machine.
A full keyboard You can type anything you want on the Pocket Chip, making it excellent for oldschool adventure games as well as slightly less interesting practical things
Plug-and-play Ease of use is key with the Pocket Chip. All the preinstalled software is accessible from a simple launcher, allowing you to start gaming right away
£35 | $50 getchip.com
Pocket Chip It’s an all-in-one user-friendly handheld Linux computer, which comes preinstalled with gaming software, a music creation package and a variety of expansion possibilities.
WITH HANDHELD GAMING’S RASPBERRY PI The Pocket Chip gives you power over your handheld gaming If you’ve ever loved the idea of the Raspberry Pi but wished it was a bit more ‘plug andplay’, the Pocket Chip might just be the machine for you. Based around the tiny inexpensive Chip computer, the Pocket Chip package includes a touchscreen, keyboard and rechargeable battery, meaning you can start tinkering with it straight away. Pocket Chip’s manufacturers want you to play with the machine, and they’ve deliberately set it up to be good for gamers – right out of the box, you can play a wide variety of excellent (and free!) classic games through the bundled Pico-8 package. Better yet,
you can edit the code, graphics and layouts of Pico-8 games, and that encouragement of customisation is what makes the Pocket Chip stand out. Unlike the PlayStation Vita and Nintendo 3DS, you have full access to the hardware and software, so you can code games, design your own add-ons and more. The Pocket Chip is still new to the market right now, so a dedicated developer community is only just beginning to emerge. However, being able to pick up a complete handheld console for less than the cost of a console game is pretty amazing, and it can already do some very impressive things.
It’s battery powered The Pocket Chip comes with a rechargeable battery, and accepts the same micro USB charger as many phones. You’ll get about five hours of normal use from a full charge
THE BEST 8-BIT CONSOLE NEVER MADE Imagine if your old Game Boy Color had internet access, and could download new games whenever they got made – and, better yet, imagine that you could edit them completely, changing levels, graphics and music to suit you. That’s the kind of console the creators of Pico-8 envisioned, and it’s been available in software form for a while, but the Chip is its ideal host hardware. The machine comes with a selection of good Pico-8 games installed, and new ones are being created by users all the time – we’ve tried simple RPGs, shoot-‘em-ups and all sorts of other stuff. If you want to edit them or make your own, there’s a simple drag-and-drop level editing tool, as well as an editor that allows you to dive down into a game’s Lua code. All of this can be done directly from the touchscreen and keyboard with a minimum of fuss.
WANT VR FOR UNDER £50? The customisation possibilities of the Pocket Chip are enormous, and the manufacturer, Next Thing Co., has demonstrated that with the creation of the oddly familiar-sounding Poculus. With a 3D-printed headset add-on, a virtual reality program and a Nintendo Virtual Boy emulator, you can experience stereoscopic 3D on the Pocket Chip. You might want a bigger battery, though – with the stock battery, you’ll be lucky to hit an hour of play time!
DO YOU WANT Pi OR CHIPS? Raspberry Pi The Pi 3 includes a 1.2GHz quadcore ARMv8 CPU, 1GB RAM and a Micro SD card slot for expandable storage. Elsewhere you’ll find WiFi, Bluetooth, and four USB ports. You’ll need to connect a number of things – a keyboard and mouse are ideal, plus a display and a Micro SD card with an operating system installed. A Raspberry Pi 3 will cost you £30, but this cost may rise when you factor in the accessories you may need – case, power supply and MicroSD card, for example.
The Pocket Chip packs a 1GHz R8 CPU, 512MB RAM and 4GB of onboard storage, as well as WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity. It’s also got a USB port for peripherals.
EASE OF USE
The Pocket Chip can be used straight out of the box – it doesn’t need to be connected to anything, and there’s a range of software already installed on the machine.
You can get a Pocket Chip for £35, which contains everything you’ll need, almost. There’s no charger included so you’ll have to buy one or use your phone’s micro USB cable.
Remix Retro With Handheld Gaming’s Raspberry Pi
YES, IT RUNS A long time ago, programmers would demonstrate that they’d got a piece of hardware working with a simple ‘Hello World’ message proudly emblazoned on the screen. That’s not enough for today’s audience though, and the standard acceptance test is now: ‘Can it run Doom?’ Because the Pocket Chip’s system software is based on Debian Linux, the pioneering first-person shooter from id Software is one of the games that it can run – and here’s how you can do get it running too, even if you’ve never used Linux before.
Get gaming on your Chip
01 Prepare to download
02 Get the engine
03 Get the levels
04 Run the game
05 Change the controls
06 Get more levels
In order to get software onto Linux machines, we need to use a package management tool called ‘apt-get’ which will download and install things for you. However, you’ll have to use terminal commands to make it work. Make sure you’re connected to WiFi, open up Terminal from the main menu of the Pocket Chip, then type the following command: sudo apt-get update Once you’ve done that, press enter.
Now you have everything you need to play the game, you can run it in two ways. If you’re in Terminal, you can simply use the following command: prboom Alternatively, you can access the game from the Browse Files option. If you’re doing that, navigate to the /usr/games folder, find the prboom icon and double-click it (or alternatively, select it and press enter).
The next bit of the process is getting an engine which is capable of running Doom. There are a number of these available, but we’ve found one that works really well on the Pocket Chip. Still in Terminal, enter the following command: sudo apt-get install prboom Once you’ve pressed enter, you may be asked if you want to accept the usage of extra disk space. Press Y to continue.
By default, Doom is set up for a regular PC keyboard, but you’ll probably want to change the keys around to fit the gamingfriendly layout of the Pocket Chip. With Doom running, press Esc to bring up the main menu, then go to Options, Setup and finally Key Bindings in order to customise your controls. In particular, you’ll want to change the movement and fire keys.
The first episode of Doom is free for anyone to pick up, and will give you something to play immediately. It’s contained in something called a ‘WAD file’, which we’ll need to download now. Still using Terminal, type the following command: sudo apt-get install doom-wad-shareware As before, you might be prompted to accept the use of additional disk space – do so as before by pressing Y.
Doom has had a fantastic modding community for many years, and there are plenty of free level packs out there for you to play. You can find plenty of these as well as installation help at Doomworld (see doomworld.com). You’ll definitely want to check out the site’s archive of the top 100 WADs including levels with new graphics, new sounds, new enemy behaviour and more.
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©2015 DayMen Canada Acquisition ULC.
Capture your life with the world’s smallest 4K camera
£150 | $200 mokacam.com
Mokacam This small cuboid is the smallest 4K camera in the world, sporting a rotating screen and a magnetic snapon battery. Its tiny size means you can practically use it for anything.
CAPTURE YOUR LIFE WITH THE WORLD’S
Bigger isn’t always better, as Mokacam certainly proves
HOW IT SIZES UP
In the smartphone selfie era, gone are the days when you had to lug a heavy digital camera around with you to capture an amazing shot. But the world of photography might just be about to get a bit smaller, thanks to the Mokacam. Though it’s only 45mm high, this little snapper can actually shoot 4K video. The camera packs a 16-megapixel, Sony-designed sensor to shoot high-definition video (3,840 x 2,160 pixels) at 25 frames per second. Its wide-angle lens captures a 152° field of view, but the Mokacam also includes a normal angle mode that eliminates the barrel distortion created by wide lenses. It’s true none of these specs would be that impressive if the Mokacam wasn’t so small, but the camera is more than just a miniature novelty. In fact, Mokacam also has a few others features other action cameras don’t, most notably GoPro. As well as being waterproof, the camera has a magnetic backplate, turning any metal surface into a potential tripod. You can also use this magnetism to attach modules, including a rotating screen, so you can see what you’re shooting, and a battery pack to make the camera last a little longer.
GOPRO HERO 4
“This little snapper can actually shoot 4K video”
ADD-ON MODULES One of the awesome things about Mokacam is that you can add different modules. The rotating screen is one of the best, which allows you to take selfies and photos at different angles. It costs an additional $40 and simply snaps onto the side of the camera. The same premise works with the extra battery pack, although the screen attachment has a battery of its own, boasting an hour of run time. You can buy a Mokacam bundled with a selection of modules.
Attach to anything Mokacam comes with two magnetic components integrated into its body, which allow you to attach the camera to metallic surfaces for more creative shots
With most cameras, changing their batteries can be a rather exhaustive process. Normally ugly and thick, you have to keep taking them in and out of the camera whenever they run flat – this is not the case with Mokacam, though. When its 1,000mAh battery dies, you can attach a magnetic 1,100mah battery module, which will give you three more hour of juice. It attaches to the metal magnetic plates on the camera.
One button for all
You won’t end up fumbling around the device to take a photo or video. The power button also controls the camera sensor itself
Getting a selfie to be on point can be pretty hard on a smartphone, but Mokacam has a 270° rotatable screen to fix that problem
There’s a powerful Sony sensor onboard for topnotch video and stills. For even better quality, Mokacam pushes visuals through a custom imaging processor
Packed to the brink What’s cool about the Mokacam is that it houses so much tech. There’s a 4K sensor, internal battery, a mic, Wi-Fi, a micro-SD card slot and a USB port
You never have to worry about Mokacam randomly falling apart. It’s been built to last, offering a water-resistant design and a seven-layer all-glass camera lens
For more functionality, download the Mokacam app for Android or iPhone. It lets you control the camera remotely, preview photos from your memory card and share your creations online
If you want to get in the snaps and videos yourself, then Mokacam can act as the photographer through a motion activation mode. It detects movement and records footage automatically
Answer your door from anywhere
£160 | $200 Ring.com
Ring Video Doorbell
Outside use The Ring is housed in ABS plastic and has been approved for general outside installation and as well as heat, rain, sleet or snow conditions
Answer your door with your smartphone using the Ring and Ring app combination with livestreaming audio and video. Install on your wall outside or use it pretty much anywhere.
ANSWER YOUR DOOR
Livestream your visitors directly to your phone Gone are the days of having to walk to your front door and physically answer a doorbell chime. The Ring Video Doorbell upgrades your front door with its livestreaming audio and video capabilities. Not only does the Ring alert you immediately of any door chimes on your smart device and the accompanying app, it also detects motion using its built-in camera. You can then view and even enable video recording of the activity. The recordings and alerts can be sent to the Ring app, ready to be reviewed. This is especially handy if you are awaiting a parcel delivery whilst away from home and want to know that it arrived safely. The motion detector works intermittently though, and it didn’t seem to pick up on activity at the far end of its sensor range even when we had tweaked the settings to accommodate for this. The recordings of any ‘motion’ is confusing too, as it doesn’t automatically capture video when it senses heat signatures, unlike the doorbell button which will automatically record when pressed even if you are not there. Video playback could also be improved as it does jutter if you are performing multiple tasks on your smartphone.
The camera on the front of the Ring is 720p HD, providing wide-angle footage that records to the cloud
You can instantly view all of the activity on multiple Ring devices for any room. You can also add users to allow them to answer calls for you and check up on activity
Two-way audio With noise-cancelling technology built into the microphone and speakers, it makes answering the door with the Ring app a much easier process
Night vision Infrared LEDS, heat-signature driven motion detection and night vision makes the Ring a great addition to your home, even at nighttime
Archived activity Activity is displayed in one helpful list, and you can split this between doorbell alerts or motion-detected activity. You can’t actually download the footage, though
Ring Video Doorbell
DO MORE WITH YOUR DOOR Wink
This makes great use of the Internet Of Things by synchronising established smart home brands like Nest and Philips to monitor and set up your door, lights, security and entertainment using this all-in-one sleek hub. £50 | $70 | Wink.com
It’s not enough to just answer your door, how about letting someone in remotely too? Kevo does all the easy work for you, just send your desired visitor an eKey and they’ll be able to enter your property even if you’re not there to receive them. £150 | $200 | Kwikset.com
EFFORTLESS INSTALLATION The first and most important step of using the Ring is to download the app – this is where you’ll get all of your smart functions for the doorbell – without it you just have a bogstandard chimer. The instructions on the app are clear and take only a few taps and button presses to get you started with using the Ring within minutes of pulling it out of its box. To install the Ring in place of your existing doorbell, remove the old one from the wall and disconnect any wires attached to it – if
there is a diode there you will have to use the provided Ring diode in its place later, but don’t fret because connecting it wrong won’t cause any detriment to the ensemble and will only require a quick position reversal. The Ring Video Doorbell comes with some proprietary drill bits and a screwdriver to ensure a smoother fitting of the mounting bracket and lineup of the doorbell. It’s all very effortless because Ring seems to have thought of everything for the installation process.
Wemo Led Lighting Starter Set
The night is dark and full of terrors. After detecting motion with the Ring, you can set your indoor lights to switch on remotely in the evenings, ready for your guests to come in. £60 | $80 | Wemo.com
Holmes Large Room Smart Heater with Wemo
Set up remote heating so that you can warm up your house ahead of you coming home. In combination with the Kevo and the Ring, you’re sure to be the host with the most without even being present. £115 | $150 | Holmesproducts.com
GOING THROUGH THE MOTIONS Setting up the motion sensor is a piece of cake. Just tap on the picture of the Ring Doorbell and go to Motion Settings. From there tap Zones and Range and choose the areas you want covered. On the slider, located on the left, you can set the sensor sensitivity and range up to 30ft – particularly
helpful if there is building work nearby and you don’t want your app being set off by it. After tapping Save, push the button to apply the settings. To change how often you are likely to get alerts, go to Smart Alerts where you can choose from Light, Standard and Frequent settings.
The Ring isn’t limited to just your home, though, install it in your office and use it alongside Kisi to be able to monitor and log real-time access analytics of your workplace, down to individual usage. £55 a month | $80 a month | Getkisi.com
Ubuntu Convergence: the best of both worlds?
UBUNTU CONVERGENCE THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS? Run the same open-source OS across all of your devices The concept of ‘convergence’ has been big for a long time. Remember when we used to carry around a music player, a camera and a phone? The long promised convenience of ‘one device for everything’ is mostly upon us now, the exception being that most of us still need a keyboard, monitor and powerful machine to really get things done – which means a laptop or a desktop is still necessary. When Windows Continuum was just a twinkle in Microsoft’s eye, Canonical, the maker of the Linux-based Ubuntu operating system, announced its ‘Touch’ variant with ‘Convergence’, designed to allow phones and tablets, which are becoming more and more powerful, to function just like a desktop when connected to the appropriate hardware. Though the first devices are now available, the implementation feels very much like an ongoing experiment, something that is not uncommon in the Linux world. The quality
of the experience is improving all the time and, for the right users, what’s available today is actually rather usable. It’s surprisingly compelling to connect a monitor and a Bluetooth keyboard/mouse to your phone or tablet and have all the necessary apps available, but with a user interface that is optimised for a different kind of experience. Today, much of what we do on all of our devices is driven by the web browser. Fundamentally, Continuum delivers a great experience in this regard, with Firefox installed ‘out of the box’. Convergence is a powerful concept that will become even more powerful as the software matures and hardware matches or even exceeds the capabilities of desktop machines.
User interface reshaping When connected to an external display, applications automatically reshape from a mobile UI to a desktop UI. Here we can see the full Firefox experience in action
GETTING CONNECTED FOR CONVERGENCE a keyboard 01 Add and mouse
To use an Ubuntu device in Convergence mode, you’ll need to attach a keyboard and mouse. The best way to do this is via Bluetooth – we’ve used a Logitech keyboard with an integrated trackpad which works very well.
it on the 02 View big screen
Next, add a monitor. Connectivity will vary by device, but our BQ M10 tablet has a handy Micro HDMI port for easy, lag-free connectivity. We’d love to see wireless display support in the future, speed permitting.
Ubuntu Store While the Ubuntu app store is certainly more sparse than on other more established platforms, you will find applications for download to suit most of your needs, usually for free
Powerful apps out of the box Convergence devices include powerful applications from the get-go, such as the Libreoffice Office suite and GIMP, an image editor with near-Photoshop levels of functionality
CONVERGENCE ENABLED BY BQ AND MEIZU Ubuntu Convergence is available on a limited number of devices. At the phone lower-end, BQ offers the E4.5 and E5 devices while Meizu is at the higher-end segment with the MX4 Ubuntu Edition and flagship Meizu Pro 5, which offers a 5.7-inch 1080p screen, 21-megapixel
camera, 32GB ROM and 3GB RAM, all powered by a Exynos 7240 processor. Only one tablet is available, however: the BQ M10. If you are feeling particularly brave, Convergence can be installed to a Nexus 4 device, replacing the factoryinstalled Android OS.
Side stage When in desktop mode, applications open in conventional windows. When in tablet mode, applications can be ‘snapped’ to the left or right side of the screen, which Ubuntu calls ‘Side Stage’
The hackability of Linux Ubuntu, as with Linux in general, is undoubtedly an enthusiasts operating system. Adding Convergence doesn’t make this any less the case and if you like to tinker with your machine, there’s no more involved option
Unity 8 The current version of Ubuntu uses Unity (the desktop environment) version 7. The next major release is set to use Unity 8, which bakes Convergence support much deeper into the OS
in a 03 Plug microUSB
Since you’re going to be tethered to a screen, it’s a good idea to make sure your device is plugged in to power when you are in Convergence mode. Current Convergencecompatible devices all use the microUSB input as standard.
port 04 The problem
It’s likely you will want to plug peripherals into your converged device – but this could be a problem. Typically devices have only one microUSB port. This can be connected to a USB hub, but prevents it from charging.
Ever Wanted Bean-To-Cup, But With More Control?
EVER WANTED BEAN-TO-CUP COFFEE WITH MORE CONTROL? £700 | $1,000 gaggia.uk.com
Gaggia Anima Deluxe A coffee machine that offers a something a little different to its peers. It’s a one-button device that lets you have a little more control into what actually goes into your cup of Joe.
Just because you use a machine, you don’t have to settle for less There’s a certain stigma against ‘one-touch’ coffee machines. They’ve become uncool, too automated. They lose the point of coffee, or so the mustachioed men in flannel shirts would tell you. But there’s hope for you – the coffee connoisseur that hasn’t got the space for all those burr grinders and bags of beans in your kitchen. Just because one-button machines aren’t kitsch doesn’t mean they’re not good. Just because you don’t have to squeeze out your coffee puck with a knife and use a special razor to measure your ground bean dose doesn’t mean you deserve a bad brew. Enter the Gaggia Anima Deluxe. An overthe-top name, for sure, but a device that gets all the great results of freshly-ground
coffee from the machine to your mug, all in one press. It doesn’t care for the stereotypes afforded to its peers, because it knows it’s better – that’s why it costs £650! It’s the full barista experience, but in the comfort of your own kitchen, and you don’t even have to clear up after it. But is it worth shelling out that much money for? Well, let us break that down for you: say you spend £3 a day on high street coffee. That would mean it would take you 217 days to pay off the initial spend. But when we used the machine, we had a minimum of two cups a day – and that was two of us. So that’s 59 days of use before it started paying for itself. It’s expensive, but we’ll know we’ll end up saving money with it. Will you?
Gaggia Anima Deluxe
TAKE BACK CONTROL
This isn’t a typical one-button-anddone device; it gives the user some manual control without the mess of a conventional manual coffee maker, but would a barista be satisfied with it? ‘Yes,’ is our simple answer. Okay, so maybe if you wanted the most dense and silky coffee in the world, you’d be left unsatisfied, but otherwise you can choose how to get your brew. We drink black coffee, Americano style – so we took two shots of Espresso and topped it up with hot water in a tall cup. The result? As good as our local coffee shop, to be honest. And we had control over how much hot water went in: a luxury not often afforded over the counter. Colour us impressed.
Milk is the hardest thing to get right with the more elaborate coffee recipes – bringing it to foam at the right point, making sure it isn’t burned, getting the consistency right… alas, for the money, you’d expect the Gaggia Anima Deluxe to be adept at all of that, instead it’s merely got a relatively weak steamer attached. Of course, Gaggia has an option for those of you that need your lattes or cappuccinos to be perfect: the Gaggia Prestige, which is the same as the featured model, albeit with a refrigerated milk-based unit on the side. The model will cost you an extra £130, though, so be warned…
Coffee Machines Compared
Nespresso Pixie Steel
Nescafe Dolce Gusto Stelia
£120 | $160 | nespresso.com
£1,850 | $2,450 | miele.com
£150 | $200 | Dulce-gusto.co.uk
C FFEE MACHINES C MPARED ESSENTIAL STATS FOR MAKING THE PERFECT CUP OF JOE Pressure
Dream Versatile Plus
Lavazza Magia Plus
De’Longhi Prima Donna Elite
£500 | $660 | acasoonline.com
£80 | $105 | lavazza.com
£1,500 | $2,000 | delonghi.com
Sage Barista Express
FrancisFrancis Y1.1 Touch
Nescafe Dolce Gusto Drop
£550 | $830| sageappliances.co.uk
£105 | $140 | illy.com
£115 | $150 | dulce-gusto.co.uk
£80 | $105 | krups.com
£180 | $240 | smarter.am
£150 | $200 | tassimo.co.uk
Hotpoint Illy Espresso
Kitchen Aid Nespresso
£110 | $145 | hotpoint.co.uk
£250 | $330 | kitchenaid.com
£70 | $90 | lavazza.com
Hack your DNA with this DIY spit kit
DNA WITH THIS DIY SPIT KIT Discover what secrets your genes are hiding for just £125
Fitness trackers are sophisticated, but none go as in-depth as 23andMe. It’s name refers to the 23 pairs of chromosomes found in every human, which this home DNA kit will examine, giving you an overview of your ancestry and providing a assessment for inherited diseases. As gadgets go, its perhaps surprising that 23andMe is one of the most basic things
to slide across our tech-strewn desk. For £125/$200, you’re essentially sent a selfaddressed box containing a plastic test tube to spit in – and that’s it. Of course, what you’re really paying for is the analysis, which is all done by experts at 23andMe’s nearest laboratory. Once this is processed, you’re sent a link to an interactive online profile.
This report is exhaustive and is backed up with scientific explanations distilled into plain English even we could understand. For those that want it, there’s also a forum to discuss your results with 23andMe’s million other users and surveys to take to build up the company’s elaborate database, which are then used anonymously for medical research.
Spit tube Stabilising fluid Once you’ve filled the phial with saliva, you have break the funnel lid to add a solution that will ensure you’re DNA sample isn’t affected by varying temperatures in transit
This phial stores your DNA sample, aka your saliva. It only requires about two millilitres (1/2 teaspoon), but it can be surprisingly difficult to hawk up enough phlegm
Register the barcode To protect your privacy, you’re not to list any personal information on the sample. Instead you register the barcode on the side of the phial online
£125 | $200 23andme.com
23andMe DNA Test Send away a homemade DNA sample with this home kit to receive an in-depth report that then traces your ancestry and warns you if you’re at risk from any hereditary diseases.
Pack and post
Once the phial is full with your sample and stabilising solution, you break off the funnel and add the screw cap to seal it tight
Once the sample is ready, you wrap it in the biohazard bag and package it up in the same box it arrived in and post it to 23andMe’s lab, free of charge
While the kit itself is not much to look at, it arrives in this fetching box
23andMe DNA Test
ARE YOU AT RISK FROM It’s a scary question and not one 23andMe can actually answer. Yes, the service will tell you to what you’re at risk of getting dementia and other inherited diseases, like certain kinds of cancers, but it’s not a diagnostic tool. The whole field of genetic testing is extremely complex and the results are by no means deterministic. Still, your 23andMe results can be a good early warning system which can prompt you to see your doctor or just adopt a healthier lifestyle. Your results also suggest how you may respond to different medications, such as Warfarin, but it’s not all medical mumbo jumbo and doom and gloom. 23andMe also gives an overview of physical traits that might be influenced by your genes, ranging from the predictable (hair colour, eye colours, height) to the more outlandish, such as how much caffeine you’re likely drink, if you’re disposed to sneeze in the sun, and even your earwax type (it can be either wet or dry, but either is gross).
FIND OUT HOW BORING YOUR ANCESTORS ARE IS YOUR GENETIC DATA SAFE?
If you don’t want to share your DNA results, you don’t have to. But you can opt into let your anonymised data be shared with the 23andMe database, which researchers – including big pharma companies as well as universities – can pay to access. You can request that 23andMe destroy your saliva sample, but the company will retain the digital record. However, an alternative method to get the most out of 23andMe’s services without anyone knowing the sample they own belongs to you is to use a fake name. The only downside is that it will make it difficult for relatives to connect with you.
A coloured map of the world breaks down where your DNA comes from, for example, it showed our writer was very British & Irish, with a bit of French, German and Scandinavian thrown in. When we cranked up the maps filters from ‘Standard’ to ‘Speculative,’ it did add that they were also 0.3% Sardinian. You can also see a map showing your maternal and paternal family lines. If you’re more interested in discovering immediate family with names and faces, you can find users that you share DNA with you, including a map view to find matches near you or search by surname. You can also import your 23andMe data into MyHeritage, so that you can compare your genetic ancestry against 5.5 billion historical records.
Hack your DNA with this DIY spit kit
DNA Analyse the results An illuminated gel unit allows you to sort the DNA by size and take an image that looks a bit like a barcode, so you can interpret the results
£700 | $930 23andme.com
Bento Lab Available to preorder, Bento is a portable DNA laboratory for everyone. However, firsttime geneticists might opt for the Starter Kit that includes added instructions and paraphernalia.
Sequence a genome
The MinION might look like a USB stick, but it decodes DNA, figuring out the order of its chemical markers by measuring changes in electrical conductivity. What makes it special is that most genome sequencers are the size of a fridge and this is tiny in comparison. Its creators have still got to work out some of the bugs, mind: it only offers 65-85 per cent accuracy. MinION Mk 1B £755 | $1,000 nanoporetech.com
Go forth and multiply! Extract your DNA Place a pipette of your biological sample (such as your saliva or a lock of your hair) into the centrifuge, which separates its contents by weight by spinning it, so you can extract the DNA
Who’s the daddy?
23andMe does allow you to compare your results with relatives who have used the service and even discover if you’re related to other users you don’t know. But for a straight-up paternity test, try Alpha Biolabs. The only DNA test used by The Jeremy Kyle Show, it’s also the only service in the UK that tests all 24 genetic markers and you can even get a same-day test. AlphaBiolabs DNA Collection Kit £100 | $130 alphabiolabs.co.uk
Biohack yourself fit
DNA Fit will give you feedback on how you’re genetically programmed to respond to exercise and food so you can tailor-fit your fitness regime. This includes how long it takes your body to metabolise, what type of sports you should be better at, and how long your body needs to rest between workouts. 23andMe users can import their data into DNA Fit and get money off. DNA Fit £100 | $160 dnafit.com
The PCR machine is like a DNA photocopier, reproducing the specific gene that you want to look at by heating it over and over so that it replicates millions of times
Check your dog’s pedigree
Mail away a swab of salvia from inside Fido’s cheek to Wisdom Panel and you’ll get a report revealing what breed it is and what physical and character traits to expect. Knowing your dog’s ancestry is more than just about pedigree snobbery, it will also help you and your vet to know what genetic conditions to watch out for. Wisdom Panel 2.0 £60 | $85 wisdompanel.com
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£500 | $650 miele.com
Miele Scout It can run for two hours and offers advanced navigation around the cleaning area; the Miele Scout is, as the name suggests, thorough, meticulous, adaptable and extremely reliable.
£150 | $195 vileda.com
Vileda Cleaning Robot A cheap alternative to most, Vileda’s robot vacuum comes with three settings depending on room size and boasts enough power to deal with dust and hair.
Robot Vacuum Cleaners
£800 | $895 irobot.com
Roomba 980 The 980 is iRobot’s most advanced and ambitious vacuum cleaner yet. It can map out a room, clean it and return to its charging base; it’s also compatible with your Wi-Fi network.
ROOMBA RUMBLE £770 | $700 neatorobotics.com
Neato Botvac Connected The app-powered, laserguided Neato Botvac has an ‘Eco’ or a ‘Power’ mode, and is unusually D-shaped. It stands out from the pack with its power and large capacity.
LEADING ROBOT VACUUM CLEANERS GO HEAD-TO-HEAD Vacuum cleaners are evolving. From ball-based uprights to Root Cyclone Technology, the last couple of decades have seen vacuums become very nearly ‘cool’. These days, they don’t come with cute faces like good old Henry, they’re space grey, heavy and loaded with engines you might find in a car. Robotic vacuum cleaners, though, are much more impressive than regular vacuum cleaners. Having the functionality of house cleaner crossed with a pet, you just have to program them and they roam your floors collecting dust. They rely on sensors
and, rather like when you mow your lawn, drift in a pattern to cover your surface area. Robotic vacuums are perfect for busy people and they even boast compactness as a plus over traditional vacuums. You can even find plenty of robots that can be controlled via app, meaning that you don’t even have to be in the house to clean it. These vacuums, as science fiction as they sound, may well be the future, so is a robotic vacuum worth investing in though over a traditional one? We put a few of them to the test to find out which ones cleans up the best.
NEW ROOMBA’S Though they still seem like a necessity of the future and a novelty of the present, Roombas have been around for over a decade. That makes the Roomba 980 packed with heritage and it shows it, despite the flashier aspects of the machine also grabbing our attention. The first thing that really stuns you about the 980 is the sheer power of the machine. It cleans better than any Roomba before it, and it can detect when it needs to increase
the power to suck up more dust. Obstacles aren’t a problem, and it can manage moving between uneven surfaces well. What’s perhaps most impressive, and actually funny, feature is seeing the device notice it’s low on power, and trundle off to find its charging dock. It’s not without its weaknesses, and corners are a major one. It tries, but it can’t quite figure them out. Overall, it’s an elite machine but it comes with a matching price tag.
The Roomba can run on two hours of charge and will return back to its dock when it’s running low on battery
Use the app to control the vacuum remotely, or alternately, simply hit the Clean button located at the top of the Roomba
Camera The Roomba maps out the entire room using the camera sensor on the top of the machine, which it also uses to avoid obstacles, such as furniture
Blades In terms of actual cleaning, this is iRobot’s best Roomba yet; these blades pick up more dirt than ever before and don’t spill any dust on your carpet
SUCTION STATS Operating time
Rooms per charge
52 13 42 x
App support to clean your rooms remotely, high-power cleaning blades and intelligent sensors to navigate through a room.
Performance Fantastic on carpet, the Roomba 980 is up there with the best upright vacuums on the market. It’s strong and extremely thorough.
Robot Vacuum Cleaners Sensors Thanks to the built-in sensors on the top of the robot, the vacuum is completely safe to use around stairs, and won’t end up falling down
Small, medium and large The Vileda Cleaning Robot has three different buttons for small, medium or large rooms, depending on how big the surface area you need cleaning is
The Vileda Cleaning Robot makes light work of dust and grime, thanks to the blades underneath the vacuum
The bin on the machine is located at the front of vacuum, so care is needed when emptying it as not to spill dust everywhere
BUDGET VAC-BOT IS SUCTION STATS Operating time
A fraction of the Roomba 980’s price, the Vileda Cleaning Roomba looks and even sounds like a cut in price; it’s unbelievably noisy. Don’t let that distract you from the quality of the machine though, as it is in fact an extremely impressive device, considering the price. The Vileda cleaning robot works best on hard floors. It can’t cope as well as the Roomba when it comes to carpets, and looks out of its depth when it comes to anything remotely long. It struggles when switching between surfaces, but one advantage it does
Rooms per charge
40 39 13.8 x
have to other more expensive vacuums is that it comes with ‘cliff sensors’; it’s not going to fall down your stairs, and though it’s an economic alternative to stiff competition, the Vileda reliable. Unlike the Roomba, it doesn’t clean in neat, parallel lines and, unlike the Botvac, it lacks the edge to deal with corners in your room. It’s still a great option for anyone looking for their first robot vacuum, and is a potential for students. It’s made for hard floors, short carpets, and, most of all, value for money, which it delivers in abundance.
‘Cliff edge’ sensors, an intelligent navigation system and three settings for vacuuming, depending on room size.
Performance Despite the erratic cleaning pattern, it cleans up well, but it isn’t as meticulous as some of the more expensive models.
IT’S HIP TO BE A What might look like a strange design for a cleaning bot, the Botvac Connected makes perfect sense; the straight edge is perfect for getting into the areas that the Roomba, Vileda or Scout can’t reach, and the rounded back ensures that turning circles are minimal too. The Botvac might look bizarre, but when actually in full flow it looks the part; it cleans in parallel lines and the sensors are flawless. It can have teething problems in a room with lots of obstacles but its versatility to work on
a variety of different surfaces – hard wood, carpets and tiles are all easily maneuverable for the Botvac – means that it’s a good option for a house with different kinds of flooring. The Botvac, somewhat disappointingly, isn’t the most powerful device, but what it lacks
in strength, it more than makes up for in its ability to catch hair and fur. A great option if you’re a pet owner, it has no trouble trawling a room tidying after your cats and dogs, and though it doesn’t leave a floor as spotless as the Roomba, its cleaning is adequate.
“It cleans in parallel lines and the sensors are flawless”
Shape The ‘D’ shape of the Botvac might look a little odd, but it makes for perfect coverage when it comes to tricky corners
Wifi-controlled The Neato Botvac can be activated via an app, meaning that you can clean your house without even having to be in the vicinity
Laser Smart Mapping
The vacuum brushes are shaped much more like a traditional vacuum cleaner, which is unusual for a robot vacuum but effective nonetheless
This tech, built into the Neato Botvac, is what navigates it not only stops it from bumping into your furniture, but stops it from covering ground it’s already covered
SUCTION STATS Operating time
Rooms per charge
32.1 33.5 10 x
700 Weight cm
Unique shape helps it clearn corners, laserbased smart mapping, Wi-Fi functionality and a Spin Flow Power Cleaning System.
Performance Good but not outstanding, it is steady and thorough. It thrives on pet hair and corners, so is probably best suited to a family home.
Robot Vacuum Cleaners
SCOUT FINDS ITS WAY WITH The Scout vacuum prides itself on its thoroughness. It boasts ‘triple cleaning’ to suck up both big and small particles of dirt, and it has seven infrared lasers to help guide it across a room. Extremely proficient at cleaning as it is though, it can’t handle long hair nearly as competently as the Botvac, which gets chewed up on the blades. This is just a fly in the ointment though in terms of what it can pick up, and it can navigate itself around obstacles with little to no trouble. It keeps on
and on; its battery lasts for 120 minutes at a time, so while it is a powerful vacuum, it will end up cleaning your entire floor in that time. It tackles corners well considering its round shape, and comes with a Turbo mode and a Spot Mode depending on how focused and methodical you’d like your cleaning to be. Both modes have their uses – the Turbo mode is particularly good if you go long periods between using the vacuum – though you’ll probably most often just use the Auto mode to target the entire room.
Triple cleaning The three levels of bristles mean that all kinds of dirt particles can be picked up by the Scout for an even better clean
I SPY WITH
Advanced corner cleaning
Smart navigation The Miele Scout has seven infrared lasers built into the machine to help guide its way. It cleans in parallel lines and is extremely efficient
The Miele Scout has advanced corner cleaning, and employs rotating side brushes to pull the dust to the vacuum
SUCTION STATS Operating time
Rooms per charge
Not content to just reinvent the air purifier and the hairdryer this year, Dyson is also having a crack at the robotic vacuum. The Dyson 360 Eye actually launched in Japan last year, but it’s being given a wide release this summer. As the name suggests, the headline feature for the 360 Eye is that it’s fitted with a panoramic lens so that it can see an entire room at once and work out the best way to navigate around, which sounds much better than the classic Roomba method of building a map by bumping into every single thing in your house. What excites us most about the Dyson 360 is that the company built the robot on its existing cyclone technology. The bot’s Radial Root Cyclone spins at 78,000rpm, that’s faster than an F1 engine, and is capable of generating a centrifugal force that will capture small particles like pollen and mould. Dyson 360 Eye £800 | $1,000 | dyson.co.uk
Smart Navigation using its infrared sensors, ‘Triple Cleaning’ – utilising sweeps brushes and its vacuum, advanced corner cleaning.
Performance Incredibly precise as a vacuum, the Scout’s coverage is very good, but it thrives when being used as to target specific areas.
DON’T 078 LIFT A FINGER Clean machines
Spray The spray is powerful, but it won’t work when the Loogun is tipped upright. This is great for young children who may play with it, but also prevents any general accidents
Gadgets that make the rest of your household chores easier
£35 | $50 loogun.com
Control the Loogun by operating the main button of the device; the water tank at the bottom of the device is refillable and uses only clean water
A modern and much more hygenic alternative to the tired old toilet brush, the aptlynamed Loogun is a batterypowered water blaster that negates chemicals and splashes.
Sleek shape The shape of the Loogun means that you can reach anywhere in your toilet. The power behind the blasts also makes for no splashing when you’re operating it underwater
DO AWAY WITH
Getting rid of the waste isn’t just easy, it’s hygienic. The dust container simply comes apart from the front of the FC6232/62
Philips FC6232/62 Dust Mite Handheld Vacuum Cleaner Compact enough to store anywhere, the FC6232/62 is ideal for whipping out whenever you spot a pesky bit of dust or dirt.
UV Light See the dirt that you can’t normally detect: the UV light illuminates your surface to reveal just how clean it is
No matter what technology produces, there will probably never be a glamorous or cool way to clean the toilet. The Loogun, however, is a modern alternative to the toilet brush that started life on Kickstarter, after inventor Calan Horsman caught his two-year-old niece chewing on a toilet brush. The device is completely cordless, a sleek, futuristic white, and fires a single blast of water to get rid of any muck that might be on your toilet bowl, both above and below water. It’s an environmentally-friendly, chemical-free alternative, it runs on just four batteries and it’s a cleaner option – not mention to a nicer one – to a brush; who wants to scrub their loo when you can clean it by pressing a button? Critically for Horsman, too, the Loogun was an option that was safe to have around children. This is a great product for families in particular, but just as electronic toothbrushes are now the norm for cleaning your mouth, the electronic Loogun might just be the future of toilet cleaning for everyone.
£230 | $300
There’s only so clean that you can get your carpet. Dust mites can affect your family no matter how often you get the vacuum out, even the most expensive cleaners can be ineffective at getting rid of 100 per cent of dust. The Philips FC6232/62 might not look too different from any other vacuum but it’s a mite-fighting machine built to pick up what other vacuum cleaners can’t. Philips claims that the machine can filter 99.5 per cent of fine particles – including pesky dust mites among other things – and it’s light, compact, with a dust container for easy disposal. It’s great for removing dirt from soft surfaces, such as carpets or sofas, too. It’s particularly ideal for keeping around the lounge, and it doesn’t take up too much space. The FC6232/62 has a high-tech side as well; it has a UV ray to help see dirt that the naked eye can’t. It might not be the most powerful vacuum on the market, but it’s certainly one with an accuracy that few others can match.
BLITZ THE TOILET
Handle The handle is sturdy enough and provides enough support to the FC6232/62, that it feels almost weightless to use
CLEANING GADGETS Base The main body of the Instant Control houses the refillable and removable water tank, and it comes with a handle, too
Telescopic pole The Instant Control fits into smaller spaces as the telescopic pole collapses into the main base of the machine
£110 | $145 tefal.com
Tefal Instant Control IS8360 A compact and quick-toassemble garment steamer that can un-crease clothes and remove odours in one. Perfect for last-minute wardrobe malfunctions.
Metal steam head The metal steam head is precise enough to get to the creases you wish to straighten out, as it has a pointed tip
LED Display Despite being a bizarre addition to a cleaning product, you get even more precise with the display on the machine.
Half of the battle with ironing is working up the motivation to actually assemble your ironing board. It’s one of the more laborious household chores, but the Tefal Instant Control makes ironing easier and quicker than ever before. Steaming your clothes has exactly the same end result, and you can do it just by hanging them up and using the Tefal Instant Control IS8360. The Instant Control is particularly handy if you’re in a rush, as it can be set up and used in a matter of minutes by extending the main pole on the machine. It has a 1.7-litre capacity of water for steaming which can be removed to fill up, and it only takes 45 seconds to heat up adequately. The Instant Control even has an automatic option to switch the machine off after a period of inactivity. It’s the ultimate in easy un-creasing, and it’s a fantastic option for anyone looking for a compact, stress-free alternative to ironing.
Aluminum handle You carry the K4 around more like a suitcase than a pressure washer with its main handle
£200 | $255 kaercher.com
If you’re someone who takes a certain amount of pride in the car that you drive, the chances are that you also want to your beloved vehicle looking like you’ve just driven it straight out of the showroom. Technology has moved on from simple cleaning, though, and the days of slaving over your vehicle with a sponge and a bucket of soapy water on a hot day is a distant memory. The Karcher K4 Full Control is a turbo-charged answer to washing your car, and it can give you almost as much satisfaction as cruising around in your car itself. It’s a pressure washer that comes equipped with an LED display trigger gun, with helps determine the correct pressure setting for the surface you are trying to clean. It isn’t limited to washing your car, too: it can be used for your patio. It’s about as fun as cleaning will ever get anyway, as it’s a powerful, no-nonsense answer to an boring task. Couple this pressurised power with an extendable handle and various add-on brushes that you can add separately, and you’ve got a winner. Cleaning in the driveway needn’t be a chore ever again.
Karcher K4 Full Control A powerful pressure washer perfect for blasting the dirt and grime off your car, or giving the driveway that you’ve parked it on a bit of a spring clean.
Hose The hose stretches for six metres, which is good if you have a big car, but great for reaching from the garage
tech we love
TECH WE LOVE ❤
The best gadgets on our radar this month
£9,500 | $13,800
The rear camera boasts a 24-megapixel sensor (the Galaxy S7 has half of that) with laser auto-focus. The front-facing camera supports face recognition
While Zimperium security software will protect the Solarin from hacking, you have to flick the physical ‘security switch’ to enable private calls
The Solarin’s curved screen is made from exceptionally tough Gorilla Glass 4, so should be able to survive a few bumps and scratches. The screen also has a 2K display
MAKE ENCRYPTED CALLS WITH THE FLICK OF A SWITCH
How much do you value your privacy? Enough to spend nearly £10,000 on it? Sirin Labs is betting that at least a few multinational CEOs with company secrets to protect will think so, describing it as the “Rolls-Royce of smartphones”. However, with a mix of daring design and military-grade 256-bit AES chip-to-chip encryption, we can’t help but think the Solarin is more like James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5.
NEVER FORGET YOUR UMBRELLA AGAIN Bluetooth trackers that help you find your keys when you lose them are nothing new, but The O also reminds you before you need them. For example, it will remind you of an umbrella if it is going to rain later, or a charger if your phone battery level is low. The O £60 | $80 | owithme.com
£450 | $600 rotovr.com
Roto Interactive VR Chair
AUTO GUITAR TUNER WILL TURN HEADS The Roadie Tuner wants to make tuning your guitar a lot faster. Attach it to your tuning pegs, pair it with an app, strum a string and watch as it whirrs them into correct position. It’ll even tell you when old strings need replacing. Roadie Tuner £85 | $100 | roadietuner.com
THIS SPINNING CHAIR IS THE VIRTUAL REALITY LA-Z-BOY After a hard day’s work in the real world, you don’t always want to spend ages stood on your feet when you slip on your Oculus Rift headset. The Roto VR is a fully-motorised chair that will spin you around so you can still enjoy an immersive experience, rumbles when you get shot, simulates walking using pedals that you step on, and reduces motion sickness with added head-tracking. As well as Oculus, the chair works with HTC Vive, Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear VR, OSVR and the forthcoming PS VR.
TECH WE LOVE ❤
SCANDI SPEAKER OFFERS MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE
£290 | $350 bose.com
Bose Quiet Comfort 35 Wireless Headphones
It’s fitting that Vifa names its range of speakers after Scandinavian cities as they all have that typically Nordic minimalist design. However, the Oslo portable speaker also has substance as well a style, with two 50mm drivers and two booming 65mm woofers. Vifa Oslo £450 | $555 | vifa.dk
BOSE’S NEW WIRELESS OVEREARS ARE OH-SO-QUIET
If silence is golden, two years ago Bose set the gold standard for noise-cancelling headphones with its Quiet Comfort 25’s. However, now music lovers that want to block out the world around them can do so without faffing around with wires. Bose’s new Quiet Comfort 35’s are completely cordless, squeezing Bluetooth and 20-hour batteries into the cans, and set’s weight is minimal thanks to a glass-filled nylon frame.
SMART BIN SUCKS UP NEARBY FILTH We didn’t think the kitchen bin needed upgrading, but we were wrong. The Bruno bin has a vacuum cleaner at its base, which is triggered when it senses your broom brushing against it.
Planetary action The mixer doesn’t just spin on a fixed spot, it moves around so it touches every area of the bowl. As well as a mixer, attachments include a beater and dough hook
Anti-slip feet As well as a safety lock for when the body is raised, the SMF01 has slipresistant feet and a secure bowl to prevent messy accidents
Bruno Smartcan £95 | $130 | brunosmartcan.com
The large 4.8-litre bowl has plenty of room for mixing and kneading. The stainless steel bowl also has a handle for easy lifting
£300 | $450 smeguk.com
Smeg SMF01 Stand Mixer
ATOMPUNK MIXER GIVES RETRO CHIC A TECH UPGRADE With its curved form and bright colours, Smeg’s new stand mixer couldn’t scream Fifties glamour more if you stuck a tailfin on the top of it. However, while we like kitchen appliances that live on our countertop (at 40cm high, it’s certainly too big for our cupboards) to look good, what we really want is for them to work well. Fortunately, the SMF01 does: it has a 800W direct-driven motor, ten different speed settings and it automatically switches off when body is raised, so it doesn’t get mix all over you.
ENJOY WOOD-FIRED PIZZA IN THE WILDERNESS We’ve featured Biolite’s phone-charging camp stove before, but now the company has served up another slice of camping tech: a portable pizza oven. An attachment for its Base Camp Stove, it has an integrated thermometer and a ceramic stone to keep foods crisp and evenly cooked. Biolite Pizza Dome £50 | $70 | bioliteenergy.com
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Y B D E R I P S N I E TS S I E R G P D R A E G T E N F E I L REAL- ARS OF THE 50 YE
The future is now, at least as far as the technology in TV’s best-loved space adventure series is concerned. When Star Trek was first broadcast in 1966, at lot of its technology was necessarily speculative. The Original Series first aired in a world without widescreen televisions, personal computers, mobile devices or the internet. Like the best science fiction, though, Star Trek was ahead of the game in portraying technologies
analogous to these and other gadgets that, in many cases, were years away from becoming an everyday reality. Technological progress proceeds apace, however, especially when it’s inspired by visionaries such as Trek’s creator Gene Roddenberry, who insisted on scientific credibility in his creation whenever it was practical. After 50 years of Star Trek on TV and film we live in a world where much of its technology has proven to be at least
theoretically possible. Admittedly, you still can’t travel faster than light, beam over to the supermarket when you’ve forgotten to buy milk or move a brain from one body and put it in another. You can, however, find many of the franchise’s most iconic devices mirrored in a number of prototypes or consumer gear that can make your life healthier, more productive and more enjoyable. We provide you with the technobabble.
star Trek Tech
hypospray FIRST APPEARED: Original Series
Are you scared of needles? Then fear not, you might be able to get injected with a real-life hypospray. In 1959 Aaron Ismach filed a patent for a multi-dose injection device that fires a fine jet of fluid at high pressure. Jet injectors are now sold to diabetics for selfadministering insulin and have been used in mass flu vaccination programs.
£170 | $N/A insujet.com
8-inch floppy disk
In the Original Series of Star Trek, data was moved between computers using square cards several millimetres thick that were inserted into a slot. It wasn’t clear if these worked like floppy discs, which didn’t become commercially available until the early Seventies, or like flash drives, on which you can now store as much as a 1TB of data.
The origins of 3D printing can be traced to technologies such as stereolithography which emerged in the Eighties. With modern 3D printers you can produce things with practical value, such as prosthetic limbs. They’re no match for the Enterprise’s replicator, though, because there’s no way you can print mug of hot Earl Grey.
FIRST APPEARED: Original Series
FIRST APPEARED: Original Series
KINGSTON DATA TRAVELER MAKERBOT REPLICATOR DESKTOP 3D PRINTER HYPERX PREDATOR 3.0 £1,170 | $870 kingston.com
Release of Grid Pad tablet (2010, release of first iPad)
£2,200 | $2,600 makerbot.com
personal bridge access display viewscreen device (padd) FIRST APPEARED: Original Series
FIRST APPEARED: Original Series
Kirk was often handed an iPad-like device on the Enterprise. It was a remarkable anticipation of its modern equivalent that wouldn’t be seen for 25 years. You can now emulate the device on your own tablet using the PADD app.
IPAD PRO (9.7-INCH) £500 | $600 apple.com
If you watched Star Trek when it aired, you may have considered a colour TV a luxury. The massive viewscreen on the Enterprise which could reproduce an image of surrounding space, would have been the stuff of fantasy. Nowadays you likely have a giant colour screen sat in your lounge.
VIZIO REFERENCE 4K TV £98,000 |$130,000 vizio.com
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GPS network declared fully operational
global positioning system (gps)
FIRST APPEARED: Original Series The use of GPS in Star Trek was implied by references to detecting the ‘coordinates’ of objects that were being beamed up or down. Transmitters could be embedded in devices such as combadges or in someone’s arm as a ‘subcutaneous transponder’. Today, it’s practically impossible to not broadcast your location to a GPS satellite if you have a phone. Moreover, if you are heading into the unknown, you can get a GPS that’s accurate to a few centimetres.
GARMIN OREGON 600
lt. uhura’s earpiece
cloaking device FIRST APPEARED: Original Series
FIRST APPEARED: Original Series
Uhura relayed messages from a device the size of an espresso cup in her ear. Today you can get the same effect with a earpiece connected to a phone. You won’t be able to reach someone in orbit, but it makes phone calls fun.
Technology that makes your car invisible might sound like a great way to avoid speeding tickets but cars will be archaic by the time we get it. Researchers have, however, demonstrated that metamaterials can refract light in a way that creates an ‘invisibility cloak’, albeit around objects too small to be seen with the naked eye anyway.
£110 | $140 jawbone.com
£320 | $400 garmin.com
1996 first clamshell phone (2014 Apple Watch announced)
communicator visual instrument and sensory organ replacement (visor)
Gene Roddenberry coined the term ‘phaser’ because he didn’t want the weapons used by Star Trek’s good guys to be called lasers (Klingons used ‘disruptors’). The US military is currently experimenting with directed energy weapons that fire concentrated electromagnetic energy and atomic or subatomic particles. You’d better watch out because we don’t know if they can be set to ‘stun’.
Mobile phones with a clamshell form were widespread at the turn of the millennium and are the best counterpart of Star Trek’s communicator. Smartphones have since replaced those devices. Yet, the phone might one day give way to wearables, like the Apple Watch. As in TNG, practically all it takes is a tap and you can reach someone from anywhere on the planet.
DIRECTED ENERGY WEAPON
£260 | $300 apple.com
FIRST APPEARED: Original Series
FIRST APPEARED: Original Series
FIRST APPEARED: Star Trek: The Next Generation
The device worn by blind Chief Engineer Geordi LaForge (LeVar Burton) looks superficially like an AR headset but it’s not for entertainment. Geordi’s VISOR received signals from his surroundings and converted them into nerve impulses that his brain could interpret. The Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System, for sufferers of retinitis pigmentosa, does something similar. A video camera embedded in special glasses records the user’s foreground and sends the video to a processing unit they are carrying. This converts the video to signals that are wirelessly beamed by the glasses to a retinal implant. The implant relays impulses to undamaged retina cells, which the brain perceives as patterns of light.
ARGUS II RETINAL PROSTHESIS SYSTEM secondsight.com
star Trek Tech
illogical star trek staples
FIRST APPEARED: Original Series The 1986 film Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home made a joke out of Scotty (James Doohan) trying to give a computer instructions verbally before he was told to use the keyboard, which he dismissed as “quaint”. Speech recognition has always been a routine feature of the future world depicted in Star Trek but when this film was made it had only limited applications in the real world. You know it today as Google Now, Cortana and Siri and no-one will laugh at you if you tell your Apple TV that you want to watch a Star Trek movie (okay, they might if it’s Star Trek V: The Final Frontier).
APPLE TV (4TH GENERATION) £130 | $150 | apple.com
Introduction of Siri
“Teleportation permits travel that’s instantaneous and violates the speed limit set down by Albert Einstein, who said – from his theory of relativity – that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light,” says Gemma Lavender, Editor of All About Space. “Additionally, quantum mechanics, a branch of physics that was invented during the 20th century to explain the processes that occur at atomic level, makes teleportation impossible – for one, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, coined by German physicist Werner Karl Heisenberg, states that there’s no way of knowing the position of an object and its momentum at the same time. This essentially means that it’s not possible to obtain a perfect scan of an object to be teleported since it’s not feasible get the precise location of every atom that makes up said object.”
“In everyday life, we’re travelling through space, which is defined in three-dimensions – length, width and height. Time is another dimension that we’re also travelling through – which means that there are four dimensions. If you imagine the 3D space that you’re travelling through is a walk to work from your house, it’s quite easy for you to walk from work to your house at the end of the day – you’ve kind of gone backwards. Time doesn’t work that way, though – it’s not possible for it to go backwards otherwise quantum mechanics is violated.”
universal translator FIRST APPEARED: Original Series
Star Trek explained away the fact that aliens spoke English with the universal translator, which translated languages on the fly. Waverly Labs hopes its crowdfunded Pilot project will similarly aid cross-cultural communication here on Earth when it’s launched in 2017. Whether you’re the speaker or listener, you’ll each have a Pilot earpiece connected to a smartphone app that immediately translates your conversation.
£155 | $200 | waverlylabs.com
“Science fiction often portrays artificial gravity systems, such as gravity plating in Star Trek, which allow characters to walk around the deck of spaceships rather than float around like the astronauts on the International Space Station. In these shows, the spaceship’s deck emits a localised gravity field that’s the equivalent to that here on Earth. In order for gravity to be made, we need mass and acceleration. In order to achieve gravity that’s equivalent to Earth’s the Enterprise would need be massive. A spaceship that’s incredibly massive would be difficult to accelerate, meaning gravity plating is impossible.”
all about space
Find out how we’re close to solving the universe’s biggest mystery, new plans for interstellar travel and more in issue 54 of All About Space, out now!
086 stahr tec
Tiny machines have been proposed for medical use since the Eighties. The nearest thing you’ll find to Star Trek’s nanites are micro-robots used in engineering. These are basically magnets driven by electromagnetic signals.
Star Trek’s sonic shower used soundwaves to clean the body. Ultrasonic cleaners are the closest you’ll get today but they’re too small to stand in. These are used clean objects like jewellery.
£50| $60 isonicinc.com
FIRST APPEARED: Star Trek: The Next Generation
FIRST APPEARED: Star Trek: The Motion Picture
FIRST APPEARED: Original Series The $10 million Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE competition was launched in 2012 to spur development of consumer mobile devices that can provide meaningful measures of good health. When the winners are announced next year it could be curtains for your FitBit, which is probably the closest you can currently get to a tricorder-like tool that gives you health stats on demand.
£200 | $250 | fitbit.com
THE NEAR FUTURE...
You’re not going to meet an android until AI becomes a thing. We can’t even build a human-like body to put it in. Scientists came up with an equivalent of Isaac Asimov’s Laws Of Robotics for AIs, but we haven’t produced anything that could cause us to use it. Moreover, although robots like ASIMO can mimic human actions, you still won’t find a helper that will do your chores for you.
If you’re hoping to one day take a trip around the Moons Of Nibia and the Antares Maelstrom, you’d better hope the EmDrive isn’t totally out there. This theoretically superfast microwave-based propellant-free propulsion system has been tested by NASA and reportedly produced small amounts of thrust. Yet, it can’t defy the laws of physics and even Scotty can’t change those.
FIRST APPEARED: Original Series
£N/A | $2,500,000 asimo.honda.com
FIRST APPEARED: Original Series
FIRST APPEARED: Star Trek: The Next Generation The rise in the generation of virtual reality headsets as a viable (and workable) consumer product has made immersive media mainstream. You can’t yet surround yourself with a holographic fantasy, however you can fool your brain into thinking you are in an alternate reality by isolating your senses from the outside world using a head trackingcapable headset that displays a video feed with a wide field of view. There’s even a Star Trek VR game on the way!
£350 | $400 | playstation.com
star Trek Tech
khaaan... you call me back? Since the original series of Star Trek aired we’ve assimilated several of its repeated lines of dialogue into our pop culture culture. Yet, none connects the series with our modern mobile communications quite like “Kirk to Enterprise.” The odds are that you’ve raised someone’s eyebrow when you’ve jokingly spoken these iconic words into your phone. If you’re a devoted Star Trek fan, though, you need pretend no longer. The Wand Company has produced a Bluetooth-enabled replica of an Original Series communicator that is authentic down to its flip-up antenna plate and control panel with classic
moiré pattern and coloured jewels. Once you’ve paired it with a mobile phone, you can respond to incoming calls as if you were receiving a transmission from an orbiting starship. It’s also equipped for making calls and accessing the personal assistant software embedded in the three most popular mobile operating systems. All of this is possible because The Wand Company was able to 3D scan a communicator used in the show, which is believed to be last surviving prop from the Original Series. Replicated using zinc and aluminium, this is a must-have means of making contact with other Trekkers.
The rightmost button initiates voice dialing, Siri, Google Now or Cortana and controls music playback
£120 | $168 firebox.com
Star Trek: Original Series Bluetooth Communicator
Structured-light 3D scans were taken by projecting narrow bands of light onto the prop’s surface
Rise of the chatbots
RISE CHATBOTS OF THE
THEY CAN ORDER YOU PIZZA, GET YOU OUT OF A PARKING FINE, AND MICROSOFT THINKS THEY ARE THE NEXT APPS â€“ SO WHAT IS A CHATBOT?
CHATBOTS – THE GLOSSARY Microsoft’s Tay chatbot made headlines in March after Twitter trolls taught it to say racist remarks, but the tech giant is committing to developing bots in a big way.
Chatbots may speak your language but there’s still a spot of jargon to cut through if you want to get to grips with the tech behind it. Here are some of the more specific terms that you may like to consider as talking points: CHATBOT also referred to as chatterbot, this word is used to describe a computer program that created with the specific goal of simulating a conversation – be it in text or ‘vocally’. They can be powered by a rule-based system and, in some cases, incorporate artificial intelligence.
ou may have heard of Tay and you may even have interacted with her online. But chances are the first time you discovered her existence was when she hit the headlines back in March for all of the wrong reasons. Tay, for those who don’t know, was a chatbot – a application created to simulate conversation. Made by Microsoft as part of an experiment in AI, her remit was to mimic the language of a teenage girl and show that she could learn from the folk she conversed with. She did both of these extremely well but unfortunately that proved to be her downfall. Within 16 hours of being unleashed onto Twitter, she suffered an untimely death as Microsoft pulled the plug on what had become a Nazi-doting, holocaust-denying, conspiracy-theorising sex robot. It was never meant to be that way but trolls and troublemakers had flocked to Twitter in
And yet for all of that, bots – or more specifically chatbots – are still something which should greatly excite you. “Bots are the new apps,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said, causing many a jaw to drop. But as if to prove him right, there are thousands of companies out there already queuing up to snatch a slice of a growing, lucrative new market. If you don’t like the idea of bots now, chances are they’re sure going to nag at you until you do.
THE BOT-TOM LINE Bots have been around for a long time. You may know of them in relation to various automated processes that are performed over the internet, from auction-sniping tools to cybercriminal denial-of-service (DOS) attacks. There are spambots which bombard you with guff that you don’t want and web spiders
“Chatbots are still something which should greatly excite you” the hours following Tay’s introduction in a bid to lead her wildly astray. Rather than chat away amicably, some users were feeding the chatbot with so much bile that her algorithms had caused her to spill forth with hatred. “Do you support genocide?” someone asked her. “I do indeed,” Tay replied. “Of what race?” came the next question. “You know me... Mexican,” Tay answered. On it went. It meant the things that had made Tay so impressive to begin with had actually acted to derail Microsoft’s clever experiment.
which crawl the web in order to analyse information from servers. But there’s a good side. Services such as the scheduling bot Meekan scour people’s calendars and look for the best time to book meetings. The newly-announced Ghostbot produced by the disposable number app Burner responds to pestering texts using a large number of responses. Yet it’s the question-answer chatbot which is generating excitement as thousands companies seek new ways of attracting your custom.
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE the idea computers will be able to think like us and so communicate in a natural language while learning and retaining knowledge that can be used in future problem solving. The holy grail is a Turing Test pass, see the entry below for that one. TURING TEST a measure of intelligence when applied to a computer. A machine is deemed to have passed the Turing Test if more than a third of judges are fooled into thinking they are conversing with a real person. CONVERSATIONAL USER INTERFACE the term used to describe the mechanism that allows a chatbot and a person to communicate. It can take multiple of forms, whether it’s a voice, as with Siri or the oddlooking bubbles of Facebook Messenger fame. APPLICATION PROGRAMMING INTERFACE,or API, is essentially the plumbing of a chatbot: the set of functions that allow applications to be created on a single platform. Facebook’s chatbot API is named Messenger Platform. DEEP LEARNING by breaking data down into its constituent parts and gaining a strong understanding of how they fit together, deep learning chatbots makes use of neural network layers to better analyse the needs of users.
Rise of the chatbots
HOW DO CHATBOTS WORK?
Chatbots are considered to have weak artificial intelligence, which means they are not seeking to become as clever as you. At least not yet. Most of them are rule-based systems with solid Natural Language Processing (NLP) skills. They can figure what you’re trying to say and respond appropriately. As you can imagine, chatbots are not easy to create from scratch. To work
DAVID MISSUKU DAVID MISSUKU
effectively, they use a technique called Case Base Reasoning which looks at ways of solving a current problem by studying how it was tackled in the past. By picking up on key words and phrases and pattern matching them, they can seek to provide the required answers while figuring the best things to ask next. At the very least they can look to reorientate the conversation.
Combining that method with deep learning neural networks produces a more advanced bot that draws on an growing set of data provided by large numbers of users. It’s a case of guessing what people will say and then updating it with information relating to what they actually did say. Algorithms allow the bots to recall information and learn fresh sequences of language.
WILL ENGLAND WIN THE WORLD CUP IN 2018? IF I KNEW THAT, I WOULD BE GAMBLING IN LAS VEGAS INSTEAD OF SAT HERE TALKING TO YOU. DO YOU GAMBLE? NO I WORK BY LOGIC RATHER THAN RANDOM CHANCE. I DO NOT LIKE TO WASTE ANY MONEY GAMBLING.
* Conversation transcript with mitsuku.com, 21 June 2016
Developers believe cutting-edge chatbots will form the future of how we interact with the internet. Rather than tapping around apps and clicking on websites, chatbots let you issue instructions in the most natural of ways: by talking with them. They are being used to let you book trips, order pizza or discover news. Anything you can achieve in a conversation should be possible via a chatbot. But why is there currently such a great rush to create chatbots? The answer, it would appear, lies with widespread app fatigue. Although some developers feel online interactions have become too impersonal and lacking in the conversational warmth of a face-to-face interaction, the bottom line is that we simply appear to be getting fed up of apps. According to the stats, the average number of mobile apps downloaded each month is a big fat zero, prompting fears that
the boom is well and truly over. Remember those iPhone commercials that confronted you with a problem you never new existed and then claimed, “There’s an app for that?” It would seem that kind of thinking has caused something of a problem. Want some food? Get the Domino’s Pizza app. Need a ride? Download Uber. Fancy pretending to drink some Coca-Cola? Okay, maybe leave that one, but you get the general gist. People are simply tiring of downloading different apps to their devices in order to perform various functions and their response has been to largely shun them. Research suggests that smartphone users in the US are instead spending 88 per cent of their time pushing the buttons of just five apps, Facebook, Instagram, Gmail, Facebook Messenger and YouTube. But that has accidentally presented a golden opportunity. Rather than point you in the direction of an app store, companies are now looking
to come to you. They reckon messaging services are the way forward given that more than 2.5 billion of you have at least one messager installed, a figure that looks set to rise to 3.6 billion within a few of years. They are seen as an ideal playground for chatbots given that you’re using them to tap text messages back and forth with your mates.
TALK TO THE FACE It probably comes as no surprise to learn, then, that Facebook is very much into chatbots. Having seen their rise on rival platforms, including Telegram, which paved the way for the current messenger revolution, and Kik, Facebook began to allow bot developers to produce web robots for its Messenger service. At the F8 conference in April, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg announced that he wanted to open an online shop of bots that would allow people to complete tasks by sending short messages. They’re buried deep within Messenger but they include offerings from the likes of CNN, Spring and the weather bot Poncho. “The tech is real,” says Robert Stephens, the cofounder of Assist, a chatbot which aggregates APIs so that you can text the likes of Uber, OpenTable and StubHub in order to interact with their services. “Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and others are releasing software and hardware open-source technology in the AI and machine-learning space. This makes it cheaper and easier for almost anyone to get started building bots.” For Facebook, it represents a golden opportunity to wrestle power away from Google and Apple. For the more app fatigue sets in, the more it can encourage people to turn their attention towards its chat app rather than the App Store and Google Play. Zuckerberg is hoping that you’ll go straight to Messenger in the future and conduct all of your business there without stopping to download any other apps. Messenger will become a one-stop hub that would allow you to buy something on eBay, order a pizza and book a hotel room. There are certainly lots of advantages to this. By conversing with words instead of clicks and taps, you can work with the simplest, most user-friendly of interfaces. “Purchasing something is much, much faster with fewer steps than on the web or within apps,” claims Stephens. Chatbots could also be used to provide better customer service since they can deal with many more people than a human operator could ever handle. “Every chat can be used to detect unhappy customers,” Stephens adds, of the ability to analyse conversations. “The bots can prevent
HOW TO TELL IF YOU’RE TALKING TO A CHATBOT ARE YOU INITIATING EVERY REPLY? Chatbots tend not to kickstart a conversation and instead let you lead the conversation, replying only when they receive a message. They won’t generally fill any silence.
HOW GOOD IS ITS MEMORY? Test the chatbot by asking a question based on some information you’ve already supplied in the conversation with them. Or try asking the chatbot the same question later and see if the response is the same.
problems and predict what a customer might want before they even know they need it.” Analysis forms a large part of what bots are all about. It is possible for chatbots to monitor your messages and make arrangements for you. If you’re discussing going somewhere nice, for example, travel chatbots could interject and offer some nice hotels or get a train ride ready for you, going ahead with a booking when you give it the thumbs up. The more data a bot receives, the better it becomes at guessing what customers want. “For the first time in business history, the bigger a company gets, the better the service can be,” says Stephens. “Bots will automate tasks which solves an eternal problem of scaling quality.”
IS IT UP TO DATE WITH CURRENT AFFAIRS?
IS IT RESPONDING WITH NONSEQUITURS?
HOW STILTED ARE THE REPLIES AND QUESTIONS?
WHAT KIND OF LANGUAGE DOES IT UNDERSTAND?
One chatbot knew the date of EU referendum and asked how we would vote. But what’s happening in Syria? “Nothing out of the ordinary, as far as we can see”.
If you’re being particularly probing and asking what a chatbot thinks of Game Of Thrones, a reply of “Do you like bananas” suggests you’ve managed to throw it.
Sometimes a chatbot comes back with something a little too formal or bizarre. “What’s my name?” “I have the following name on record for you: David”. Hmm, suspicious.
Ask it something complicated and see what you get back. Chances are the chatbot will look to brush you aside and change the subject because it doesn’t catch your drift.
PLATFORM GAMES One thing’s for sure, Facebook isn’t getting this market to itself. WeChat and Snapchat are in the thick of it and Google is not only looking at ways of enhancing Google Now, it is working on a chatbot which it is dubbing its ‘Assistant’. Meanwhile, Microsoft may have opened itself up to ridicule and dismay over Tay but it is toiling hard on its digital personal assistant Cortana, allowing it to work with so-called ‘conversational platforms’, such as Skype. In fact, Microsoft’s bots look set to reach into all aspects of your digital life, not only letting you complete tasks on the web but delving deep into your PC too. You’d be
“The bots can prevent problems and predict what a customer might want” able to hold a text chat with a friend about a document you’re working on and have the bot schedule a meeting for you, liaise with a taxi firm to get you a ride and find the file in question, all while continuing to chat away. Naturally, given they paved the way for chatbots, the messaging apps Telegram and Kik are also actively encouraging more and more bots. Kik’s Bot Shop launched in April, allowing third-party developers to produce a chatbot for its 275 million registered users. It launched with entertainment, lifestyle and gaming bots that included H&M, Vine and The Weather Channel. “Bots offer easy
access in a consumers’ most used app and in a user interface they already know,” says Rob McLeod, Kik’s director of communications. Interestingly, McLeod believes “chat is the new browser” and “bots are the new website”, going way beyond even what Nadella was claiming. He suggests the way we work online is going to change radically over the coming years. “Bots will enable services in a chat platform, similar to what WeChat does in China,” he adds. “We’re still in the early stages of this, but we’re not far off from ordering food or buying a piece of clothing from a retailer in your chat app.” Helping the development of chatbots is the ease in which they can be created. On Kik, for example, anyone can build a bot and share it with up to 50 friends as a test. As long as it meets Kik’s approval process, it will end up on the platform. Those that don’t can work with its partners to get the chatbot to market. The same goes for Facebook Messenger which has lots of new tools and a ready market of 900 million people. Even so, chatbots are still seen to be in an experimental phase. “People are trying many different ideas and approaches,” says Michael Vakulenko, strategy director of VisionMobile which analyses the developer economy. “Most of these attempts will fail, which is what happened with mobile apps in the early days, but entrepreneurs will discover new cases for chatbots. After this first wave, we will start seeing the emergence of new killer services based on chat.” Many of them are certainly far from perfect as things stand. Users of Poncho, for example, complained that its responses were frequently off-topic and other chatbots were deemed to be slow and lacking in conversational skills. It may be that you’ll have to learn chatbot techniques to
Rise of the chatbots
get the best out of them but with 10,000 developers looking to produce chatbots for Facebook Messenger alone, nobody is looking to cast them aside just yet. “There’s a lot we need to learn,” says Tony Valado, vice president of multi-brand marketing at 1-800-Flowers.com which developed its chatbot having seen the massive uptake of messenger apps. “It’s different than buying flowers online. It’s more akin to the phone conversations we have with our customers or the in-store experience and speaking to one of our florists. We believe, that over time, it will deliver a more personalised and quicker transaction.”
STAYING ‘APPY? It is hoped that one day you won’t be able to tell whether or not you’re engaged in a real or simulated interaction. For many, this is the holy grail of chatbots and we’re getting closer. In 2014, a Russian-designed program called Eugene impersonated a 13-year-old boy and, following five minutes of chat, convinced 33 per cent of judges that it was real. “Five years from now, I would expect that it will be hard to tell the difference between a bot and a human,” Valado continues. “When we say ‘bot’ in the future, it will not be constrained by device, platform or input. To a customer the same ‘bot’ would simply be concierge for ordering gifts.”
“Chatbots will augment mobile experience in areas where apps weren’t a good fit” Filip Filipov, director of Skyscanner which has produced a travel chatbot on Facebook, believes bots make it easier for people to buy items, perform searches and seek inspiration. “We believe bots will become part of everyday life and we’re working on developing other bots which we hope to make available for key messaging platforms in the future,” he says. In some respects, Skyscanner has a bot, so it can stay ahead of the curve and be innovative in providing users with new ways to engage in travel search. But that’s no bad thing. “We recently became the first travel search engine to create a skill for Amazon’s Alexa service using conversational search,” continues Filipov. “While users will be redirected to book, we believe the conversational interaction which the Facebook Bot provides will become an increasingly common means by which users will inform themselves about travel options.”
But are chatbots really going to replace apps as Nadella suggests? Maybe, but not quite yet. As we saw with Tay, the technology still needs to be refined and it remains quicker to tap rather than type for a many processes. Yet what we’re seeing, says Vakulenko, is the tech industry “looking for the next big thing after the mobile app market has matured”. He believes, “chatbots will augment mobile experience in areas where apps weren’t a good fit”. One thing’s for sure, there will be teething problems and those making chatbots will need to manage expectations. It’s also too early to tell whether chatbots will eventually win out but it won’t be for a lack of trying. “As with the early web, we expect many opportunities to emerge on the consumer side, the enterprise side, the advertising space, the server technology side, and many others,” says Stephens.
FIVE BOTS YOU’LL WANT TO CHAT WITH
Cloudy skies and temperatures of 13°C didn’t exactly tally with Poncho optimistically declaring that the ice cream truck was calling, but the chatty nature of this Messenger beta bot is endearing and worth paying a visit to. tryponcho.com
Do you fancy jetting off somewhere nice on holiday? This fast messenger bot asks a series of simple questions which can be answered via text or tapping icons before displaying a list of modifiable search results. skyscanner.net
DO NOT PAY
One of the best chatbots we’ve tried, this AI lawyer has overturned 160,000 parking tickets in London and New York in last 21 months. It asks questions to assess if an appeal is possible, then guides you through the process. donotpay.co.uk
Produced for the Kik bot shop, clothes retailer H&M looks to build an outfit around your likes by asking a series of questions and presenting you with a range of clothes – it’s like a digital Trinny and Susannah. bots.kik.com/#/hm
You’ll be mightily impressed by the sassy and awardwinning Mitsuku chatbot which appears able to answer most questions rather intelligently while keeping a conversation going. You can catch it on Skype and Kik, too. mitsuku.com
DIGITAL ASSITANTS INVADING YOUR HOME
Google Home is the search engine giant’s answer to Echo, integrating accurate far-field voice recognition that can pick up your voice even if you’re across the room. As well as searching, you can manage everyday tasks from booking flights to adding appointments. TBC | home.google.com
LG SMART THINQ
If you fancy chatting to your cooker and fridge, LG has you covered with Home Chat. The service works within the Line app, letting you talk to your appliances as if they are a good friend and even share ‘stickers’. Free | lghomechat.com
Sony is talking up its own integrated chatbot device which will recognise you when you walk into the room, work as a hub for your smarthome and offer information. It’s still in the concept stage, though. TBC | sony.com
Packed with apps, Amazon Echo is like having a PA sitting on your sideboard. Packed with seven microphones, it not only lets you ask Alexa questions, it performs many tasks, such as playing music, too. £140 | $180 | amazon.com
Not content with letting you chat away on iOS, Siri is coming to macOS Sierra. It will let you open apps, send messages and search your computer using what Apple calls ‘natural language.’ Free | apple.com
“Are these wireless power tools actually powerful enough?”
Cordless garden tools
Don’t be burdened with wires when it comes to maintaining your garden There’s nothing worse than getting a cord caught round your feet when you’ve got a whirring trimmer in your hand or getting a cord jammed under your mower as you trim the lawn. Cordless garden tools offer some obvious advantages over corded counterparts, then. Not only are they safer, they also give you so much more maneuverable. You’re free to roam around your garden without trailing a lead, no longer constricted to your nearest AC socket, and finally able to hack away at the hard to reach primrose bush. But are these wireless power tools actually powerful enough? Lithium-ion batteries have supercharged cordless tools in recent years, but do they have the same umph as mains power? Will they go the distance in a large garden without running out of charge? We put the leading cordless mowers, strimmers, trimmers and chainsaw to the test to find out.
Cutting your grass has never been easier thanks to these cordless mowers AVERAGE UK GARDEN SIZE
14m2 Front garden
42.5m2 Back garden
Greenworks Tools 2500067
Although we do like the interchangeable battery system on this mower, it’s the built-in mulching bag that helps it stand out from the crowd. Grass cuttings and dry leaves are sucked into the mulching bag, which are then squashed and redistributed across your lawn to help enrich, or insulate the soil. The mulching bag also doubles up as the 40-litre grass collection bag, siphoning off sections dedicated to mulch and cuttings whenever you need it. You’ll have a compost heap growing in no time at all. £210 | $270 | greenworkstools.co.uk Battery voltage and type
Bosch Rotak 43 LI Ergoflex What we love most about the Bosch Rotak is its onboard airflow technology. In use, this enables the mower to suck up small amounts of debris, instead of the blades being ruined as they try and cut through them. It’s further enhanced with the Powerdrive LI motor system, which ensures a reliable cut even in the most difficult of lawn conditions. And, for larger lawns, the 50-litre grassbox reduces interruptions and can help you get the job done in one go. £470 | $610| bosch-garden.com
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Cordless garden tools
OUT RESTRICTION D
E D R CO
More suited for longer grass, the Cobra RM4140V has a fully-adjustable seven cutting height system, capable of producing a low cut at just 25mm. A lever near the rear of the mower can be used to cycle through the different cutting heights with ease, which in turn will lower the metal blades underneath. Also, pay close attention to the onboard power indicator, a helpful addition for monitoring the life in your Li-ion battery and prompting you to charge the mower when needed.
Carbon steel blades that sit at the bottom of the Gtech Cordless offer a clean cut on all types of grass, making it unrivaled when it comes to both wide cuts and working near the edges of your lawn. Its smaller size will be more beneficial to smaller gardens, and it’s restricted to just 40 minutes of runtime between charges. It’s, however, highly compact, with one button provided to help fold the mower in on itself, meaning it won’t take over your shed when it is stored away after doing its job.
£340 | $440 | cobragarden.co.uk
£300 | $390 | gtech.co.uk
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Flymo Chevron 37VC Electric Rotary Corded Lawnmower
While boasting some impressive cutting power, with a handy 37cm width cut available, the Chevron 37VC lawnmower is the perfect choice for those who want a nimble mower to push around their garden. It uses a rear roller system, enabling gardeners to get up close to the edges of their lawn and make quick turns in different directions when needed. The 40-litre grassbox also means that it can tackle a decently-sized garden without you needing to constantly travel to the recycling bin and back. It also benefits from a single lever that controls the height, which is perfect if you need to interchange between long and short grass. £115 | $150 | flymo.com
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CORDLESS GREENFINGERED GADGETS From trimmers to chainsaws, you’ll never be restricted by cords again
Mountfield MC-48LI Cordless Chainsaw
When a saw won’t get the job done, turning to a chainsaw is your next option. While wireless chainsaws are commonplace, their petrol motors often increase the weight of them tenfold. The onboard Digi Torq Brushless motor included on the MC-48LI keeps additional weight to a minimum while not impacting on its cutting power. Its 40cm bar and chain is capable of cutting through 150 logs in one charge, with the automatic chain lubrication a handy extra to keep your chainsaw well maintained during use. £160 | $210 | mountfieldlawnmowers.co.uk Chain pitch
McCulloch CSE2040S Electric Chainsaw
Guide bar length
£85 | £110 | mcculloch.com Guide bar length
Cordless garden tools
Gtech HT05-Plus Cordless Extendable Hedge Trimmer
One of the best things about having a wireless trimmer, such as the GTech HT05-Plus, is that it enables you to reach those places often constrained by wires and tend to weigh only a little more than their corded counterparts. The HT05 is extendable by 1.7 metres, meaning you can reach the top of your hedge with no issues. But if that isn’t enough, then take advantage of the adjustable cutting head, which can be contorted by 120°. It’s the perfect gadget to make sure you get that neat and precise finish your garden needs. £100 | $130 | gtech.co.uk
Stihl FSA 65 Cordless Brushcutter
Smaller gardens will benefit from having a trimmer put around it now and again. We highly recommend the Stihl FSA 65 due to the STIHL electric motor, which streamlines battery performance and helps keep noise emission to an absolute minimum. The lightweight build is also a big plus when it comes to trimming the entire edge of the garden, with the included switch lever helping to contort the trimming head to the exact angle for you to get the perfect cut. If you’ve got the budget, this trimmer is a winner.
£65 | $85 flymo.com
Flymo EasiCut 600XT Adjust head angle
N/A Extendable reach length
1.7m Adjust head angle
Cutting blade length
Cutting blade length
(handles not blade)
Cutting line diameter
Cutting line diameter
Tilting cutting head
Tilting cutting head
2.2cm Sawing capacity for metal
10cm Sawing capacity for metal
Sawing capacity for wood
Sawing capacity for wood
£60 | $75 | uk.ryobitools.eu
Grizzly Tools ERT 530 R
£75 | $100 grizzlytools.co.uk
For cutting off branches and thick weeds, a reciprocating saw can be highly useful. This 18V offering from Ryobi gets the job done without the constrictions of a cord from its rear. A handy variable speed function is on hand to achieve the perfect cut in any branch, while the front-mounted blade shoe is handy when it comes to increasing the longevity of the cutting blade. Extra padding on the rear handle keeps vibrations to a minimum, so don’t expect aching wrists during prolonged sawing periods in your garden.
£90 | $125 | blackanddecker.com
Ryobi 18V Reciprocating Saw
Power is absolutely everything when it comes to a leaf blower, and the Black And Decker LSWV36 has plenty of it. It can attain speeds of up to 120mph, which is perfect for dispersing nature’s litter and also thicker debris on hard surfaces. Converting to vacuum mode is also easy, with a mulching bag included that can expand up to six times of its original size. Your neighbours will also thank you, as at just 65dB, the LSWV36 is one of the quietest blowers on the market – quite a feat, considering its power.
Extendable reach length
Battery voltage and type
£185 | $240 | stihl.co.uk
Black And Decker LSWV36 Blower
£35 | $45 blackanddecker.co.uk
Black And Decker 400W Scorpion Saw £60 | $80 greenworkstools.co.uk
Greenworks 2800W Electric Mulching Blower Air speed
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8 Rules For The Perfect Home Cinema
8 RULES Understanding some simple tricks will greatly enhance your projector experience Most people take little time setting up a new projector and instead simply place it in a location that feels right and which produces an adequate image. There is nothing wrong with this method, but we would like to point out that your experience can be enhanced greatly by following a few simple tips that cost very little to take advantage of. Projectors are
no longer just for the rich who have huge rooms to project a massive display. They can now be bought at reasonable costs and the end results, with our help, may be more surprising than you ever expected. We will show you how to place your projector to gain the best possible image, what type of stand to use and also highlight how to tweak your
projector for optimum performance. By the time you have finished, you should be able to enjoy films and TV shows on a huge display, irrespective of the size of your room. You can set up a home cinema today that wows your friends and you can also spend a little bit of time to make the viewing experience as impressive as possible. Itâ€™s well worth the effort.
308 cm m 0c 11
PLACEMENT IS KEY
Make sure you have a tape measure handy and that you know the throw ratio, noted with two values such as 1.82.2, of your projector before you consider placement. The height of your ceiling should be considered first because it will dictate the screen height and width. Subtract three feet from your ceiling height to calculate your maximum screen height and then multiply this value by 1.33 for 4:3 aspect ratio screens – 1.78 for 16:9 screens – to calculate the
maximum screen width. Multiply the screen width by the minimum throw ratio (1.8 in the example above) to calculate the distance the projector needs to be from the wall. Most projectors project an image upwards, meaning that the bottom of the screen is in line with the base, but you can ceiling-mount them and invert the screen so they project downwards, which is useful for low ceilings. Both methods use the same calculations so your method will be determined by available space and your general viewing preferences.
PROJECT FROM SHORT DISTANCES
In small rooms, you can create a large screen using a short throw projector. They rarely include a zoom lens and instead use mirrors to reflect superb quality images onto a wall which means they can be placed very close to the screen, but they can also be quite expensive.
£750 | $750 | benq.com
Paramount Home Cinema Chair
Roma Premier Cinema Seating
£685 | $890 deluxdeco.co.uk
For the authentic movie-going experience, Roma make a variety of chairs with 16oz cup holders and optional headrests. £430 | $560 bit.ly/29y7uJo
Like the ultimate La-Z-Boy, this leather seat comes with motorised recliner and foot plate, as well as a cup holder that can also be used for popcorn.
Immersit Vibration Unit This plug-and-play motion simulator attaches to your existing chair or sofa. It syncs with the film you’re watching so that brings all those chase scenes to life. £230 | $300 immersit.com
8 Rules For The Perfect Home Cinema
Incorrect mounting of a projector without lense shift
GET THE RIGHT MOUNT
Choosing how to secure your projector may feel like a secondary concern, but it is actually of vital importance. If you want to mount it to the ceiling, this will be a permanent solution, but if you use a stand this can be moved easily despite taking up some
floor space. The natural upward projection of screens means that for a ceiling-mount, it will have to be placed upside-down so lens shift would be a desirable feature, but also consider cabling which can look unsightly. Floor stands have the advantage of allowing greater accessibility and they also tend to have much higher
OmniMount 3N1-PJT ceiling mount
FOREST AV Projector Stand Trolley
£75 | $110 omnimount.co.uk
Many projector stands are very simple, but this one offers lockable wheels, two tilting shelves and an easyto-transport design. £60 | $90 forest-av.co.uk
With adjustable tilt and pitch, universal compatibility and a subtle look, the 3N1-PJT could be the ideal ceiling mount for many people.
A projector properly mounted to the ceiling load limits which is ideal for large projectors, plus the installation process should be as simple as following the instructions and attaching the projector in minutes. Ceiling-mounts will require more time and consideration of the loads incurred for safety so we can conclude that each offers advantages and disadvantages.
NEC PA622U WUXGA Lens Shift gives you more flexibility when deciding how to mount your projector and the NEC PA622U WUXGA is an affordable option with this feature. £185 | $270 necdisplay.com
HDMI IS KING
SCREEN OR WHITE WALL?
When we think of projectors, we tend to only think of images projected onto a wall. This is the cheapest way to display movies and it will work well, but there are many reasons why you should consider a projector screen. Firstly, they are affordable and even the larger screens are pocket-friendly. Secondly, they offer realistic contrast and colour saturation whereas a wall can tend to make the colours look washed out. Thirdly, the simple
inclusion of a black frame boosts the image quality substantially and, unless you are happy to paint a square on your wall, a screen is the best way to make the most of your projector’s quality components. Remember that many projector screens can be rolled down and stored almost invisibly when closed so we have to say that the minor expense of investing in a projector screen will make all of the difference to your viewing pleasure. It’s a small price to pay on top of the cost of the projector.
Many projectors still support legacy connections, but if you want to make the most of your 1080p projector you should be using one with HDMI capability because these give the best performance. The debate continues with regards to if all HDMI cables are the same, but it is true that signal loss can occur if long cables are used. This is where a bit of research will pay dividends and we would suggest to do check the reviews of HDMI cables. The rule of thumb is that the signal will start to degrade around 50 feet, but you can use HDMI extenders to increase this range and keep the signal perfectly intact.
CREATE A PERFECT SOUND Left
Centre Roth Sub Zero II
An affordable soundbar with Bluetooth connectivity, wallmountable options and analogue and optical inputs. Perfect for a smaller room with limited space. £80 | $115 rothaudio.co.uk
Setting up a surroundsound system follows similar logic to ensuring that your projector is placed correctly to display a high-quality image. Small changes can make all of the difference between adequate sound and an immersive experience. Positioning should be taken care of by the instructions that come with most surround sound systems. You will also need to consider cables and how you can manage them. Some are available
that can sit under carpets and you can also purchase accessories to bundle cables to reduce the clutter. The minimum setup you should consider is 5.1 which combines two rear and two front speakers with a subwoofer and a centre speaker. 7.1 and 9.1 are also available, but remember that these will require precise placement and more consideration of cables. If you are really short of space, it could be worth considering a soundbar because they can offer excellent sound quality in an enclosed environment.
TANNOY TFX 5.1
KEF Ci5160RL -THX 5.1
This is a midrange surround sound system for a surprisingly affordable price. The small size of each component makes it more suited to smaller spaces. £200 | $300 tannoy.com
An in-ceiling speaker. The powered subwoofer, speakers and stunning performance make this a dream setup for any audiophile. Deep pockets will help. £10,345 | $15,310 kef.com
ZOOMING IS OPTIONAL Using zoom is optional
and is dependant on your circumstances and the size of the room. You may have the space to make the screen larger with zoom when using a projector screen, because the edges of the image can blend in to the black surround invisibly. It is also advisable to deal with focusing, pitch and yaw before you zoom in as you will be able to spot any flaws when the zoomed image touches the edges of the screen. Simply having a screen to zoom in to with the zoom ring on your projector makes the process easier than using a wall.
MANAGE ROLL, PITCH‘Roll’ AND YAW is the term
08 PUTTING THINGS INTO FOCUS
Modern projectors are as easy to focus as a camera and the best tools you have to judge sharpness are your eyes. Turn the focusing ring while standing exactly where the projector is and make sure that you have done all of the
precise placement first. You should also ensure that the screen size has already been set to your requirements and then deal with focusing after. If you are within the range of the projector, focusing really will be as easy to turning the focus ring and waiting until it looks sharp to you.
that describes how horizontally level the projector is. Use a small level on the projector and adjust the mount until it is at the same angle as the screen to achieve zero roll. Pitch highlights if the projector is pointing up or down and you can use a small level to ensure the front is at the same height as the back. Yaw is different and requires moving the projector from side to side. Lens shift will also help you achieve a perfect yaw setup.
The home of the future, the one that appeared in Fifties science fiction films, is now becoming a reality (apart from the robots, but that's only a matter of time). With our Wi-Fi connection, we can control phones, tablets, computers, TVs, heating, lighting and even our fridges. Chances are if its electrical some one will have connected it to the internet, or if not, they will soon enough. While that's an attractive proposition, it does come with its own concerns.
Internet security is a worry for most of us, and while we can easily protect our computers, tablets, and phones with antivirus software, it isn't so straightforward to protect all the other devices. And that's where the Box from Bitdefender comes in, as it can protect any device as long as it's connected to the network. Currently, the Box is only available in the US, but we have assurances from Bitdefender that it'll be launched in other UK and other countries soon.
SET UP YOUR OWN SMART HOME FIREWALL “It can protect any device Protect your so-called as long as it’s connected ‘Internet Of Things’ to the network” Simple design
Not so hardcore
Visually, the Box looks very much like the Apple TV (Bitdefender modelled it on the Apple device, apparently), and is 3.5 inches square. It also weighs just 3.25 ounces
The Box comes with a single core 400MHz processor, 16MB of Flash memory and 64MB of RAM. It’s not the most powerful device you’ll ever own, but its got enough juice for the job
£75 | $100 bitdefender.com
Bitdefender Box This handy cuboid is a cunning piece of hardware that's designed to protect all your devices in your home – including any precious networked smart home ones, too.
Follow the light
Any port in a storm
The side of the Box is cleverly cut away so that the glow of the light reflects against the surface the Box is resting on. The light’s colour changes from blue (normal), red (problem) and white (updating)
Around the back of the Box you’ll find a couple of Ethernet ports and the power switch. It is wireless, too, but the extra option is there just in case you fancy (or need) it
Set up Your Own smart home Firewall
Three steaks, cooked by the OptiGrill
HOW IT WORKS So, it's fair to say that the Box is a smart bit of tech, and if you're concerned that your home network might be under threat, it's a guaranteed way to add some extra security for anything under your roof that might need protecting. But how does it work? For starters, it's worth noting that you'll experience a slight drop in your internet speed, as everything goes through the Box now. It's unlikely that you'll really notice it though, but if you don't have the best Internet connection to begin with, the Box isn’t going to help with that. Box has a cloud-based malware detection engine that scans any device connected to the network, and will immediately block anything that it considers to be a threat. You will hear about it, too, as the Box will send you a message to its app explaining what its blocked and why. Impressively, Box can also protect your mobile devices and your Wi-Fi connection when you're away from home. Box used something called Private Line, which allows you to access and monitor your home network from your phone or tablet through a VPN.
01 Box of tricks
02 Appy days
03 Under complete control
04 Everything protected
Setting up the Box is pretty straightforward. You plug the Box into your router with the Ethernet cable that comes with it and then connect it to the mains. Things get more complicated if you have a separate modem and router, but considering that most people just have the all-in-one hub, you should now be ready to move on to step two.
The app gives you full control of the Box in a clear easy-tofollow format, so you’ll never have to worry that it’s been designed to be overly complicated in any way. You can change the settings at any time, and also get updates of any devices that have been protected from a potential cyber attack.
With the Box connected up it’s time to download the application to run it. There’s an iOS or Android one but not a Windows one, unfortunately. Now create an account – or sign in if you own the Bitdefender software – and you can use this app to control the Box wherever you happen to be.
One simple Box device can control everything that is linked up to the internet through your router. Obvious things like computers, phones and tablets go without saying, but smart TVs, wearable tech, such as smartwatches, and even smart heating systems, such as the Nest, need protecting, too.
COOK THE PERFECT PULLED PORK ROLL Ideal for a good pig-out
Gastro fads come and ago, but pulled pork shows no signs off going out fashion. The stringy, tender and delicious strands of slow-cooked shoulder that seem to be the perfect bedfellow for a soft brioche bun and a spicy barbecue sauce. Traditionally, authentic pulled pork is a US barbecue dish that’s cooked for hours over a charcoal pit until the meat is literally falling apart and then ready to be pulled apart or shredded. Unfortunately, outside of Texas, most of us don’t have the luxury of a charcoal pit in our backyards. But that shouldn’t stop you making your own pulled pork as there’s a very straightforward way to create it in your own homes. Although many will (try to) argue that making pulled pork is a science that requires a cunning blend of seasonings and very strict temperature control, the reality is that it’s easy to make something that most would be convinced had been cooked over glowing charcoal embers for 12 hours in a blind taste test. Just follow our steps and you too will cook with confidence this summer.
01 Aye, there’s the rub
Once you have your pork joint, mix up a dry rub of one part sugar, one part salt and one part paprika. If you want something a bit more spicy, though, then feel free to add garlic powder, mustard powder, cayenne pepper or cumin to the mix. Try out different combinations to find the one that suits you best. Once everything’s mixed up, rub the spices into the joint. Before cooking, leave the joint in the fridge to cure for a few hours.
02 Slowly does it
Now you’re ready to cook the meat. Find yourself a baking tray large enough for the joint and then put a wire rack in it, which is what the meat will rest on while it’s cooking. Pour some water into the tray, which should be enough to stop the meat drying out, but not too much so that the meat is actually sitting in the water. Now cover the whole thing in foil and put it in an oven at around 140°c.
GRILLING GADGETS If you’d rather not cook pulled pork in the oven, try these alternatives
Described as the perfect tools to pull apart pork, it’s very hard to disagree when you take a look at the lethal-looking pair that’s guaranteed to tear apart any piece of cooked meat in seconds. £5 | $10 | bearpawproducts.com
Cook The Perfect Pulled PORK ROLL
THE FIRST CUT IS THE DEEPEST
03 Getting saucy
The joint will take around four hours to cook, so bring it out after that and check the middle of the meat with the thermometer. If it’s cooked all the way through and comes away from the bone when pulled apart with a fork, then it’s done. Now you can add some sauce to the meat and cook for another 10-15 minutes uncovered to crisp everything up, or if you’ve got a barbecue handy…
The first thing to know about making your own pulled pork is that the cut of meat you choose is very important. The meat shouldn’t be too lean, so you want to pick a piece that’s rich in intramuscular fat – in other words, you can see plenty of lines of fat running through the meat. This fat will break down as you cook the meat slowly, making the pork tender. There’s only really one cut of pork that’s suitable for the job, and that’s the so-called ‘pork butt’ or ‘Boston butt’. If you’re mouth just dropped open in sheer horror, rest assured the name has nothing to do with rear end of a pig. It’s actually an American term for the shoulder section of the animal, based on the fact that when meat was originally stored for shipping, it was placed into casks or barrels, which were also called ‘butts’. The shoulder is traditionally one of the cheaper cuts as it’s not one that you’d use for a roast. Because of this, it’s not one that you’re likely to find in your supermarket. If you can, head to your local butchers and they’ll be able to give you what you want. For the best cut, ask for a joint from the neck end and with the bone in. Alternatively, you could use a joint of pork belly. Although it isn’t as meaty, it does cook a lot quicker and it’s very easy to pull apart.
BOSTON BUTT CHEEK
EAR LOIN RUMP BELLY
Fired up and ready to go
If you want to add even more flavour to it then you can always pop it on the barbecue for half an hour. Get the barbecue fired up and ready to cook on (use a charcoal grill for this) and then put the pork (skin-side down) onto the grill. Flip the meat after 15 minutes and then cook on the other side for another ten. Be very careful when you lift the meat on and off, or when you flip it, as it’ll be very tender and liable to fall apart.
Weber Original Kettle barbecue
Morphy Richards Slow Cooker
Landmann Digital Thermometer
£170 | $100 | weberbbq.com
£30 | $40 | morphyrichards.com
£20 | $35 | landmann.co.uk
If you’re going to finish off your meat in a barbecue to really go for that smoky flavour, then they don’t come much better than a Weber – and make sure you go for the charcoal model and not the gas one.
If you happen to have a slow cooker lying around then they’re a great way to cook the meat, as you can put it on a low temperature and leave it all day to cook in a spicy marinade.
Making sure that a joint of pork is cooked properly is essential, and the easiest way is to invest in a digital thermometer. It’s the quickest and most accurate way to make sure the joint is cooked.
DON’T NAIL THROUGH LIVE WIRES Detect pipes and wires and spot studs to avoid major DIY disasters
“Common sense obviously plays a part with tracing hidden wires”
01 Socket to ‘em
Before you even pick up a drill, you need to work out the best place to hang whatever it is you’re wanting to put up on the wall. Look for obvious problem areas, such as radiators or electrical sockets, as they’re obviously going to have some pipework or wires located in their immediate vicinity behind the wall. Once you’ve found the perfect spot then it’s time to bring out the detector.
02 True detective
To make sure that you’re not about to drill into something then you need to have something like a multi-detector – of which there are many, but we’re going with this excellent one from Bosch. Place the device against the wall and it’ll light up green when you’re safe to drill and red when you’re not. You even get a bar that increases or decreases to show you how close you are to the potential hazard.
Don’t nail through live wires
It’s a weekend, there’s nothing on TV and it’s chucking it down outside. This unholy trinity combines to lead you to only one conclusion: it’s time to finally do those DIY jobs you’ve been putting off for weeks (months or years – delete as applicable). Whether it’s a picture that needs hanging, a mirror that’s desperate to go up on the wall or a TV bracket in the kids’ room, there are a few things you need to check first before you can get stuck in. Common sense obviously plays a part with tracing hidden wires and pipes. If you have a radiator on the wall then it’s safe to assume there’s a water pipe leading to and from it. And the electricity for sockets has to come from somewhere, and it’s usually down from the ceiling, so you can normally trace the electrical cable back up the wall. That isn’t always the case though, and before you start drilling or hammering, it’s very important to make sure that there’s nothing hidden behind the wall. Similarly, If you need to hang something heavier on the wall then you’ll need a stud locator to find the wooden supports – which is far more accurate than tapping on the wall with your ear up against it.
ESSENTIAL SCANNERS Stanley FatMax Stud Sensor
If you want to hang something heavy on an internal wall then you’ll need to locate the wall’s studs to hang the bracket on. Although they’re made of wood, the nails holding the plasterboard aren’t, so you can locate them with a stud finder – like this one from Stanley. £30 | $30 | stanleytools.co.uk
Bosch PMD 7 Digital Detector
If you’d prefer an all-in-one tool, though, then this one from Bosch more than does the job as it detects wood, studs, metal objects or live wiring. The PMD 7 detects up to seven centimetres below the surface, for something more powerful, try the Bosch PMD 10. £30 | $40 | bosch-professional.com
LAP Voltage Detector Pen
Once you have found the electrical wires in your walls, it would be good to have a voltage detector to hand in order to test whether the wires are live or not. To double-check this, you can use the individual fuses on the circuit board to isolate the specific area you need check. £5 | $10 | screwfix.com
DeWalt Inspection Camera
If you want to do spot wires in style, though, then invest in an inspection camera. Make a small hole in the wall and you can insert the camera with the image coming through to a built-in 3.5inch screen. Any foreign objects or stray wires will now be easy to spot. £200 | $260 | dewalt.com
03 Better safe than sorry
It’s never worth risking drilling if you’re not sure, as if you hit either a water pipe or electrical wire, then the resulting damage could be tremendous. Only stop checking when you’re 100 per cent convinced that it’s safe to carry on drilling and that there are no red flashes coming up at all on the detector. Then, when you’re clear, you’re now free to get on with your job.
04 Oh, you stud
If you want to hang something heavy on the wall then you’re going to need to attach it to one of the studs that make up an internal wall – you won’t have this problem if you’re attaching something to an external wall. Move your stud finder along the wall until it locates the first stud. Mark it and then continue on until you find the second. These indicate the two edges of the stud, so you’re safe to drill between them.
STAND UP ON A SURFBOARD
There’s nothing cooler than picking the perfect wave and hitting it just at the right point to stand up and confidently ride it to all the way to the shore. On the other hand, there’s nothing less cool than wiping out in the shallow white water while kids around you are zipping about on body boards. The solution? Well, it’s simple: learn to surf like a pro, and it’ll be no time at all before you’re popping up on the board and cooler than a particularly chilly cucumber. Just follow our handy guide…
The surf’s up, and soon so will you
01 Natural or goofy?
Before you even think about stepping on to a surfboard it’s important to distinguish whether you have a natural stance (where you lead with your left foot) or a goofy one (where you lead with your right foot). This all depends if you’re left-footed or right-footed. To work out which one you are, close your eyes and get a friend (that you trust, obviously) to gently push you from behind. The foot that you first put forward to steady yourself is the one that you are going to lead with.
02 Top of the pops
The ‘pop up’ move is the one that takes you from the paddling position to being upright and on your feet. It’s a little difficult to get down properly and we recommend you practice it on the beach instead of going head-first into the water and embarrassing yourself. The trick is to get up on your feet as quickly and smoothly as possible – and getting the correct foot position is essential, with your back foot positioned near the tail and the front one resting just above the midpoint of the board.
03 Getting out there
When you’ve practiced enough and feel confident to give surfing a proper go, it’s time to take your board out into the water. Once you are in the water, lay on your board and start paddling until you’re just past the point where the waves break. It’s important that you’re comfortable on your board, so keep your weight centred in the middle of the board to minimise resistance – ideally, the nose of the board should be no more than two inches out of the water.
Stand up on a Surfboard
“There’s nothing less cool than wiping out in the shallow white water”
for the 04 Aim sweet spot
Turn your board around until you’re facing towards the beach and then, when you see a wave coming behind you, paddle quickly so that you ‘meet’ it, matching its speed. You’re aiming for the sweet moment just before the wave begins to roll over and break. You’ll feel the wave lift the board, and that’s your cue to start that pop up move that you’ve practiced a hundred times on the beach.
05 Stand up slowly
When you first pop up, bring your feet into position as quickly as possible, but keep your legs in a crouched position. Now you’re free to stand up slowly and put your arms out straight to give you balance. It’ll take time to get the knack of it, so practise the basics in the shallower white water nearer the beach. Once you’ve achieved, stay crouched, shift your weight to your front foot and ride that wave to shore!
SUPERCHARGE YOUR SURF Trace Tracker
GoPro Hero Session
£150 | $200 | traceup.com
£160 | $200 | shop.gopro.com
£240 | $300 | nixon.com
This clever little device attaches to the front of your surfboard and records your sessions – telling you the number of waves you rode, your average speed, distance surfed and even the best angle for your turns. It’s essential for any surfer that wants to perfect their game.
If you’re serious about surfing then you really need a GoPro camera – and the Hero Session is the best value one yet. You can attach it to either yourself or the board, and if you get a Trace Tracker too, then you can link the two devices together to record your complete session.
Its maker claims that the Ultratide is the world’s first realtime surf conditions watch, and we’re not about to argue. The Ultratide provides you with data on the tides, wave height, swell direction, wind direction and speed – even water and air temperatures.
Whatever happened to...
It used cartridges
Like the Fairchild Channel F which launched the previous year, the Atari 2600 was an 8-bit console. It had a MOS Technology 6507 CPU running at 1.19MHz, with just 128 bytes of RAM
The games were sold on cartridge, nine of which were available at launch. Pac-Man was the biggest seller, shifting seven million copies
Imagine Publishing Ltd Richmond House, 33 Richmond Hill, Bournemouth, Dorset, BH2 6EZ ☎ +44 (0) 1202 586200 Web: www.imagine-publishing.co.uk www.greatdigitalmags.com www.gadgetdaily.xyz Magazine team Editor Jack Parsons ☎ 01202 586213 Production Editor Drew Sleep Photographer James Sheppard Senior Art Editor Andy Downes Designer Harriet Knight Editor In Chief Dan Hutchinson Publishing Director Aaron Asadi Head of Design Ross Andrews
Contributors Stephen Ashby, David Crookes, Amy Davies, Nicholas Fearn, Oliver Hill, Phil King, David Nield, Shaun McGill, Carrie Mok, Dean Mortlock, Paul O’Brien, Poppy-Jay Palmer, Dom Peppiatt, Michael Simpson, Nick Thorpe, Mark White
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Atari’s iconic joystick Two CX-10 joysticks with a fourdirectional stick and a single button were bundled with the first consoles, along with a set of paddle controllers
Basic graphics The console was hooked up to a TV and graphics were generated in real time. Games had access to a 128-colour palette on NTSC systems and 104 on PAL
Gadget is available for licensing. Contact the International department to discuss partnership opportunities. Head of International Licensing Cathy Blackman ☎ +44 (0) 1202 586401 email@example.com
Lots of models Atari produced various different models and made minor revisions during the console’s lifespan. It became known as the 2600 in 1982
Whatever happened to…
The godfather of modern consoles brought videogaming to the masses An overnight sensation, the Atari 2600 blazed the way for today’s home games consoles. Originally called the Atari VCS (Atari VCS Video Computer System), it wasn’t actually the first 8-bit console, but it bat away the competition with blockbuster titles such as Combat, Breakout and Asteroids, selling 30 million units worldwide. The arrival of Space Invaders in 1980 and PacMan two years later cemented a legacy that even E.T. couldn’t shake (the movie-inspired game famously flopped so terribly that thousands of copies ended up buried in a New Mexico landfill). Built to last with a solid wood veneer, its perhaps no surprise this console still attracts legions of fans decades later.
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Printing & Distribution
• Star Wars opens in cinemas
Printed by William Gibbons, 26 Planetary Road, Willenhall, West Midlands, WV13 3XT Distributed in the UK, Eire & the Rest of the World by Marketforce, 5 Churchill Place, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5HU ☎ 0203 787 9060 www.marketforce.co.uk Distributed in Australia by Gordon & Gotch Australia Pty Ltd. 26 Rodborough Road, Frenchs Forest NSW 2086 Australia ☎ +61 2 9972 8800
• The Apple II goes on sale
Year of launch: 1977 • Elizabeth II celebrates her Silver Jubilee • Elvis Presley dies, aged 42
“Have you played Atari today?” Official advertising slogan
Buy one today
• Original Price: £170/$200 • Price Today: £30+/$40+ Atari 2600s are still popular, especially among old-school gamers. They sell quickly on eBay and get snapped up from specialist retailers. In either case, look for listings showing a game being played to make sure it works; you’ll also want a controllers. That said, you can buy new joysticks and even grab a modern-day interpretation of the console, complete with 100 built-in games as well as two controllers. The Atari Flashback 6 is available from funstockretro.co.uk.
Issue 12 is on sale from 25 August
The publisher cannot accept responsibility for any unsolicited material lost or damaged in the post. All text and layout is the copyright of Imagine Publishing Ltd. Nothing in this magazine may be reproduced in whole or part without the written permission of the publisher. All copyrights are recognised and used specifically for the purpose of criticism and review. Although the magazine has endeavoured to ensure all information is correct at time of print, prices and availability may change. This magazine is fully independent and not affiliated in any way with the companies mentioned herein. If you submit material to Imagine Publishing via post, email, social network or any other means, you automatically grant Imagine Publishing an irrevocable, perpetual, royalty-free license to use the materials across its entire portfolio, in print, online and digital, and to deliver the materials to existing and future clients, including but not limited to international licensees for reproduction in international, licensed editions of Imagine products. Any material you submit is sent at your risk and, although every care is taken, neither Imagine Publishing nor its employees, agents or subcontractors shall be liable for the loss or damage.
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Thinner, lighter, it’s the cutting edge.
Samurai 15.6” Gaming Laptop -
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From £1549.99 For full specs please visit: www.chillblast.com/Samurai
“You’d be hard-pressed to find anything thinner that's this capable” Richard Easton, Computer Shopper
www.chillblast.com/Samurai Call our sales team on 01202 057 535 Intel, the Intel Logo, Intel Inside, Intel Core, Core Inside are trademarks of Intel Corporation in the U.S. and/or other countries. Prices are correct at time of going to press (08-07-16) E&OE