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SPECIAL AWARDS ISSUE

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TOP SPINNERS STUNNING TURNTABLES TESTED

PS VR REVIEWED

Just add a GoPro

O US R P 4 PS NE 7 PL iPHOZON ECHO... AMA NY MORE & MA

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all m e h t wn o o t t wan l l ’ u o od, y o g o S www.stuff.tv December 2016 £4.99


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GADGET AWARDS 2016 p18

HOT STUFF 10 The Hot Four O Google Pixel, Pixel XL OGoogle Daydream View O GoPro Karma OB&W P9 Signature 16 Gigapixel Renault Trezor The Paris Motor Show’s sexiest e-car 20 Apps Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality 22 Vital stats Panasonic Lumix DMC-G80 Never take a blurry photograph again 24 Icon Roland Aerophone AE-10 A digital instrument for blowhards 28 Choice Android earphones Apple may hate sockets, but we don’t 31 Best of Extravagant estates Three fastbacks for ‘practical’ thrills 32 Start menu Answer the door when you’re not in 34 Games Our Christmas wishlist… and new Poké 36 Your month Long-lost Daleks return to our screens

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p47 The pick of, well, everything

TESTS 41 First test special PlayStation VR We get lost in Sony’s long-awaited headset 74 First test Panasonic TX-58DX802 A 58in telly that comes with… an easel? 79 Group test Turntables We take five top record players for a spin 84 Tested Dyson Pure Hot + Cool Link A fan to heat/cool your smart home 85 Tested Canon EOS 5D Mark IV ‘Mark IV better than Mark III’ shocker! 88 Long-term test Amazon Echo Living with a new housemate named Alexa 99 Versus Fitness watches TomTom (watch)faces off with Garmin 110 Tested Games FIFA 17 vs PES 2017, plus Forza Horizon 3


WIN! p38

12.16

NEW P101

TOP TEN OF EVERYTHING

P117

FEATURES 47 The Stuff Gadget Awards 2016 The very best tech of 2016, from fancy phones and desirable drones to cool cams and a handsome headset 76 Instant upgrades Apple Watch Tricks and tips for your strappy companion 91 Stuff picks Sub-£50 gifts The best tech-packing Christmas presents for the fragile of wallet 101 Smart home essentials Turn your dumb abode into a palace of guest-impressing automation 106 Beta yourself MacOS Sierra Get friendly with the new Apple interface 114 Media hoard Thoughtful sci-fi Arrival , er, arrives… plus alien-themed streaming and lots of music

TOP TENS 117 The Stuff Top Ten of everything Your essential gadget-buying guide: Smartphones, tablets, headphones, TVs, smartwatches, fitness trackers, laptops, games consoles, hi-fi, cameras, budget buys 119 Playlist Audiobooks Listen to a comedian digging up his mum 123 Streaming essentials Top treats on Netflix, Amazon and Now TV 124 Should I upgrade? An original Apple Watch: stick or twist? 127 The big question What’s the best password app? 128 Competition Win a PS4 Pro gamer’s bundle ‘Console’ yourself with this prize package 131 How to buy… a compact system camera What to look for in a medium-sized snapper

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Subscriptions Hotline 0344 848 8806 World: +44 (0)1604 251 460 Email help@stuff. themagazineshop.com Web www.themagazineshop.com Advertising 020 8267 5493 Group Head Stephen Windegaard Sales Managers Robert Nevill, Ben Hardy Retail Manager Rob Kerr Display Sales Executive Amy Turner Classified Sales Executive Joshua McGonigle Creative Solutions Project Managers Liam Maguire, Hannah Pettifor Creative Solutions Editor Edward Craig International Advertising Director Chris Marriott Business Development Director Mike Walsh Production 020 8267 5414 Production Manager Anthony Davis Senior Production Controller Paul Skinner Newstrade Marketing Manager Nick Lyon Management Brand Director Alastair Lewis Editorial Director Mark Payton Strategy & Planning Director Bob McDowell Managing Director David Prasher Chief Executive Kevin Costello • Volume 20 issue 12 • ISSN: 1364-963 • On sale 3 November 2016 • Audit Bureau of Circulations: 62,624 (Jan-Dec 2015)

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Welcome Wanna know how Team Stuff usually picks its annual awards-winners? We go down the pub and argue about gadgets for five hours. This nearly always ends in acrimony, especially when it comes to electing our Gadget of the Year. Here even the most mild-mannered of my colleagues will embark on a foul-mouthed tirade about how we’re not showing an OLED TV “the respect it deserves� or something. This year was different, though. When the time arrived to hoist one gadget above the rest, up stepped Deputy Editor Tom Wiggins to argue for the HTC Vive. What followed, to my memory at least, was a bit like the “O Captain! My Captain!� bit of Dead Poets Society. Only everyone was of legal drinking age and three sheets to the wind. Even in the cold light of the morning after, everyone stood by that unanimous decision. Why? Simply because HTC’s Vive is the most awe-inspiring bit of tech we’ve tried for yonks. The rest of the winners, from p47, aren’t half bad either. And, at the risk of tooting our own horn, neither is this month’s redesigned Top Tens section. From p117 onwards you’ll find a raft of new lists, features and even a competition to win this month’s cover star: the PlayStation 4 Pro. When we’re not all holed up in a boozer, we do work quite hard. Honest. Rob Leedham, Editor / @robleedham

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Š 2016, Haymarket Media Group Ltd. Printed by William Gibbons, Wolverhampton. Distributed by Frontline Ltd, Midgate House, Midgate, Peterborough, PE1 1TN. Stuff, ISSN 1364-963, is published monthly by Haymarket Media Group, Bridge House, 69 London Road, Twickenham TW1 3SP, UK. The US annual subscription price is $75.50. Airfreight and mailing in the USA by agent named Worldnet Shipping Inc., 156-15, 146th Avenue, 2nd Floor, Jamaica, NY 11434, USA. Periodicals postage paid at Jamaica NY 11431. US Postmaster: Send address changes to Stuff, Worldnet Shipping Inc., 156-15, 146th Avenue, 2nd Floor, Jamaica, NY 11434, USA. Subscription records are maintained at Haymarket Media Group, Bridge House, 69 London Road, Twickenham TW1 3SP, UK. Air Business Ltd is acting as our mailing agent. All rights reserved. This publication may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form in whole or in part without the written permission of the publishers. Liability: while every care has been taken in the preparation of this magazine, the publishers can’t be held responsible for the accuracy of the information herein, or any consequence arising from it. In the case of all product reviews, judgements have been made in the context of ware based on UK prices at the time of review, which are subject to fluctuation and only applicable to the UK market.

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Making Stuff up Editor Rob Leedham Deputy Editor Tom Wiggins Production Editor Richard Purvis Consulting Editor Fraser Macdonald Reviews Editor Tom Morgan Features Editor Mark Wilson Deputy Features Editor Esat Dedezade Editor, Stuff.tv Marc McLaren Deputy Editor, Stuff.tv Tom Parsons

I BOUGHT MY WIFE SOME MAMMOTH MEAT After completing her degree in archaeology and anthropology, my wife had to accept that she wasn’t going to be a real-life Lara Croft and would have to get a job (sigh). But thanks to the Kickstarter-funded Mini Museum: Second Edition (US$99 / minimuseum.com), she can still have the pleasure of owning a collection of Tomb Raider-worthy rare artefacts, ranging from 15th-century chainmail to a fragment of stegosaurus plate. Will Clarke, Senior Designer

I PRETENDED TO BE A KID TO GIVE RAZOR’S CRAZY CART A SPIN Sure, it says ‘ages 8+’ on the box – but that technically means 28+ is good too, right? So I squeezed myself behind the wheel of Razor’s Crazy Cart Shift the minute it turned up at the Stuff office. It’s an electric go-kart designed to be driven in anything but a straight line, so I was able to live out my Tokyo Drift fantasies without actually hitting the open road. Now if I go missing at lunch, it’s because I’m running sideways laps of the office car park. Tom Morgan, Reviews Editor

Colouring Stuff in Brand Art Editor Chee-Chiu Lee Deputy Art Editor Ross Presly Senior Designer Will Clarke Senior Video Editor Peter Brown Keeping Stuff in order Global Editor-In-Chief Guy Cocker International Director Alastair Lewis Syndication Enquiries Isla Friend 020 8267 5058 Brand Manager Claire Griffiths Brand Executive Kadie Chanter Office Manager Sarah Weetch Contributors

Andrew Williams, Sam Kieldsen, Pete Gardner, Craig Grannell, Andrew Hayward, Matt Beedle, RGB Digital, Amy Davies, Chris Kerr, Jayne Nelson, Martin Boon, Danny Wadeson, Mitch Payne, Alex Fanning, Paul Allen Cover photography Matt Beedle

Email us stuff@haymarket.com Call us 020 8267 5036 Haymarket Media Group, Bridge House, 69 London Road, Twickenham TW1 3SP

OUR MONTH In which some of us were more dignified than others I CHANGED TEAMS After six years of dominance in the Stuff lunchtime digi-football tournament, FIFA has been toppled. No, it’s not perfect, but PES 2017’s interpretation of the beautiful game is the closest it’s ever come to recapturing its last-gen glory days (especially if you edit the wonky team names). Some people still prefer FIFA – see our showdown on p110 – but I’m running a league here. Sepp Blatter didn’t get where he is today by worrying about what other people thought, did he? Ah, hang on… Tom Wiggins, Deputy Editor

I SAW AN OLD FRIEND OVERSEAS I’d like to think that being a Stuff cover star is a big deal. We are the world’s biggest-selling gadget mag and all that. Still, I didn’t expect to see last year’s Star Wars Battlefront edition staring at me on a trip to Swedish developers Dice in Stockholm last month. There was the French incarnation of that mag, proudly framed next to some other, less reputable publications. Next time we take a trip to Sony HQ, I’m anticipating nothing less than the red carpet treatment. Rob Leedham, Editor

Stuff is a member of the Independent Press Standards Organisation. We abide by the Editors’ Code of Practice and are committed to upholding the highest standards of journalism. If you think we haven’t met those standards and want to make a complaint, contact stuff@haymarket.com. For more information, contact IPSO on 0300 123 2220 or visit www.ipso.co.uk

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O HOT FOUR #1

LOOK, YOU CAN SEE THE PIXELS GOOGLE PIXEL, PIXEL XL If you’re screaming: “Google?! What’s next, an AltaVista phone?” then it’s 1998 and this magazine has dropped through a wormhole. Hello! And guess what: in 2016 Google makes hardware. Up until now, its Nexus phones were a bit left-field and affordable. But with Pixel, it’s trying to establish itself as a premium mobile maker. It’s competing with Apple, which now makes phones as well as computers, and Samsung, a Korean company. Nokia’s out of the game, sadly. But Pixels might do well: super-powerful 5in or 5.5in phones with ace camera specs and a voice-recognising Assistant. Yes, AI is sort of happening in 2016. Hoverboards, not so much. As hot as… “OK, Google” being the new Ask Jeeves £599, £719 / stuff.tv/GooglePixel

Don’t be blue In 2016, the US still gets cool stuff before us. This ‘Really Blue’ colour is, for some reason probably to do with a future network tie-in, not available here. We get Very Silver and Quite Black.

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On the case We might not be able to get the blue version on these islands, but we can still purty up our Pixels with customisable live cases from the Google Store.

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HOT FOUR #2 WE’VE GONE ALL GOOGLY-EYED GOOGLE DAYDREAM VIEW Google’s Daydream View VR headset, with its wireless controller, could be the future. It looks comfy, not geeky, and it selfcalibrates – slam the phone in the right way round and it’ll work. Yes, its £69 price is overshadowed somewhat by the price of the Pixel phone it requires. But Daydream is a platform – more compatible phones and headsets are being made as we write. Will VR headsets, in five years’ time, live behind the TV with the dusty 3D glasses? Only if the content providers and games devs don’t realise the awesome potential. As hot as… a snuggly face hugger £69 / stuff.tv/GoogleDaydream

Control freak The pointing, waving, swinging, drawing Daydream controller is your key to interacting with Google’s virtual world. And when you’re not using it, it slides away into the headset.

WHAT, MORE GOOGLE STUFF? WELL, THEY ARE KIND OF A BIG DEAL… Google Home There’s still no UK release date, but early reports about the US version are that Home is smarter than Amazon’s Echo – and slightly cheaper too, at US$129.

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Google Wifi Mesh networks are hot. Google’s new system has several affordable-ish mini-routers around your home, smartly assigning bandwidth. It’s US-only for now.

Chromecast Ultra Here’s one that we do get here in Blighty. £69 gets you the kind of Chromecast content-streaming you (might) know and (possibly) love… but now in 4K and HDR!


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Clouds on the horizon Hero5 cams can Wi-Fi images and videos to the new GoPro Plus cloud service… but only if you’re in America, and have paid the $5/month subs. We await news of a UK service.

HOT FOUR #3 NO LONGER UP IN THE AIR GOPRO KARMA We know you knew GoPro was launching a drone, so we’re going to flip-reverse the announcement and go straight to the “And one more thing…” bit. Which is that the Karma is useful even when it’s not flying. How so? Because with the drone comes the Karma Grip, a DJI Osmo-style stick to which you can attach the Karma’s stabilising gimbal and a GoPro camera. Your very own steady cam for outdoor larks, nice. Better still, that GoPro camera is either the new Hero5 Black or the new 14

Hero5 Session, or the old Hero4 Silver or Black – all of which shoot 4K to some frame rate or other. Reverse up the announcement a bit further and you can control the camera separately while flying, using the GoPro app. Meanwhile, the touchscreen-equipped Karma Controller controls the actual flying part. And now we’re back to the rucksack Karma Case, in which – surprise! – fits GoPro’s folding Karma drone. As hot as… flying backwards through a keynote from £719 / stuff.tv/KarmaDrone


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HOT FOUR #4 CLASSIC CABLE SHOWCASE B&W P9 SIGNATURE Aww, do you remember when phones had 3.5mm headphone sockets? Back in 2016? B&W does. And in an emotionally raw homage to that time, it’s given its new P9 Signature headphones one of those legacy connectors. Two, in fact: one with a mic/ remote, and a plain one for signal purists. But if you insist on plugging these lovely retro cans into something modern like an iPhone 7, then B&W will be supplying a Lightning cable early next year. It’ll be worth it any which way, as these P9s are bigger, both in stature and in engineering, than either the P5s and P7s, both of which are already bloomin’ excellent. As hot as… 2016-era brown leather £699 / stuff.tv/P9Signature

GoPro news! Item! The Hero5 (£349) no longer needs a waterproof case down to 10m. Item! The new Session (£249) shoots 4K. Item! Both of them have voice control.

DJI Mavic Pro What’s this coming over the hill, is it a… oh, it’s another foldable drone. Not just any other, though, as its from DJI, who are the big name in drones. Theirs is lighter and longer-flightier than the Karma but, with its fixed camera and fully featured app, perhaps less friendly for beginners. £999 / dji.com

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The bigger picture in tech

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NEWS FEED HIT THE ELEC-CELERATOR! This year’s Paris Motor Show was a-dazzle with electric cars, three of them particularly significant. Volkswagen finally introduced its emissionless future, the ID; continuing the acronym game, Mercedes called its electric platform EQ, and launched it with a huge glowing SUV; and Renault melted designers’ hearts with the Formula E-engined autonomous Trezor (main pic). But better – and sooner – than these sci-fi shinies is the Renault Zoe Q90 above – a new version with fancy LG batteries. A real-world range of about 200 miles is Tesla-rivalling stamina, and it’ll be here this winter.

ALEXA SINGS Amazon has launched its Spotify-rivalling Music Unlimited service in the US, with ‘tens of millions’ of tracks available. Prime subscribers pay US$7.99 a month, but if you just use it through your Echo it’s only $3.99. Which is pretty decent. Fingers crossed for a swift UK translation.

SUPER STEREO Impressed with your three-speaker Sonos system? Pffffsh! The UE Boom app has a new PartyUp feature that lets you sync ‘more than 50’ speakers over Bluetooth. Quite how to get 50 Boom, Boom 2 or MegaBoom speakers into one room is your own business.

VR IS THE NEW LASER TAG Not that it involves lasers; more that it could be a thing you and your tribe go and do at weekends. Imax, Odeon, Acer and StarBreeze (who make the StarVR headset) are teaming up to make a pod-based VR centre in Manchester; it should be open by Christmas. 17


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Looks one lifestyle, lives the other

HTC DESIRE 10 LIFESTYLE This phone flaunts its silky colours and gold edging like it buys Lambos with a black Amex. Yet the price tag tells a different tale, one of acquisitions at TK Maxx before a dash to the Prancing Bull. The truth is the latter, as revealed by its humble Snapdragon 400 processor, 720p 5.5in screen and 13MP camera. Well, we’d happily spend the evening juggling gins with a phone we’re not scared of spilling in the sawdust. £249 / htc.com

Put them down, Dad

OAKLEY RADAR PACE It’s not impossible that in 2004 you bought a pair of Oakley Thump hybrid sunglasses/MP3 player. It’s not inconceivable that you looked so kick-ass in those Thumps that a partner was attracted, and a hybrid of your own eventually created. It is, however, unlikely that the now 12-year-old Thumper wants these new Oakleys, even with their fitness app, Intel voice tech for real-time coaching and touch panel. Every 12-year-old knows that talking to your sunglasses is not cool. £400 / uk.oakley.com

DROP EVERYTHING AND DOWNLOAD... Sky VR £free / iOS, Android Are you an Xboxer feeling left out by the arrival of PS VR? Or a PC user without the spondoolies to get a Vive or Oculus setup? Break out the dusty cardboard VR viewer you have in a drawer and load up Sky’s new VR app. It’s a picky-bits buffet of trailers and promotional ‘experiences’ rather than full-length programmes, but some of it is exclusive, VR-specific content from Sky’s roster of sports, arts and factual notables. It’s free too, which makes it a 360° bargain compared to Oculus and the like. 18


A P P S This month’s mobile must-downloads 1

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3 OF THE BEST MESSAGES STICKERS

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In iOS 10’s Messages, Apple ditched minimalism and let you cover it in stickers. Here are the best ones:

CLASSIC MAC £free Apple celebrates Susan Kare’s perfect icon work for the original Mac with old-school art.

ASSEMBLY 7

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£free Hate all existing Messages stickers? Make your own with this digital take on felt shapes.

CARROT STICKER PACK

1 Text-TV

2 Google Trips

3 Tiny Cards

79p / tvOS Teletext lives! Sort of. And mostly in Europe, truth be told. But Marcus Olovsson’s Text-TV now supports throwback geek project Teefax, full of British weirdness, including Digitiser’s Mr Biffo and Bamboozle.

£free / iOS, Android In its quest to take over the world, Google now at least wants to help you explore it more easily. There’s armchair tourism for planning a visit, and day plans for when you actually arrive somewhere.

£free / iOS If you can never remember which dinosaur is the one with the long neck or what country is above Peru, Tiny Cards (lovingly) beats your brain into submission with beautifully illustrated flashcard drills.

4 Bohemian Rhapsody Experience

5 FaceRig

6 Really Bad Chess

£free / iOS, Android Another app that dares to ask: what if you were a hamburger? Yes, it’s more live CGI, where an on-screen avatar gurns in response to your facial tics. And if you were a hamburger? Terrifying.

£free / iOS Not so much really bad as really weird chess. This game’s AI never gets smarter; it just changes the pieces as you improve. Think you’re hot with six queens? How about with none – and loads of pawns?

8 60 Seconds! Atomic Adventure

9 Vulture Island

£free / iOS, Android Think Bohemian Rhapsody’s video is weird? Well, here you fly through a Freddie Mercury fever dream in VR. It works with Cardboard, or you could just wave a tablet in front of you.

7 Maximum Car £free / iOS, Android From the company that made a game mostly about punching bears, a racer about blowing other cars out of your way with missiles, while the commentary growls ridiculous slogans. Beats the M25. 20

£2.99 / iOS A mad dash, grabbing family, food and supplies, is followed by bunker-based gloom and inevitable starvation. And you thought The Walking Dead was bleak.

£3.99 / iOS, Android Grab some much-loved retro platformers, put them in a blender and, well, you’d get broken cartridges. But in a better world, you’d get this old-school adventure with brain-smashing puzzles.

£1.49 Unleash the evil inner you by channelling the human-hating Carrot AI – by way of snarky stickers. More iMessaging tips: see p133.


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FEELING MIDDLEWEIGHTY, LIKE A G80 Panasonic Lumix DMC-G80 from £699 / panasonic.com

Whomp! Panasonic’s walked right up to the midmass-market and slugged it in the belly with this… ORock’n’roll snapper The G80’s more evolution than revolution, but don’t let that sway you. Oops. Too late. There you go, all swaying. Well, that makes this the perfect time to bring up the 5-axis stabilisation system, which counters the effects of your shaky hands better than the one on other Panasonic CSCs. The new system, dubbed ‘5-axis Dual IS Mk II’, uses a new gyro-sensor to allow optical and

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in-body stabilisation to work in tandem to reduce blur and shake, whether you’re shooting longer exposures handheld or capturing video while walking. Panasonic says it adds the equivalent of five stops of shutter speed. OImages are from Venus There’s also a new Venus image processing engine, married to a 16MP MOS sensor. This setup allows you to shoot at up to ISO 25,600 sensitivity as well as record 4K video at 25/30fps. There’s a lovely 4K photo system, which means you can extract stills at 8MP from 4K videos, or shoot 8MP still bursts at high speed.

OStamina by me There’s a tough magnesium front frame for a splash-proof build, and images can be framed through the 3in variable-angle screen of a 2.36million-dot OLED electronic viewfinder. Panasonic has also given a helpful nod to all-day shooters with the batterylengthening Power Save Mode, which boosts battery life from around 320 shots to 800. OReady to run The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G80 should be in shops by the time you read this, priced at £699 for body only, or £799 with a 12-60mm zoom lens.

YOU CAN SHOOT AT UP TO ISO 25,600 SENSITIVITY


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Hungry eyes

AERIX DUET

OR, IF YOU CAN PLAY THE LONG GAME…

Looked at from the front, the Duet looks a little cross. But it’s not. It’s giving you a sultry take-me-home look because it knows that the wireless speaker market is a desperate old scuffle. Even more so at this high-price extreme. But the Duet has its unique two-cube design going for it – subwoofer in one, electronics in the other, upwards-firing speakers in both. And, in addition to Bluetooth, CDs and FM radio, the Aerix uses DTS’ s Play-Fi module and app to draw in Spotify, Tidal and Deezer. Just don’t talk about how many Naim Qb or Sonos speakers you can get for £1499, though, or you really will make it angry. £1499 / www.aerix.co

OBRING THE NOISE Panasonic has also taken the wraps off a prototype camera, the Lumix GH5, which will be the company’s next CSC flagship. Due to arrive in the first half of 2017, this will be the first CSC able to shoot 4K video at 50/60fps (most are limited to 30fps). It’ll also support ‘6K Photo’, a higher-resolution version of the 4K Photo feature on existing Panasonic cameras. This will allow you to extract individual frames from any 4K videos you’ve shot and use them as 18MP stills.

Vivofit for (business) life

GARMIN VIVOFIT JR You bought your four-to-nine-year-old this child-orientated fitness tracker. You watched as she ran into the garden to measure the activity score against her movement. Then you set up the corresponding Vivofit Jr app on both your phones. She negotiated 30 minutes of computer time in return for the ‘coins’ earned by brushing her teeth and walking the dog. You smiled and congratulated yourself on some new-school parenting. You couldn’t have known she was spending that online time building her billionaire Bitcoin business, nor foreseen her hostile takeover of your affairs at age 11. Such a sweet, modern child. £80 / garmin.com

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I C O N THIS WILL CHANGE THE LIVES OF MOS EISLEY CANTINA COSPLAYERS WORLDWIDE

ROLAND AEROPHONE AE-10 £725 / roland.co.uk

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A digital woodwind instrument, you say?! Cue 10 hours of Epic Sax Guy! Yes, this is the new Aerophone AE-10 from digital instrument veterans Roland – and it’s going to change the lives of Mos Eisley Cantina cosplayers worldwide.

sleek and dotted with confusing buttons. Yet this is a proper bit of gear that can emulate all sorts of real instruments, as well as having a bunch of non-real synth sounds on board. And the USB output lets you hook it up to a PC to mess with external modules and soft synths.

How so? Well, breath controllers are nothing new, but just look at it – it’s like a big old spaceship, all white and

Which instruments can it do? Clarinet, flute, oboe, saxophone and the distinctly non-windy violin, to name a few. There are 40 built-in

sounds in all. Those buttons, incidentally, are inspired by a sax’s layout; octave is controlled by the left-hand set, while notes are controlled by the right. And I can take this out to, say, the park with me? We don’t advise it, unless you want to get beaten up for mangling Baker Street in public. But you could, because there’s a built-in speaker and the option to add

a 7hr rechargeable battery pack. But we submit that the AE-10 might be at its best in your home studio, where it can draw power from the mains and be hooked up to a more powerful speaker via its stereo mini-jack. This is available now? You can pre-order it at Gear4Music for £659 (a lot less than Roland’s £725 RRP), with deliveries due in early November.


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Full-frame, 4K, fast-focusing fun

SONY ALPHA A99 II The A99 was a sick bit of kit, but this second version has a full-frame sensor with a resolution of 42.4MP as opposed to 24.3MP. It also has in-body 5-axis image stabilisation, which’ll work with any lens. Perhaps the highlight is a new 79-point autofocus system – which, with the camera’s un-DSLR-like static mirror, should mean laser-guided focusing even when shooting 4K video. Speaking of which: custom video frame rates, from 1fps to 120fps, should get pseudo-Spielbergs sweating under their red caps. £2999 / sony.co.uk

There are three music players in the Uniti range; this is the littlest one, the Atom.

You’re already hooked

NAIM UNITI A couple of years back, Naim dressed its hook with glittery bait (the affordable, awesome Mu-so wireless speakers) then sat back and attracted new, mainstream customers. Now it’s closing the trap with a new Uniti audio streaming range, styled with Mu-so accents and rotary volume dials. Why is it a trap? Because Uniti costs cash that mainstream music-eaters wouldn’t haven’t dreamt of spending in the past. Yet now, with their eyes bedazzled by Apple Music, Tidal, Spotify and Google streaming skills but in a grown-up hi-fi separates format, they’re opening wide and taking the hook. What a lovely way to go. from £1600 / naimaudio.com

WTF IS THIM? Looks unsettingly… clinical. It’s for external application only, we promise. Thim is a fingermounted sleep trainer that helps to improve your snoozing by the most obvious method: it wakes you up just as you’re nodding off.

Nope, it’s going straight in the blender. Wait, come back! The theory is that it conditions you to the act of falling asleep, thus making it easier to nod off in the future. In training mode Thim will detect when you’ve fallen asleep, which it determines by your lack of motion, and do a little vibrate to wake you up. You crook your

finger a little to respond, and the process starts again. Eventually you’ll properly fall asleep, and not respond, and it’ll stop vibrating. A few nights of this practice and you’ll start to get better sleeping rhythms, apparently.

monitor your power nap and wake you up before you leave the recommended ‘Stage 1’. Ten minutes, they say, is about the optimum.

But, assuming this re-training works, doesn’t that make the gadget a bit redundant after a few weeks?

On the crowdfund-hopeful line. Thim isn’t coming out until the middle of 2017, but you can reserve an early production model by backing it through Kickstarter. Assuming the campaign hits its funding goal of AU$120,000, a pledge of $129 (which converts to about £80) will be sufficient to get you your very own electronic waker-upper.

Sleep re-training is only half of the Thim’s skill set. It has day skills too. Ever woken up from an afternoon snooze feeling groggy and anxious? That’s because you went too deep, for too long, and mucked up your internal clock. Thim can

OK, that sounds more useful. Where do I sign?

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C H O I C E

ANDROID EARPHONES These jack-wired in-ears are a socket punch to iPhone 7 users

1 Jays a-Jays Four

Flat ribbon cables, Androidspecific three-button remote and très en vogue matt gold edging give the Jays all the yays. And the £300 dual-armature q-Jays are mini marvels if you have that kind of money. £50 / jaysheadphones.com

2 MEE Audio M6 Pro

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We mostly chose these because their name chimes with our favourite motorway. But also because they have a mechanical slider volume control that will work with any phone. And, lastly, because they’re see-through. £45 / meeaudio.com

3 Sennheiser Momentum 2.0g

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Rumour has it that a bunch of left-wing politicos were so moved by Sennheiser’s headphones that they set up Momentum. Whatever, we do know that these look great. £89 / sennheiser.com

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4 SoundMagic E50C

The E10C earphones are largely regarded as the best budget canal-bargers on the market. But why not go one better? The sound should be more refined, but the fit and finish is classier too. £59 / soundmagic headphones.com

[ Picture RGB Digital ]

5 Degauss Labs Noir

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Effortlessly hip, the Noirs come all the way from Sweden with dual drivers in each ear and a Volvo 240GLT Estate*. And what looks like the candy-iMac-era Apple font on the packaging. (*Volvo not included.) €99 / degausslabs.com

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DECIPHER ALLOW ME TO EXPLAIN…

Smart (looking) watch

FARER AUTOMATIC It’s hard to find the middle ground between acceptability and individuality. We will offer this advice: when all the media twits on TV are wearing smartwatches, it’s time to ditch that look and get a proper watch. Farer has managed to combine classy British design with a Swiss movement for its new £875 Automatic. It comes in a 39.5mm size, to suit every wrist, and three colours, to suit every palette. Unless you’ve swung too far towards individuality – you’re not going out like that, are you? £875 / farer.com

#16 APPLE’S UPGRADE PROGRAMME Rob Leedham, Editor Phone contracts are expensive and convoluted, everyone knows that. But if you’re anything like me, you’ll still sign up to a new one every two years. Because, like a hamster on a wheel, what choice do we have? Enter Apple’s Upgrade Programme, which launched in the UK alongside the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus – a scheme whereby you pay monthly for your iPhone and can upgrade to the latest model every year. Sounds like a huge improvement on your usual £40-a-month ritual, right? Given Apple’s ability to squeeze every penny from its users, I was sceptical about how much of a good deal this would be… then did the maths and screwed my face up in astonishment. Because, if you don’t have the spare cash swilling about to afford a new iPhone, Apple’s Upgrade

PAY MONTHLY FOR YOUR iPHONE AND YOU CAN UPGRADE TO THE LATEST MODEL EVERY YEAR

Coding can be addictive

CUBETTO This is a game for all the family. Not because Mum and Dad will be challenged by the basic coding gameplay, but because they’ll be enraptured by the build quality of the wooden instruction board, the wheeled robot that executes those instructions, and the cloth bag that holds the instruction tiles. And the instructions! So nicely designed. The kids are having fun, but Mum and Dad are paying them no heed, talking about how Kickstarter campaigns can turn out well and maybe they should revisit their own idea… £199 / primotoys.com

Programme really is the next best option. Compared to a standard contract, it could save you a little over £100 over two years when combined with a SIM-free network contract for calls, texts and data. So what’s the catch? The Upgrade Programme is best suited to iOS acolytes, so if you’re likely to have your head turned by something like Samsung’s Galaxy S8 then you’re unlikely to make a saving. Also, every time you upgrade to a new iPhone you sign on with a contract that keeps you married to Apple for another couple of years. For anyone firmly on Team iPhone, though, this is a deal well worth checking out.

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B E S T O F

EXTRAVAGANT ESTATES Time to ditch that dowdy SUV for a leaner, meaner fastback. But which?

MORE FRIENDLY

Mercedes-Benz E-Class All Terrain Admit it: your SUV wasn’t that practical. Hefting bags into the boot was a bore, and Timmy needed a ladder to get in the back. This low-slung Merc is way more accessible, though it can raise its skirts by 35mm on demand. And just look at that interior! (No muddy shoes, please.) £45,000 / mercedes-benz.co.uk

MORE FEISTY

MORE FRUGALLY?

Mini Clubman JCW

Ferrari GTC4Lusso T

Plus your SUV was painfully ponderous. It was like a wheeled marshmallow, built to generate ongoing sickbag sales. Not so this works edition of Mini’s Clubman estate. A turbo two-litre petrol engine makes 228bhp and 258lb ft of torque, with suspension so sporting… well, you might have to get the kids cushions. £29,345 / mini.co.uk

And hardly economical either, that SUV. So out goes the unnecessary weight and noxious dumptruck diesel; in comes Ferrari’s frugal new Lusso T. It drops the full-fat Lusso’s V12 and four-wheel drive for rear drive and, um, a 3.8-litre V8. Not that economical, then, but it does have four seats and a boot! (And 200mph.) £tba / ferrari.com

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S T A R T M E N U

ST KIC AR K TE R

The latest startups, crowdfunded projects and plain crazy ideas

No need to reinvent the door

DING Yeah, you could rig up a Heath Robinson affair where pushing the doorbell moves a thing that thwacks a thing that releases the dog that eats the food that unweights a thing that unlocks the door. You could do that, yeah. Or you could back Ding. It’s a battery-powered doorbell that wirelessly connects to a portable speaker (Chime) or to the Ding app on your phone. You speak to the person at the door and establish whether you’re in or not. No cameras, no smart locks, no dog-thwacking – just the essentials of door management, so subtly refined that John Lewis and the Design Council have both given it a nod of approval. from £92 / dingproducts.com BACK IT STACK IT

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’Book booster

A Psion of the times

I’m swinging in the snow

LIFT

OCKEL SIRIUS A

Yeah, you could get the slipcase and the tote bag and the expedition rucksack and the carry-on-approved wheely suitcase. You could get those, yeah. Or you could get this artistically minimalist MacBook case. Industrial wizardry makes the back of your ’Book rise up on opening, for ergo-awesomeness.

Yeah, you’re geeked right up. You’ve got the £800 phone, that tablet with the keyboard case, and your laptop for ‘proper’ work. You’re sorted. Or you could save a bit of weight: a Windows 10, Intel Atom, 4GB RAM and 64GB SSD mini-computer with 6in screen, USB, DisplayPort and HDMI for connecting to hotel room TVs.

WOLFFEPACK SUMMIT

£tba / zenlet.co

US$499 / ockelcomputers.com

ST KIC AR K TE R

ST KIC AR K TE R

I GONDI GOE-

ST KIC AR K TE R

SACK IT

Handy feet replacement

MOON MO-1

Yeah, bags are a bummer on a ski lift, so you could load up your ski jacket with all the stuff you’ll need and then have a fall and feel that screwdriver skewer your spleen. Or there’s this: the entire bag section releases on demand so you can swing it around and attach it to the front of the straps.

Yeah, standing stock-still at the front of the stage with all your FX pedals would be cool. That’d look well pro. Until you need to go and slap the drummer, or the smoke machine goes mad and you can’t see your feet. Or there’s this: remote switching for stompboxes and amp channels, by app or by the guitar-mounted Aero controller.

from £99 / wolffepack.com

from $69 / aalbergaudio.com


Designed for listening The new CM Series loudspeakers are undoubtedly beautiful, capable of gracing any room with their clean lines and high-quality finishes. But as with all Bowers & Wilkins loudspeakers form must follow function, and thanks to our Decoupled Double Domes and tweeter-on-top technology you won’t believe how beautiful your music can sound. bowers-wilkins.com

Decoupled Double Dome tweeter


G A M E S

DUE 11 NOV

STUFF’S CHRISTMAS WISHLIST DISHONORED 2

DEAD RISING 4

WATCH DOGS 2

STEEP

TITANFALL 2

PS4, Xbox One, PC

Xbox One, PC

PS4, Xbox One, PC

PS4, Xbox One, PC

PS4, Xbox One, PC

Each sequel becomes more preposterous: anti-zombie weapons now include a firework gun, a fire-breathing triceratops head and a crossbow that fires candy canes. Well, it is nearly Christmas. There’s also a new exo suit that can be donned to wield heavier items and pull stuff out of the ground to hit zombies with. Obviously.

If you’re going to make a game about hacking, it makes sense to set it in San Francisco rather than Stevenage, and that’s why Watch Dogs 2 takes place in the tech mecca. Shady corporations have hijacked the OS that connects everything and you must take it down. Think Anonymous meets GTA V with 3D printers, VR headsets and drones.

Most open-world games take place in cities full of cars, people and other stuff to show off how alive the environment is. Steep prefers the isolation of a mountain, allowing you to ski, snowboard, parachute or don a wingsuit. When you do meet others you can choose to race them or just traverse the peaks together.

Yes, it’s no longer an Xbox exclusive: PS4 owners can now also jump aboard a massive mech and stomp around blowing the crap out of other robots. Pilots now have more titans with deadlier weapons to choose from, with one wielding a huge sword, while another can hover over its prey raining down death and destruction from the air.

With its steampunk technology and impractical hats, Dishonored’s Dunwall was one of the more memorable game worlds of recent years. The sequel moves south to Karnaca, 15 years after the events of the first game. You play as either previous hero Corvo Attano or newcomer Emily Kaldwin, two assassins with access to an arsenal of supernatural abilities – Corvo’s upgraded to bodyswapping, with each new host changing the story. Changing weather should also be taken into account when deciding how to tackle missions. A dust storm makes for convenient cover, after all.

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FIRST PLAY NEW POKÉ: WORTH A GO?

POKÉMON SUN & MOON Nintendo 3DS If Pokémon GO was a hit because it took a classic formula and updated it with augmented reality smarts, Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon cannot claim to be anywhere near as bold. Set in the new Alola region – a collection of five islands populated by humans, Pokémon and new Ultra Beasts – the story here is almost inconsequential. What

works about these games is their structure. Pokémon are now gendered, can be bred, belong to almost 20 types and can attain temporary Mega Evolution status. Any player will have to think about the way they raise their team, fill their Pokédex and battle to the status of master. You can also raise your Pokémon without having to walk 10,000 steps a day, so that’s a bonus. At present, the main changes appear to be cosmetic, like a Pokédex that can talk to you and a Pokémon Snap-style Poké Finder mode that allows you to grow your social following in return for cute photos of a Pikachu. That makes Sun and Moon different enough for regulars, but plenty familiar to anyone who’s had their Poké passion reawakened by GO.

DUE 23 NOV

PLAY IT AGAIN, MAN NEW REMASTERS

THE ELDER SCROLLS 5: SKYRIM SPECIAL EDITION PS4, Xbox One, PC Skyrim’s five years old now, so those magnificent vistas that were so breathtaking in 2011 aren’t quite so impressive in a world of 4K and HDR gaming. This new version not only fixes that but also adds all three DLC packages, so you’ve got another excuse to head to Tamriel and not come out again for months.

BATMAN: RETURN TO ARKHAM PS4, Xbox One The Dark Knight’s two Arkham games were never pigs to look at in the first place, but there’s no doubt Gotham’s premier nuthouse does benefit from a bit of extra spit ’n’ polish. All the DLC is included, so while it might not be worth playing all the way through again, it’s a no-brainer if you happened to miss out the first time around.

CALL OF DUTY: MODERN WARFARE REMASTERED PS4, Xbox One, PC You’ll need to shell out for one of the pricey editions of Infinite Warfare to get your hands on the spruced-up version of Modern Warfare, but foxtrot hotel it looks worth the cash. It’s had a complete graphical overhaul, so it looks like it was made yesterday… but more importantly, it’s arguably the best CoD game ever made.

INCOMING DECEMBER OTHE LAST GUARDIAN JANUARY ORESIDENT EVIL 7 OHITMAN: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON FEBRUARY OFOR HONOR OSEA OF THIEVES OSNIPER ELITE 4

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27th ROMESH RANGANATHAN: IRRATIONAL BELFAST WATERFRONT ‘Irrational’ would be getting a flight or a ferry just to go to a comedy gig, even if one of the topics is likely to be ‘iPhone vs Android’. But you can rationalise it by bolting on that visit to Belfast you’ve always talked about.

O NEXT ISSUE January Christmas ’16: can you feel its presents? On sale 1/12/16

YOUR MONTH

NOV

21st DOCTOR WHO: THE POWER OF THE DALEKS DVD O REGENERATE! This was the first story with a Time Lord regeneration… and the actor swap that this conveniently allowed.

This six-episode story had its only airing in 1966 before being carelessly junked by BBC staff in the ’70s. Oops. But now it’s back, as a specially commissioned animation. The BBC Store will be showing episodes from early November, before releasing this DVD edition.

10 years ago Nintendo Wii Sports

THEN

Remember, remember

NOW

Sony PlayStation VR £349

4th 9th 1989: fall of the Berlin Wall

17th 18th

NOW CHRISTINE AND THE QUEENS MANCHESTER O2 APOLLO Your kids will ask: “Where were you when Christine played her four winter UK shows?” You’ll say: “I was at home, listening to Laurie Anderson.” They’ll look at you, like, “What?”

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HELLO, IS THIS PLANET EARTH? TIM PEAKE Watch this: Deutschland ’83 DVD, All 4

Ha! Now the mirrored veil falls: science’s golden child has cobbled together a Christmas cash-in book of space photos. What’s that? Tim’s donating all his profits to charity? Blast.

O OR… Blot out the Potter with Metallica’s new smasher: Hardwired... to SelfDestruct.

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM Also known as Fantastic Franchises and How to Monetise Them. And yet, as outwardly we snort, we’re quietly tapping the wands we’ve Pi-modded to make repeated preorder ticket requests for this year’s JK Rowling fantasy spectacular.


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N TOTAL PRIZE VALUE £1500 (TV not included)

The Jungle Book available from 25 December

WIN 12 MONTHS OF SKY Q WITH ULTRA HD PLUS AN LG SOUNDBAR Some people want the moon on a stick. We can’t help with that – the moon is actually a lot further away than it looks, and anyway we’re clean out of sticks – but if you’re lucky we might be able to give you the Sky in a box. Sky Q, that is – meaning an unrivalled selection of on-demand television in blisteringly sharp Ultra HD. This month’s competition winner gets a full year of Sky Q viewing, including the Sky Cinema package, and the best bits will be in Ultra HD if you’ve got a 4K TV. The prize also includes the Sky Q 2TB box and installation, plus an LG SH6 soundbar worth £399. The Sky Cinema package brings you over 1000 movies on demand, and a new premiere every day. This Christmas you can look forward to a host of big premieres including Disney’s The Jungle Book and Zootropolis, plus Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War. You can even watch Moon, but you’ll have to provide your own stick. Find out more at sky.com 38

HOW TO ENTER For your chance to jump the Q, just go to stuff.tv/win and answer this question:

THE JUNGLE BOOK PREMIERES THIS CHRISTMAS ON SKY CINEMA. WHERE IS IT SET? A … In Dundee HURRY! COMPETITION B … In the jungle CLOSES C … In a dystopian future 8 DECEMBER world policed by sinister 2016 animatronic bears Terms & conditions 1 Open to UK residents aged 18 or over. 2 Entries close 11.59pm, 8 Dec 2016. 3 Prizes are as stated. 4 Prizes are non-transferable. 5 Only one entry per person. 6 Competition is open to new and existing Sky customers. For full Haymarket and Sky terms & conditions see stuff.tv/win Promoter: Haymarket, 69 London Road, Twickenham TW1 3SP


YOU KNOW YOU CAN’T BE TRUSTED. ONE IN FOUR PEOPLE BREAK THEIR NEW PHONE WITHIN A MONTH.

IF YOU TRUST ANYONE WITH YOUR IPHONE 7, TRUST TECH21 TM

TECH21.COM


FIRST TEST SPECIAL PS VR

from £349 / stuff.tv/PlayStationVR

THE S PAT I A L O N E This is the virtual reality headset everyone’s been waiting for. So can Sony take your PlayStation 4 to another dimension? his is it. The big one. The headset that’s finally going to drag virtual reality into the mainstream. After all, if the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift are so awesome – and they are – why don’t more people have one? In a word, cost. The Rift will set you back £549, and a post-Brexit Vive is £769. And both will need a £1000+ PC to run them. Ouch. This is why VR fans have been slavering like hungry wolfhounds

[ Words Tom Parsons ]

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for the arrival of the PlayStation VR system. Designed to run on the standard PS4 already sitting under 45 million gamers’ tellies, it’s a steal compared to the Rift or Vive, but a huge step up from phone-based VR such as Samsung’s Gear or Google Cardboard. Sony’s got priors when it comes to launching great games alongside its new consoles; after all, that shiny hardware is pretty pointless without something to

show it off with. PS VR definitely delivers on that front – turn to p44 for our top picks from the launch line-up. So does all that make this the Goldilocks of virtual reality headsets? Not quite. Sony���s made no secret of the fact that PS VR’s specs are lower than those of the more expensive options, and no one’s going to be fooled into thinking a PS4 is as powerful as a £1000+ PC. Which means that, even

after going into this review expecting a somewhat more low-res experience (and prepared to forgive Sony for that given the lower price), it’s certainly not all sunshine and virtual lollipops inside Sony’s VR experience. PlayStation VR might be brilliant at times, yes, but it also seems to have a few teething problems. And unfortunately, they’re also ones that can’t be written off quite so easily…

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FIRST TEST SPECIAL PS VR

1 Heads up

2 Box to box

Kept on your head by a sort of halo that places the weight on your crown rather than your brow and nose, this is properly comfy to wear. Plus, the blue lights around its goggles and rear band make the thing look like a Tron prop – and that can only be a good thing.

There’s a lot involved in getting your PS VR headset ready. That’s mostly because you don’t plug it directly into your PS4, but instead into a Processor Unit that in turn connects to the main console and your TV. Though it’s designed to fit in with the PS4 family, the Unit feels light and plasticky.

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3 A whole new world On PS VR I’ve piloted tanks in Battlezone, played my part in a diamond robbery in VR Worlds and driven a McLaren P1 in DriveClub VR. Even though the hardware’s resolution can be a bit jaggedy, I was stunned by how smooth and fast these experiences were.

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4 You’re not alone

5 Silver scream

Strapping a screen to your face isn’t very ‘social’, so that’s why PS VR’s Processor Unit will send a feed of what you’re watching to your TV. Surrounded by killer clowns in Until Dawn: Rush of Blood? Don’t worry. All your mates will be able to see just why you’re wailing like a baby.

PS VR isn’t only good for, y’know, VR. Switch on Cinematic Mode and you can play any PS4 game on a screen the size of a house. The same goes for streaming Netflix, YouTube and any video app. Be warned: sinking back into zombie epic The Last of Us like this was a bit… intense.

Good Meh Evil

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20 hours with PlayStation VR

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FIRST TEST SPECIAL PS VR

Tech specs Display 5.7in OLED, 1920x1080 Refresh rate 90-120Hz Field of view 100° approx Sensors Accelerometer, gyroscope Connectivity HDMI, USB Headset dimensions 187x185x277mm (excludes largest projection), 610g (excludes cable) Processor Unit dimensions 143x36x143mm (excludes largest projection), 365g

Unmissable visceral peripherals So you’ve got a PS VR and reckon you’re all good, right? Wrong. You’ll need these two extras as well…

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6 Looking shifty

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At times there’s some wobble to the image, which can be jarring, particularly when playing a standing game such as Arkham VR. We’ve also found the image shifting a fraction to the left or right while playing. Neither of these issues does much to help with your immersion.

6hrs

9hrs

10hrs

16hrs

PlayStation Camera

PlayStation Move

If you don’t already have a PS Camera (and who does?), this one’s identical to the old model in terms of specs but has a neater design. It’s this bit of tech that tells your PlayStation what you’re looking at in the virtual world by tracking the headset’s blue lights. Sony’s guidelines say you need to be at least 2ft from the camera and no more than 9.6ft away. In standing games, it’s easy to stretch beyond the camera’s vision and find something’s out of your reach – shattering the illusion around you. £39 / playstation.com

While you can play plenty of PS VR titles with your standard DualShock 4 pad, many games are best enjoyed with a pair of Move controllers. In fact, if you’re playing Arkham VR and London Heist without them, you’re going to feel like a chump. As daft as waving two light-up wands might look, they’re an infinitely more tactile way to enjoy PS VR. From tossing a batarang at foes to grabbing coloured blocks in Tumble VR, the Move controllers do their best to convince you those actions are for real. £26 each / playstation.com

Right now, there’s lots of fun to be had with PS VR, but also a fair few flaws to be aware of. Aside from the issues with its camera and motion controllers, there are too few killer games for us to wholeheartedly recommend owning this system. The price may be right, but the experience isn’t quite there yet. @tomparsons

STUFF SAYS +++,, Despite Sony’s best efforts, the HTC Vive remains the best VR experience around

20hrs 43


FIRST TEST SPECIAL PS VR

GAME ON... A headset’s only as good as what you see on it – so which of the PlayStation VR’s games offer the most worthwhile experiences in all those extra dimensions? Batman: Arkham VR Arkham VR puts you right into the mask, gloves and muscularly sculpted chestpiece of the Caped Crusader, with a focus on his detective skills rather than his fists. As you attempt to solve the brutal murder of Nightwing, you’ll solve puzzles and uncover clues using a variety of gadgets, and meet some famous supervillains. It’s an amazingly cinematic experience – and while it’s short, you will be wowed. £15 / amazon.co.uk

Battlezone This has seemed ripe for VR since the original launched in 1980. With an excellent Tron aesthetic and a smooth, weighty feel, the arena-like levels provide ample opportunity to turn enemy tanks, drones and flying things into bright explosions. £24 / amazon.co.uk

RIGS: Mechanised Combat League RIGS is a first-person, mechbased mixture of death match and future sport, exclusive to PS VR. Teams of players are split before each chooses a mech. Your task is to score ‘goals’ by leaping through a ring. £49 / playstation.com

Until Dawn: Rush of Blood A spin-off from last year’s surprise horror hit for PS4, on-rails shooter Rush of Blood combines a thirst for jump scares with a dilapidated theme-park setting. The schlocky result is best enjoyed with a gaggle of mates. £15 / playstation.com

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes Proving that VR doesn’t have to be a solitary experience, this finds you staring at a randomly generated bomb. Meanwhile, your nearby friends are looking at a manual and must walk you through the disarming process. £10 / playstation.com

Job Simulator The year is 2050 and robots now do all of the blue-collar work. To learn what it was like to have a job, humans enter a simulator and are given an interactive history lesson by JobBot. There are four roles, including office worker and mechanic, all of them hilarious. £23 / playstation.com

VR Worlds A collection of mini games might not sound like the most compelling purchase for your new VR headset, but the experiences contained in VR Worlds are so damned awesome as to demand your time and money. Even if all you got was the London Heist portion, where you’re dropped into the shoes of a Cockney jewel thief, it would be hard to resist. For £24, it’s well worth the purchase. £24 / amazon.co.uk

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Eve: Valkyrie An action-packed first-person dogfighting spin-off from the huge Eve Online MMO, this is everyone’s Battlestar Galactica fantasies made real. Rather than boring blackness, battles take place above beautiful planets, or in the middle of a fleet of ships. £59 / amazon.co.uk


C A P T URE D BY M A R C R UF F INI


Your home, alive with music

Experience at John Lewis, selected Apple stores and our network of specialist audio retailers.

AirPlay is a trademark of Apple Inc.

naimaudio.com

Channelling forty years of audio engineering, we present Mu-so. A range of compact, yet commanding wireless music systems, that will unleash you music wherever it’s stored, in breathtaking quality. Advanced connectivity includes AirPlay, Bluetooth®, Spotify Connect®, TIDAL, iRadio and multiroom streaming.


2016 GADGET AWARDS

GADGET AWARDS 2016 We present the pick of this year’s crop of smartphones, tablets, apps, headphones and more [ Photography Matt Beedle ]

INCLUDING

SMARTPHONE OF THE YEAR P48

HOME GADGET OF THE YEAR P54

DESIGN OF THE YEAR P62

GAME OF THE YEAR P64

SYSTEM CAMERA OF THE YEAR P68 47


2016 GADGET AWARDS

SMARTPHONE OF THE YEAR

ONEPLUS 3 Over the past ten years or so, Apple, Samsung and their ilk have conditioned us to believe that a high-end smartphone must cost the same as return flights to Rio. But OnePlus is more short-haul than red-eye, and with the OnePlus 3 it proved it could make a blower to match the high flyers for a package-holiday price. It might not quite match up to the best when it comes to the

camera, and it lacks a few of the fancy extras you get by shelling out for a Galaxy or an iPhone, but the OnePlus 3 excels in the areas that matter to most of us: performance, battery life and price. That makes it impossible not to recommend to, well, pretty much everyone. Which is exactly why it’s won this award. £329 / oneplus.net

SHORTLISTED

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Apple iPhone 7 Plus

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

Superb camera skills and superior battery life make this the iPhone to get – if you’ve got hands (and a wallet) that are big enough.

Bigger and bolder than ever before. If you’ve got the cash to burn, then this Samsung effort is a smartphone worth flaunting.

LG G5 First of a new kind of smartphone, the scale of the modular G5’s ambition is breathtaking. Technology is meant to inspire… and the G5 does.

Vodafone Smart Prime 7 Cheap? Yes. Cheerful? Undoubtedly. The Smart Prime 7 struts along with far greater style than it should given its price.

Why I disagree… This is a superb phone for an incredible price, but for me, the Galaxy S7 Edge’s gorgeous design, superior screen and camera come out on top. Esat Dedezade, Deputy Features Editor


2016 GADGET AWARDS

B E FO R E

AFTER

APP OF THE YEAR

PRISMA Back in July you probably noticed something happening to the photos in your Facebook feed. All your friends seemed to turn into A FLAGSHIP pound-shop Picassos, PHONE AT bargain-bin Botticellis HALF THE PRICE or money-off Monets. OF ITS RIVALS, Every picture had a surprisingly assured THE ONEPLUS 3 artistic flourish, and IS A RARE – until they learned BARGAIN how to turn it off – a watermark in the corner that said ‘Prisma’. Busted. Upload any square photo into

this app and it offers more than 30 filters to turn your pics into works of art. Except Prisma’s cleverer than that. It deconstructs each shot and uses artificial intelligence to put them back together again in the style of famous artists. You can tweak the intensity of the effect afterwards to prevent Prisma fatigue in your feed, but there hasn’t been this much technology passing for talent since the days of Hipstamatic. £free / iOS, Android

SHORTLISTED

Boomerang

Dark Sky

Part gif, part Vine, Instagram’s Boomerang app lets you shoot mini videos that bounce back and forth in a loop, offering a new perspective on your dinner snap.

The hyperlocal weather app brings its forecasting genius to Android… but its subscription payments system is irritating when iOS users only have to pay once.

Cardboard Camera Proof you don’t need an unwieldy camera rig to shoot in VR, Google’s app lets you make headsetfriendly photos using your phone.

Duo Got an Android phone, so you can’t FaceTime on iOS? Google’s crossplatform videocaller is sleeker than Skype and simpler than Hangouts.

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2016 GADGET AWARDS

Why I do agree… Drones normally mean one thing: crashes. But the Phantom 4’s obstacle avoidance and tracking tech mean you can just get on with flying the thing. Fraser Macdonald, Consulting Editor

THIS DRONE COMBINES SUPER-EASY FLYING WITH SUPER-TASTY 4K FOOTAGE

HI-FI GADGET OF THE YEAR

NAIM MU-SO QB Climb inside your handy time machine, travel backwards by just a few years and try to convince a serious audiophile that a less colourful version of the blocks Mario bashes his head on to find extra lives could replace their hi-fi. Chances are they would suffocate you on the spot with their cardigan and stuff an original pressing 50

of Neil Young’s Harvest in your mouth just to make sure you were actually dead. Naim’s Mu-so Qb might not hold such life-giving treasures inside as Mario’s favourite bonce-bonker, but it is a veritable box full of musical tricks. Using your phone as a controller, it will stream from Spotify, Tidal, internet radio stations or, if

you plug in an Ethernet cable, sources of hi-res audio. It’s not a loner either. Add other Qbs to the first and you can daisychain them together to form a cool multiroom music system. But, most importantly, it sounds totally spectacular, even if all you choose to play on it is the Mario theme tune. £595 / naimaudio.com


2016 GADGET AWARDS

AC T I O N C A M O F T H E Y E A R

DJI PHANTOM 4 You used to have to be a qualified 747 pilot to fly a drone without it looking like someone had put a dog in charge of the controls, but DJI’s Phantom 4 is so simple that even a dog could do it. Well, maybe a highly trained one. If those paws could operate a touchscreen, Rover could also use the Phantom’s new objecttracking system, which locks the camera onto a particularly gnarly subject and lets you concentrate

on manoeuvring it into place without having to worry you might miss the killer shot. It’ll even dodge obstacles that it detects in its way. Once you’ve got the hang of it, you can turn on sport mode and the Phantom 4 can now do nearly 50mph. Chuck in the solid 4K video that it shoots along the way, and this is a drone for amateurs and aces alike. £1169 / dji.com

SHORTLISTED

DJI Osmo The Osmo’s really in a category of its own: a gamechanging camera for amateur filmmakers seeking smooth, stable footage.

Yuneec Typhoon H A fantastic hexacopter that nails everything you’d expect from a camera drone – shame it takes so long to charge.

LG 360 Cam Image quality isn’t stellar, but this is currently one of the best and easiest ways to make 360° and VR videos.

GoPro Hero 4 Session The biggest name in action cameras just got smaller. It weighs next to nothing and is virtually impossible to destroy.

SHORTLISTED

Philips Fidelio E6

UE Roll 2

Sony PS-HX500

Dali Katch

A wireless speaker system with 5.1 surround sound, 4K pass-through, Spotify Connect, Google Cast and NFC phone pairing.

The waterproof, bungee-equipped speaker now goes louder and longer. It’s the Bluetooth speaker your holiday demands.

The techiest turntable ever? Sony’s spinner can be used to rip hi-res versions of your records. Read our review on p81.

A smart Dane that has Bluetooth packed in with its pairs of tweeters and woofers, plus support for Chromecast Audio.

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2016 GADGET AWARDS

SHORTLISTED

AKG K92 These on-ears would be hard to criticise if they cost twice the price. For £50, they’re one of the biggest audio bargains of the year.

YOU SHOULD GET AROUND 17 HOURS OF BATTERY LIFE FROM THESE COMFY CANS

SoundMagic E10C Nothing comes close to matching SoundMagic for the price, and these buds play nicely with Android and iPhone alike.

Apple AirPods

HEADPHONES OF THE YEAR

They weren’t the first, but Apple’s take on truly wireless in-ears are on track to take the cable-cutting tech into the mainstream.

BOWERS & WILKINS P7 WIRELESS Bowers & Wilkins make fantastic headphones, and the P7 Wireless are the cream of the crop. These over-ear cans look gorgeous in black leather and polished aluminium – just as you’d expect from B&W. They isolate you from the outside world with impeccable sound, and built-in Bluetooth means you don’t have to mess around with cables – or Lightning 52

adaptors, for anyone who’s picked up a jack-less iPhone 7. There’s enough battery life to get you through any long-haul flight, but you can also plug in and listen to gadgets that don’t have any wireless tech. These are fantastic all-rounders that really sound as good as they look, if not even better. £319 / bowers-wilkins.co.uk

Sony MDR-1000X Usurping Bose as the king of noisecancelling cans is no mean feat, but Sony has pulled it off with these wireless wonders.


The first 360° VR Action Cam in 4K #explorein360

Visit: www.kodakpixpro.com/Europe


2016 GADGET AWARDS

HOME GADGET OF THE YEAR

SHORTLISTED

AMAZON ECHO Amazon’s haunted Pringles tube might not be able to pour you a drink, but it’s the closest we’ve come to having a robot butler. “Alexa, turn the heating up,” you can bark, and the AI-powered voice inhabiting the Echo will talk to your Nest and whack a couple of degrees onto the thermostat. Got Hue bulbs? She can turn those on and off too. In fact, she can order takeaways from Just Eat, update shopping lists, or find out who West Ham are going to lose to at the weekend. Since Amazon opened up the Echo to developers, its skills have expanded, although it can still do the basics like playing Spotify, setting timers and updating your calendar. Hey Amazon, here’s an idea: make the next Echo more mobile by mounting it on a robot vacuum cleaner. £149 / amazon.co.uk

S H O R T L I ST E D

Dyson 360 Eye

Philips Hue 2

It might not be perfect but its camera, those tank tracks and the Dyson Link app mean the 360 Eye is the best robot vac you can buy.

Who knew connecting bulbs to the internet could be this much fun? Philips just keeps making its Hue lighting system better.

Nest 3.0

Netatmo Welcome

Nest’s selfteaching brain has been imitated but, in our opinion, never bettered – and version 3.0 put it even further ahead of the pack.

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A smart sentry for your hallway: once the Welcome has remembered your usual suspects it’ll recognise their faces every time.

Fitbit Alta This good-looking wristband tracker gets the basics right, making it perfect for casual gym-goers and those who need extra motivation.

Under Armour Speedform Gemini 2 Record Under Armour’s smart shoes track all your workouts with clever Bluetooth tech.

Withings Body Cardio The smartest scales you can buy don’t look half bad. Losing weight’s one thing; these ensure you’re set up to stay healthy.

Wahoo Kickr Turbo trainers are great for cycling through winter, and the new Kickr is the very best. Use it with Zwift for online multiplayer cycle training.


2016 GADGET AWARDS

THE GARMIN’S HIGH-RES TOUCHSCREEN IS DESIGNED FOR EASY READING IN SUNLIGHT

Why I disagree… The Vivoactive HR has packed in pretty much every feature you could want, except one: desirability. Call me shallow, but I’ll be saving for an Apple Watch 2. Mark Wilson, Features Editor

HEALTH & FITNESS GADGET OF THE YEAR

GARMIN VIVOACTIVE HR Does anyone need a more comprehensive fitness watch than the Vivoactive HR? Unless you’re running ultra marathons, we don’t think so. It’s got the lot: heart-rate monitoring, step and sleep tracking, detailed workout recordings and an inactivity alarm to remind you to get up off the sofa. Sure, it’s got a bit of an Asbo-chic vibe, but seeing as

it keeps ticking for a whole week between charges, it gets a pass in the style stakes. It has GPS and an altimeter, and it’ll even keep track of skiing and snowboarding. Oh, and it’s got all the smartphone notifications and alerts you could want. For the cash, there’s not a lot out there that’s this thorough. £189 / garmin.com

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2016 GADGET AWARDS

WAT C H O F T H E Y E A R

A P P L E W AT C H S E R I E S 2 Let’s be honest, Apple’s first Watch had its share of detractors. But rather than wafting away complaints of slow apps and so-so fitness smarts, tech’s biggest behemoth just went back to the drawing board and made it better. How? By upping its sporty credentials beyond compare. Thanks to the addition of waterproofing, GPS and a much faster S2 chipset, this all-rounder can see off competition from Fitbit, Samsung and whoever else comes for its crown. Ultra marathon runners will probably prefer top-end Garmin or Polar watches, but this is a spot-on device for intermediate sweat-hounds. And if you just want a nice gadget that will make you feel less attached to your smartphone? WatchOS 3’s updated take on flick-of-the-wrist notifications is just the ticket. Haters be damned. We’re properly excited to see where Apple takes its Watch next. from £269 / apple.com

S H O R T L I ST E D

Fitbit Blaze

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Withings Activité Pop

Fitbit’s first crack at a smartwatch/ exercise tracker won us over with accurate heart-rate tracking, multisport modes and an easy interface.

A smart, simple activity tracker that’s waterproof and lasts for eight whole months, this is a winning wearable.

Mondaine SBB stop2go

Garmin Vivomove

Because not all watches have to be smart. This borrows its classy aesthetic from the clocks at Swiss railway stations.

Behind its innocent face lies fitness wizardry – and a year of battery life. Proof you can have your techy cake and eat it.


2016 GADGET AWARDS

READERVOTED Full results at Stuff.tv

TV SHOW OF THE YEAR

GAME OF THRONES Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter may have made fantasy acceptable to the mainstream, but it was Game of Thrones that made it cool. Six plot-dense seasons have so far charted the rise and fall of claimants to the Iron Throne, never tiring of gleefully flinging your way

scenes packed full of blood, politics, swords, sex and dragons – often at the same time. Superb casting helps, not least Peter Dinklage’s scheming Tyrion Lannister. The sets and effects are also dazzling, major battles appearing to have been wrenched wholesale from expensive movies rather than being episodes of a mere TV show. But revelling in the unexpected is what keeps Game of Thrones compelling. From a shocking beheading early on to horrifying, scandalous betrayals that occur at regular intervals, it’s clear all bets are off. No one is safe: keep your eyes glued to the screen.

S H O R T L I ST E D

YOU CAN MIX AND MATCH FROM A HUGE RANGE OF CASES, STRAPS AND FACES

Stranger Things

Preacher

Daredevil

Mr Robot

Set in 1983 and channelling Spielberg, this creepy series features kids searching for a vanished chum.

The Garth Ennis comic explodes onto the screen. Its mix of gore, glee and guns enthralls, despite a sense of shallowness.

Marvel’s grittiest outpost finds the blind superhero lawyer continuing to duff up baddies, with The Punisher now in the mix.

Mr Robot’s world of dark technology, hacking and social disorder is peppered with weirdness. Smart and essential.

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2016 GADGET AWARDS

TV GADGET OF THE YEAR

SKY Q If the mission statement for the Sky Q read: ‘Make the Sonos of TV’, then there should be a big ‘MISSION ACCOMPLISHED’ stamped across it by now. It might be pricey (when has Sky ever been cheap?) but the shiny, swipey interface alone makes every other telly box out there look ancient. The addition of two extra Mini boxes that use the main 2TB

Silver box as a hub (which can record four shows at once while you watch a fifth), plus streaming to tablets (which can save stuff offline to watch on the go), means you barely have to go a moment without access to the latest episode of GoT. Throw in Ultra HD and, if TV is the altar you worship at, there’s no other god. from £54/month + installation / sky.com

S H O R T L I ST E D

Amazon Fire TV 4K Fast, powerful and one of the few ways to get 4K without spending a fortune.

Xbox One S The cheapest 4K Blu-ray player also doubles as a games console that’ll upscale to Ultra HD with HDR.

THE SKY Q 2TB BOX WILL STORE UP TO 350 HOURS OF TV IN FULL HD… THAT’LL BE WAY LESS IN 4K

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Panasonic DMP-UB900 4K streaming is great but you can’t beat Ultra HD off a disc. This delivers detail in buckets.

Sky Now TV You don’t have to shell out on a subscription for sport and movies: the Now TV box is a fine all-rounder.


SHORTLISTED

Samsung UE55KS7000 £1299 is a lot of money, but it’s good value for a 55in 4K telly with HDR support – especially when it performs this well.

Philips 65PUS8901 Slapping nine projectors on the back of your TV to extend the edges of the screen into a light show takes some beating.

THE BUILT-IN SOUNDBAR IS MUCH PUNCHIER THAN NORMAL FLATSCREEN SPEAKERS

Samsung UE65KS9000

TV OF THE YEAR

OLED is ace, but expensive. So this huge, curved LCD set from Samsung, way cheaper than the LG, is darned tempting.

LG O L E D 6 5 E 6 V You could probably buy a decent second-hand car for the price of LG’s whopping OLED set, but what the E6V lacks in wheels, seats and an engine it makes up for in… telly stuff (plus you can’t hang a 2007 Prius on the wall and watch Mr Robot on it). This isn’t even LG’s most expensive model – that honour goes to the G6 Signature – but that doesn’t mean the E6V has a second-rate spec sheet. It’s no

secret that OLED tech gives you the best 4K picture, but it’s also the LG’s HDR performance that makes it a winner, plus its WebOS interface is better than ever. Feed the E6V an Ultra HD Blu-ray to watch and there’s even a chance you’ll never see the inside of a cinema again. It looks the part too: an imposing slab of thin glass anchored in place by a thicker soundbar base. £4499 / lg.com

Panasonic TX-58DX802 This 58in set delivers awesome 4K images complete with HDR, and has a rather smashing built-in soundbar. 59


2016 GADGET AWARDS

SHORTLISTED

ST R E A M I N G S E R V I C E O F T H E Y E A R

NETFLIX Bake Off aside, is there anything you need a normal TV channel for any more? Sure, there’s the news, but you get all that online. Sport? Who’s got time to watch a bunch of millionaires kick a ball around a field when there’s a new series of Narcos? If there’s a show worth wasting eye time on, chances are it’s a Netflix exclusive, whether it’s the supernatural nostalgia of Stranger Things, the horrifying whodunnit of Making a Murderer or the brutal justice of Daredevil. With its original shows available in

4K and HDR, it’s even leading the way when it comes to TV tech – so while Sky’s Now TV can easily compete on content, its 720p streams look positively ancient in comparison. from £7.50/month

S H O R T L I ST E D

Amazon Instant Video Mr Robot is a must-see show, while 4K and HDR mean Amazon keeps pace with Netflix. It just can’t quite compete on originals.

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Tidal

Spotify

NowTV

Hi-res audio and exclusives from some of the biggest musical artists in the world aren’t quite enough to make up for Tidal’s lack of extras.

Spotify still offers the best when it comes to music streaming, but nothing it’s done this year has wowed us in the way Discover Weekly did.

Arguably offering the best range of movies, TV and sports of any subscription service, it only falls down when you look at the resolution.

Apple MacBook

Dell XPS 13

This refreshed version of the 12in MacBook is beautiful – and backs up its looks with speedy processors.

This 11in Ultrabook has enough power, connectivity and stamina to be your favourite new Windows 10 workhorse.

HP Spectre

Dell Chromebook 13

The world’s thinnest laptop until pipped by Acer’s Swift 7… and better than its namesake Bond film.

Sitting at the premium end of the Chromebook spectrum, this Dell has a fantastic 1080p display.


2016 GADGET AWARDS

COMPUTER OF THE YEAR

A P P L E i PA D P R O 9. 7 I N Tablets looked to be heading for extinction, squeezed out of the gene pool by powerful phones and ludicrously thin Ultrabooks. But after a bit of clever selective breeding, Apple has made a new beast that’s now king of Stuff’s computing jungle. The smaller iPad Pro is the best blend of lie-back consumption device and serious content creator that we’ve used. Its 6mm-thick frame packs some real power,

THE iPAD PRO HAS THE POWER TO EAT UP WORK TASKS AND A TOP SCREEN FOR ENTERTAINMENT

enough to edit three 4K movies simultaneously or record a Spotify smash in GarageBand. And the optional Smart Keyboard (£149), while not quite forgiving enough for writing your memoirs, is great for bashing out emails. Throw in a stunning 264ppi screen with new True Tone tech that adjusts white balance to suit your surroundings, and you have computing’s finest all-rounder. from £549 / apple.com Why I do agree… Is it a tablet or a computer? Both, fool! This iPad excels at such computery things as web browsing, social media and TV. Marc McLaren, Stuff.tv Editor

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2016 GADGET AWARDS

IT’S AN ELECTRIC SUV WITH 4WD AND ROOM FOR SEVEN PEOPLE… AND IT DOES 155MPH

DESIGN OF THE YEAR

IMPOSSIBLE PROJECT I-1 There are plenty of Polaroid cameras still in the world, and they all owe their continuing functionality to the Impossible Project – which rescued the original manufacturing machines from a crusher, and now markets new cartridges and refurbished cameras to enthusiasts. But this year, Impossible realised its dream by releasing an entirely 62

new camera. In fact it’s the first Polaroid-style instant camera to be launched in over 20 years, with a smart matt black finish and lens-surrounding LED ring flash. It also features Bluetooth and an app for remote triggering, manual settings and extra craziness such as double exposures. But the basic instant fun is there: the click and buzz of the

mechanism followed by the extruded photo and the waving it about to make it develop. The only drawback? As with Polaroid cameras of yore, those prints aren’t free like digital images. £229 / impossibleproject.com


2016 GADGET AWARDS

CAR OF THE YEAR

SHORTLISTED

TESLA MODEL X Having glanced down at the list of ‘what you could’ve won’, it might come as a surprise that Tesla’s Model X has taken the chequered flag in this category. But think about it: it’s got gullwing doors. It can go up to 289 miles without needing to be recharged. And in Ridiculous mode it’ll do 0-62mph in 2.9 seconds. Not bad for something that’ll also own the school run and seat

seven adults – Tesla’s Model X is a true wolf in sheep’s underpants, and it’s helping to make electric cars practical. Sure, that bit’s not as exciting as the top speed or acceleration (or the gullwing doors), but what use is a V10 when the ice caps have melted and we’re 15ft underwater? Not even Audi makes a convertible submarine (yet). from £68,600 / tesla.com

Audi R8 V10 Plus Not only is this one of the fastest, sexiest and bestmade supercars on the planet; it’s also packed with tech, including the ace Virtual Cockpit.

Porsche 718 Cayman A fun and focused sports car that delivers thrills by the bucketload and has surprisingly techy infotainment on board.

Hyundai Ioniq

Jaguar F-Pace

The sleek Ioniq (which comes in both all-electric and hybrid versions) is more than just an excuse for Alanis Morissette jokes.

A wearable key, a remote control app and enough USB charging points for all the family – the F-Pace has the tech tricks to satisfy any geek.

S H O R T L I ST E D

Leica M-D

Atmo Sfera

Lenovo Yoga Book

This super-manual, display-less digital camera is too good an example of damn-the-cost design to ignore… even at over £4k.

“Where do you put the record?” is the kind of high design drama that crowdfunding was made for… and this is now being shipped.

Even if the Yoga Book’s haptic keyboard and real pen input turn out to be gimmicks, we salute it for daring to be different.

Amazon Kindle Oasis Once you feel the Oasis’s light materials and magnetic battery case, you’ll forget all about reading.

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2016 GADGET AWARDS

READERVOTED Full results at Stuff.tv

Why I do agree… HDR looks great on my PS4 Slim, so I can’t wait to try it properly upscaled to 4K on the PS4 Pro. The future’s here! Tom Parsons, Deputy Editor, Stuff.tv

GAME OF THE YEAR

UNCHARTED 4: A THIEF’S END A Thief’s End always looked certain to be spectacular, and sure enough, it’s the best game we played all year – and one of the best we’ve played any year. Naughty Dog is a master of its craft, as The Last of Us also proved, and Uncharted 4 sees the studio take the already smashing series formula and elevate it for Nathan Drake’s supposed goodbye tour. Drake’s skill set has been expanded without overburdening players, the set pieces are even more jaw-dropping than before,

and the graphics are incredible. Even the smallest moments – the quiet interactions between Drake and his wife or brother – are the most natural we’ve ever seen in a game. It’s a virtuoso creation. £34 / PS4

S H O R T L I ST E D

Overwatch PS4, PC, Xbox One Blizzard, of all studios, made an FPS – and it’s brilliant, with vivid team action and a dazzlingly diverse cast.

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Tom Clancy’s The Division PS4, PC, Xbox One A military shooter set in a postsmallpox New York City, it’s engrossing fun and stunning with it.

Forza Horizon 3 Xbox One, PC

No Man’s Sky PS4, PC

The best openworld racer shifts down to Oz for a romp filled with events, off-road antics and effortless online match-ups.

It might be this year’s most divisive game, but it’s filled with wonders. The vast universe can be cold and quiet, but the exploration is unparalleled.

READERVOTED Full results at Stuff.tv


2016 GADGET AWARDS

GAMES CONSOLE OF THE YEAR

S O N Y P L AY S TAT I O N 4 P R O The PS4 is already crushing it this console generation, offering the best exclusive games, performance and price out of the gate. So what did Sony do? Make the machine a whole lot better. The PlayStation 4 Pro doesn’t replace the three-yearold core console, which still has a lot of life left in it, but it does bring big enhancements for power players. Bumping games up into 4K, both natively and through clever upscaling, brings out a ton more

THIS IS THE MOST POWERFUL GAMES CONSOLE YET, AND THE FIRST TO OFFER 4K GAMING

detail and makes showcase titles look even more spectacular. And thanks to the added power of the console, PlayStation VR experiences will be even smoother and more immersive, helping Sony’s cheaper headset compete with the PC powerhouses. Microsoft’s Project Scorpio will probably put up a strong fight next year, but for now the PS4 Pro is the home console of choice for cutting-edge gaming at a reasonable price. £349 / playstation.com

S H O R T L I ST E D

HTC Vive

Nintendo Classic Mini

For the ultimate VR experience you have to try the Vive: the immersive fun is incredible. You’ll pay plenty for it, however.

Nintendo has loaded 30 games onto a tiny, HDMIequipped box for a special treat of take-anywhere 8-bit fun.

Microsoft Xbox One S

Sony PlayStation VR

The revised Xbox One has massive improvements: 4K streaming and Blu-ray movies, plus HDR and 4K upscaling.

Sony’s VR strategy doesn’t need a high-end PC, only a PS4: this headset is cheap and has the most exciting game selection.

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FO C A L

I

L I S T E N

Comfort, freedom and design, all combined in a pair of headphones. Listen is the realisation of mobile high-end audio. These headphones offer excellent insulation, optimal comfort and beautiful acoustic performance, for hours of intense music listening. Focal opens up a new world of emotion and feeling. Experience at your local Focal retailer: www.focal.com


2016 GADGET AWARDS

INDIE GAME OF THE YEAR

INSIDE The infinite universe of No Man’s Sky might’ve grabbed all the headlines, but it turns out the most affecting gaming experience of the year took place in just one tiny part of a dark and dangerous world. Inside’s side-scrolling story of a boy desperately evading capture as he explores a factory populated by brain-dead flesh vessels will stick with you. It’s beautifully bleak, with puzzles that balance perfectly on the tipping point between perplexing and satisfying. It’s not a long game (you’ll finish it in about four hours) but almost every moment is memorable. A classic in every respect. from £14.99 / PS4, Xbox One, PC

S H O R T L I ST E D Superhot

Firewatch

No Man’s Sky

Job Simulator

One of the slickest shooters for years. If only it were available on PS4 as well as Xbox One.

Set in the US wilderness, the story doesn’t quite match its visuals but it’ll hit you in the feels.

Could it ever have lived up to the hype? Probably not. It still dropped jaws, though.

Quirky, funny and enjoyable: a lighter side to the launch lineups of this year’s VR headsets.

MOBILE GAME OF THE YEAR

POKÉMON GO You know something’s up when, walking the dog on a Sunday in a usually human-free wilderness, you find dozens of people. Eyes glued to their phones, they pause only to flick the screen before erupting in a cheer or a groan. Then someone yelps “There’s READERone over there!” and the whole VOTED horde scarpers. Full results at Such is Pokémon GO. The Stuff.tv concepts are all simple: visit PokéStops to grab items, hunt and grab Pokémon by flicking Poké Balls at them, and use your collection to nab Pokémon Gyms from other players. But the game’s simple charms, social smarts and collector mentality captivated millions of players. Whether these will keep them hunting through a long, cold winter remains to be seen. £free / iOS, Android

S H O R T L I ST E D Clash Royale Real-time strategy in miniature combined with freemium done well. Tough to master.

Power Hover Hoverboard through a desolate world, pursuing the crim who stole your batteries.

Snakebird When gravity is added to classic Snake, the result is a sadistic, brilliant puzzler.

Telepaint Clockwork automaton paintpots dodder about in this oddball puzzle platformer.

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2016 GADGET AWARDS

SHORTLISTED

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV A 30.4MP fullframe sensor and 4K video are the headlines as the 5D just keeps getting better.

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Olympus Pen-F The new Pen-F matches stunning retro looks with a teeny metal body that somehow finds room for an OLED viewfinder.

Nikon D5

Sony A6300

If low-light shooting is your bag, the D5 can serve up decent shots at an incredible 409,600 ISO.

Fastest camera on Earth? That’s how Sony bills this, and we’re not arguing. Superb 24MP stills and 4K video are added bonuses.

S Y ST E M C A M E R A O F T H E Y E A R

F U J I F I L M X -T 2 Some people say the best camera is the one you have with you, but they’re WRONG. Well, unless you’re rocking the Fujifilm X-T2, in which case you do indeed have the best camera with you. We could wax lyrical about its stylish, weatherproof, all-metal body, and indeed we shall: it’s simply gorgeous. Or we could get excited about its new 24MP sensor, which takes pictures so sharp you could eat your

dinner off them. And then there are its oh-so-2016 4K video capabilities, plus an autofocus so quick and accurate it’s like the auto-aim feature in GTA V. But really, what we love most about the X-T2 – what makes us want to pick it up and take pictures with it – is all those dials and knobs you use to operate it. So much more fun than just prodding at a screen. £1399 / fujifilm.com


SHORTLISTED

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ100 This crams a 20MP 1in sensor with 10x optical zoom plus 4K video into a body that’ll easily slip inside a jacket.

Canon Powershot G9 X This diddy thing also has a 20MP 1in sensor, in a body that makes the Lumix above look like a brick. Great pictures too.

AFFORDABLE AND ULTRAPORTABLE, THE X70 TAKES SNAPS WORTHY OF A DSLR Sony RX10 III

C O M PAC T C A M E R A O F T H E Y E A R

We proclaimed last year’s RX10 II the best bridge camera ever, and the RX10 III is even better, with an extended 25x zoom and 4K video.

FUJIFILM X70 Lionel Messi. Prince. Paul Daniels. The Carolina Reaper chili pepper. All punch(ed) well above their tiny size – and to that list we can now add the Fujifilm X70. Alright, so it’s not quite as small as Paul Daniels, but considering it packs a DSLR-rivalling APS-C sensor, the fact that it will fit into your pocket is impressive. There’s a fixed 28mm-equivalent lens on the front, so you’ll have to zoom with your feet, but that’ll help you

both get some exercise and learn how to properly compose the shots you’re taking. The LCD screen flips out and around so you can get into all sorts of tight angles; and while there’s no viewfinder, one can be added into the hot shoe. The other best thing about it other than its size and image quality is the price: that’s impressively small too. £499 / fujifilm.com

Sony RX1R II Want the best compact on the planet? Look no further than the RX1R II. Check your bank balance first: it’s three and a half grand. Cripes!

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2016 GADGET AWARDS

GADGET OF THE YEAR

HTC VIVE Greatness rarely comes easily. You think those Jaffa Cakes the size of sombreros are easy to make? Hell no! So while getting the best out of HTC’s Vive might require a lot of patience, space and money, it’s the one gadget here that’s blown away every person who’s tried it. Not even the Note 7 managed that. You’ve also got to admire the chutzpah of a mobile phone

READERVOTED

Full results at Stuff.tv

READERS’ GADGET OF THE YEAR

ONEPLUS 3 Having won the Readers’ Gadget award for two years running, OnePlus could have been forgiven for taking 2016 off and having a nice rest. And then the OnePlus 3 came along… So good it’s a bit unfair, this phone peforms almost as well as the Samsung Galaxy S7 and costs roughly half the price. How do the other brands on the shortlist compete with that? Well, according to you lot, they don’t. The OnePlus 3 won this category by a landslide. It could be all change next year, as there’s plenty of brilliant new tech around the corner. Are we going to bet against the inevitable OnePlus 4, though? Obviously not. That’d be madness. £329 / oneplus.net

SHORTL ISTED

Amazon Echo Amazon Kindle Oasis Apple iPad Pro 9.7in Apple Watch Series 2 DJI Phantom 4 HTC Vive LG OLED65E6V Microsoft Xbox One S Sky Q 70

Why I do agree… Tech is meant to be inclusive, and I haven’t seen a gadget excite and unite Stuff HQ like the Vive did since we first got our Wii. A worthy Gadget of the Year. Tom Wiggins, Deputy Editor

company that wades into the untested waters of virtual reality and pretty much nails it first time. No, the Vive’s not perfect (even if it does let you pretend to be a Jedi), but the motion controllers and Lighthouse body trackers serve to make the VR experience that bit more real… and isn’t that what it’s all about? £759 / vive.com


2016 GADGET AWARDS

THE VIVE HAS FINALLY MADE VIRTUAL REALITY VIABLE AFTER DECADES OF FALSE STARTS

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TEST APPS

App:roved FOR WORDY WITS

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FOR TECHY TEAMS

FOR PUZZLY PUNKS

FOR KOOKY KINGS

O Scrivener

ODropbox Paper

O Deus Ex GO

O Reigns

If you’re armed with an iPad and aiming to be the next JK Rowling, you need Scrivener. The spit of its desktop cousin, it combines a capable rich-text editor, a ‘binder’ to stash research (PDFs, images, web links), a corkboard for arranging your story using draggable index cards, and lots of export options. It’s surprisingly capable on iPhone too, and syncs via Dropbox to the Mac/PC app – so now you can work on your bestseller or Ferret Uprising screenplay anywhere.

Designed to allow people to collaborate on documents and share ideas, Dropbox Paper feels like someone mashed iOS Notes into Google Docs. You get sleek editing (including tables), images that auto-arrange, rich content embeds and, inevitably, emojis. Notes can also be shared with colleagues to edit and comment on (such as: “Emojis? Really?”). Given the demise of Dropbox’s email client Mailbox, you might be reluctant to rely on Paper, but it’s too good to ignore.

Before long, every Square Enix console title will be transformed into a turn-based mobile puzzler where you scoot around nodes avoiding adversaries and making for an exit. This time it’s Adam Jensen’s turn, cyberpunking it up against hackable tech, stompy robots and guards who unsportingly stab you to death if you venture too near. Less fresh than the GO versions of Hitman or Lara Croft, this nonetheless does the business with its finely crafted brain-smashers.

You’ve played games before about ruling a kingdom, but we’ll bet none borrowed from Tinder’s interface. In Reigns, you make decisions by swiping left or right, constantly trying to appease the church, people, army and treasury. This is easier said than done. Annoy the people and they revolt; too many gold coins means a feast, resulting in death by gorging. The balancing act is compelling and there’s surprising depth here, along with a raft of missions to complete.

Stuff says +++++ £14.99 / iOS

Stuff says ++++, £free / Android, iOS

Stuff says ++++, £1.49 / Android O £3.99 / iOS

Stuff says +++++ £2.29 / iOS O £2.79 / Android


TEST APPS

Mini meme

OTender Given that many people love their stomach more than they love humans, it was inevitable an app would combine food and Tinder. So, in Tender, you swipe through recipe cards: left to discard, right to add to your cookbook. The app is underpinned by a social network, but mostly it’s about swiping and feeling guilty when ditching healthy dishes.

COOKIN’ RECIPE APPS Do too many virtual cooks spoil the broth? No, they just mean you’ll always be able to make something tasty without setting fire to the kitchen…

Stuff says +++,, £free / Android, iOS

OKitchen Stories Coming across like someone shoved a glossy foodie mag inside your device, Kitchen Stories is all gorgeous design and lush photography. The recipes are easy to follow, with huge photos. Video guides help you nail tricky procedures, and they blissfully lack an annoying chef trying to add a soupçon of ‘personality’ to the mix. Stuff says +++++ £free / Android, iOS

OPaprika

ONapkin Recipes

OEpicurious

OJamie Oliver’s

If you’re the kind of person who wants to pick and choose from dozens of online recipe sources, but your browser bookmarks are raging out of all control, get Paprika. You browse sites, pilfer recipes (which Paprika intelligently imports), and can edit the results if some twisted monster has said to use vegetable oil instead of butter.

Little more than a tech demo, Napkin is still worth a download to glimpse the future of cooking apps. Each step has a photo but is also read aloud; you can talk back, skipping steps and setting timers without covering your iPhone in honey. (Yes Chef runs with the same basic idea – and has 350,000 recipes – but with bare-bones steps.)

It might have an uninspiring interface and access to fewer recipes than rivals BigOven and Yummly, but Epicurious makes our list because it still has more dishes than you could ever hope to eat (35,000) and doesn’t faff about sending you to mobile websites for directions. And the search is smart – you can filter by food types and allergies.

Jamie’s been in the app game for years. This is a premium take on his free iOS app, providing 600 drool-extracting recipes for a fiver. You get loads of pics, short video tips from the master, and unintentionally funny semi-random nuggets of advice when working your way through a recipe. Pukka! Salt! Etc.

Stuff says ++++, £3.97 / Android O £3.99 / iOS

Stuff says ++,,, £free / iOS

Stuff says ++++, £free / Android, iOS, Win Phone

Stuff says +++++ £4.99 / iOS

Ultimate Recipes

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F I R S T T E S T PA N A S O N I C T X- 5 8 D X 8 0 2

Easelly impressed? Look beyond that arty-looking stand and you’ll find a 58in Panasonic TV with 4K, HDR and a punchy built-in soundbar 3 £1275 / stuff.tv/58DX802 You know how it is: a 55in TV won’t quite cut it for that ‘going to the cinema in your own home’ experience, but a 65in set is so big it blocks out the sun and all your house plants die. Enter Panasonic’s new, imaginatively sized 58in beauty. Size is not the only reason it’ll stand out in your living room, though – because this is one TV that looks a little different. It sits proudly on a stand resembling an artist’s easel. It looks spectacular, even if it doesn’t bring any obvious practical benefits: the angled frame holds the panel tightly in place, so swinging it playfully is not an option. Give it a prod and you’ll merely end up with a slightly bent finger. And it’s not all about the screen – the integrated soundbar below it pumps out audio to do your viewing sessions proud. It’s called, rather grandly, the ‘12 Train Prismatic Speaker’, and it’s packing two tweeters, four mid-range drivers and a healthy six woofers. Who says skinny tellies have to sound thin too?

1 Brokeback mounting The frame’s colossal size means you’ll probably be putting this TV on the floor. You can wall-mount, of course, but that would take away the impact of the stand. A thin brushed metal bezel frames the impressively large expanse of LED-backlit LCD screen. 2 Conan the soundbarbarian The soundbar plugs into a dedicated socket in the TV. Most flatscreen TVs are let down by feeble sound, but not this Panasonic. It provides loud, solid and clear audio that knocks most rivals’ efforts into the proverbial angled headgear. 3 To have and have nit The 802 sits one level down from Panasonic’s 902 flagship, so it doesn’t have the UHD Premium certification all the hardcore telly addicts are clamouring for. That means it can’t hit blinding 1000-nit peak brightness… but you’re hardly likely to notice.

1

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[ Words Tom Parsons ]

Good Meh Evil

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25 hours with the Panasonic TX-58DX802

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F I R S T T E S T PA N A S O N I C T X- 5 8 D X 8 0 2

4 The pursuit of appyness The 802 comes fully kitted out with apps for Netflix and Amazon Video. That means you can test out the best picture your new toy can provide within minutes of setting things up. There’s also a full suite of other TV apps backing up those heavy hitters.

5 The goblet of Firefox The operating system is powered by Firefox. It’s simple to find your way around, the icons are easy on the eye, and you can customise it all with a few prods on the remote. Panasonic is promising software updates later in the year to add even more content.

Tech specs Screen 58in 3840x2160 LCD with HDR Inputs HDMI 2.0 x4, component, composite, USB x3, Wi-Fi, Ethernet Dimensions 137x83x35.6cm, 32.5kg (including stand)

You have been watching…

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We like a picture with lovely detail, so here are some details on the lovely picture

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Q Bright alright

Q Colour blinding

This Panasonic pumps out pictures with real vividness, even if it doesn’t score 1000-nit peak brightness. You’ll be able to watch at midday, at the height of summer. With the curtains open.

Motion is handled very nicely, and colours are punchy too. A little too punchy – make sure you spend a bit of time tweaking. Out of the box it’s a little too ‘showroom fresh’ for our liking.

Q Sharp practice

Q Upmarket upscaler

The 4K images from Amazon Video and Netflix look stunning, with potent blacks and whites. You won’t get OLED levels of differentiation in the darkest scenes, but it’s still impressive.

Drop down to ‘mere’ HD with a Blu-ray and it still puts in a good shift, with its upscaler doing sterling work. Standard-def broadcasts still take an inevitable hit from the fuzzy stick, though.

Let’s be honest – this TV isn’t for everyone. It’ll dominate almost any room you put it in. If you’re looking for a signature piece for your living room, though, it is one you should consider. Even if this is not the last word in 4K HDR picture quality, it’s not far off it, and the sound it chucks out is a revelation for a flat-panel TV. @TomParsons

STUFF SAYS ++++, If you’ve got room for it, and the looks grab you, this TV thoroughly deserves a place in your life

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GE HA T S PP TRA Y. P .. 76

ONE PUGO TOP APPLE WATCH BAND

TWO CASETIFY APPLE WATCH BAND

THREE SEVEN SIXTEEN CLICK ADAPTOR

Apple’s official Milanese Loop strap is lovely. It also costs £150. This stainless steel alternative from Pugo Top costs a mere £10, has an 18-month warranty and looks identical, right down to the magnetic clasp. It’s available in iPhone-matching colours for those who like to accessorise.

Casetify offers plenty of funky straps, but its custom strap service is ideal for making your Apple Watch feel more personal. The online strap builder lets you upload any photo, and can link directly to Instagram and Facebook, pulling in your pictures to customise. Make sure they’re high-resolution.

If you have a collection of watch straps you already adore, these adaptors slot into your Apple Watch’s band groove and let you use any one you fancy. Some Android Wear watches from LG and Samsung let you do this, but these won’t break the bank, especially if you go for aluminium models.

£10 / amazon.co.uk

US$52 / casetify.com

from US$21 / svnsxt.com


DO NO TH W IS

NE B W EST AP PS

INSTANT UPGRADES

JUST PRESS RECORD 1 MASTER THE DOCK

2 FIND A FRIENDLY FACE

Apple has killed Glances; now it’s all about the App Dock. To bring some order, go to your Watch app, tap Dock, then Edit. Tap ‘+’ buttons to add favourite apps to the Dock, and ‘-’ to banish rubbish ones, using drag handles to reorder the list. Want to re-arrange apps? Long-press, then drag. If you’ve just used an app you’d like to stash, press the Side button and it’ll be in the Recent slot.

Apple has added new faces in watchOS 3, in the Watch app. Tap the Face Gallery tab to view the new, featured and themed collections. Tap one and Add. Back in the My Watch tab, tap Edit next to My Faces to sort added faces. On your Apple Watch, you can switch between faces by swiping from the left or right screen edge. his comes in handy when you customise your faces with ‘complications’…

3 MAKE THINGS COMPLICATED A number of watch faces have slots for complications: app-related nuggets of info, or icons to launch an app. All pre-installed Apple apps have them, but the best are often found on third-party apps. To find these, tap-hold the watch face, swipe to the complication editing screen, tap on a complication slot, then use the Digital Crown to pick one.

Prod it to start recording; the audio lurks on your Watch until it next connects to your iPhone, at which point it transfers. Easy. £2.29

CARROT WEATHER Our firm favourite weather app. The only downside is paying £1.49 more for a complication, and a further £2.29 if you want premium features. £2.99 (IAPs)

[ Words Craig Grannell ]

4 GET FITTER QUICKER Not in the mood to be yelling at Siri? he Workout app can be accessed quickly if you set it as a complication. Pro tip: when you’re working out, swipe from the left and tap Lock. Now whatever taps your screen won’t affect it. If you fancy being more social, visit the Sharing tab in Activities, inviting people to share Activity with you. You can check their progress in the Apple Watch Activity app.

5 FIRE A DIGITAL DISTRESS SIGNAL

6 BECOME A MESSAGING WHIZZ

In the Watch app’s My Watch tab, go to General > Emergency SOS. Here, you can define up to three SOS contacts, and set whether holding the Side button automatically calls emergency services. Now you can hold the Side button for several seconds to call for help (your Apple Watch beeps a countdown), simultaneously firing text messages at your pals.

Messages on Apple Watch are now smarter, thanks to contextual single-prod replies. You can also long-press on a message to send a Tapback symbol like a thumbs-up. But the big new thing is Scribble, which you use to write replies manually, one letter at a time. It’s surprisingly effective and works within many apps beyond Messages.

OVERCAST Its developer made an Apple Watch remote to control his iPhone podcast app, then rethought it from scratch. The result is a massive improvement. £free (IAPs)

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G R O U P T E S T T U R N TA B L E S

Improve your plattery life The vinyl revival is here to stay, and these turntables will indulge your LP addiction in pitch-perfect fashion

Shady character Red, yellow, black, white, grey or green... you can definitely make this one fit your room, whatever its colour scheme.

The Vinyl Collection #1

Lenco L-85 Price £119 / stuff.tv/L85 We’d forgive you for being wary of this turntable. It’s pretty cheap, it comes in some garishly bright colours, and it’s made by a brand you probably haven’t heard of. But bear with us – this is actually the definition of a bargain budget turntable. Everyone knows the all-in-one suitcase creations from the likes of Crosley aren’t up to scratch, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find plug’n’play convenience at

a knockdown price and still be getting value for money. he Lenco L-85 makes that apparent. Setup? Get it out of the box and plug it in. No tonearm balancing or cartridge adjusting required. To steal a famous tech phrase, ‘it just works’. And it works in some style. he Lenco delivers a decent, nicely balanced sound that does particularly well when it comes to giving you clear and insightful

vocals. OK, so it won’t wake your neighbours with bass, and the very best turntables around might make it sound just a little non-committal in comparison, but for the money it’s hard to find fault with this machine. What’s more, plug in a USB stick and you can rip your tunes. Clever. Oh, and if you didn’t know, Lenco has actually been making record players for 70 years, so you’re in safe hands.

Abbey Road (1969) The Beatles The 2009 remaster is a must, bringing out the best of the band’s first album to be released in stereo.

STUFF SAYS A fine deck with a clever vinyl-ripping system – and it’s cheap ++++, 79


G R O U P T E S T T U R N TA B L E S

Phono or no phono? The integrated phono stage can be bypassed if you’d rather use a separate preamp to drive the AT-LP5.

Proven performance The J-shaped tonearm is a tried and tested design first released in the ’60s to provide smooth tracking for optimum performance.

Two-speed clear box A simple dial, which feels as good to use as the rest of the deck does, allows you to switch between 33⅓ and 45rpm records.

The Vinyl Collection #2

Audio-Technica AT-LP5 Price £329 / stuff.tv/ATLP5 As with most things in tech (and indeed life), should you want to pay top dollar for the very best, the sky tends to be the limit. So while you can easily spend many thousands of pounds on a turntable, back in the real world this Audio-Technica is relatively affordable. And the good news is that you really wouldn’t know it. he build, look and feel of the AT-LP5 could easily pass for

something double the price, helping to ensure this deck gets off to a great start. Run your eyes down the spec list and you’ll be equally enthused: a phono stage is included, a custom-designed cartridge comes pre-fitted, and there’s a handy USB output for ripping your vinyl. But does it sound any good? Why yes, yes it does. No matter what your tastes, you’ll be treated

to impressive amounts of detail and a wide open soundstage that’s capable of really filling a room. here’s clear treble and good, solid bass, laying the foundations for a beautifully balanced sound. he LP5’s strengths ensure it’s a genuine all-rounder and will sound every bit as impressive with jazz as with jungle, not to mention the basics of pop, rock and Belgian speed-folk.

Kind of Blue (1959) Miles Davis One of the most influential jazz albums of all time. Davis’s rich improvisational style glows on vinyl.

STUFF SAYS A fine, musical turntable that sounds great whatever you play +++++ 80


G R O U P T E S T T U R N TA B L E S

Software’s not hard Sony’s handy free bundled software makes ripping vinyl nice and simple – no downloads required.

Clean conversion If you like DSD and wav files, the PS-HX500 can comfortably convert your vinyl tracks to modern hi-res.

T W EST IN NE R

Weight for it Make sure you set the tracking weight to the recommended 3g to ensure optimum performance from this spinner.

The Vinyl Collection #3

Sony PS-HX500 Price £399 / stuff.tv/PSHX500 If you’re looking for a company with serious hi-fi heritage, you could do a lot worse than Sony. So it’s no wonder the world got pretty excited when the Japanese giant announced it was getting back in the turntable game… with a clever twist. Not only will this turntable deliver great sound from your vinyl; it also allows you to make hi-res audio copies to play on the move. Because one thing vinyl

definitely isn’t, of course, is particularly portable. his is a belt-drive deck, so you will have to hook the belt up and balance the tonearm. Detailed instructions are included, and it’s easy to do, but it’s worth taking the time to get it right to have the best possible sound quality and avoid damaging your vinyl. Once done, you’re left with a slim, minimal design that will look smart in any system. A phono

stage is included, so all you need to do is connect to an amp or powered speakers. Sonically the PS-HX500 is light on its feet, delivering crisp treble notes and a big, open sound. It sounds especially good with acoustic tracks and delicate vocals, but does well enough with dance music and more upbeat numbers when you’re up for some rather less introverted listening.

Spiderland (1991) Slint Vinyl’s best for dynamics, right? This is probably the most dramatically quiet/ loud album ever recorded.

STUFF SAYS High-quality sound and hi-res audio: that’s a high five from us +++++ 81


G R O U P T E S T T U R N TA B L E S

TOP OF THE SHOPS

Q Sister Ray From ’80s hardcore to the kind of prog you can’t enjoy sober, London’s best record shop has you covered.

Q Spillers Records Despite its small size, the world’s oldest record shop is brimming with black plastic treasure. A Cardiff institution.

Q Resident Music For crate-digging by the seaside you can’t beat Brighton’s Resident. Its 7in selection is great.

Q Piccadilly Records Oh Manchester, so much to answer for… including this fine indie store, which first opened in 1978.

Uncoloured sound Available in black or white, the Rega’s styling keeps it minimal. As you can see, it looks great next to psychedelic pink wallpaper.

You want more? The £85 Performance Pack add-on gets you a solid upgrade of the cartridge, drive belt, mat and alignment protractor.

X marks the spot Setup is oh so quick, but don’t rush it: use the handy mark on the tonearm to set the tracking weight correctly.

The Vinyl Collection #4

Rega Planar 1 Price £250 / stuff.tv/Planar1 he original Rega Planar was released back in 1975 as a 200-turntable limited run. he company has come a long way since then, partnering with Record Store Day to be front and centre of the vinyl revival, and offering a number of iterations of the company’s best-loved turntables. he Planar 1 is the latest version of its most famous deck of all – and it does the name proud.

It would take longer to list all the upgrades applied to this than it does to get it up and running, such is the breadth of tweaks Rega has applied – and the simplicity of the setup process that still remains. (If you like a challenge, Rega claims it’s a 30-second job.) here are new components designed for this deck, and also upgrades from more expensive models, which is a good sign. A cartridge is supplied, but you’ll need a phono stage.

When it comes to sound quality, there’s simply nothing to complain about considering the price. Detail? Yes, in spades, whether revealing emotion in intimate vocals or delivering every intonation of that bass ’wub’. Energy? You betcha. Banging techno and commanding classical tracks are relayed with impressive dynamics and bags of excitement. For authority, solidity and sheer musicality it’s tick, tick and tick.

Untrue (2007) Burial Burial’s second LP is barely recognisable as dubstep, with textured, spacious tunes that’ll rattle your teeth.

STUFF SAYS A classic returns in the form of a new turntable that’s built to last +++++ 82


G R O U P T E S T T U R N TA B L E S

Pound stretcher Combine this Pro-Ject with Ortofon’s MC Quintet Black cartridge (£649) and you’ll pay £1895, a saving of £249 – see snvinyl.co.uk

Wipe your feet on the mat You don’t need a slip mat with this turntable: you can place your records straight on the silky smooth aluminium platter.

Up to speed The RPM 9’s belt drive mechanism has a speed control switch for rapid flitting between 45s and 33s.

Pro-Ject RPM 9 Carbon Price £1495 / stuff.tv/rpm9carbon Oh, so you want to get serious? Pro-Ject Audio, experts at budget and high-end turntables alike, have really gone for it with the RPM 9 Carbon. It looks stunning. he carbon-fibre-covered tonearm certainly helps – and it also serves to reduce unwanted vibrations, as does the aluminium platter complete with smooth vinyl top. As your mates stare agog at this design marvel, you can reveal

you had a hand in the build, as there is some work to do involving screws and fitting various parts. But if vinyl is all about a physical connection to the music, why not feel similarly attached to your turntable? Once done, you’re treated to sound quality that’s worth a little elbow grease. You’ll need to add an external phono stage, or have an amp with one built in (as many do – look for the ‘phono input’),

but you can then enjoy a solid, authoritative sound that will ensure your guests – once they’ve finally finished being enraptured by the design – are soon open-mouthed in awe all over again. hat weight and solid build translate to meaty, expressive bass lines, even if some similarly priced rivals might deliver more powerful dynamics and a slightly more agile performance.

The Vinyl Collection #5

Back in Black (1980) AC/DC You can hear attention to detail in every track from the Aussie riff kings. A hard rock classic from the vaults.

STUFF SAYS A solid, bold sound from what is a smart, stylish, dynamic deck ++++, 83


TEST DYSON PURE HOT + COOL LINK

Breezy lover An app-connected device for heating, cooling and purifying your smart home? This Dyson is sure to win many fans… £499 / stuff.tv/PureHotCool QWhen is a fan not a fan? Well, the Dyson Pure Hot + Cool Link doesn’t look like a fan and doesn’t work like your average fan, yet that’s what it is. Oh, and it costs 500 quid. If the fantastic 360 Eye robot vacuum was Dyson’s most eye-catching stab so far at connecting its products to your smartphone, then this is its follow-up. QUsed as a fan with thermostatic heat control, it’s really good. Too hot to sit on the couch for a three-hour Netflix binge? Relax – a lifestyle of opulent laziness is within reach. Noise levels are even low enough to keep it on while you’re watching TV. QUnlike a classic bladed fan, the Dyson produces a smooth and constant airflow – you don’t get that feeling of being constantly buffeted by someone with an air blaster. Stick it on at maximum breeziness and you’ll be tingled by its charms even at the opposite side of the room. QIt’s also an air purifier, with a filter to capture particles as small as 0.1 microns with a 99.95% success rate. It’ll sweep up bacteria, mould, pollen and toxins, and monitors the environment so it can step up should you decide to, erm, open up a can of spores or something.

Q In the air tonight There’s a remote, but you really don’t need it. Simply open up the free app (iPhone and Android), connect the fan to your Wi-Fi network and give it a ridiculous name. We went for Fandango.

Q Another day in paradise With the app you can turn on the fan, change settings and schedule times for it to do its thing, as well as keeping an eye on the air quality of your home even when you’re not there.

QWe tested the Dyson in a flat that gets vacuumed once a week, with a dehumidifier running most days to avoid damp and mould. Accordingly, we only ever received a ‘good’ air quality rating. The device’s fanning skills are easier to assess, and we found them to be superb; the purifying stuff is maybe more of an added bonus than a must-have.

STUFF SAYS This smart fan will delight gadget-lovers and hypochondriacs alike ++++, Against all odds, we love this simple, effective, low-key gadget Rob Leedham

84

Reviewing this Dyson is a bit of a fan-kless task. Even when you account for its internet-connected smarts and sophisticated air filtration, it’s not a complex product to use. You just turn it on and it works. Bosh! There are enough gadgets that constantly nag for your attention; this one just makes sure the temperature in your home is alright and the air you’re breathing isn’t full of nasty guff.


TEST CANON EOS 5D MARK IV

No rest IV the wicked

Canon’s EOS 5D evolves again, adding a host of new features to what was already a killer DSLR £3629 / stuff.tv/5DMkIV QPopular with amateurs, pro photographers and filmmakers alike, the Canon EOS 5D always bags you great shots – and it gets better with every iteration. The Mark IV builds on its heritage with a 30.4MP sensor (up from 22MP), a 61-point autofocus system, 4K video and a touchscreen. QThe buttons feel intuitive in the hand, and this is the best touchscreen we’ve seen on a DSLR yet. It soon becomes second nature to use the buttons and screen together for an easy, fluid experience. QShots have a fantastic level of detail. Colours are great on the whole, with nice saturation and depth, and Canon’s new metering sensor does a fine job. And the AF is notably better than before. QThe 5D has been the go-to DSLR for filmmakers since Nicolas Cage was likeable – and making movies is a big part of the Mark IV. That means 4K recording at 30fps, or Full HD video at 60fps. Separate headphone and mic jacks let you record audio at the same time. QOne interesting new feature is Dual Pixel RAW, which lets you shift the point of focus after taking a picture, Lytro style. It might help you save a shot that’s just missed the mark, but we had limited success with this tech.

Tech specs Q Stay where you are

Q Get a grip

Canon knows better than to mess with a good thing, so the Mark IV looks a lot like the last 5D – right down to the button layout. That’ll keep anyone upgrading from a previous version happy.

There have been a couple of design tweaks, however: the grip is a little deeper, and the pentaprism encasing the optical viewfinder is a little taller to make room for the new GPS and Wi-Fi unit.

Sensor 30.4MP full-frame CMOS Processor DIGIC 6+ AF points 61 ISO range 100-32,000 (102,400 expanded) Video 4K @ 30fps, 1080p @ 60fps, 720p slo-mo @ 120fps Display 3.2in touchscreen, optical viewfinder Connectivity Wi-Fi, GPS Dimensions 151x116x76mm, 800g

STUFF SAYS The 5D just keeps getting better – a brilliant addition to the range +++++ A step up in price… and a step up in amazingness Amy Davies

For now at least, the 5D Mark IV is more expensive than the Mark III was at launch. Hopefully the price will drop a little in the coming months; but if you do have the readies, this is a very nice camera indeed. It’s a fantastic all-rounder that should see you well for a variety of different subjects, producing beautiful, detailed and vibrant images – and the new tweaks have only added to the experience.

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THREE WEEKS WITH THE AMAZON ECHO

Dawn of a new hearer Are you ready to hand over the keys of your digital life to a virtual eavesdropper called Alexa? Tom Morgan finds out how smart Amazon’s smart speaker can be Echo only wakes up when you say “Alexa”. And you can mute the mics if you need to.

£149 / stuff.tv/AmazonEcho

DAY 01 Why would you want to shout at a speaker? It’s a question half the Stuff team asked me when I pulled Amazon’s Echo out of the box, and honestly, I wasn’t too sure why I would either. Start firing questions or tasks at it, though, and it starts to make sense. Amazon’s smart speaker is hooked into the web, so it can do a lot more than simply control your music. Whenever it hears you ask for “Alexa” (the 60th most popular girl’s name in the US, dontcha know) an LED ring

And it’s all so quick – no faffing with a phone just to look up who won the first Bake Off. At its most basic, the Echo is essentially a reboot of the kitchen radio for the 21st century. Instead of waiting for news reports to arrive on the hour, you can get a quick briefing from the Guardian or BBC Radio 4 whenever you ask for it. And the hyperlocal weather forecasts are great. Smooth, sleek, and with only the tiniest of Amazon logos, the Echo’s look is as inconspicuous as a tube of high-tech kitchen roll. That’s the idea, really – it should

There’s a voice training exercise, but the speech recognition is at least as good as Apple’s Siri right out the box on the top flashes blue and it does its best to follow your orders. That could be anything from playing music from TuneIn, Spotify or Amazon Music to answering simple questions, reading out Wikipedia pages, telling awful Dad jokes, setting timers or recording hands-free lists. Once I’ve plugged it in (there’s no battery) and downloaded the app (Android or iOS), I’m up and running in moments. There’s an optional voice training exercise but, to be honest, the speech recognition is at least as good as Apple’s Siri right out of the box.

88

lurk on a table or kitchen counter, listening to everything anyone says without becoming the centre of attention.

DAY 02 I haven’t got any mates called Alexa, but if one came to visit I could tap the mute button on top – this turns the LEDs around the twisting, volume-controlling top rim to red, and stops the Echo interrupting your conversations. There’s an ‘action’ button up top too, in case you want to wake Alexa without speaking – but

Alexa is always learning and you can download new skills, such as how to order an Uber.


LO N G -T TERM TEST

01

Donut of Truth™

05

04

02 03

01 Responds quickly and efficiently to commands 02 Huge range of uses, from music to shopping lists 03 Speaker sound quality is surprisingly good

04 You can’t control whose voice Alexa will or won’t listen to 05 Yes, it is a bit like HAL in 2001 – and we all know how that turned out…

Tech specs Speakers 64mm woofer, 50mm tweeter, 15W Class D amplifier Microphones 7 (far-field) Connectivity Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Dimensions 235x 83x83mm, 1kg

really, why would you do that? The Echo can hear pretty reliably up to about ten feet away, so I’ve barely touched it since setting it up. It can listen over music or talk radio, so you don’t need to yell to change stations. Sound quality is very good, and a big step up from the DAB radio it’s replaced on my bedside table. The separate woofer and tweeter keep distortion down, and can cope with pretty high volumes. Think dinner parties and civilised music to cook by rather than earth-shaking bass, but this little tube still delivers a kick when you crank it up.

DAY 08 Aside from occasionally being called upon by my housemates to impress with her encyclopaedic knowledge of ’90s jungle artists, Alexa has only had to listen out for my voice. The Echo responds to anyone, though… which could make it a bit of nightmare for anyone with kids. You wouldn’t let a five-year-old child choose your playlist, and definitely wouldn’t give them your credit card; but the Echo could easily let a clever nipper shout constantly for mindless Sesame Street songs, interrupt the news when it gets to the interesting bits,

or add insane quantities of sweets to your shopping list. Keeping an Echo in the kitchen is still a good idea, though. You can ask Alexa to convert cups into litres or Celsius into Fahrenheit, set timers and alarms, and add items to a shopping list in the cloud – it’s like having your own virtual sous-chef.

DAY 15 I’ve pretty much forgotten where my light switches are now. Alexa can control Philips Hue, LIFX and Samsung SmartThings bulbs, so a yell from the cosy confines of your duvet will shine a light on your morning routine. Other home tech such as Nest, Honeywell Evohome and Hive works too, so you can set the temperature with your voice. And then ask Alexa to play Bring Me Sunshine on Spotify.

DAY 21 You might think the Echo is clever, or you might think it’s creepy; but just as society has had to adapt to screens and cameras everywhere, it’s time to realise eavesdropping robots are here to stay. Alexa is so much smarter than a radio, and so much easier than a smartphone, that there’s no way I’m getting rid of her now.

STUFF SAYS The AI revolution starts here: Alexa can take charge of your whole house ★★★★★

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STUFF PICKS

Lava BrightSounds 2 RAINING CHAMPION

My wife loves camping. I think it’s an exercise in pointless hardship, but she doesn’t care what I think so we do it anyway. Well, I might as well take the edge off those cold, scuzzy weekends by buying her this versatile accessory. First up it’s a Bluetooth speaker – not the classiest in sonic terms, but better than listening to the couple in the next tent arguing and/or mating. It’s also a dimmable LED lamp, because tents don’t even have light sockets, and an emergency phone charger. Hooray for making camping a little bit less like camping. £39 / amazon.co.uk

The dinky leatherette handle and IPX4 splashproof rating make the BrightSounds 2 ideal for listening to Singing in the Rain while hopping around in puddles. But please don’t.

Dead of Winter: The Long Night My wife also loves board games. I think they’re an exercise in pointless frippery, but she doesn’t care what I think, etc… Anyway, surviving zombie attacks, fighting off bandits, investigating sinister chemical experiments – perfect night in. £40 / amazon.co.uk

[ Photography Mitch Payne ]

I ALMOST BOUGHT

Richard Purvis, Production Editor

Sub-£50 gifts Santa’s had a tough year… we select our favourite techy Christmas presents that won’t blow a huge crater in your wallet 91


STUFF PICKS

Philips Power Bank Mark Wilson, Features Editor There are some serious bargains in the power bank world (see Xiaomi’s £15 marvel on p96), but it’s not always about capacity per pound. For me, this bottle-shaped Philips is the perfect iPhone companion. I need extra phone juice during long bike rides when I’ve been running Strava non-stop, so the curved design of this 3000mAh battery (enough for one recharge) is a relief from cramming an awkward rectangle into my pocket. £39 / argos.co.uk

BOTTLED LIGHTNING The Lightning connector on top comes with a handy magnetic cap, but there’s also a USB port on the bottle’s underside for hooking it up to Android phones and other gadgets.

I ALMOST BOUGHT

Mophie Power Capsule I haven’t yet converted to wireless earphones, but if I had I’d be happy to see this battery case nestled in my Christmas stocking. On the underside of Mophie’s gymbag-friendly pouch is a 1400mAh battery for boosting your earphones, fitness tracker or smartwatch. £34 / uk.mophie.com

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STUFF PICKS

Birdie GoPro Flight System Tom Wiggins, Deputy Editor

EMERGENCY LANDING

I can’t stretch to a drone for my GoProobsessed bro but this is a much cheaper alternative. Strap in the camera, toss it in the air and it gives you a gentle aerial view as the Birdie descends. There’s trial and error involved as the camera points straight down, and how far it can see depends on how high you can throw it, but the GoPro’s wide-angle lens means you don’t need to be an Olympic javelin champion to get decent shots. £34 / mobilefun.co.uk

The Birdie’s wings are waterproof and it’ll float for easy retrieval, although you might want to dry it off before attempting to fly again…

I ALMOST BOUGHT

Pikaplant Jar If plant murder was a crime my careless sister would be on death row by now, but a Pikaplant Jar should save her from more leaf-shrivelling tragedy. Inside is a coffea arabica plant, with the hermetically sealed glass biodome recycling the air and water inside, making it pretty much impossible to kill. €49 / pikaplant.com

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STUFF PICKS

Alessi Pulcina Espresso Coffee Maker Esat Dedezade, Deputy Features Editor My consumption of hot drinks is slightly limited by the fact that my internal thermometer is stuck somewhere between Mordor and the sun. But I do love design, shiny objects and innovation, and this coffee-maker ticks all three boxes. Its sliced-layered design gives off funky 8-bit vibes, while its aluminium construction is a pleasure to hold. Its insides are also clever – the shape of its internal heater automatically stops the coffee filtering through at just the right moment. from £43 / amara.com

NIPPING THE BUD Even the spout oozes functional design. Its V-shape cuts off drops when pouring, letting you sip back and relax without ruining your white Italian marble countertop.

I ALMOST BOUGHT

LifeStraw Go There’s no place for fancy espresso makers on a hike. Water is the name of the survival game, and the LifeStraw Go bottle’s built-in replaceable filter removes 99.9999% of harmful nasties lurking in lakes, puddles and streams. Well, there’s still that pesky bear stalking you, but at least you won’t get a tummy upset. £27 / trekkinn.com

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STUFF PICKS

This Book Is A Camera Rob Leedham, Editor Hands up, I am a terrible photographer. Stick a Canon in my hands and I’ll weep at the sheer number of dials and knobs to twiddle in the wrong direction. That’s why I love this book so much. You just stick a sheet of photo paper in it, lift up the shutter and boom! You’re done. Develop the shot in pitch darkness and you’ve got yourself a unique, arty snap that’s completely different to anything a pro might take. And idiot-proof? As an expert in the field, I’d say so. £25 / shop.lomography.com

LIGHTS OUT At a minimum of £15 a pop, pinhole camera film isn’t cheap. So make sure you develop it in pitch darkness, otherwise your snaps will be at risk of overexposure.

I ALMOST BOUGHT

BBC Micro:bit Activity Kit Want to indoctrinate your kids into tech at the earliest age possible? This BBC Micro:bit and Activity Kit combo gives any sprog a full set of tools to get familiar with coding and start building their own apps. All you need to do is sit back, wait for them to invent the next Tinder and bask in the reflected wealth/glory. £25 / techwillsaveus.com

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STUFF PICKS

CHEAP TREATS the mega-bargains we missed £30 OR LESS

Raspberry Pi Zero

Kasa Smart Bulb

Tile Slim

A gift for someone who remembers tower PCs and Christmas ’94: a 6cm computer capable of running desktop software and playing 1080p videos. Its best trick is being a retro gaming machine (Google ‘RetroPie’). £27 / thepihut.com

The cost of a Philips Hue addiction can mount up, so these cheaper (if dumber) colour-changing bulbs could be a safer bet. They can be controlled from smartphones and scheduled to turn on and off. £29.99 / firebox.com

Know someone absent-minded? Help them keep track of their wallet, keys and other possessions with this Bluetooth tracker. It’ll show where them where they left an object, or sound an alarm to reveal where it is. £29.99 / currys.co.uk

SlugHaus Bullet

Uprosa Phone Case

Xiaomi Mi Power Bank

Yes, your phone has a torch, but it’s only bright enough to light up the inside of a Coke can. Put this water-resistant LED light on your keyring and you’ll have 15 lumens of torch-power on tap at all times. £10.99 / thefowndry.com

Who designed these lovely phone cases? Science, that’s who. Uprosa’s designs are from microscopes and are available for most smartphones. This one of crystallised citric acid is called Citrus Ocean. £19.90 / uprosa.com

We can’t quite decide which is the more astonishing bargain: a full computer kit for under £30 (see the Raspberry Pi Zero), or a 10,000mAh power bank for the price of a pub lunch, giving two full phone recharges. £15.90 / amazon.co.uk

Sugru Rebel Tech Kit

Stranger Things keyring

Robot Gift Wrap

You can’t buy many gadgets for under a tenner, but you can tinker with your existing ones. This tech-themed pack of Sugru’s versatile gum comes with four sachets of the stuff and a booklet of modding ideas. £10 / sugru.com

Fans will be in a personal ‘Upside Down’ this Christmas, stuck between the excellent first season of Netflix’s ’80s nostalgia-fest and its follow-up next year. Here’s a token gesture you can give them to cope. £7.99 / thefowndry.com

Spend all of your Secret Santa money on these excellent robot-themed decorations (including stickers and cut-outs), leaving just enough spare change to put a bag of Fangtastics inside. £9.95 / luckies.co.uk

£20 OR LESS

£10 OR LESS

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V E R S U S F I T N E S S WAT C H E S

Work out which watch to wear to watch your workout

ST TE ER N IN W

TomTom Spark 3 Cardio + Music

VS

This TomTom has a heart-rate sensor, and it’s got GPS for phone-free workout mapping, but otherwise it’s all pretty simple. It’ll track running and cycling, it’s waterproof to 40m, and it’ll monitor the basics: sleep, steps, active minutes.

1. FEATURES

Need to know your lactate threshold? How long your feet are in contact with the floor while you’re running? How long it’ll take you to recover after that pre-breakfast triathlon? The 735XT puts the info right on your wrist, no phone required.

You don’t get much in the way of extras – no smartphone notifications, no apps, not even a colour screen – but that helps with the battery life. And this is the only dedicated GPS running watch that’ll stream music to Bluetooth headphones.

2. IN USE

This is hardcore tracking, with course uploads, GPS route recording and custom workouts – and the kind of metrics that will please pro athletes. It’s got a great screen, it does phone notifications, and there’s an app store to add features.

This watch won’t swamp you with stats. It covers the basics well, so you can concentrate on beating that PB rather than constantly checking you’re in the right heart-rate zone. It might well be all the fitness watch you need.

3. RESULTS

It’s more pricey than the TomTom, but the 735XT has the fitness features, detailed measurements and app smarts to justify it. There’s a little too much here for novices, but it will sort you out if you’ve got a serious health habit to feed.

Screen 22x25mm, 144x168 mono LCD Sensors Heart rate, accelerometer Sports tracked Running, cycling, swimming, strength training Connectivity Bluetooth, GPS, compass Battery life Up to 3 weeks Dimensions 22x25x11.5mm, 46g

1 2 3

TECH RATER

O Price £219 / stuff.tv/Spark3

[ Words Tom Morgan ]

Garmin Forerunner 735XT

+++++

Screen 31.1mm, 215x180 LCD Sensors Heart rate, accelerometer Sports tracked Running, cycling, swimming, strength training, cross-country skiing, kayaking Connectivity Bluetooth, GPS, ANT+ Battery life Up to 11 days Dimensions 45x45x11.7mm, 44g

O Price £359 / stuff.tv/735XT

STUFF SAYS

++++,

The Garmin offers more detail, but the TomTom is simple enough to get anyone moving 99


SMART HOME

ROOMS FOR IMPROVEMENT Your kitchen’s an idiot and the lounge makes Donald Trump’s pet pheasant look like a genius. Here’s a collection of tech so clever it’ll grab Mensa’s attention...

101


I want a... ROBOT BUTLER Who doesn’t? Until recently it remained a figment of every sci-fi fan’s imagination, a Jetsons fantasy and nothing more. But things are changing. The execution might not be quite as imagined – it doesn’t hover or do the washing up – but Amazon’s ECHO DOT is a willing servant to all of your list-making, light-controlling, weather-checking needs. Plug it into a speaker (the full-size Echo comes with its own built in, but costs £100 more) and all of a sudden your hi-fi will become sentient, playing whatever you ask it to from Spotify or Prime Music. It’s unlikely you have a hi-fi in your kitchen, but the Dot can work in a tag team with other Echo devices, answering from whichever is closest.

AMAZON ECHO DOT £49 / amazon.co.uk

As long as you don’t whisper, Alexa can pick you out over the top of music playing in the same room thanks to seven mics and clever far-field voice recognition.

Press the mute button to put the mics to sleep, and the lights around the edge will go red to show Alexa has stopped listening. Don’t worry, she isn’t offended.

ARE YOU LISTENING?

TALENT SHOW

ON THE HOUSE

To get Alexa (the Echo Dot’s cloud-based assistant) to listen to you there’s a button on top you can press, but why would you want to when it’s entirely voice-activated? Just say “Alexa” followed by what you want it to do and, well, that’s it. As well as playing music she can set timers for you, crack bad jokes, be your own personal newsreader and even play an audiobook you’ve bought on Audible.

Amazon has taught Alexa a load of third-party skills, so she can order from Just Eat or check flight prices on Skyscanner, train times on National Rail (mind the gap between the timetable and reality) and football scores from the Premier League. To install new skills, just add them via the free Echo mobile app on your phone. They’re all saved in the cloud, so Alexa will never run out of brain space.

Both Echo models are also compatible with a load of smart home gadgets, the main ones being Nest, Hive and Hue. That means you can turn your lights on and off or adjust the temperature using nothing but your voice. We���re getting into proper home automation territory now. It can even tell the difference between lights, so you can specify which lamp or room you want to adjust.

Now add this...

Dyson 360 Eye £799 / dyson.co.uk Alexa might be smarter than a 360 Eye but Dyson’s robo-vac has one big advantage: it can move, using its all-seeing camera to seek out dirt and suck it up.

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Alternatively...

UE Boom 2

£129 / ultimateears.com You can use Siri or Google Now through this hardy little speaker’s microphone, although unlike the Echo you’ll need to press its Bluetooth button first to get it to listen. It can respond to all the usual commands: “Siri, play our song. No, not that one.”


SMART HOME

NETATMO PRESENCE

The Netatmo Security app (iOS and Android) lets you watch live footage, scroll through recordings and home in on the action by pinching to zoom.

£tba / netatmo.com

There’s not much point in having a security camera outside if it can’t withstand the elements, so this is weatherproof, plus it works over Wi-Fi. If you already have an outdoor light fitting at the front of your house, the Presence can be installed as a replacement, with no extra wiring required.

I want an... ALL-SEEING EYE Rather than filming who gets into your house, why not keep an eye on who’s outside in the hope of stopping them making it in? NETATMO’S PRESENCE looks like a particularly heavy-duty security light, but look below the 12W LED lamp and there’s a 4MP camera capable of shooting Full HD video and detecting people, cars and animals (handy if there’s a lion on the loose from your local zoo). It can see up to 20m away with a 100º field of vision, so even if your drive’s on the long side it’ll pick up anyone scoping out your gaff and send an instant notification. TREAD ALERT

CATCH THE HIGHLIGHTS

PET PROJECTS

The Presence app creates a timeline of events, so you can scroll through, watching each video or logging in to check the live stream if your Spidey sense starts tingling. You can also set up specific alert zones, so the Ocado man walking down the path won’t cause it any alarm, but someone heading round the back or snooping around the car will trigger a notification to be sent to your phone.

Presence will only pay attention when something worth recording happens, so you won’t spend your evenings deleting hours of footage. Video clips are stored on a microSD card but can also be sent to the cloud, with no subscription fees. After dark it has an infrared mode that reduces the range to 15m, or you can instruct it to shed actual light on proceedings whenever it detects movement.

Security is obviously the Presence’s number one concern, but unless your house is stuffed with priceless artefacts and there’s a stream of men in striped shirts prowling around, hopefully it’ll come in useful for other things too. You can check that the kids came home from school when they said (and didn’t sneak out again), or look for sightings of next door’s missing cat.

Now add this...

Ring Video Doorbell £159 / ring.com This detects motion and shows who’s at the door on your phone, so you can tell the postie where to leave your parcel – and not to post that ‘Sorry you were out’ card without even ringing the bell…

Alternatively...

Nest Cam Outdoor

US$199 / nest.com

This version of Nest’s security camera records 24/7 and will also send you an alert when it detects movement. Open the app and, if you see someone snooping, you can use the cam’s speaker (and your politest swearwords) to request that they jog on.

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SMART HOME

I want a... TV IN EVERY ROOM Easy, right? You just buy a TV for every room. Well, not so fast, Telly Savalas. What are you planning to watch on those TVs? Terrestrial channels on the built-in Freeview tuner? You’re happy with Celebrity Dog Karaoke on ITV 15+1, are you? Thought not. You need to think a bit smarter than that – and SKY Q is your saviour. A Silver box under your main telly works as the hub, feeding up to two other Mini boxes and two tablets with both a live stream and access to recorded and downloaded stuff saved on the main box’s roomy 2TB hard drive.

SKY Q from £54/month + installation / sky.com

4K is free but only accessible on the Silver box. Press red to flood the screen with extra pixels, or download from Sky’s on-demand catalogue.

The interface has had a complete overhaul. Gone is that old text-heavy EPG, replaced by a swish menu full of big pictures and video previews.

The touchy, swipey remote makes the old chunkster you get with Sky+ look ancient. It’s about half the size, with a touch-sensitive circular panel.

WHAT’S ON THE MENU?

TABLET TELLY

ROUTERMASTER

The Sky Q menu is the same no matter which box you sit in front of, so the experience is practically identical whether you’re in the living room with the Silver or the bedroom with the Mini. You can even pause a recorded show on one box, move to another and pick up where you left off. The only thing the main box gets over the others is access to Ultra HD, be it live football or downloaded TV.

Fire up the Sky Q app on your tablet (it’s not available for phones yet) and you’ll see a touchscreen version of the menu you get on a TV. You can call up the EPG to watch live TV (it takes a few seconds), access anything that’s stored on the Silver box’s hard drive, or browse for stuff to download. Certain shows can also be stashed temporarily on the tablet to watch outside of your own walls.

If you’ve got Sky broadband, the Q setup has an extra trick up its sleeve. It comes with a special router that turns each box into a Wi-Fi hotspot, boosting the signal around your house to make sure streaming to a tablet is as smooth as can be. Because it streams over the local network rather than the web (like Sky Go or iPlayer does), the speed of your internet connection is irrelevant.

Now add this...

Amazon Fire TV 4K £79 / amazon.co.uk If you want 4K on every TV, Sky Q’s Mini boxes won’t do it – but Amazon’s Fire TV box can. Plus, for under £80 you can almost afford to buy one for the same as a month of Sky’s telly package.

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Alternatively...

Sonos Play:1 £169 / sonos.com

Sonos was making music multiroom long before those interlopers at Sky got in on the act. Start with a Play: 1 and see how long you can resist before filling your whole house to the rafters with them.


SMART HOME

WITHINGS BODY CARDIO £149 / withings.com

PHILIPS HUE from £14 / philips.co.uk

At 0.7in thick the Body Cardio scales are slimmer than you’d ever want to be, but they’re not flimsy. An aluminium base keeps things nice and solid.

I want a... DIGITAL MOT You can’t replace a qualified doctor with a set of bathroom scales, but WITHINGS’ BODY CARDIO is about as close as it’s possible to get. Climb aboard (you can’t do that to your GP) and it can work out your weight, body fat and water percentage, plus your bone and muscle mass as well, before churning out a graph to indicate which direction your vital stats are heading in. Just don’t forget to go to the actual doctor every now and then for a check-up. The Body Cardio can keep track of eight users, so there’s excuse for not using it for fear of messing up somebody else’s data.

I want... BRIGHT IDEAS PHILIPS HUE has come a long way since it first screwed its colour-changing talents into light fittings a few years ago. The basics are the same – bulbs with an app that allows you to control them independently – but these days there are different types of lights, various Hue-compatible lamps, and new skills such as motion control and voice activation. You can even program them to play nice with other smart gadgets around your home, or add motion sensors that behave differently after bedtime, so it won’t dazzle you when you have to get up to answer a call of nature.

OPEN YOUR HEART

SCALING UP

LIVING COLOUR

OUT AND ABOUT

As well as heart rate the Body Cardio can also work out your pulse wave velocity, a very handy figure that used to require lab tests. It’s a good indication of how healthy your ticker and arteries are, so if your number’s too high it might be time to go and see the doc and find out what you can do to lower it. Putting down those Quavers might be a start.

The scales have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth onboard, feeding your data back to an account that you can check via the Health Mate mobile app (iOS and Android). It also works with other fitness apps, such as MyFitnessPal and Runkeeper, so you can import data from all over, check for changes over time and get a more accurate idea of what shape you’re in.

Hue’s most basic skill is changing colour. You can only alter the warmth of the white bulbs, but others can be set to any colour of the rainbow using various sliders or the app’s preset concoctions (Concentrate, Relax etc), or by picking out a shade from a photo on your phone. Ooh, doesn’t the lounge look nice bathed in this comforting sausage-pink glow?

Hue now works with Apple’s HomeKit, so there are features that used to require tinkering in IFTTT that are now baked into the Philips app. HomeKit can ensure all the lights are off when you’re not in, and it’ll turn them on again when you get back. That used to require sensors, but not any longer – because HomeKit knows where your phone is.

Now add this...

Oral-B Pro 6000 CrossAction £83 / amazon.co.uk A ‘Bluetoothbrush’ that tells you if you’ve missed a bit or if you’re brushing too hard.

Alternatively...

Elgato Eve Energy £45 / amazon.co.uk Plug an Eve Energy into the wall between the socket and a lamp and you can control it via Siri, plus check power consumption.

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BETA YOURSELF

Upgraded your Mac to the new OS but find that you can’t really tell the difference? Craig Grannell reveals how to tease out its secret new features THE BASICS

Q Use picture-in-picture.

Q Share the love. Sierra now lets you copy and paste text between your iPhone/iPad and Mac. Head to settings for both devices and enable Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Handoff. You can now copy and paste, but be quick – the clipboard clears after a few minutes.

Q Lock up your Flash. Apple’s clearly had enough of the security nightmare that is Flash, so you’ll now find that Safari blocks it by default in Sierra. You can still click to play specific pieces of Flash content, though – or, if you’re feeling foolhardy, you can turn the plug-in back on again in Safari’s preferences.

Q Manage your menu bar. Once, it wasn’t possible to fiddle about with third-party

menu-bar icons in OS X, but as of now that’s changed. Rejoice wildly as you command-drag Dropbox or Moom and place their icons exactly where you want them – even on either side of the Spotlight icon, you utter anarchist.

Q Give a thumbs up. If you’re too lazy to type out actual words in Messages, you’ll be pleased to hear that Tapbacks can now be used inside the app. Also, Messages now embeds rich previews for content such as videos, and will happily render special effects and stickers from iOS10.

If you’ve got work to do but must watch that hilarious online video of a toddler falling over, macOS enables your procrastination through Safari’s picture-in-picture mode. Look for the PiP button on standard video embeds and Vimeo; YouTube requires two right-clicks on a video and a menu option to be selected.

Q Go maximum Apple. Your other Apple devices can now makes themselves useful when you’re tapping away on your Mac. In Safari, you can use Apple Pay on supported websites and use your Apple Watch or iPhone to confirm the payment. And if your Mac supports it, the Security & Privacy pane in System Preferences houses an option to allow your Apple Watch to unlock your Mac when it’s close by.

PIC AND CHOOSE Q Find yourself. Type something into the search field – ‘tree’, say – and Photos will have a go at finding photos with trees. You can use Siri too, with a phrase like “Show me photos from the last week.”

Q Unearth memories. Click the Memories tab in Photos for a group of snaps Apple reckons are important to you.

Q Close to the edit. You can now edit Live Photos (though changes take a while to render). And if you enjoy scrawling over pics added to Mail using the Markup feature, that’s now integrated into Photos.

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LEVEL UP WITH...

MOOM The new macOS still doesn’t offer the kind of window management you’ll find in Windows. Moom ably manages this with mouse drags, shortcuts or clicking a window’s zoom button and then drawing on a grid the portion of the screen you’d like it to fill. US$10 / manytricks.com/moom

SUPERDUPER! We feel a bit funny whenever Apple – not exactly renowned for the reliability of its online offerings – suggests housing all your stuff in the cloud. We’d suggest buying a massive external hard drive and using SuperDuper! to clone your Mac. £24 / shirt-pocket.com

…BUT SIRI-OUSLY QVirtual assistant. Siri on Mac can do a bunch of things. What things? Ask: “What can you do?” and she’ll give a list.

QStick a pin in it. Don’t keep repeating the same Siri searches – pin regular ones to Notification Centre.

QBe a dictator. You can’t bellow “Hey, Siri!” at your Mac and have it respond, but there is a (complicated) workaround. In System Preferences, open Siri and set the keyboard shortcut to Alt+Space. Open the Accessibility pane, select Dictation, click Enable, and set the keyword phrase to ‘Hey’. In Dictation Commands, click ‘Enable advanced commands’, then click +, and type ‘Siri’ in ‘When I say’. Set ‘While using’ to ‘Any application’, and under ‘Perform’, select ‘Press keyboard shortcut’ and press Alt+Space. Done!

SORT YOURSELF OUT

START THE TWEAK

Q Get in sync. Sync your folders to iCloud and you’ll now have access to them on Sierra-running Macs, on older Macs running OS X, on iOS and on the iCloud.com site.

Q Keep your lunch down.

Q Throw out the junk. Open ‘About this Mac’ > Storage > Manage. In Recommendations, turn on options for clearing rubbish and reducing clutter.

Apple went animation-mad in iOS and OS X; Sierra now has a Reduce Motion feature. Go to System Preferences > Display.

Q Keep your Launch down.

DROPBOX

Launchpad still slides between pages, though. Stop it with Terminal, using the command ‘defaults write com.apple.dock springboard-page-duration -float 0’ and then ‘killall Dock’.

Apple’s not caught up with Dropbox when it comes to sharing. Any item can be shared, but that just welds it to an email or iMessage. So it’s worth keeping hold of your Dropbox account to share large files – you might be able to get away with the freebie version. from £free / dropbox.com

Q Keeping tabs. In theory, all Mac apps have tabs now. They don’t really (eg TextEdit), but you can force new docs to open in tabs using the Dock section of System Preferences (‘Prefer tabs…’).

Q Open any app. Apple has locked down the apps it’ll let you open. For any others that you know are safe, override macOS’s Gatekeeper in Finder: right-click and select Open.

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VERSUS GAMES

FIFA v PES: it’s all to play for One of the fiercest match-ups in football has recently become something of a one-sided affair – but can Konami’s plucky underdog nick it this time? PS4, Xbox One, PC / stuff.tv/FIFA17

PS4, Xbox One, PC / stuff.tv/PES

FIFA 17 EA’s footie sim has been clear at the top for years now, but times are changing… and the FIFA team might just be feeling the heat.

Keeping it real There’s one simple reason why FIFA is the clear winner in the realism category: licences. Both games look beautiful, but FIFA is the only one that’s allowed to use the names of all the real clubs. There isn’t a fake strip or laughably bad name in sight, and EA Sports has managed to chuck in the likenesses of all 20 current Premier League managers (though we’ll be surprised if that line-up is 80% accurate by Christmas, let alone the end of the season). EA’s offering also packs in more teams, more leagues, more stadia, and better commentary.

Playing the game This season FIFA is all about pace, power and picturesque goals. The interplay between the improbably speedy wingers and their targets

in the box is magnificent to behold, but it also highlights the hit taken by the game’s under-utilised midfielders. They’re clumsy, and will give the ball away through wayward passing far too often. Defensively things look solid, but an over-emphasis on shielding the ball makes tackling opponents a chore. Maybe it’s a good thing they give it away so often…

A marathon, not a sprint FIFA’s Career Mode is much improved, and has more depth than last year’s by-the-books affair. Managers are asked to get more involved, and have to juggle increasingly demanding board expectations with the financial realities of building a title-winning team – or simply staving off relegation. A slightly tweaked Ultimate Team also makes its return, and will be the main attraction for many FIFA veterans. But the biggest addition by far is The Journey – a new story mode that’s slightly clichéd but cinematic and captivating.

STUFF SAYS ++++, FIFA holds onto the title, but not all of its tweaks are for the better 110

VS

PES 2017

“This is going to be our year,” say hopeful fans around the globe at the start of every season. So is it finally going to be Pro Evo’s year?

Keeping it real There’s no denying the new PES looks the part, with its Fox Engine serving up high-fidelity visuals that ripple with atmospheric dynamism. The grounds, kits and players look more authentic than ever… but, of course, ‘Man Blue’ and ‘Man Red’ are anything but authentic. PES does have the Champions League and Europa League licences to compensate for missing out on the Prem again, but when Konami isn’t even free to fill out those competitions with the right squads, it almost becomes a bad joke.

Playing the game The new PES is slower and more purposeful than before. Passing feels more measured and precise, and the game’s stars feel uncannily lifelike thanks to Konami’s Player ID and Real Touch

systems. That, combined with much-improved goalkeepers and defenders, means it’s harder to score goals – so this year’s edition is more about the build-up than the end product. That’s no bad thing, but if the revamped gameplay is an acquired taste, PES 2017’s sloppy mechanics are a veritable elbow in the face. Player switching, pass assist systems and shooting sensitivity are all over the place.

A marathon, not a sprint You’re getting plenty of fitba for your buck here. Master League is still wonderfully addictive, and outshines FIFA’s Career Mode in terms of narrative presentation and manager customisation – though the UI is still the stuff of nightmares. MyClub is also back, offering a compelling alternative to Ultimate Team. Still, a lack of depth (because of those licensing issues) means Konami still has a lot of ground to make up before it can call itself a contender for serious campaign fans.

STUFF SAYS +++,, A solid entry in the series, but it scores a few too many own-goals


[ Words Chris Kerr ]

VERSUS GAMES

111


TEST GAMES

Xbox One, PC / stuff.tv/Horizon3

Forza Horizon 3 A third Horizon spin-off is here to secure Forza’s place at the head of the racing game pack – hop in for an immense, exhilarating romp across Australia ince making the leap to Xbox One, Forza’s openworld Horizon titles have left the more serious Motorsport originals spluttering in their dust. What started as a mere spin-off delivered open-road thrills across the Franco-Italian countryside with 2014’s brilliant Horizon 2… and now we’re off to Oz for more. There’s a wealth of terrain to cover, and a vast number of events and challenges to keep you cruising. No longer just a speed demon taking part in a racing/music festival, you’re now running the show, driving to amass fans for the fest. When you have enough fans tallied you simply choose the next destination, or press a button to upgrade a location and unlock more events. Oh, and you’ll occasionally try to outrun a speeding cargo train, or take on a Jeep that’s being towed through the jungle by a helicopter. You can’t run over kangaroos, though. Which is probably for the best. Horizon 3’s play area is double the size of the last one and there’s quite a bit of mixed terrain, so make

S

sure you’ve got the right car for each job. There are loads of them: some 350 in total, ranging from zany supercars to old-school rally rides. Your garage might house everything from a 1965 Alfa Romeo GTA Stradale to a Tesla Model S P90D. You’ve got loads of chances to drive it all too: wild bucket-list events, PR stunts, speed-trap challenges, barn finds (with classic cars to rescue), illicit street races and more. You can custom-tweak any championship and share it with friends or the wider community, and naturally there’s also Xbox Live play. It’s the most online-friendly Forza to date. In looks, Horizon 3 is even better than the last entry, delivering dazzling effects across the land. This is the first game to offer HDR support on the Xbox One S – in fact, it’s the first game to offer HDR anywhere, and it looks incredible. HDR essentially adds far greater contrast – when you’re in a race that moves from night to sunrise, you sure will be impressed by it. Andrew Hayward

HDR brings an increase in perceived detail – everything looks crisper than before.

Shifting the action to Australia has brought a new focus on offroad racing.

STUFF SAYS A stunning open-world racer that delivers mile after mile of fun +++++ 112


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REVIEWS

Media hoard This month the planet is under attack from aliens, ghosts, evil plant spores and indie-pop riffsters

WATCH

Arrival_cinema ne morning, 12 almondshaped, skyscraper-sized spaceships come to Earth and hover silently 20 feet above the ground at different points across the globe. Every 18 hours a door opens up in one of them and a team of scientists, led by lonely linguistics professor Louise Banks (the excellent-as-always Amy Adams), venture inside for a chat. Where did they come from? And more importantly, what do they want? With its black, granite-like walls, the crew’s first journey up into the ship’s interior feels almost like an upside-down excavation. The fact that it generates its own gravity, allowing for some Inception-esque changes in perspective, is not

O

114

the only similarity Arrival shares with Christopher Nolan’s films. The ins and outs of cracking the visitors’ code are glossed over, but then two hours of someone sitting in front of a computer studying symbols would hardly make for compelling viewing. In fact, it’s the relationships between the humans that perhaps most shape how the story unfolds. This makes Arrival a layered, almost circular sci-fi film, which expertly weaves its heavy themes into the narrative from beginning to end. The only point it forces home is as the credits roll, when it makes sure you appreciate how clever the title is. Tom Wiggins

Marvel’s mutants face off against Apocalypse, the latest Big Bad trying to… well, the clue’s in the title. Destruction, special FX and superpowers are plentiful, as are in-jokes and cameos to please comic geeks, but casual fans will need Quicksilverlike reactions to keep up with the breakneck pace. Tom Morgan

Given the talent involved, this reboot isn’t quite the laugh-riot we’d hoped for. That said, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones and a relentlessly offkilter Kate McKinnon are still chucklesome. The best moments come when they’re bringing new ideas, instead of retreading the franchise’s former glories. Rob Leedham

STUFF SAYS ++++,

STUFF SAYS +++,,

STUFF SAYS +++,,

X-Men: Apocalypse

Ghostbusters _Blu-ray, DVD

_Blu-ray, DVD, VOD

WANT MORE LIKE THIS?


REVIEWS

STREAM

Attack the Block_Amazon Prime Aliens descend on Earth with bad intentions. Aliens land in a South London housing estate. Aliens find out that South London housing estates hold their own dangers… By refusing to cast judgement – either good or bad – on the actions of its teenage protagonists, Attack the Block leaves you free to make up your own mind, although you’ll probably be too engrossed to bother. Directed by Joe

Cornish (of Adam & Joe fame), this is scary, funny and very cool. It also features the debut of some fella called John Boyega, who went on to be in some other sci-fi film, we forget which…

LISTEN

So Long Forever_Palace With the Maccabees now an ex-band, there’s a gaping hole in the market for mournful indie bangers that’ll make millennials come up on a happy in a field next summer – and Palace might just be the ones to fill it. The London four-piece have made a debut album that’s all chiming guitars, soaring vocals and the kind of melodies that you’ll find hidden inside your head when you least expect it.

So Long Forever lacks the edge that often made the Maccabees so exciting, and a couple of tracks sound like they’d be a little too comfortable soundtracking a sad bit in an episode of Hollyoaks, but if Palace can find a sound that’s truly their own – and mine their influences for all the best bits – they have a sparkly future ahead of them. Tom Wiggins STUFF SAYS ++++,

Q The Man Who Fell to Earth_Amazon ALIENS MUSIC ON MOVIES EARTH

In this piece of classic 1976 weirdness, David Bowie proves what we all suspected of someone so outrageously talented: he was an alien all along.

Q Invasion of the Body Snatchers_Netflix You’ll never look at a plant in the same way again after watching this classic, paranoia-spawning late-’70s horror starring Donald Sutherland.

Q Predator_Netflix Arnie chews on a big cigar, fires his gun, kills lots of stuff and then makes some corny wisecracks. So what else were you expecting?

Babes Never Die_Honeyblood

Primitives _Bayonne

After kicking up a sublime fuss on their debut album, Glasgow’s Honeyblood are back again and remain as bittersweet as ever. Think Bikini Kill meet The White Stripes and you’ve got a strong idea of how compelling this duo’s brand of garage rock is. Ready For the Magic is a particularly thrilling rush of fizzing guitar scuzz. Rob Leedham

When is a DJ not a DJ? When he combines his electronic compositions with live singing and drumming, à la definitelynot-a-DJ Bayonne (real name Roger Sellers). The album misses out on some of his live energy, but the twinkly digital noises and Phil Collins-inspired analogue drumming make for a rather lovely listen. Tom Parsons

STUFF SAYS ++++,

STUFF SAYS ++++,

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Everywhere you are Read it, like it, share it

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TOP TEN

This gadget has leapt straight outta testing and into our rankings.

NEW

OF EVERYTHING Time changes everything, including Stuf Top Ten placings.

HOT BUY BARGAIN BUY UPDATE Searing with techy genius, a product that’s set our hearts aflame.

A solid gold bargain. Worth owning, regardless of cashflow.

Smartphones Playlist: Audiobooks Tablets & headphones TVs New to streaming Should I upgrade: Apple Watch Smartwatches & fitness trackers

118 119 120 122 123 124 125

Laptops The big question: Which password app? Consoles & Win a PS4 Hi-fi Cameras How to buy a CSC Budget buys 5-minute hacks

126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133

HOW TO USE THEM


TOP TENS SMARTPHONES

118

1

HOT BUY

OnePlus 3 Once again, OnePlus has swanned in with a £300-ish phone that offers a true alternative to some costing more like £600. The tech is as aggressively packed in as ever, but this is also the best-looking, most expensive-feeling OnePlus phone to date. If an extra £300 is nothing to you, there are slightly better screens and cameras available. But last time we checked, most of our readers like a good deal. This is an unbeatable one.

TIPS & TRICKS Above the OnePlus 3’s volume button is an alert slider. Flick it up to escape from work messages.

Stuff says +++++ A big, brilliant bargain of a phone that’s going for half the price of its rivals

Try out the gesture controls by drawing an ‘O’ on its turnedoff screen to fire up the camera app.

O NOW ADD THIS Rosewood case The OnePlus 3 may be perfect for skinflints, but keep your frugal sensibilities to yourself with this luxe-looking wood and Kevlar case. £20 / oneplus.net

Turn on the camera’s manual shooting mode to tinker with ISO, shutter speed and white balance.

2

3

4 5 6 7

Samsung Galaxy S7

Apple iPhone 7 Plus

£569 / samsung.com

from £719 / apple.com

The Galaxy S7 looks a lot like the old S6 but has been improved all round, not least with an excellent camera. The Edge edition offers enhanced battery life, but pound for pound this model is actually the better buy. It sets a high bar for Samsung’s competitors.

The new 7 and 7 Plus look almost identical to last year’s models, except for the glossy jet black option and Lightning headphone output. But they’re waterproof, processing power and battery life have been improved, and the Plus gets a tasty dual-lens camera.

Stuff says +++++ An imperious update of our favourite phone from 2015

Stuff says +++++ The best iPhone camera, screen and battery: there’s no better iOS choice

BARGAIN BUY

8

BARGAIN BUY

9

10

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge +++++ £639 / samsung.com Basically the same phone as the standard S7, but with a nifty curved screen and superior battery life.

HTC 10 +++++ from £509 / htc.com This handset barely puts a foot wrong and has the battery life to survive the most impromptu pub trips.

Apple iPhone 7 +++++ from £599 / apple.com Forget the headphone furore; the iPhone 7 is a slick update packed with worthwhile new features.

LG G5 +++++ £429 / lg.com The first smartphone to do modular design in a big way – the scale of the G5’s ambition is breathtaking.

Lenovo Moto G4 +++++ from £159 / motorola.co.uk Showing every other big phone maker what can be done for less than £200. The No1 budget phone.

Vodafone Smart Prime 7 +++++ £80 / vodafone.co.uk On specs alone, the Smart Prime 7 easily holds its own against rivals that cost twice the price.

Apple iPhone SE +++++ from £359 / apple.com The cheapest iPhone packs all the power of the iPhone 6s into the 4in shell of the iPhone 5s.

FOR UP-TO-DATE NEWS AND REVIEWS OF ALL THE BEST NEW PHONES, VISIT STUFF.TV/TOP-10/SMARTPHONES

O Prices quoted are for handset only unless otherwise stated

£329 / oneplus.net


119

PLAYLIST FIVE GREAT AUDIOBOOKS

A Boy Made of Blocks Keith Stuart A young dad realises that Minecraft is helping his autistic son, Sam, face the real world. At almost 12 hours this is a lengthy audiobook, but it’s nicely read, touching, insightful and funny. £19 / audible.co.uk

PLAYLIST TOP TENS

Love reading, but also love staring blankly out of train windows? Here are some fine books you can read without using your eyeballs…

Revenger Alastair Reynolds

Infomocracy Malka Older

That this is the sci-fi specialist’s first ‘young adult’ book is apparent from the youthful female protaganist narrating and the Treasure Island-ish adventure that unfolds – and his imagination is at maximum output. £19 / audible.co.uk

A political thriller that’s just the ticket for US election year. This is an audiobook you’re going to have concentrate on, but it’s worth it: a post-cyberpunk House of Cards crammed full of surprises and ideas. £15 / iTunes

Digging Up Mother Doug Stanhope Outspoken US comic Stanhope’s memoir about his mum is a scream. It’s a shame, then, that he hands large chunks over to his podcast pal Chad Shank. Nothing personal, Shankers, but we paid for Doug. £20 / audible.co.uk

The Dark Forest Cixin Liu You don’t have to have read the first book in Liu’s hard sci-fi trilogy to enjoy this follow-up. What would humanity do if it knew of an alien invasion set to arrive centuries in the future? An intimately personal thriller. £15 / iTunes

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TOP TENS TABLETS, HEADPHONES

1

120

1

HOT BUY

HOT BUY

Apple iPad Pro 9.7

SoundMagic E10C

The iPad Pro 9.7 takes everything we loved about Apple’s original 12.9in Pro tablet, makes it a lot more portable, and then even adds in a few cool extras of its own. The True Tone display, for example – which changes intensity and colour balance automatically based on ambient conditions – is an absolute marvel, while the 12MP shooter is frankly overkill for those brave enough to use it out and about. It’s expensive, yes, but quality comes at a price.

With the SoundMagic E10Cs you get fantastic sound for the money, a quality cable and plenty of ear tips – and unlike the E10Ss, you don’t need to tell these buds whether you’re plugging into an (old) iPhone or an Android phone. In truth, there’s still nothing out there that can topple SoundMagic as the king of cheap headphones, but the E10Cs prove that it is still possible to improve on something good without hammering up the price at the same time.

Stuff says +++++ Incredible power, superb features and flawless design: the iPad Pro 9.7 is pure tablet perfection

Stuff says +++++ A phenomenally good pair of headphones for the price, plus the remote now works with every phone

from £549 / apple.com

2 HOT BUY

3

4 5

Apple iPad Mini 4 from £379 / apple.com Just the right size for a great portable entertainment hub, while subtle display tweaks do great justice to games and graphic novels alike. Plus it will easily last three days on a charge. Stuff says +++++ The best small tablet you can buy right now

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 from £269 / samsung.com A top 8in Android tablet that packs loads of fab features into a small, lightweight design. It’s ace for reading magazines, playing games and watching films, while still being easy to hold in one hand. Stuff says +++++ Small but mighty, this is a seriously good tab

Google Pixel C +++++ from £399 / store.google.com Turns out the future of laptops looks a lot like Google’s Android hybrid tablet.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7 +++++£289 / samsung.com With a brilliant screen and serious stamina, this is our favourite full-size Android tablet.

£39 / soundmagicheadphones.com

BARGAIN BUY

2

3

4 HOT BUY

5

AKG K451 £44 / uk.akg.com These on-ears offer agile and punchy sound in a stylish foldable design. Add standard and three-button control cables for maximising compatibility, and there’s no excuse for not getting brilliant sound from your phone. Stuff says +++++ Fantastic sound for minimal cash

AKG Y50BT £129 / uk.akg.com Proof that good wireless sound doesn’t have to cost the Earth, these serve up truckloads of detail, with a full charge promising 20 hours… and with none of the hiss or popping that’s often a glitch of Bluetooth headphones. Stuff says +++++ Just the ticket for your iPhone 7

Bowers & Wilkins P5 Wireless +++++£229 / bowers-wilkins.co.uk The brand’s first foray into wireless brings luxury for your ears inside and out.

Bose QuietComfort 35 +++++£289 / bose.co.uk These wireless QCs are high on clarity and spaciousness: perfect for a long-haul journey.

FOR THE FULL TOP TENS AND REVIEWS, VISIT STUFF.TV/TOP-10/TABLETS & STUFF.TV/TOP-10/HEADPHONES


INTRODUCING

NAD’s New Classic $PSOLÀHUV NEW 5 YEAR WARRANTY

BLUETOOTH OUTPUT

C 368 & C 388 requires optional MDC module

C 368 £799

C 338 £599

C 388 £1499

This advanced amplifier includes many cutting-edge technological breakthroughs developed by NAD over decades of creating affordable ultra-high performance audio components.

The C 338 includes Wi-Fi and Network Streaming and supports both Google Cast and Spotify Connect. It also provides access to internet radio stations and can serve as an UPnP Client for network streaming from a local NAS library.

Every detail of the powerful C388 has been carefully planned and perfectly executed to wring out every last drop of performance. Featuring NAD’s exclusive modular design, adding the optional BluOS Module provides access to your local area network via Wi-Fi or wired Ethernet connection and adds Hi-Res Audio streaming.

FUTURE-PROOF MODULAR DESIGN. This NAD exclusive feature allows you to customise your C 368 amplifier with additional capabilities and features, now or in the future. The two available MDC slots can accommodate a variety of upgrade modules including 4K video capable HDMI switching, additional Digital Inputs, additional Analogue and Phono Inputs, and one of the most advanced Hi-Res Audio multi-room wireless systems available, the BluOS music management system developed by Bluesound. BluOS connects to your network and is controlled via smartphone, tablet or desktop to manage your music collection and connect to a growing list of high-quality streaming music services.

You can connect instantly to the C 338 with Bluetooth allowing you to stream music wirelessly from any Bluetooth-enabled device. The high performance aptX codec is fully supported for true CD-quality sound.

HiFi for a wireless generation

NEW

5 YEAR WARRANTY

PULSE SOUNDBAR £999

NEW

The PULSE SOUNDBAR is the world’s first Hi-Res Audio soundbar, supporting audio resolutions of 24 bits and up to 192kHz sampling rate. Furthermore, it supports Mater Quality Authenticated (MQA) high-resolution audio streams, another first in the soundbar category. But it is not just the ability to handle hi-res audio streams that make the PULSE SOUNDBAR so unique, it is how it brings music and movies to life with its natural and dynamic sound quality.

P7 WIRELESS £319 Wireless headphones with Bluetooth apX.

Panasonic

NEW

DMP-UB700 4K UHD BLU-RAY £399 NEW

Ultra HD Blu-ray brings the magic of cinema into the home with Panasonic’s world-class technologies, delivering images as dramatic as the director intended. Take your seats and prepare to be amazed.

P3 SERIES 2 £119 Lightweight, foldable on-ear headphones.

SOME BRANDS/PRODUCTS ARE NOT AVAILABLE AT ALL STORES. SPECIAL OFFERS ARE NOT IN CONJUNCTION WITH ANY OTHER OFFER (NICWAOO).

click & collect available

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TOP TENS TVs TIPS & TRICKS

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Torn between MOTD and Mr Robot? LG’s WebOS 3.0 lets you split your screen across two channels.

1

Want to watch Netflix in 4K? You’ll need to opt for its £8.99/month Ultra HD package.

HOT BUY

LG OLED55C6V £2229 / lg.com

A truly stunning television. LG’s OLED panel can go blacker than most TVs and will dazzle your senses with its brightness; it offers sharply etched detail, excellent viewing angles and solid HD upscaling. It also boasts support for both HDR standards – HDR10 and Dolby Vision – so you’ll be able to watch compatible content from Amazon, Netflix and UHD Blu-rays regardless of which format wins out in the future. If you’ve got the money, this is the 4K TV to own.

Stuff says +++++ Packed full of tech, with jaw-dropping performance to send you into TV reverie O NOW ADD THIS Microsoft Xbox One S A fine games console and a 4K Blu-ray player all in one. Grab yourself a copy of Forza Horizon 3 and you’ll see how much difference HDR makes to gaming. from £249 / xbox.com

NEW

2

3

HOT BUY

4 5 6 NEW

7 Samsung UE55KS7000

Sony 55XD9305

£1299 / samsung.com

£1599 / sony.co.uk

This set sprinkles extra stardust on top of its 4K and HDR brilliance in the form of ‘Quantum Dot’ tech, which claims to offer over a billion colours. The result? An impressively refined performance, and most of the benefits of a top-of-the-range TV at a fraction of the price.

This Sony ticks every box for a thoroughly modern TV. You get the full 4K and HDR package in a set that’s large but not ridiculous for the average living room. Indeed, for a 55in TV, it’s as svelte as we can imagine. It looks great and performs, if anything, even better.

Stuff says +++++ A real winner, and significantly cheaper than some of its rivals

Stuff says +++++ A whole lot of superbly performing 4K HDR TV for your money

8 NEW

9

BARGAIN BUY

10

LG OLED65E6V +++++ £4499 / lg.com A regal TV that excels across the board. There are few better you can buy at any price.

Samsung UE55KS9000 +++++ £1699 / samsung.com Stunning performance for the money, proving there’s plenty of life in LCD yet.

LG OLED65G6V +++++ £5999 / lg.com A superb specimen of technology and design, with one of the best pictures we’ve ever seen.

Panasonic TX-58DX802 ++++, £1289 / panasonic.com One of most stylish tellies we’ve seen in ages, with a great 4K HDR picture and punchy sound.

Panasonic TX-65DX750B ++++,£1699 / panasonic.com This 65in Panasonic is tempting, but falls slightly short on brightness and colour bit depth.

Hisense 55K321 +++,,£599 / hisense.co.uk Even if its Full HD picture quality leaves a little to be desired, this Hisense is still a bargain.

Philips 65PUS8901 +++,,£3999 / philips.co.uk (Harrods exclusive) Expensive 4K TV with an AmbiLux twist: nine projectors extend the screen onto the wall.

FOR UP-TO-DATE NEWS AND FULL REVIEWS OF ALL THE BEST NEW TELEVISIONS, VISIT STUFF.TV/TOP-10/TVs


123

YOUR STREAMING ESSENTIALS NETFLIX

NEW TO STREAMING TOP TENS

Don’t settle for yet another episode of The Big Bang Theory – these are the TV shows, movies and events you really need to watch

AMAZON VIDEO

NOW TV

Boyhood

The Grand Tour

Westworld

Richard Linklater’s coming-of-age classic didn’t get nominated for six Academy Awards for nothing. If you’ve not yet seen the story of Mason Evans Jr, then prepare to have your cockles warmed to their very core.

From the people who brought you Top Gear comes a show that’s a whole lot like Top Gear, only not on the BBC. If you like cars and the sight of grown men acting like total buffoons, then this is for you.

Having brought you such classics as The Wire and Game of Thrones, HBO has turned its talents to the realm of sci-fi with Westworld. Based on the 1973 movie and exec-produced by JJ Abrams, it’s a critical smash.

Designated Survivor

Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow

Manchester United vs Arsenal

Imagine Jack Bauer as the President of the United States. If that’s not enough to sell you on Designated Survivor, then we honestly don’t know what else to say. Jack Bauer! POTUS! Come on.

Tom Cruise has been responsible for a lot of dross recently but this action-packed time-travel romp is a blast – and Emily Blunt is the world’s most indomitable badass.

Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho aren’t bezzie mates at the best of times, but with the Special One having taken half of last season off, they’re overdue another dust-up. This lunchtime kick-off is on 19 November.

A Hard Day’s Night

Parks and Recreation

Cool Runnings

The Beatles’ filmography is almost as hit-and-miss as Paul McCartney’s solo career. That said, their first ever movie is a solid gold gem that blends the hysteria of Beatlemania with their most jubilant pop album.

The best sitcom since the turn of the millennium, and we don’t make that claim lightly. A truly laugh-a-minute show that’s stuffed full of comedic talent, from Amy Poehler to Chris Pratt and Aziz Ansari.

One day, Cool Runnings may be discovered by future generations as a light-hearted polemic on the woes of global warming. For now, it’s a comedy about the Jamaican bobsleigh team’s travails at the 1988 Winter Olympics.

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TOP TENS SHOULD I UPGRADE?

124

Picked up cheap

AMAZON ECHO DOT Guy Cocker

Dot’s matrix

Global Editor-In-Chief Fancy an Amazon Echo but don’t have a spare £150 swilling around in your back pocket? Me too. So I got myself the Echo Dot instead. It costs a third of the price of a standard Echo and has exactly the same AI smarts. Ordering a Just Eat takeaway hands-free, I’ve never felt more slovenly.

The smaller Echo doesn’t really do hi-fi, but it does summon Alexa.

Should I upgrade?

APPLE WATCH SERIES 2 Rob Leedham Editor

Everywhere you are Read it, like it, share it

Pity the plight of the early adopters – forever destined to shovel their precious payday funds towards the latest tech trend, all for the privilege of claiming ‘firsties’ and then feeling a bit empty afterwards. As these dilemmas go, the Apple Watch edition is a classic. The best smartwatch of 2015 is now a bit rubbish compared to its refreshed Series 2 cousin. Superior to the vast majority of Android Wear alternatives, but still… you’re going to want the new one, aren’t you? Time to buy There are basically three reasons to get the latest Watch: GPS, waterproofing and its S2 chip. These combine to give you a faster, longer-lasting wearable that’s much better suited to sporty types. So if you’re the kind of person who cools down from their Wednesday night five-a-side football match with a beer and burger in hand, then stick with your original Watch for another year. Apple’s brilliant watchOS 3 means your wearable is a significantly improved beast anyway, and you’ll also save yourself about £400 to spend on another new gadget fad. In fact, that PlayStation VR looks pretty tasty, doesn’t it?

DO IT!

GPS

Swimfriendly

HOLD OFF!

The new watchOS is free The new models are pricey

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125

SMARTWATCHES, FITNESS TRACKERS TOP TENS HOT BUY

HOT BUY

Apple Watch Series 2

Garmin Vivoactive HR

Last year’s Apple Watch was already the best smartwatch to date; now it’s found its focus. The Series 2 devices come with an array of upgrades – more power, a brighter screen – along with a greater emphasis on fitness functions without a phone in tow. Both GPS and waterproofing make this a far more compelling gadget for exercise obsessives. No alternative is as fast or as well made, or has the same quality and quantity of bespoke apps.

Garmin has a frankly bewildering array of fitness trackers and outdoorsy GPS watches, but the Vivoactive HR is the one you really want. It’s packed to the gills with long-lasting, easy-to-use and rewarding fitness cleverness. That means it contains the daily step and sleep tracking that you can get in other bands costing under a ton, but also the optical heart-rate monitor, touchscreen display and smartphone notifications that you’d normally pay more for.

Stuff says +++++ Apple’s small tweaks and renewed sports focus add up to make the Series 2 a watershed wearable

Stuff says +++++ Not super-stylish, perhaps, but crammed with sensors, sports and stamina: a fab all-round fitness tracker

from £369 / apple.com

2 HOT BUY

3

4 5

Pebble Time Steel £189 / pebble.com It’s very similar to the Pebble Time, but the extra Gorilla Glass 3 on the front makes the Steel a bit less damage-prone; and the bonus battery life means it’ll last for a solid week of proper use. Stuff says ++++, The Time Steel is the best Pebble you can buy

Fitbit Blaze £159 / fitbit.com Almost as much a fitness tracker as it is a smartwatch, the Blaze delivers accurate heart-rate tracking, multi-sport modes and a lovely interface – even if its design won’t appeal to everyone. Stuff says ++++, The Blaze is built to be an ace workout buddy

Garmin Vivomove ++++,£139 / garmin.com Free up a space on your wrist – this is everything you need from a fitness watch.

Samsung Gear S2 +++,,£199 / samsung.com The rotating bezel is a genius bit of design. Needs more apps, though.

£189 / garmin.com

2

3

BARGAIN BUY

4

5

Fitbit Flex £59 / fitbit.com Fitbit’s cheapest wrist strap packs a lot of tech into a comfy rubberised band. The only real complaint we have is that Android support is so far patchy, but it’s a cracking iPhone companion. Stuff says +++++ A fun way to squeeze more exercise into your life

Apple Watch Series 2 from £369 / apple.com More than a smartwatch now, Apple’s addition of GPS and waterproofing to the new Watch means it’s well worth considering as a fitness tracker. Plus you get plenty of stats to pore over. Stuff says ++++, This will motivate you to get more active

Moov Now ++++,£59 / moov.cc Not just a tracker but a trainer, offering guided workouts with voice coaching.

Misfit Shine ++++,£59 / misfit.com The Shine is a £59 tracker that feels anything but cheap. Its app isn’t great, however.

FOR THE FULL REVIEWS, VISIT STUFF.TV/TOP-10/SMARTWATCHES & STUFF.TV/TOP-10/FITNESS-TRACKERS


TOP TENS LAPTOPS

126 HOT BUY

TIPS & TRICKS

Siri on MacOS Sierra allows you to search for photos on the web and your laptop, then drag them into apps.

Save on space by getting your Mac to optimise its storage. This will reduce the clutter from big files.

Apple MacBook Pro from £999 / apple.com

Apple didn’t change too many parts of the MacBook Pro for its 2015 update, but given how good the Pro already was, that’s enough to keep it right at the top of our honours list. There’s a new trackpad and the latest generation of Intel CPUs, which deliver better stamina as well as lots more power. If you need speedy processing as well as long battery life and portability, this is one of the best laptops money can buy.

Stuff says +++++ Performance and trackpad are top of its class, though it’s due an upgrade now… O NOW ADD THIS Western Digital My Passport Wireless Pro This 3TB wireless hard drive is easy to set up and packed with features. £199 / store.wdc.com

HOT BUY

3

4

Asus ZenBook UX305 +++++ from £599 / asus.com This is a better portable job than the MacBook Air, with a fetching design and premium display.

Apple MacBook +++++ from £1049 / apple.com Aside from an extra hour’s battery life, the 2016 MacBook isn’t that different to the previous one.

6 7 Dell XPS 13

Dell Chromebook 13

from £949 / dell.co.uk

from £514 / dell.co.uk

The original XPS 13 was already a great lightweight laptop, but now Dell has given it a Windows 10 refresh. If the last one was the thinking person’s Ultrabook, this is that and a whole lot more. With improved battery life and performance, it’s hard to beat.

This Dell brings quality construction together with horsepower that outclasses almost every other Chromebook on the market. The price is roughly double that of similar devices, but the Dell 13 offers a true ‘laptop experience’ for the extra cash.

Stuff says +++++ An excellent Windows 10 Ultrabook, small in size and great in stature

Stuff says +++++ Not the flashiest laptop, but the top-notch screen is a stunner

BARGAIN BUY

8

9 NEW

10

HP Spectre 13 ++++, from £1149 / hp.com Until recently the world’s thinnest laptop – but this machine still has serious power to spare.

Asus X555LA ++++,from £329 / asus.com This bargain crams in a Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and a responsive trackpad. Impressive.

Apple MacBook Air 13in ++++,from £849 / apple.com If a portable road warrior is what you’re after, this slinky MacBook remains a great choice.

Microsoft Surface Book ++++,from £1169 / microsoftstore.com Shorn of its initial bugs, the Surface Book is a lustrous Windows hybrid with luxe appeal.

Acer Chromebook R 11 ++++,£229 / acer.com This Chrome-tab hybrid is tiny enough to carry everywhere, and super-flexible.

FOR UP-TO-DATE NEWS AND FULL REVIEWS OF ALL THE BEST NEW LAPTOPS, VISIT STUFF.TV/TOP-10/LAPTOPS


127

THE BIG QUESTION TOP TENS

THE BIG WHAT’S THE BEST QUESTION PASSWORD APP? THE BASICS

BEST MULTITASKER

LASTPASS from £free (US$12/yr for Premium) lastpass.com During its eight-year existence (an eternity in internet time), LastPass has picked up the best all-round set of password skills we’ve seen, along with a very glossy interface. Setup is more of a trudge than a stroll in the park – you have to type in your existing logins manually – but it has a great password generator that comes up with virtually unbreakable codes. Once you’ve added all your details, you can check out your chops in Security Challenge. It rates your password quality, spits out a percentage score and even ranks you among the hundreds of thousands of LastPass users. If you manage to squeeze into the

top 1000, your security must be much, much better than ours. LastPass will auto-login to websites and works on your laptop as well as your phone, though you need Premium access for more than one device. Still, at less than a quid a month, it’s great value – and that makes this our go-to password bouncer.

SPECIAL SKILL EMERGENCY ACCESS LastPass lets you add a friend or relative to your account so they can get access to your logins in an emergency. But your other half doesn’t get to sneak around: you can set a ‘delay’ during which you can block access requests.

FOR TECHNOPHOBES

DASHLANE

SPECIAL SKILL DASHLANE BROWSER Dashlane comes with its own browser for Android devices. Plug in your basic personal data and it’ll use it to fill in forms. Chrome already does a decent job of this, but Dashlane is more powerful and works on phones.

Why use a password manager? A password manager app lets you use serious, hardcore passwords, remembering them all so you don’t need to. These apps are password butlers, stashing all your sensitive logins behind a single, solid wall of security.

1

from £free ($39/yr for Premium) dashlane.com If LastPass is the trusty veteran of the password world, Dashlane is the youthful charmer. It’s the friendliest one we’ve used, helpfully snagging all of the passwords from your browser when you log in, which saves a lot of effort. Dashlane also suggests sites you might want to add, so you’re not left racking your brain for logins you’ve left out. You can request passwords with actual words, so they don’t look like the cat walked over your keyboard. And if you have a phone with a fingerprint scanner, you can use that instead of a master password.

KEEPER

THE FAMILY FRIEND

from £free (£20/yr for Premium) keepersecurity.com Keeper might look like it belongs in a bad hacker movie, but its minimalist interface is super-customisable. It’s keen on sharing: you can make a shared folder from the app’s top layer, which is perfect for household Wi-Fi passwords. There’s also a family plan (£44/yr), which gives five people personal vaults for their most un-losable files.

How do they work? You unlock the app with a single login, and that’s the only password you ever need to remember. Some apps let you copy-paste passwords; others plug into apps to do the login bits. The less interaction you have with these passwords, the crazier they can be: how about 25 characters with squiggly symbols?

2

Which platforms do they work on? Most will work on your phone, tablet and laptop. The one sticky point is Windows 10 for phones and tablets: LastPass and Keeper work, Dashlane is just catching up. Also, bear in mind you’ll need to sign up for the paid versions of the apps to use between devices.

3

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TOP TENS CONSOLES

1

128

HOT BUY

WIN!

A PS4 PRO GAMER’S BUNDLE

Xbox One S from £249 / xbox.com

The Xbox One S dumps all the stuff that didn’t make sense about Microsoft’s third proper games console – Kinect, the £400+ asking price, that fugly power brick – and the result is that it looks and feels like an even more enticing machine than the PS4. And when compared to the upcoming PS4 Pro, you can’t help but notice that it also has a 4K Blu-ray player… while Sony’s new machine doesn’t. Which means that if you’re the proud owner of a fancy Ultra HD TV, this is now the console to get.

Stuff says +++++ The best games console you buy right now, thanks to its 4K smarts, not to mention exclusives like Gears of War 4

PlayStation 4 Slim £249 / playstation.com This is the old PS4 squeezed into a 20% smaller package, and it still delivers an awesome console gaming experience. But if you see a 4K TV in your future, you’re better off saving for the PS4 Pro. Stuff says +++++ Better than the old PS4 in almost every way HOT BUY

HTC Vive £769 / vive.com HTC Vive is our VR headset of choice because of one key feature: frickin’ laser beams. This allows you to roam free instead of being confined to a chair. It’s a completely new way to experience games. Stuff says ++++, An immersive, transformative VR experience

Oculus Rift ++++,£549 / oculus.com The Rift lacks its own motion controllers, which takes away from your immersion.

Nintendo Wii U ++++,£239 / nintendo.co.uk While it hasn’t had the impact of the original Wii, don’t underestimate the U’s fun factor.

FOR MORE: STUFF.TV/TOP-10/GAMES-MACHINES

HURRY!

COMPETITION CLOSES 8 DECEMBER 2016

If you’ve seen this month’s cover, you’ll know we’re smitten with Sony’s 4K games console. Thanks to the fine folks at TP-Link, provider of reliable networking solutions, we’ve got one to give away as part of an ultimate gaming bundle worth £640. So just answer the following question to win a PS4 Pro, a TP-Link Archer C3150 gaming router and a TP-Link Powerline home wi-fi kit. And then never leave your living room again.

HOW TO ENTER For your chance to go pro, just go to stuff.tv/win and answer this question:

WHICH OF THESE GAMES IS EXCLUSIVE TO PLAYSTATION 4? A … Uncharted 4 B … Gears of War 4 C … Super Mario 64

The prize for this competiton is a PlayStation4 Pro, RRP £349, a TP-Link AV 1200 Gigabit Passthrough Powerline AC Wi-Fi Kit (TL-WPA8630P KIT), RRP 124.99, plus a TP-Link AC3150 Wireless Mu-Mimo Gigabit Router Archer C3150, RRP £166.99. For full terms & conditions see stuff.tv/win


129

TIPS & TRICKS

Head into the Sonos app’s settings menu and you can set an alarm using your favourite music.

1

Don’t mind a few bugs? Get Sonos updates early by signing up to its beta testing programme.

HI-FI

HOT BUY

Sonos multiroom system from £169 / sonos.com If you want to pretend your favourite band are playing in your living room, there’s no better option than a Sonos wireless speaker. They look great, work with your smartphone and, most importantly, boom out your tunes with dazzling finesse – from the compact Play:1 (£169) to the flagship Play:5 (£429), a speaker redesigned from the ground up last year.

Stuff says +++++ Infinite music in every room without the need for custom installers? Sign us up! O NOW ADD THIS Spotify Premium Sick of playing your iTunes library on repeat? Sign up to Spotify for more new music than you could ever possibly listen to. £9.99/month / spotify.com

2

3

4 HOT BUY

5

Naim Mu-so Qb +++++ £595 / naimaudio.com Complements its big brother’s more refined character with a confident presentation.

Google Chromecast Audio +++++ £30 / google.com/chromecast Stream Spotify to your old hi-fi with this smart and highly affordable dongle.

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Wireless +++++ £499 / bowers-wilkins.co.uk This is the ultimate wireless speaker for the streaming-savvy audiophile.

7 Naim Mu-so

KEF Muo

£895 / naimaudio.com

£299 / uk.kef.com

How much for a wireless speaker?! Well, yes, but what a wireless speaker it is. Naim has ploughed all of its high-end hi-fi experience into delivering a beautifully made, great-sounding device with AirPlay, Spotify Connect and aptX Bluetooth all on board.

The KEF Muo sounds as good as it looks, which is very nice indeed. It may be the size of a beer can but it creates a room-filling sound, brilliantly balanced and packed with vim and vigour. The Muo has the audio solidity of the B&W T7, but with even greater detail.

Stuff says +++++ A wireless speaker that can make a valid claim to be genuine hi-fi

Stuff says +++++ Portable Bluetooth at its best, with premium sound and design

8 9

Bowers & Wilkins T7 +++++ £299 / bowers-wilkins.co.uk There are a million portable Bluetooth speakers in the world, but few better than the B&W T7.

Monitor Audio Airstream S200 +++++ £169 / monitoraudio.co.uk It may look like a floppy skyscraper, but this takes up little space and makes lovely noise.

Cambridge Audio Go +++++ £99 / cambridgeaudio.com It sounds awesome, it’s really well built and its battery lasts a massive 18 hours.

Bluesound multiroom system +++++ from £299 / bluesound.com A Sonos-style multiroom system but with better-than-CD-quality hi-res audio.

FOR UP-TO-DATE NEWS AND REVIEWS OF ALL THE BEST NEW HI-FI, VISIT STUFF.TV/TOP-10/HI-FI-STREAMING


TOP TENS DSLRs, COMPACT CAMERAS

1

130

1

HOT BUY

HOT BUY

Fujifilm X-T2

Sony DSC-RX100 IV

The X-T2 is an excellent lesson in how to upgrade an already great gadget. The X-T1 was itself a brilliant camera, so Fuji gave it superb video and autofocus skills to go with the already top weatherproof build. Sure, it’s pricey, but it’s also worth every penny. What you’re getting here is a camera that approaches high-end DSLRs for speed and rivals pretty much any camera for image quality, so it’s a truly superb all-rounder.

Yes, admittedly it’s rather expensive for a compact, but then the high frame rate, fast burst mode and 4K video recording aren’t to be sniffed at. You probably won’t be using them every day, but they’re great options to have at your fingertips. The RX100 IV is also a premium point-and-shoot that offers all the flexibility and all-round performance you could ever need. If it’s a compact camera you’re after, and your budget’s big enough, then this is the one to go for.

Stuff says +++++ A dream of a camera that barely strays from perfection from start to finish – and has brilliant 4K video skills

Stuff says +++++ A pocket rocket compact with almost no compromises: the perfect companion for your system camera

£1399 / fujifilm.eu

2

3

BARGAIN BUY

4

5

Sony A7R II £2999 / sony.co.uk The A7R II combines impeccable build quality with a class-leading full-frame sensor, 5-axis image stabilisation, a huge ISO range, super-fast autofocus, an excellent viewfinder and 4K video recording. Stuff says +++++ The finest camera Sony has ever made

Canon EOS 80D £999 / canon.co.uk Even a child would get great results with the 80D – it’s the photographic equivalent of playing FIFA 17 as Barcelona, on full auto mode, against Burnley. This takes the hard work out of getting fantastic photos. Stuff says +++++ If you want simplicity, you won’t get much better

Fujifilm X-T10 +++++£449 / fujifilm.eu The X-T10 beats most other choices at any price. It also handles beautifully.

Canon EOS 5DS +++++£2799 / canon.co.uk A fantastic piece of kit that any pixel-peeping SLR fan will get heaps of enjoyment out of.

£829 / sony.co.uk

2

3

4 NEW

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Panasonic Lumix LX100 £499 / panasonic.com This is one of the most capable premium compacts on the market. It can capture 4K footage, but its superb stills and HD video performance are what make the Panasonic stand out. Stuff says +++++ A star performer when it comes to the basics

Sony RX10 III +++++£1549 / sony.co.uk One of the best all-rounders we’ve ever seen, capable of handling everything you could ask of it with aplomb. If you’re looking for a high-performance camera without the hassle of interchangeable lenses, this is it. Stuff says +++++ The best bridge camera you can get

Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 +++++£589 / panasonic.com Incredibly versatile – a fixed-lens camera capable of shooting fantastic stills and video.

Fujifilm X70 +++++£499 / fujifilm.eu A very nice little camera with a big sensor delivering excellent image quality.

FOR FULL REVIEWS, VISIT STUFF.TV/TOP-10/SYSTEM-CAMERAS & STUFF.TV/TOP-10/COMPACT-CAMERAS


131

HOW TO BUY A COMPACT SYSTEM CAMERA

HOW TO BUY TOP TENS

What is a compact system camera anyway? What are all those ‘F’ thingies? And which CSC will shoot the best video? Allow Stuff to explain all… ISO A high ISO means the sensor accepts more light at short shutter speeds. Good for low-light shooting.

JARGON BUSTER

Focal length Refers to the field-of-view of a lens. The lower the number, the wider it is.

Aperture/ F-number The hole light goes through. Larger diameter = lower F-number.

THE BASICS 1

Sensor adventure

All that’s meant by ‘compact system camera’ (or CSC) is a camera with interchangeable lenses but no DSLR-style mirror. Sensor size is important. Large sensors, like the Sony A7 series’ full-frame Exmors, are able to suck in more light, which means at the same shutter speeds they’ll outperform their rivals when it comes to shooting in low light. O Get this: Sony A7R II £3239 / sony.co.uk

NOW ADD THESE

NEXT-LEVEL SNAPS 2 Lens friends

Thanks to adaptors, it’s possible to fit almost any lens to almost any CSC – but if you want proper metering, autofocus and aperture control, you need lenses made specifically for your camera. A Panasonic or Olympus CSC might be the best choice: all of Panasonic’s first-party lenses work on Olympus cameras and vice versa. O Get this: Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II £749 / olympus.co.uk

3 What’s your size?

4 What kind of photos?

With no mirror and no pentaprism, CSCs are a lot smaller than their DSLR brethren. But many models are still a bit bulky thanks to their viewfinder and grip bulges. Thankfully, there’s the bulge-free Sony A6300 or the Panasonic GX80. Look out for small lenses too, like the tiny pancake primes made by Panasonic, Olympus, Sony and Fujifilm. O Get this: Sony A6300 £1069 / sony.co.uk

Street snapping? You want a fast-focusing model such as the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mk II. Detailed landscapes? Try a high-megapixel Sony A7R II. Night-time? A full-frame with high potential ISO and 5-axis stabilisation, like the Sony A7S II.

FLASH

TRIPOD

A battery-powered flash gun can transform your shoot. Not only can it light large areas; it can also be angled, softened or even fired off-camera.

The humble tripod is a must for any serious shooter. This Manfrotto Pixi Evo (£44, manfrotto. co.uk) will pack neatly down into a backpack.

5 4K or 1080p? If you’re fussy about footage, consider one of the growing handful of CSCs that can create pristine 4K videos. Panasonic’s upcoming Lumix GH5 (arriving early 2017) will even record 10-bit 4:2:2 4K at 60fps – that’s almost pro level.

SAVE UP TO 53% BY SUBSCRIBING AND GET STUFF DELIVERED FOR FREE: THEMAGAZINESHOP.COM/STUFF


TOP TENS BUDGET BUYS

132

1

HOT BUY

Raspberry Pi 3

£29 / raspberrypi.org

You don’t have to be big on coding to enjoy the Raspberry Pi. With some basic tweaking, you can turn this £29 tiny-puter into a very respectable desktop PC, retro gaming machine or media centre – and that’s just the start. The Pi 3 is also the perfect update to its predecessor: you get loads more power (about the same as a mid-range smartphone), integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and it still costs less than a PS4 game.

TIPS & TRICKS Plonk that Pi camera you bought on a birdfeeder and you’ll be able edit your own Springwatch.

Stuff says +++++ Opens up a world of tech possibilities for what is a positively diddy asking price

The free, open-source Kodi will turn a Pi into a media centre for watching your locally stored films and telly.

O NOW ADD THIS Raspberry Pi Camera Module V2 Not every Pi 3 project has to be a homage to your childhood console. This adds smartphone photo-pizazz. £18 / raspberrypi.org

Planning on turning your Pi into a SNES emulator? Legally, you must own the games to play them.

2

3

4 5 HOT BUY

6 7

Google Chromecast Audio

Moov Now

£30 / google.com/chromecast

£59 / moov.cc

This disc doesn’t just transform the streaming capabilities of your speakers – its lossless hi-res audio option can also boost their sound quality. This is an infinitely superior alternative to streaming via Bluetooth, with less battery drain and no interruption from calls.

You know you’re onto a winner when your fitness gadget isn’t just a tracker but a personal trainer. The Moov is a honeycomb-covered workout guide with voice coaching and rep-counting. And yes, it still tracks your daily steps and auto-detects your sleep.

Stuff says +++++ If you’ve not got a Sonos setup, this’ll do roughly the same job

Stuff says +++++ The best budget tracker – gives most Fitbits a run for their money

8 9 10

Vodafone Smart Prime 7 +++++ £75 / vodafone.co.uk On specs alone, the Smart Prime 7 beats phones that are twice the price.

SoundMagic E10C +++++ £39 /soundmagicheadphones.com SoundMagic is royalty when it comes to budget buds. For under £40, these are stupendous.

Amazon Fire TV 4K +++++ £79 / amazon.co.uk If you’ve bought a 4K TV, fill it with lovely content from Amazon’s Ultra HD media streamer.

Philips Hue Starter Kit +++++ £59 / meethue.com Start your smart home with two bulbs and a bridge before turning it into a palace with more.

Amazon Kindle +++++ £56 / amazon.co.uk Top of our holiday packing list, the basic Kindle is thinner and lighter than its predecessor.

Samsung Gear VR ++++,£80 / samsung.com Perfect if you’re looking to play Hitman GO in VR, or enjoy Netflix or live sport in 360°.

Xiaomi Yeelight ++++,£49 / xiaomi-mi.com If you like being woken up gently, get this smart Bluetooth bedside lamp.

FOR FULL REVIEWS OF ALL THESE GADGETS, AND TO EXPLORE MORE TOP TEN LISTS, VISIT STUFF.TV/TOP-10


133

5-MINUTE HACKS TOP TENS

IN THE NEXT ISSUE OF SUPERCHARGE YOUR iMESSAGES You can bolt all sorts of tools, games and stickers onto your messages in iOS 10. Here are our favourite ways to spice up Apple’s WhatsApp rival… OGrammar Snob. If you’re on Team Lynne Truss and can’t stand friends who haven’t fathomed the difference between ‘your’ and ‘you’re’, take you’re revenge – sorry, your revenge – using the Grammar Snob sticker set (US$0.79), which lets you correct messages in patronising red ink.

OiTranslate. This app replaces your keyboard in Messages. Flags denote which languages the app will translate between; you simply tap out words and let iTranslate perform its magic. OOpenTable. This adds focus to message threads that are attempting to settle on a place to eat. Pick a location, select some restaurants (along with a time, date and how many will be going), and then vote directly in Messages.

ULTIMATE GADGET GIFT GUIDE

SUPERPHONES SUPERTEST

PLAYSTATION 4 PRO REVIEW

ON SALE 1 DECEMBER SUBSCRIBE ONLINE NOW GET IT DELIVERED FOR FREE AND SAVE UP TO 53% ON THE COVER PRICE! www.themagazineshop.com/stu/dec16

TEXT A POSTCARD Tourist postcards are cheesy and impersonal. Digital photos aren’t as special as physical post. Solution: turn your snaps into real postcards with this handy service... 1 Choose your snap. Flick through your phone’s bulging camera roll and settle on your best holiday snap. Text this photo to the number on the postacard.io homepage. 2 Write your message. When you get the prompt, type in the message you want to appear plastered on the back of the card.

3 Go postal. Now fill in the address (Postacard can send to anywhere in the world), cough up the $3 fee, and it’ll arrive within the week. Return to your piña colada.

Subscribe now and get a free Case Logic Larimer backpack! Full details on p86.

FIND MORE HANDY 5-MINUTE HACKS AT STUFF.TV


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NEXT BIG THING?

Cash converter The Scrip is a 3D device that helps you think about what you’re spending – because you can actually feel your hard-earned dosh leaving your fingertips.

h look, it’s a pretty… engraved… gold… thing. Neat? Super-neat, actually. At first, second, or even third glance, it’s not entirely clear what the Scrip – that’s what it’s called – is. Actually, you’re probably never going to guess what it does, but there’s one thing we do agree on: it looks very fancy. Like a gold, engraved biscuit, though don’t dunk it in your tea.

O

It’s not a biscuit. Thanks, that narrows it down. Well, it’s not a giraffe either, so that’s two things you can cross off your list. But that’s enough

teasing – we’ll tell you what it is. Are you ready? Sure? Okay. Scrip is a copper gadget that lets you make digital wireless payments and transfer money to other Scrip users. Designed to be loaded up with cash at ATMs, it shows you your funds decreasing in real time as you use it – buying artisan honey, mahogany coat-hangers and all those other things you so depend on. The really fun part, though, is the fact that the hundreds of tiny squares etched into its surface are actually buttons, which can pop out to display what you’re spending.

Umm, what? You’re buying something for £20. You whip out Scrip, and after some digital chat between it and the till, the squares pop up to reveal the number 20. You flick your thumb across it. Boom! You’ve paid. This is designed to make you more aware of what you’re spending, in an age where you can depart with large sums of cash at the mere tap of a card. Yes, it’s less convenient than that tap, but if it’ll stop us spending unholy amounts of money on pick’n’mix, that’s a blessing. Sadly it’s just a design concept for now, so our wallets will have to suffer a while longer.

DON’T MISS THE NEXT ISSUE! ON SALE 1 DEC

[ Words Andrew Hayward ]

Physil Digital Moy


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NOISE REDUCING RIBS HD SILICA TREAD

MICRO 3D SIPES RIM PROTECTOR

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‘A’ GRADE WET GRIP

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ZV7 is a high performance summer tyre with

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‘A’ grade wet grip – for drivers who want the

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best combination of performance and safety.

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Incorporating a range of new and advanced

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technologies Avon ZV7 is a lighter, quieter tyre,

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available in a range of fitments from 15” to 18”

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rim diameters with V, W and Y speed ratings.

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For further information on the Avon Tyres range,

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visit www.avon-tyres.co.uk

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Stuff UK - December 2016