12 Feb 60 cool gadgets: Our pick of the best new tech
The world of science and tech is moving faster than ever before. That’s where we come in. Our team has rifled through the latest product launches and tested out the newest gear to bring you this list of the most exciting, new gadgets out now.
Whether you’re looking for the perfect science and tech gifts, want to upgrade your smart home or build a killer sound system, this is the perfect place to start.
Vaonis Vespera smart telescope
The notion of a telescope without an eyepiece to look through could inspire a few strongly worded letters from our readers, but we can’t help but lust after this beautiful new telescope from Italian company Vaonis (even if it does cost around £1,300).
The Vespera takes the work out of stargazing. The scope takes the images hitting its sensors and sends a live-view to your smartphone or tablet via Wi-Fi. This means you can set up the telescope outside (it has a four-hour battery life), jump under the covers and tour the Universe.
The app presents a list of cosmic points of interest to point the telescope towards, like the birth of a star, and the motors and GPS aboard the telescope point the lens in the right direction. From there you can watch the view live, take stacks of photos to reveal more detail and share what you’re seeing with friends.
You can even schedule observations if you want to capture something while you’re asleep. Right now you’ll have to wait til 2022 to get your hands on a ‘scope, but it’s bigger sibling, the Stellina, is on sale now.
€1499 (£1327), Vaonis.com, on sale in 2022
Sonos Arc soundbar
Offering up a hard-to-beat balance of features, design, ease of use and performance, the Sonos Arc, the company’s first Atmos soundbar, is an easy product to love. There are very few soundbars out there that do so much so well. In fact, it’s our pick for the best soundbar.
No matter what you’re watching, it sounds superb. There’s a stunning clarity to dialogue, a fullness to bass and stacks of detail across the frequency range. But when you listen to an Atmos soundtrack, you really hear the added breadth and depth you’d expect from a more immersive 3D soundstage, with sound effects that are placed precisely around and above you, delivered by the Arc’s carefully angled drivers.
Of course, it’ll fit into a wider Sonos multi-room system if you have other Sonos speakers, or act as a superb sound system on its own for crisp, expressive music playback. Its size means you’ll probably want a 55-inch TV or larger though, as it’ll dwarf anything smaller.
£799, sonos.com, buy now from Amazon UK, John Lewis, or Currys
Dyson Corrale hair straightener
Dyson, the company that’s perhaps best-known for its futuristic vacuum cleaners, has spent the last few years branching out into the world of haircare.
Its most recent launch is the Corrale straightener, which joins a hairdryer and the Airwrap styler in the line-up. Unlike the solid plates on other straighteners, Dyson claims that the Corrale’s patented flexing copper plates gather the hair while styling, allowing less heat to be used to get desired results. As hair-styling aficionados will be aware, lots of heat leads to damaged and frazzled tresses.
I’ve got a headful of curls, and while I’ve had my hair straightened at the hairdresser before, I’ve never tried doing it myself, so tried the Corrale as a complete straightener rookie.
What I liked about the Corrale was that it can be used cord-free without losing any performance. It takes 70 minutes to fully charge, then you can unplug it and use it for 30 minutes without an irritating cord entangling your arms and smacking you on the head.
If you’re having a massive straightening sesh, however, you can simply reattach the cord to continue charging while you’re styling. When you’re done, just place back on the charging stand (no burnt carpets here).
The straightener takes mere seconds to warm up, and has three heat settings: 165°C, 185°C and 210°C, with an OLED screen and a chirpy chime telling you when it’s reached the desired temperature. It is suitable for all hair types, with the hotter temperatures recommended for curly or coily hair.
I did find that I had to go over each section of my hair a few times to get a smooth finish, even when I had the heat turned up to full whack. Those with straighter hair may not have this problem, though.
Like all straighteners, you can also use the Corrale to create waves and curls. Despite my beginner status (and aided by videos on their website), I managed to do this fairly easily – the lack of cord certainly made the necessary twisting and twirling a lot easier.
The Corrale would suit straightener addicts: it can be stashed in a (large) bag to take on a night out, and even comes with a flight-safe tag, so you can pop it in your hand luggage when flying. But at its hefty price, it’s probably best for people who will get regular use from it. – Alice Lipscombe-Southwell
£399.99, dyson.co.uk, buy now from John Lewis, Currys or Amazon UK
Samsung Smart Monitor M7 series
This new ultra-HD display from Samsung ticks every box. The M7 is essentially a hybrid between a monitor for a Mac or PC and a smart TV.
By day it can connect to your laptop via a single USB-C cable, which will power it too; there’s no need to plug it into the wall. And by night, it can pull a stream from your smartphone via Wi-Fi or access your streaming service of choice via the built-in Smart Hub software.
The M7 comes with a TV remote too and built-in speakers for some reasonable sound (though you might want to add a soundbar to the equation). All this means is that if you decide to invest in improving your home workspace, the monitor needn’t go back into the cupboard when it’s safe to go outside again.
£399, Samsung.com, buy now from Samsung.com
Grado GT220 wireless earbuds
Building great earphones is a bit of a dark art. The goal is to create the illusion of a big, spacious sound out of something very small. Most of the time, earbuds can’t quite pull off this trick, so you end up with audio that can lack bass, sound tinny or seem distant (or in some cases all three).
The GT220 wireless earbuds from the Brooklyn-based, family-run Grado avoids all of these pitfalls to make the most out of your music. The earbuds handle the big bassy electronic beats of Run the Jewels just as well as they delicate, breathy vocals of Nick Hakim. All the highs and lows have room to be heard.
I suspect half the reason they sound so good is down to the fit. The earbuds twist into place with ease and sit there comfortably for hours, without any danger of falling out. There’s six hours of listening time between charges and another 30 hours of charge held in the case. There are plenty of extra features too, like wireless charging, touch controls and a degree of waterproofing.
£249.95, grado.co.uk, buy now from Amazon UK
Studies show fitness watches can make it easier to keep fit. Health tech company Withings has been making great-looking, fitness monitoring gadgets for years and their latest watch is no exception.
The ScanWatch’s traditional clockface hides some of the most advanced tech we’ve seen in a smartwatch yet. The medical grade ECG and oximeter take continual readings to provide a measure of the health of your heart and respiratory system. It’s looking for signals that might suggest you suffer from arrhythmia or apnoea, conditions that affect millions of Brits and for a large number of people go undiagnosed.
It’s also got automatic activity detection on board, that’ll spot what type of exercise you’re doing and GPS to log the routes you take for apps like Strava. Withings say its watch is water resistant up to 50 metres deep and so it’ll handle a dip in the pool or, in our case, the sink.
Our favourite thing about the watch by far though is its battery life which, though your mileage may vary, will last around 30 days between charges. We’re also particularly fond of the vibrating, silent alarm too which gets you out of bed without waking the other half.
From £209.29, Withings.com, buy now from Withings.com, Amazon UK or Currys
Balmuda The Toaster
Okay, so if I spent this much on a toaster, my bank would call me to check for fraud, but since I’ve discovered the Balmuda steam toaster my toast has started to taste like plywood.
This Tokyo-based tech company specialises in perfecting kitchen appliances, and it’s gone to town on the humble toaster. Balmuda says its oven uses: “steam technology and precise temperature control to bring out the best in very kind of bread”. I apologise now to all past bread for failing to help you reach your fullest potential.
Anyway, the oven turns five millilitres of water into steam, and wafts it over the bread in three controlled temperature phases. The first low-temp phase ‘restores interior fluffiness’, the second starts the Maillard reaction, turning the bread golden, and the final phase (220°C) turns it brown.
It can do the same for other foods too, reheating yesterday’s pizza without drying it out. Excuse me while I go have a very long conversation about why I need to spend £200 on a toaster with my other half.
$300 (£238 approx), us.balmuda.com
Apple Watch 6
We’ve grown to love Apple’s smartwatch. It’s not just a great fitness tracker, it’s that rarest of things: a piece of tech that can actually change your life. The multitude of sensors on-board means the wristwatch can track your heart rhythm and it logs the data on your phone. If it spots any irregularities, it’ll suggest you take a trip to the doctor, who can take a look at ECGs recorded by the watch.
The Apple Watch will also keep an eye out if you fall or your pulse stops and alert emergency services if something’s awry. There are other variables it’ll track like your sleep, blood oxygen saturation and even heart rate variability, which scientists think could be a good indicator of your overall wellbeing.
The future’s bright for the Apple Watch too. A study involving 400,000 participants by researchers at Stanford University found that a smartwatch and phone could be effectively used together to spot atrial fibrillation in wearers, one of the most common heart issues in the UK, though it’s important to note that this feature hasn’t been implemented yet.
Similarly, Apple watches are being trialled as a means of remotely tracking the condition of patients with chronic conditions like asthma and heart disease and it’s even being deployed by the University of Washington’s School of Medicine to find out if it can predict the onset of flu or COVID-19 before a patient is aware of symptoms.
From £379, apple.com, buy now from Amazon UK, John Lewis or Currys
Harman Kardon Aura Studio 3 Bluetooth speaker
Back in 2000, Apple partnered with Harman Kardon to create its iconic SoundStick speakers. Jonny Ive (you might have heard of him) is credited with the design and the product has been a hit ever since. In fact, you can still buy SoundSticks today.
Now, Harman Kardon has updated the original to create something that sits more comfortably at the heart of your home. The glass dome houses a 360-degree Bluetooth speaker system which fires audio in all directions, so you can plonk it in the middle of your living room and hear it equally well wherever you’re sat.
There are also LEDs inside the glass dome, so that the speaker can double as an ambient light. If it sounds half as good at it looks, it’ll be another hit.
£279, harmankardon.co.uk, buy now from Harman Kardon or Amazon UK
Oral B IO toothbrush
Ok, let’s be honest, we’re not totally sold on the idea of a gadget that winks and smiles at you when you put it in your mouth.
That aside, this toothbrush is crammed with an almost implausible amount of tech. Sensors inside will track the brush’s movement as you clean your teeth and map out areas you’ve missed.
There are separate modes depending on your mood, like “Intense Clean” after a particularly sweary day or something gentler for those with sensitive gums. A new pressure sensor inside will also warn you if you’re brushing technique starts to verge into self-flagellation.
£250, OralB.co.uk, buy now from Amazon UK or Boots.com
Philips 558M1RY display
If you end up using your TV for gaming more than, well, watching TV, then you might want to consider one of a new breed of displays built for consoles. This model from Phillips boasts an ultra-fast response time (4ms) at ultra-HD resolution, which means you’ll have no excuses left when you’re sniped by an energy-drink-riddled 12-year-old from the other side of the map.
If Animal Crossing is more your pace, then this model is also kitted out with a rather neat speaker system along the base built by British Hi-Fi stalwarts Bowers and Wilkins, which will make the game’s lilting trumpet melody all the more soothing for your soul. Philips’ Ambiglow tech is on board too, which extends the picture beyond the frame of the display via LEDS along the edges of the panel.
£1,199, Philips.co.uk, buy now from Amazon UK or Currys
Send Superstrata your dimensions, riding style and preferences, and they’ll 3D print you a carbon fibre bike frame made to fit. Prefer a stiffer ride? A bike for commuting, or for touring? Superstrata claim to have over 500,000 possible combinations.
There are two versions available: the traditional Terra bike and the Ion e-bike. The Ion has a sleek in-tube battery (no bulky black boxes in sight), takes two hours to charge and lasts for up to 55 miles.
Superstrata C Bicycle from £2,599, Superstrata.bike
Superstrata E Bicycle from £3,699, Superstrata.bike
LG OLED 48CX display
OLED display tech has been around for a while now, but it’s generally been expensive to manufacture and buy. That said, I’m a big fan of the tech because OLED panels provide life-like picture quality thanks to the way they work.
In a traditional LED display, a light is shone through coloured crystals to create a picture. This backlight as a source of illuminations means that dark areas can never truly be black in and LED display. In an OLED display, the coloured crystals themselves light up as electricity passes through them which removes the need for a backlight, meaning the display can recreate inky blacks and generate an accurate picture full of contrast.
LG’s new 49-inch is one of the most affordable OLEDs we’ve seen, and it doesn’t scrimp on features or specs either.
From £1,499, LG.com, buy now from Amazon UK, Currys or Selfridges
HELM Audio BOLT DAC/AMP
If you’re looking for a simple way to upgrade your audio experience, a DAC (Digital to Analogue Converter) might be it. A DAC is one of the most important steps in digital audio processing. If you’re not familiar with the tech, it’s where the stored digital representation of your music – a series of 1s and 0s – is translated into an analogue wave that can physically power a speaker driver in your headphones.
Just as downloading or streaming a high-quality audio file ensures an accurate representation of your music, a DAC will make sure you’re getting the most out of your audio files.
This new DAC upgrade from HELM Audio is the smallest we’ve seen – perfect for travel or just keeping your desk uncluttered. It’s compatible with laptops and smartphones with a USB-C slot (and iPhones with a convertor), and it plays best with Tidal’s chosen digital format for its recordings (MQA), though it will happily work across all streaming services.
$99.00 (£75 + £18 shipping approximately), helmaudio.com, buy now from Amazon UK
WD_Black SN850 Solid State Drive
If you’re one of the lucky few who have been able to pick up a PS5 by now, then you might have noticed that its storage space is a little low. That’s because Sony has optimised the console for speed, in the hope of eradicating loading screens altogether.
But with the size of games these days and their implausibly big updates (we’re looking at you Modern Warfare), you’ll no doubt find yourself running out of space before long. That’s why Sony has left an easily accessible port on the side of the PS5 for plugging in external Solid State Drives.
However, you can only expand the console’s storage using devices that meet Sony’s standards, like this hard drive from Western Digital. It comes in a variety of sizes and even includes a remote monitoring system for checking the health of your storage.
From £119, shop.westerndigital.com, buy now from Amazon UK
Naim Mu-so for Bentley Special Edition Wireless Speaker System
Our favourite wireless speaker system just got a touch prettier. The Naim Mu-so 2nd Generation wowed us when it launched in 2019: it hits a rare sweet spot between form and function, with a timeless design that produces brilliant sound.
The onboard tech will handle almost every streaming platform and is fine-tuned for handling hi-res digital audio. But now thanks to Naim’s partnership with Bentley, the Mu-so mark 2 looks even better.
Inspired by their luxury cars, the speaker housing is now made out of Ayous (an African hardwood), features an anodised copper heat sink on the back and a copper-threaded speaker grille – how suave.
£1,799, shop.bentleymotors.com / naimaudio.com
Apple AirPods Pro
True to form, it’s taken Apple a couple of iterations to deliver a pair of wireless earbuds that justify the hefty price tag. In fact, it’s our pick for the best wireless earbuds.
The AirPods are still all-white, but a smarter, stubbier design means that you don’t look like you’ve stuck a pair of electric toothbrush heads in your ears anymore.
Unsurprisingly, The AirPods play best with Apple hardware with a setup that’s mercifully painless thanks to the new chip tech. Pull them out of the case and if your device is nearby, it will pair them up, giving you a quick glance at the battery status of the buds too.
Sound quality has stepped up a notch as far as offering something that’s more balanced. It’s not heavy handed with the bass and there’s a nicer sense of detail here. The headline grabber is the addition of active noise cancellation that will help drown out the world. Apple uses outward microphones to detect the noise from outside and an inward-facing one to deal with sound that makes it through the seal.
There’s even room to squeeze on controls into the stem and a very pocket-friendly case will quickly give them a battery boost. More features are on the way too, including surround sound support and the welcome addition of a smart switching mode to pair to the device you’re currently using, giving you more reason to keep them in.
£249, apple.com, buy now from Amazon UK, John Lewis or Currys PC World
Arlo video doorbell
Offering a good balance between price, premium features, and usability, Arlo’s Video Doorbell is our top choice for the best video doorbell if you want a high-quality smart doorbell that works reliably without being annoying.
Its standout feature – telling the difference between people, animals, vehicles, and packages, and only sending you the notifications you want – means you don’t get an alert every time a strong breeze sends a plastic bag down the street.
Being able to create motion zones – so you get alerted only when someone (or the neighbour’s cat) is in them – and the option to turn off all alerts when you are home (using the location of your phone to figure this out) ensures a smart doorbell doesn’t become just another electronic annoyance but a useful security tool.
Along with some of the best quality video we tested and a nice square video shape that shows you more of your doorstep than most, we like that it has a built-in siren you can set off from the app if you spot someone suspicious.
Another thing that sets it on top of the pile is an answering machine option. While no one ever left us a message outside of testing – possibly because most people aren’t used to talking to a doorbell – we can see potential here as smart doorbells gain popularity.
£179, arlo.com, buy now from Amazon UK, John Lewis or Ebuyer.com
Moto 360 smartwatch
The Apple Watch is a great, luxury bit of kit but it’s of no use whatsoever if you are one of the majority of the world’s smartphone users sporting an Android device. The Moto 360 smartwatch is a beauty that’ll look at home on even the most well-to-do wrists thanks to its classy stainless-steel body, rotating crown, leather strap and weighty feel.
This is the third generation Motorola watch, and it seems that this time they have nailed the balance right between form and functionality. It is powered by WearOS (that’s Android’s but you can use it with iPhones too), so the majority of what you can actually do on the smartwatch is dictated by this, but on the whole, the operating system is so much better now than it was a few years ago.
The watch itself not only looks cool, but it also has some pretty novel features that set it apart from other smartwatches. For a start, it is blazingly fast with silky-smooth transitions between screens and no lag, which is important as there is no point marketing yourself as a silk purse if it’s a sow’s ear to use. It also comes with GPS and NFC for contactless payments.
The always-on display is bright and sharp, adapting to the changing light conditions so you don’t need to flick the wrist or tap to see the time. After about a day and a half under normal use, it switches to time-only mode to eke out more battery life, which is great, but that said, an hour’s charge should be enough for it to see out a whole day.
For the fitness inclined, it comes with a silicone strap, is waterproof to 3ATM and in testing measured generally sedentary lifestyle and my (limited) attempts of exercise throughout the day, taunting me with my apparent lack of ‘heart points’. I should get out more I think is the takeaway here.
Finally, as if perfectly timed to launch during a coronavirus crisis, it also comes with a hand-washing timer so you can make sure you’re perfectly scrubbed up. -AM
£299.99, moto360.com/uk, buy now from Amazon UK
EZVIZ C3N Outdoor Smart Wi-Fi Camera
The tennis ball size EZVIZ C3N security camera is a solid bit of kit. It has to be. Within the first week of it being up, and in typical British style, it was battered by hail, rain and storms, before being roasted on the hottest day of the year.
Installation is easy enough, so long as you have a drill to fix it to your wall, and the EZVIZ app is refreshingly straightforward. You can toggle a full-screen live stream and hitting record will save the footage neatly to your camera roll, as well as in the app itself.
This live view feature is ideal if you want to use the camera for other reasons, like keeping an eye on the kids while you work from home, or even as a nature-cam, and usefully, you can also hook up multiple cameras on the one system and share devices among users.
But what we know you’re really here for is to find out whether this is really a good security camera. Well, it doesn’t disappoint. As for the video quality, daylight vision is exceptionally sharp, and the colours are true to life thanks to the full HD 1080p resolution.
But it’s the colour night vision where this camera really comes into its own. It has an embedded algorithm that allows intelligent sensing, so it knows the difference between humans and the neighbourhood cat out for a prowl.
And it’s surprisingly sensitive too. The smart night-vision mode uses two infrared LEDs that can see as far as 30 metres automatically and switches to colour monitoring when it detects human movement. That, along with powerful spotlights, any would-be thief is almost guaranteed to show their face on camera. You’ll get a real-time alert, without needing to be glued to your feed.
Video history storage is via CloudPlay, for which you get a 30-day free trial, or via Micro SD card for local storage. -HS
£79.99, ezvizlife.com, buy now from Amazon UK and Argos
NowLight self-powered lamp
However good your camping gadgets are, it’s a simple fact of life that at some point (probably the worst point) they’re going to run out of juice. Rather than filling your backpack with a plethora of spare batteries, the NowLight is a hand-cranked instant charger that with a minute of tugging the attached chord can power your phone for 15 minutes.
But what really sets this apart from other chargers is the fact that it also doubles up as a 160-lumen lamp, which is more than bright enough to light up any jamborees once the campfire has died out. You can also attach up to six satellite lamps to light up the inside of even the most cavernous of tents.
The device itself is about the size and weight of a small bag of sugar, and set up is easy – basically, just attach the chord and crank – but if all that tugging isn’t your thing, it comes with a solar charger to soak up some of the Sun’s eco-friendly energy. – AM
Meeting Owl Pro video conference camera
Remember meetings? You know, those things we used to do face to face with other human beings? Seems like a long time ago that we were last in the office, but when we do eventually filter back into meeting rooms, you can bet your bottom dollar that there will be a lot more people calling in from home.
Upon that fateful day, the Meeting Owl Pro will be a cool gadget for everyone on the call. For those at home, the 360-degree, 1080p camera mean those (un)lucky enough to be in the office will be pin sharp and crystal clear thanks to the 5.5m-radius mics. The Owl Intelligence System has autofocus and a smart zooming function to hone in on whoever is speaking, while for the benefit of the people in the room, they can enjoy powerful speakers and bask in the fact that it looks like an owl.
£999, uk-shop.owllabs.com, buy it now from Amazon UK
What if your earphones could give you a hearing test and tune your equaliser to reflect the frequencies you are most, or least, sensitive to? That’s the idea behind the Nuraphone, which we first tested a few years back in headphone format.
During setup, the original Nuraphones would fire out a range of frequencies and then measure your ear’s response to each of them, building a sound profile that perfectly equalises the output to your hearing. The company has now shrunk their clever tech and shaped it into a set of Bluetooth earphones called the NuraLoop.
They’re packed full of all the other tech you’d expect – like active noise-cancelling and touch controls – but there are a few extra smart touches, like the magnetic analogue jack that lets you connect to your earphones with wires, or the smart on/off feature that automatically switches them on when you put them around your head.
But most importantly it’s the sound that really sets these apart. Like the Nuraphones before them, what you hear is nothing short of exceptional, especially for a pair of headphones under £200, with everything wonderfully balanced, letting sounds you didn’t know even existed drift into the mix. Dare I say it, but I think I might even have heard the bass track on Metallica’s …And Justice for All (maybe).
The only EQ option you have (or really need) is an Immersion setting, which is basically a bass boost. Of course, all this goes to pot as soon as you listen to someone else’s sound profile, but then that’s sort of the point. We all have different ears and respond to different frequencies, so the fact that my partner’s profile sounds like a swampy mess to me suggests that yes, maybe I did spend far too much of my youth turning it up to 11. – AM
£199, nuraphone.com, buy now from Amazon UK and Thomann
Samsung Odyssey G9 gaming monitor
If you’re the sort of person who is going to spend thousands of pounds on a seriously high-spec gaming PC, you might as well spend a small fortune on a monitor to go with it. The Samsung Odyssey G9 is one suitably spenny gaming monitor, but a quick glance at the specs suggest it’ll be worth every penny.
For a start, it’s huge; it has a curved 49-inch screen with a frankly ludicrous 5120×1440 resolution (that’s a 32:9 ratio!), so not only will it completely fill your field of view, it’ll also fill your desk.
The QLED display should be pin-sharp and colourful, HDR 1000 promises the blackest of blacks and whitest of whites, and a 250Hz refresh rate means motion should appear buttery smooth.
£1,279.00, samsung.com, buy now from overclockers.co.uk
What are the most annoying sounds you can think of? Nails scratching down a chalkboard? Car alarms? K-Pop? It could be that our ears, through thousands of years of evolution, are sort of designed to find these sounds particularly unpleasant to act as a warning that danger is imminent.
That’s great for our ancient ancestors, listening out for prowling sabre-tooth tigers, but for us modern humans it’s just plain annoying. In fact, according to audio specialists Flare, the shape of the eardrum itself acts as a bell, adding 20db of distortion-causing resonance.
This irritating distortion could impact on our mental and physical wellbeing, so the idea behind the Flare Calmer earplugs is that they change the shape of the eardrum to cut out the particularly annoying distorted frequencies between 2,000-8,000 Hz. By doing this, they claim to reduce ear fatigue, noise-induced headaches and overall stress levels.
So does it work? Well, it’s hard to tell how much earplugs can reduce your overall stress in the midst of a global pandemic, protests in the streets and the ever-present threat of a toddler walking into your Zoom meetings, but what is certain is that after using them almost constantly for a few weeks now, there are definitely benefits to having them in.
For a start, it is noticeable that the very worst day-to-day frequencies are reduced, and this has the knock-on effect that they are ultimately less annoying. The same can be said when you have them underneath headphones, and although they change the sounds slightly, it makes music a little warmer and notches down the intensity.
Another side effect that has been noted by other users, not that I can verify and was entirely unexpected by Flare, is that it reduces the constant ringing experienced by those suffering from tinnitus. – AM
Zoom for Home – DTEN ME
If the ‘new normal’ means more time chatting to colleagues and family online, then you’ve no doubt got used to making calls via the video conferencing app Zoom. To us, it seems to work perfectly well on laptops and mobiles, but Zoom has other ideas. They’ve seen fit to release a giant 27-inch touchscreen device purely to make Zoom calls easier.
It includes three wide-angle cameras for high-resolution video calls, an eight-microphone array for clearer audio and can be used independently of any other device as well as a second monitor.
Assuming we’ll all still be stuck in the house for the foreseeable future you can pick one up from August.
$600 (UK price £TBC), zoom.us
Build Your Own Telescope
Do you or the kids fancy a spot of astronomy but shudder at the idea of splashing out on an expensive telescope? The Build Your Own Cardboard Telescope kit is a neat way to get started at stargazing on a budget.
Except for the lenses and mirror, the kit is made entirely out of sustainable cardboard and is designed to slot together with no glue. Admittedly, that’s easier said than done as there were occasional points I found too fiddly to do on my own, so any 8-year-olds would struggle without an adult’s help.
However, once everything was slotted into place (with the help of a little sticky tape due to my cack-handedness) all the difficulty I had in putting it together was worth it for the ‘wow’ moment I had when I finally got it working.
The end result is a 72cm telescope with a sliding tube to focus, a viewfinder and an angle finder. Getting a glimpse of the Moon through a telescope I built myself was enchanting, and with 16x magnification, the view was clear enough to distinguish craters you can’t make out by eye.
As much of a challenge as it was to build, this cheap telescope seems like a great way to give budding astronomers their first taste of stargazing. – Sara Rigby
£19.99, buildyourownkits.com, buy now from Amazon UK
HyperX wireless gaming setup (cool gadgets)
HyperX are big names in gaming peripherals (they even have their own esports arena in Las Vegas), so it’s no wonder their kit maxes out on quality and features. Their suite of wireless gear doesn’t disappoint.
First up you’ll need 7.1 headphones, and the HyperX Cloud Fight S headset has some seriously good surround sound. You can control chat/audio balance from the headset itself, ideal for those vital mission strategy briefings without interrupting play, and the swivelling ear cups on the headset allows them to sit comfortably around your neck for when you need a breather (or snack).
The butter-like softness of the leatherette and memory foam innards makes them plush and extremely easy to wear, even for all-day and night gaming marathons, and is weighted enough so that it’s stable when sitting on the charging pad, but not too heavy that it becomes uncomfortable after a few hours of continuous wear.
The reassuringly familiar design of the HyperX Pulsefire Dart mouse is ergonomic and has satisfying leatherette side grips. It’s weighty and feels ‘solid’ in your hand, but does an excellent job of gliding effortlessly across your desk surface, and the fun part – you can customise the RGB lighting using the NGENUITY software.
The battery life on both headset and mouse far exceed that of a PS4 controller and can be charged wirelessly at the same time on the sleek Chargeplay Base. As a bonus, when you’re busy fragging zombies you can charge any Qi-enabled device. – HS
Cloud Flight S £149.99, Pulsefire Dart £89.99, Chargeplay Base £49.99, hyperxgaming.com, buy now from Amazon UK, Argos and Currys
Ember Mug2 and Travel Mug²
Nothing stirs the soul of a Brit more than the thought of a piping hot cup of tea. However, a cold and forgotten cuppa is practically an insult to Queen and country. The Ember Mug2 is a very elegant (if expensive), solution to this distinctly British problem.
By connecting the Ember mug to your smartphone via the accompanying app, you get a notification when your brew has reached your perfect temperature, and a heating element in the bottom of the mug keeps it toasty warm until you have finished every last drop.
Weirdly, when we tested it out we found you had to use two teabags to get a good strong brew and were a little disappointed that it can’t be charged via USB (something to do with it drawing a lot of power means it needs its own plug socket), but that is a small price to pay for a sizable 414ml mug of perfectly temperate tea. Milk, no sugar (and two bags) please.
You can also now pick up the Ember Travel Mug², which is great for warm drinks on the go (or the office). -AM
£129.95, ember.com, buy now from Firebox and Amazon UK
Creative SXFI THEATRE headphones
Getting your camera out is an unusual way to begin your audio experience, but the payoff is well worth it with these cinematic headphones. The Creative SXFI THEATER wireless headphones use a neat technology called Super X-FI, which models personalised cinema sound from photos of your head and ears for a head-wobbling experience in your living room.
And head-wobbling it is. These headphones are loud, bassy and super powerful, with swooshing lightsabers from all angles when watching Star Wars and explosions shuddering your whole body playing a spot of Call of Duty. And that’s before you even turn Super X-FI on, which takes everything up a notch for an even more cinematic experience.
The headset comes with a USB wireless transmitter for zero-latency audio (at the expense of Bluetooth, but that’s not really an issue in your living room/office space), and although they’re on the chunky side, they are plenty comfortable to wear for extended gaming sessions. -AM
£189.99, uk.creative.com, buy now from Amazon UK
WAKEcup self-cleaning water bottle
How clean is your water bottle? Who knows, but it probably could be cleaner given how difficult it is to scrub right into those distant corners at the bottom of it. The WAKEcup 550ml water bottle has an ultraviolet light in the lid that in three minutes promises to zap 99.99 per cent of the bacteria, viruses and mould that you might have missed.
And if that didn’t give you a cosy feeling of purity inside, for every product sold during the coronavirus lockdown, they are donating one WAKEcup to a doctor, nurse or care worker in the NHS as a thank you.
Yoto Player interactive audio player
Cassettes were great, weren’t they… Ok, the sound was rubbish, you couldn’t skip tracks and they never lasted too long before they were gobbled up by the tape monster (you know what I mean), but as a kid I used to love listening to stories on them.
For me there was something deeply satisfying about slotting the tapes into the player, pressing play and getting lost in a ripping yarn, and the Yoto Player is a modern-day equivalent just as tactile and exciting. Except it sounds good.
Instead of tapes, this groovy little audio player works by slotting in cards, each of which contains a story to listen to. There are loads of classic tales to pick from, such as The Gruffalo and Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, as well as other cards with podcasts, radio and activities on. Instead of a screen it has a cutesy pixelated display, which along with chunky buttons for volume and skipping tracks, the whole device is completely kid-friendly (even my two-year-old was able to get to grips with it).
Whatever the circumstances, keeping kids entertained without having to resort to a tablet can be a struggle, so the Yoto Player is a definitely one of the better ways to keep their little minds whirring and imagination sparked.
As of July, for £12.99 Yoto also run a monthly subscription package which, amongst other treats, sends you two new cards to listen to every month, a postcard and an ever-growing colouring art piece to keep those creative juices flowing. – AM
£79.99 for the Yoto Player + cards from £1.99, yotoplay.com
Theragun Prime massage gun
Recently you might have noticed that social media is filled with deeply satisfying slow-mo videos of people pummelling their legs with massage guns, but what exactly is going on? Well rather than having to fork out on physiotherapy, massage guns are like having a private masseur on hand for a quick post-workout session – the Theragun is the one such gadget.
It looks like a cross between a weapon and a power tool (and actually when you switch it on you could be forgiven for thinking it’s both) but in reality, the Theragun Prime is a percussive therapy device, designed to massage your muscles by rapidly applying pressure to your body up to 40 times per second.
It claims to get 60 per cent deeper into your muscles than other massagers, increasing blood flow and reducing inflammation, muscle tension, and working out any knots that have developed.
Read more about the science of health:
The triangular handle makes it easy to hold from any angle, allowing you to really pick out problem areas without having to bend at all angles to get at it, and while it’s far from silent, it’s definitely not as loud as something beating at 2,400 percussions a minute in your hand should be.
The documentation for how to use the Theragun could do with a little work, and the app isn’t super helpful either, offering only a few routines and a guide as to how much pressure you’re applying. In fact, it was two weeks before I discovered you could switch it on without even needing to go through the app, however, once I worked out this now very obvious feature, I was using it daily.
It was a revelation to be able to pick it up and work on knotted muscles I didn’t even know existed and massage specific parts of my body that were feeling sorry for themselves after working out all day (read that as standing at my desk).
I’ve mostly been using it at the beginning of the day to get the blood flowing and at night before bed, and it definitely releases some of the muscle tension that has built up over the day. This being said, I’m no medical expert, so it’s worth researching online to find out exactly how to use it safely. – AM
Game Gear Micro
Normally we’re not ones for nostalgia, but this almost-keyring-sized Game Gear Micro hits us right in the reminiscence bump.
The teeny, tiny console measures in at 80 x 43 x 20mm, with a 1.15-inch display. It’s got a small mono speaker, a headphone jack, and charges off USB or it can be powered by two AAA batteries. There are four colours available, each with its own set of four games.
And if you’re wondering how on Earth you could play games on such a small screen, then this probably isn’t for you – but it does come with a magnifying glass attachment like the original.
Available in Japan from October, ¥4,980 (£36 approx)
Sony ZV-1 vlogging compact camera
Vloggers, we see you recording your charming videos on your smartphone, and we know you can do so much better.
The ZV-1 is a new Sony compact camera that puts vlogging bang in focus, which as well as a flip around screen for recording those selfies, also has a 20-megapixel sensor, real-time tracking for speedy autofocus (on both faces and products when you waft them in front of the camera), image stabilisation and a Bluetooth grip (sold separately).
It also comes bundled with a wind screen, which not only improves audio by dampening out blustery noises but also makes it look like you have an adorable little mouse on top of the camera.
£700, sony.co.uk, buy now from John Lewis and Argos
Simba Hybrid Pro foam mattress
Memory foam mattresses killed the bedspring, or did they?
This new innovation from Simba has put springs back into its mattress (2,500 of them to be precise). These small, individually wrapped miQro® springs are cone-shaped to support your weight better, and allow air to move between you and the foam beneath.
Simba claims that this combo of foam and springs offers the best of both worlds, making for a comfier, supple mattress that’s cooler than memory foam alone.
From £849 for a single, simbasleep.com
Cowboy 3 electric bike
If, like many of us, you’re starting to rethink your commute, maybe now is the time to seriously consider that ebike you’ve been coveting.
The Cowboy electric bike is now in its third generation, and the new model not only looks like one of the must-have bikes of the season but is also packed full of clever bike tech. Along with a battery that’s built into the 16.9kg frame and single-gear automatic transmission, the latest bike has an oil-free carbon belt transmission, lower gear ratio and puncture-resistant tyres.
As well as new hardware, the accompanying app has also had an upgrade, bringing with it auto-unlock to avoid fumbling around with keys, theft and crash detection, and even an air quality monitor for planning a smog-free route through town.
Yee haw, ride ‘em cowboy!
Tag Heuer Connected Golf Edition smartwatch
Golf, the ultimate game for the social distancer. Not only can you enjoy a swift nine holes without seeing a soul, if anyone does try to come close you can keep them at arm’s length by wafting a club towards in their direction. While at it, you can show off your rather luxurious new Tag Heuer Connected designed for golfers.
The Tag Heuer Connected smartwatch is completely circular, free of protrusions or odd-shaped displays, and is fronted by a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal that protects a high-resolution OLED touchscreen.
But the golf edition watch comes with a few extra bells and whistles, which when connected to the app show you 2D and 3D renders of the course, info about hazards and distance to the green, accurate shot distances and a neat dial around the bezel showing you how well you’ve done on each hole.
Furthering the golfing credentials, it also has a white rubber strap that looks a bit like a golf ball. Very swish.
£2,100 tagheuer.com, buy now from Goldsmiths
Lexilife Lexilight dyslexia reading lamp
In the UK, around 10 per cent of people have dyslexia and a small study published in 2017 found evidence that one cause of the disease could be down to a patch of light-sensitive cells in the eye.
The study said that in non-dyslexics, the cells are arranged differently between the two eyes, with information from one eye overriding the other. However, in dyslexics, both eyes have the same pattern, meaning that two pieces of information are sent to the brain at the same time and creating a mirroring effect.
The Lexilight claims to reduce this mirroring effect by using pulsed light to allow one eye to take dominance, allowing those who suffer from dyslexia to read comfortably. It’s unlikely to be a miracle dyslexia cure, but when we tried one out we found it to be a useful reading aid – check out our full Lexilight review here.
Asus Chromebook Flip C436
Ok, let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way first, this is by no means a cheap Chromebook. If you’re looking for a budget laptop, Chromebooks are great, but not this one. If, on the other hand, you are looking for one of the best Chromebooks out there, well then that is a different story altogether.
To justify the thrifty appeal of most Chromebooks, corners are inevitably cut in the build quality, but for just under £1,000 of your hard-earned pennies, the Asus Flip is a beautifully crafted piece of kit that holds its own against the likes of Apple and other premium Windows machines. I’m not a huge fan of white devices as they tend to show up marks a little easier, but the one I tested had a subtle sheen to it that changes colour when you look at it from a different angle. Very classy.
The Flip part of the name comes from the fact you can twist the 14-inch touchscreen over itself and use it as a tablet or in tent mode, which along with the tiny bezel and four harman/kardon powered speakers make it an excellent multimedia device.
Under the hood is 10th-generation i5 processor, 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD, which are pretty ludicrous specs for a Chromebook, possibly too much if you don’t intend to do much more than a bit of web browsing, watching videos and getting past the first chapter of that novel you’ve been working on. However, as one of the first Chromebooks on Google and Intel’s Project Athena programme, it should be optimised enough to handle whatever you throw at it well into the future.
At 1.1kg, magnesium alloy body keeps things exceptionally light, the keys are backlit for nighttime typing, and another cool feature is the fingerprint reader, which works remarkably well, despite the fact that at first, I thought it was the power button.
Of course, being a Chromebook you’re limited to what apps are available on Android and not all of them are compatible, but that is more of a problem with ChromeOS than the laptop itself, and everything I did boot up worked like a charm. – AM
From £999, asus.com/uk, buy now from John Lewis
Skullcandy true wireless earbuds
True wireless earbuds have come a long way since we first featured them. However, one thing that hasn’t changed is the fear of dropping one of these little musical nuggets and losing it forever.
To circumvent this ever-present fear, the new earbuds from Skullcandy have Tile technology built-in, so you’ll be able to see where you left it on a map, or connect to the Tile network to help locate it if one does go awry.
There are four new models available, ranging from the budget Sesh Evo at £59.99, the £89.99 Indy Evos, to the sporty Push Ultras, which for £119.99 give you water, sweat and dustproof earbuds, rapid charging and a range of funky colours.
Our pick of the bunch though would be the Indy Fuel true wireless earbuds, which not only look snazzy but also come with a wireless charging case.
From £59.99, skullcandy.co.uk
Logitech G915 TKL gaming keyboard
Clickety-clack – that’s the unmistakable sound of a mechanical keyboard when someone is indulging in a little online gaming. The new Logitech G915 TKL is a smaller version of their popular G915 gaming keyboard, so expect plenty of satisfying clunks while playing.
Ditching the number keys to the right (known as the tenkeyless form factor) means the wireless keyboard has a much more compact profile on your desk and thus more space to swing your mouse around, while individual RGB lighting under each key means you can pick one of 16.8 million colours to glow beneath them for nighttime gaming.
The keys’ low-profile combined with LIGHTSPEED wireless technology, promising a blisteringly-fast 1-millisecond response, means this should be one quick-playing keyboard, so don’t go trying to blame lag for missing out on that crucial headshot.
Senstroke bluetooth electric drumkit
Just imagine you’re at home (probably alone) blasting out some epic rock and air drumming like a gorilla in a chocolate advert. Wouldn’t it be more fun if your flailing limbs could actually be put to some use and lay down some heavy beats?
If you don’t have space for a full drumkit, the Senstroke virtual drumkit is a set of Bluetooth sensors that clip onto a pair of drumsticks and strap to your feet, which through the app or compatible recording software, lets you tap out a beat wherever you can find somewhere to tap it out on. This could be the kitchen table, some pillows, pots and pans, or something more sensible like a practice pad.
Once you have calibrated the sensors in the app, through some sort of rhythmic voodoo (read: gyroscope and magnetometer) it works out where you are in relation to the virtual kit and plays the appropriate cymbal or snare. It’ll also work out how you hit it depending on the angle, so there is plenty of dynamics you can throw around while playing, and although it takes a bit of getting used to, once you have the hang of it you’ll be able to lay down a decent beat.
OK, it’s not really the same as having a proper kit in front of you. There is a small but noticeable lag but otherwise, the Senstroke is a handy way to practise playing the drums if you’re just starting out (or locked in the house for 10 weeks) and is a neat way to release your inner Phil Collins with just a pair of drumsticks.
Needless to say, you’ll need headphones, preferably wired, to get the best out of it, otherwise you’ll just hear the sound of you thwacking pillows. – AM
From £145, senstroke.com, available in the UK from Amazon and Gear4Music
Fitbit Charge 4
As well as a new touchscreen, GPS and NFC as standard, the new Fitbit Charge 4 comes with a special trick up its sleeve (or yours given it’s a wrist-mounted wearable).
By tweaking its software, Fitbit now uses its pulse monitoring hardware to keep an eye on the volume of oxygen in your blood. There’s not a lot of use in this in the gym – unless you train at the top of a mountain where the air’s a bit thinner – but the reading can be useful in diagnosing sleep apnoea, a condition where people stop breathing in the middle of the night.
Sleep apnoea is estimated to affect some 1.5 million people in the UK, many of those undiagnosed, so by tracking your oxygen variability (what’s called ‘pulse oximetry’) during the night, the Charge 4 can help you find out if you have a high number of episodes where your oxygen is low. If that is the case, it might be worth talking to your doctor.
In other Fitbit news, the company has also started investigating whether wearables can diagnose heart conditions.
£129.99, fitbit.com, buy now from John Lewis and Currys
MiniBrew CRAFT home brewing kit
Anyone who has ever tried making homebrew beer will know that it’s one heck of a messy job, so anything that can take out the graft and cut straight to the tasty bit will be sweet nectar to any budding brewmaster’s ear.
The MiniBrew CRAFT is an all-in-one worktop home brewing machine, which takes you from raw ingredients to a keg of around five litres of freshly poured beer in around 10 days. Ok, that’s not a quick as popping down to the local off licence, but in these strange times anything that’ll keep you safely out of the open is welcome.
Beginners can pick the type of beer they want to make using brew kits, which cost between £17 and £30, but more experienced brewers can use the app to create their own liquid masterpieces. We’ll cheers to that!
£1,022, minibrew.io, buy now from Amazon UK and beerwulf.com
Get your kicks, without costing the planet. That’s the idea behind these new trainers from Allbirds.
The design follows the trends in running shoes over the last few years: a mesh upper provides lightness, the flared heel adds stability and a mixed density sole adds springiness. Where it differs is in its materials and manufacturing.
The shoe is constructed out of materials made from wool, eucalyptus tree fibre and sugarcane rather than the usual plastics and rubbers derived from fossil fuels. And the manufacturing process minimises carbon footprint and water use.
These Dashers have a footprint of 8kg of CO2 – 30 per cent less than an average trainer.
Gadget Discovery Club tech subscription box
Subscription boxes are becoming increasingly popular, and if you’re the sort of person who likes cool gadgets – and we know you are because you’ve found your way here – you’re probably not too fussed about what new tech turns up at your doorstep, so long as it tickles your technological tastebuds.
The Gadget Discovery Club promises to send you smart home devices, music tech, wearable tech, smartphone gadgets and other delightful gizmos much cheaper than you could buy them in the shops, the only caveat being you don’t know what you’re going to get (hence the discovery part of the Gadget Discovery Club).
Without giving too much away, in my first box I received an alarmingly powerful little Bluetooth speaker that costs nearly £40 new, so quite the bargain even on the one month plan. If only I knew what next month had in store…? – AM
From £24.99 for a one-month plan to £17.99 per month on the 12-month plan, gadgetdiscoveryclub.com
Trust GXT 258 Fyru streaming microphone
A good microphone is not something most laptops come shipped with, so if you are going to be shouting at your screen mid frag or recording your latest acoustic jams, you need to invest in a better mic.
The Fryu is primarily aimed at streamers and gamers, and as all good gaming peripherals should be, is sturdy and black, with LEDs that you can change colour depending on your mood with the push of a button.
Inside the cylindrical unit are three microphones pointing in different directions, so you can pick between cardioid for recording your own voice sans background noise, stereo, face-to-face or omnidirectional, which will pick up 360 degrees of sound.
Streamers (or people like me who spends most of their time on Zoom calls these days) will appreciate the zero-latency monitoring, and anyone who does podcasting (also like me) will be thankful for the multi-directional recording for all potential interviewing situations. It also has a universal screw mount so you can easily adapt it to any kit you already have.
Of course, what you really want to know is how good it sounds. Well, the proof is in the pudding really, as since the coronavirus lockdown I’ve been using it to record the Science Focus Podcast – listen to these episodes to get an idea.
At this price point, it’s a really good mic for streaming and recording audio. The sound quality is clear, with the internal pop filter clearing out any annoying P and F sounds, and the mic is sensitive enough to pick up the scampering other people in the house if you have it to the right settings. – AM
SNOO Smart Sleeper
Babies are fickle little things – one moment they’re all snoozy woozy curled up in bed, and the next they’re bawling little demons for absolutely no apparent reason. For parents there is no more entertaining time of day for them to partake in this little pastime of theirs than in the middle of the night, so anything that can claw back a few moments of sleep before the next round of stinky nappies and thrown-up milk is welcome.
The SNOO smart bassinet claims to soothe your baby back to sleep in just 30 seconds through a combination of white noise and adaptive rocking, which gets more vigorous the more the baby cries. I say claims, as giving it a spin with number two (yey me) didn’t go entirely to plan.
For the SNOO to work, the baby has to be wrapped in a special swaddle that clips to the bassinet to stop them from rolling around as it rocks back and forth. Said baby was not cool with swaddling. We did eventually manage to get him in, and actually, once the SNOO was in full swing he seems pretty content with the situation (or maybe confused), but ultimately the little fella never really had any issues sleeping in the first place (again, yey me). Ironically our first child would probably have loved it…
Unsurprisingly, with celebs like Beyoncé, Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman giving it a big thumbs up, this is a full-on luxury parenting product, and having passed a keen eye over a number of cribs in my time, is easily one of the best looking, but can you really afford to spend the best part of £1,000 at this point in your life? Well, that depends on how much of a price you can put on sleep. If the SNOO works for you, it’ll be worth its weight in gold, but if like me it doesn’t work out, there is a no questions asked 30-day refund. – AM
Pebble Gear Kids Tablet
Anyone with a child will know of their temptation to rub their grubby little paws over your smartphone at the first opportunity (and with it a potential £20 onion bill). So if you will let them loose on digital devices, peace of mind comes with ones that quash all opportunities to turn your hard-earned cash into in-game loot.
Designed with kids in mind, the Pebble Gear is a seven-inch tablet loaded with GameStore Junior, an app store with some 500+ games that are all free from adverts and in-app purchases. The game store is free for the first year (£4.99 a month thereafter) and the tablet itself is cheap as chips, coming in at just under £100. At that price, you’re obviously not going to be running Fortnite, but all the games I downloaded from the store ran smoothly enough, and there were some real gems in there, like Mini Metro and Crossy Road.
You also have a wealth of parental controls, such as total hours allowed and time of day they can play, and a few other additions like a blue light filter and chunky bumper case to protect it from any drops (although no waterproofing).
Most importantly though, the part that will probably be most thrilling for the kiddos is the fact that it comes decked out with Disney skins. I got my hands on the Frozen II tablet, which meant I had a bunch of exclusive games featuring the likes the film’s heroes Anna and Elsa, as well as a stack of e-books about Disney princesses, but a Toy Story 4 tablet is also available, with more movie tie-ins in the pipeline. – AM
Apple iPad Pro 2020
Apple’s new iPad Pro blurs the line between laptop and tablet. The magic keyboard now comes with a trackpad at the bottom, and the hardware inside is now virtually on a par with the tech inside a Macbook Air. The operating system will still be iOS (rather than OSX, which you usually find on Macs), but increasingly apps are becoming just as sophisticated as full-scale Mac software.
Plus the iPad Pro now includes a LiDAR scanner which means it can scan and see the world around it empowering some incredible augmented reality experiences.
From £769, apple.com, buy now from John Lewis, Currys and Argos
Dyson Heurist 360 robot vacuum cleaner
Dyson has given its robo-cleaner some new brains. More precisely, they’ve put a quad-core processor and 10GB of storage on board, 20x what its predecessor the Eye was equipped with.
The extra computing oomph means that it should get better at navigating and charting the ins and outs of your house. Once the Heurist has mapped your home, you can tell it to clean only specific areas via your home or identify no-go areas full of precious cables.
Ultion SMART lock
Got a house stacked with cool gadgets? Great, but how secure is it – specifically, the door? With that in mind, the gateway to your veritable Aladdin’s Cave of goodies should not only be safe, but also smart.
If you’re into ‘lock stats’, you’ll be pleased to hear the Ultion SMART lock features an 11 pin internal system and a potential 294,970 key combinations, as well as a lockdown mode if it gets attacked. For the non lock-aficionados out there, Ultion has stuck a £1,000 guarantee on it, which sounds like they’re pretty confident of its security credentials.
If turning a key is too much for you, the motorised lock will turn with but a gentle tap, and for the seriously lazy you can ask Apple or Amazon’s voice assistants Siri and Alexa to do it for you, hands-free. Similarly, it can automatically lock or unlock when a trusted person is near using GPS and Bluetooth.
The whole thing is battery operated (and should last well over a year) and doesn’t require any cables or drill to install, just a screwdriver. And on top of all that, as far as door locks go, it looks rather fetching too.
From £229, ultion-lock.co.uk
Foreo UFO 2
Life can be hectic. We don’t all have time to go to the salon for facials or sit down for half an hour with a detoxifying mud mask and cucumbers over our eyes. However, the palm-sized UFO 2 is the latest gadget in beauty tech, which aims to give you a full facial in only 90 seconds.
To get this quick beauty blitz you pick your treatment by scanning a barcode on a bespoke face mask, which you then secure onto the UFO 2 and gently glide over your skin.
The device warms and vibrates, which it claims preps your skin to infuse the mask ingredients even deeper, and glows different colours to activate specific key elements within the individual masks. The app will even play you soothing music while you glide it over your face, and lets you know when your treatment is coming to an end (any product left over at end of the treatment can be used for another round).
Some of the power-activated masks even have an added feature, cryo-therapy, a cooling treatment that claims to give skin a firmer and more lifted appearance.
After treatment, my skin did feel very hydrated, which notably lasted until the next day. Perfect for a quick 90-second spa before you rush out the door. – HS
If somehow you’ve managed to turn your pastime into a lucrative side hustle by streaming it over the internet then you’ll probably want an upgrade on the inflexible and dubious quality webcam hovering over your monitor.
Logitech, no stranger to computer peripherals, has pimped out the humble webcam to something of a streaming behemoth, recording at HD 1080p at 60 frames per second, with AI-enabled face tracking to keep you in focus and auto-exposure in case the Sun suddenly decides to make an appearance.
Of course, widescreen is so passé, so you can easily twist the StreamCam 90 degrees and record in 9:16 to avoid any Instagram or Facebook stories weirdness.
Dyson Lightcycle Morph
Dyson has a habit of making us reconsider the mundane. In this case, the Lightcycle Morph is a lamp (desk and standing versions available) that continually tailors the light it shines to your age, the atmospheric conditions, and the amount of daylight surrounding it. The idea being that all of the above affect how you perceive light.
An onboard infrared sensor turns the lamp on and off when you approach and the app offers up a suite of use settings (study, relax, precision etc). Our desk lamp doesn’t quite look the same anymore…
In some small-scale trials weighted blankets have helped people struggling with anxiety disorders get to sleep. The idea is that applying light pressure via a blanket that weighs 10 per cent of your body weight can curb restlessness, and feedback to your brain that its time to get some sleep.
We’ve tried one out and, while a heavy blanket won’t appeal to some sleepers, it did seem effective on stressful nights when it felt hard to switch off.
Simba’s Orbit uses beads sewn into squares to distribute the weight evenly, so you don’t get trapped under a heavy corner, sandwiched between breathable layers that will keep you warm. -DB
Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT%
These are the shoes Eliud Kipchoge wore when he ran the world’s first sub-2-hour marathon in October 2019. The release of the shoes was delayed, as the World Athletics organisation wanted to take a closer look at the design of the shoe before deciding they were race-legal.
The trainers rely on carbon fibre plates, foam and “airbags” – Nike calls them Air Pods – to reduce the energy lost when a runner’s foot strikes the ground, quite literally putting a spring in their step. Running pundits believe the arrival of this shoe will see a series of records tumble at the next Olympics.
Doogee S95 Pro
Most smartphones are practical, relatively stylish slabs of tech, but they are also prone to an accidental dip in the bath, the occasional slip off the table, and the inevitable chip in the screen.
The waterproof, dustproof and drop-proof DOOGEE S95 Pro is a souped-up version of their earlier S90, with a faster processor, more RAM and a flashy camera. Like its predecessor, you can chop and change its accessories, with the option of a magnetic battery pack for extra power or a six-watt speaker attachment for playing some banging tunes.
$499 with all modules, doogeemall.com
Razer Nari Ultimate
These headphones from gaming PC specialists Razers translate sound into, well, vibrations – the kind you feel, rather than hear. It sounds barmy because it is, but in a good way.
Like a force feedback controller, the Nari headset hits your ears and face with pulses of vibrations to try and make you feel more immersed in the game. The tech is part of a growing field called haptics that’s gained a lot of investment and attention as companies seek to create more immersive games and virtual reality experiences.
For the most part, it works. It’s hard to describe, in some games – especially those designed with a 3D audio experience in mind – it helps you locate where a sound is coming from and in others, particularly a horror game like GTFO, it amplifies the terror.
At the moment the software responsible simply converts the game audio into haptic feedback, which means confusingly the music provided creates vibrations too. But eventually, if it can single out audio channels this tech could provide next-level immersion for dedicated gamers.
Looking for even more cool gadgets?
Wow, you’ve made it this far… you must really like gadgets! That’s great, but the fun doesn’t end here. We regularly update this list so bookmark it if you want to see the latest tech news and what we reckon are the must-have gadgets to get your mitts on this year.
And if you think we’ve missed some blindingly obvious devices then us know on Twitter and we’ll have a look at it in the near future.