13 Feb The Smartest Gadgets a Man Can Buy in 2021
To paraphrase Ferris Bueller, tech moves pretty fast – and if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss the chance to own a drone with a 12 megapixel camera which starts hovering when it recognises your face. So keep up with our weekly pick of the best gadgets and tech out right now, whether you’re after something simple to make your every day more frictionless or something a bit special. To be specific, the ‘something a bit special’ is a tennis kitbag that also fires tennis balls at you.
1 Ring Stick Up Camera
Doorbell cameras have exploded in popularity over the past few years, but affordable home security doesn’t have to stop there. Bolster your set-up with a few of these Ring Stick Up Cameras, which you can sync with the rest of your devices to create across-the-board protection. They’re easily mountable to any wall, inside or out, and provide 1080p HD video two-way talk and motion-activated notifications. The battery pack is easily removed, too, so you don’t have to take it down each time.
Ring Stick Up Camera, £89
2 Klipsch T5 II True Wireless Earphones
American brand Klipsch have been at the top of the audio game for 75 years, so it’s surprising that they only decided to move into the headphone and earphone space in 2007. Suffice to say they’ve made up for lost time with a string of acclaimed models, and their most recent release is very impressive indeed. The T5 II True Wireless earphones feature the same advanced acoustic engineering as the brand’s celebrated home speaker range, as well eight hours of battery, six pairs of patented contour ear tips and a useful transparency mode that allows you to listen in on your surroundings without fiddling about. Top stuff.
Klipsch T5 II True Wireless Earphones, £184
3 Marshall Acton II Speaker
Most Bluetooth speakers are much of a muchness nowadays. We’ve got nothing against the current crop of slick cylinders in matte blacks and greys – in fact, we like them a lot – but they can sometimes lack character. Step forward the Marshall Action II, a powerful mini speaker modelled on British music brand Marshall’s legendary guitar amplifiers. It arrives with a sound range of up to thirty feet and a dedicated smartphone app that allows you to tinker with your tracks.
Marshall Acton II Speaker, £189
4 Polar Vantage V2
The Vantage V2, from Finnish sport tech brand Polar, is a satisfyingly lightweight and minimalist fitness tracker that takes a 360 approach to health. As well as drilling down into your running, swimming and cycling sessions, it also comes with tools that help you to identify if you’re straining yourself too hard – helping you to avoid injuries and dispiriting setbacks. You’ll also get full access to the brand’s data-driven program, Polar Flow, which keeps track of all of your training stats. That’s not to mention the 40 hours of battery life, advanced wrist-based heart monitor, mindfulness tools and more.
Polar Vantage V2, £449
5 Leica M10-R Digital Rangefinder Camera
Look, it isn’t cheap. That much is obvious. But we’ve had a little look at your Instagram profile (it doesn’t matter how), and we’re sorry to say that it’s going to need some serious investment – sadly, a black and white iPhone filter does not a good picture make. With the Leica M10-R, you’ll be getting a beautiful and brilliant camera from one of the most seasoned manufacturers in the game. Compact and incredibly easy to use, with an impressive 40-megapixel sensor, it’s the perfect base from which to delve into the often tricky and confusing world of photography.
M10-R Digital Rangefinder Camera, £7100
6 Steamery Cirrus No. 2 Travel Steamer
Ironing boards are for schmucks. Well, maybe that’s unfair – but they’re definitely for people who Can Be Bothered. If you are not one of those people, but also need to keep up appearances on Zoom, then we suggest you invest in a lightweight portable steamer. It’ll easily remove creases from clothes and help to get rid of odours, too. One of the most important considerations when buying one is the water tank capacity (you don’t want to pop to the sink for a refill every 30 seconds), and this Cirrus No. 2 model from Steamery runs for six minutes at a time. Not only that, but it comes with a detachable brush for more delicate fabrics like silk and wool, and a stainless-steel plate.
Steamery Cirrus No. 2 Travel Steamer, £110
7 Pixel 5 5G
So you want to jump aboard the good ship 5G, but don’t know which phone you should opt for? Google’s Pixel range is one of our favourites, and the newest model is impressively affordable. That doesn’t mean it’s skimped on power or features, however: the camera software is better than ever, and the Snapdragon 765G chipset combines with 8GB of RAM for a seamless experience. As ever, the design of the model and the operating system are extremely clean and smooth, and it can easily be used in one hand (more than you can say for most flagship phones.) Another win.
Pixel 5, carphonewarehouse.com
8 Bose Smart Sound Bar 300
Listen, you deserve a top tier sound bar. You just do! It makes the TV experience so much more immersive, even if you exclusively watch Come Dine With Me re-runs (scratch that; especially if you exclusively watch Come Dine With Me re-runs.) The sleek Bose Smart Sound Bar 300 is one of our favourites: it boasts four full-range drivers, a central dome tweeter and two ports, and is built-in with Google Assistant, and Alexa with Voice4Video tech (the last one allows you to control your TV by voice, too). Top stuff.
Bose Smart Sound Bar 300, £399.99, johnlewis.com
9 Sage Combi Wave 3 in 1
Are microwaves boring? Generally speaking, yes. But what happens when you trick one out with an air fryer, a convection oven and an inverter circuit that helps to cook food more evenly? What happens when that very same microwave allows you to cook a whole chicken to juicy, crispy-skinned perfection? What then? Well, it becomes a lot more exciting. The Sage 3-in-1 is the perfect multi-function machine for those of us who struggle to cook the sprawling meals we want with only one oven, but it’s also a great choice for people who want to approach fried food in a healthier way. (It’s good for a simple steaming bowl of porridge, too).
The Combi Wave 3 in 1, £399.95, sageappliances.com
10 Focal for Bentley Radiance Headphones
Focal and Bentley have teamed up again to create these: a pair of refined high-fidelity headphones inspired by design elements of the EXP 100 GT concept car. There are the copper accents, and the diamond lattice pattern, as well as the earcups crafted in soft Pittards gloving leather. Engineered, developed and crafted in France, you’d struggle to find headphones that make quite as much of a statement. (That statement being, ‘I have really, really nice headphones’)
Focal for Bentley Radiance Headphones, £1199, bentleymotors.com
11 Surface Pro X
Tablets have come a long way, and it doesn’t get much sleeker or more powerful than the Surface Pro X. Whatever line of work you’re in, Microsoft’s machine can make things easier for you – and it goes without saying that it makes keeping in touch over Zoom a lot more satisfying (it’s essentially all-screen).
Microsoft Surface Pro, £999, microsoft.com
12 Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
The most impressive True Wireless device we’ve tried in a long time. Sitting comfortably and securely in the ear through exercise sessions, these sweat-and-water-resistant earbuds boast brilliant noise-cancelling technology which you can toggle with using the Bose app. The sound quality is top tier, too, and the battery life is solid: six hours from a single charge, and the wireless charging case provides two extra charges, amounting to 18 hours in total. Not exactly cheap, but they’re one of the best options on the market.
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, £249, johnlewis.com
13 Chipolo One Bluetooth Key Finder
In the immortal words of Mr. Zip: Have you ever been in this situation where you lost your keys and your mobile phone? Where me keys? Where me phone? Where me keys? Where me phone?
Of course you have! Too many times. But worry not, because we have just the thing to help you. The Chipolo, made from recycled fishing nets, emits a 120db loud sound that help you find your keys, phones and other valuables. What’s more, the battery life lasts up to two years and is easily replaceable. An affordably priced device that could come in very, very handy.
Chipol One Bluetooth Key Finder, £26, amazon.co.uk
14 Nintendo Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros.
To celebrate the 35th anniversary of Mario, Nintendo is releasing a retro Game & Watch console (the company’s first handheld from 1980) featuring Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels (still way too hard, even as an adult) and Ball (Mario version). Extremely light and pocket-friendly, the novelty value is undeniable – but it’s also perfect back-up for your Nintendo Switch, should it run out of juice mid train journey/flight/Zoom meeting.
Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros., £49.99, game.co.uk
15 Nurvv Run
If you’ve ever wanted to improve your running form, or even just get a deeper overview of your work-outs than smartwatches can provide, then the Nurvv Run is here to help. Slip a pair of smart sensor insoles into your running shoes, connect them to GPS and your mobile phone, and be on your way. By the end of your run you’ll be treated to a deep breakdown of your cadence, foot strike, balance, pronation, step length and more. Then, with the help of biomechanics and coaching, you can work towards fixing any faults, fine-tuning your approach and, perhaps most importantly, avoiding injury.
NURVV Run Insoles & Coaching App, £249.99, nurvv.com
16 Harman Citation 200
A new portable speaker coming for Sonos’s crown, the Citation 200 has a lot going for it. First of all, Harman’s model is £100 cheaper than the Move while still maintaining premium sound quality and a good selection of features (Google Assistant, Apple AirPlay and Chromecast). Unlike the modern, all-black, minimalist Move, the Citation 200’s wool fabric overlay (available in black or grey, by Kvadrat) blends perfectly with softer, more neutral furniture, a good thing for music fans with mid-century or Scandi-inspired rooms. The rechargeable battery life is also impressive: a full 8 hours, making it perfect for outdoor use (as does its IPX4 splash-proof construction).
Harman Citation 200, £279, harmankardon.co.uk
17 Sony Walkman NW A105
It’s a tough sell, in many ways. A walkman in the age of smartphones. Nobody can say that Sony’s upgraded NW-A105 is born out of necessity, but we’d argue that it certainly has its benefits for any music fan who wants to take a much-needed detox from their apps, texts and emails. Running on Android 9, the 16GB device plays almost any audio format – including high-standard FLAC files – which makes this sleek machine a perfect option for enthusiasts who want to listen to their music in the highest quality possible, without any distractions. The battery life isn’t quite as good as it could be, and there’s no 2.5mm port for serious audiophiles, but all in all it’s a great way to enjoy your music without being drawn into the endless scroll of your Twitter feed.
Sony Nw-A105, £319.93, amazon.co.uk
18 Fitbit Sense
In the minds of millennials, fitness and wellness are the yin and yang of a balanced lifestyle. Sitting down to practise your breathing can, in theory, be just as beneficial as puffing your way through a 10k. To that end, the Fitbit Sense, with its temperature, stress, blood oxygen, sleep and fitness trackers, aims to cover all the bases. The new heart rhythm sensor – an ECG app that helps to assess your ticker for atrial fibrillation – is particularly impressive, ditto the stress sensor (in which you place your palm over the face of the watch and track changes over time) and guided meditation features. It also takes blood oxygen levels while you sleep, and the fitness apps are as good as ever. A great all-rounder for anyone who wants to take care of their physical and mental health.
Fitbit Sense, £299, amazon.co.uk
19 Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit
Japanese gaming giants Nintendo have been dabbling with augmented reality for decades, and it hasn’t always worked out for the best. Rest assured, though, that Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit is just as fun and subtly ground-breaking as it looks. The pack provides a kart and character (we got Mario, the standard, although other models are available), as well as cardboard props that enable you to create a track around your living space. The kart itself hosts a camera, which you can view through your Nintendo Switch screen as you race around rooms (using the Switch’s controls). Different tracks within the game itself introduce AR enemies, power-ups, themes and obstacles, and while we haven’t tried racing against other players yet, we assume it will equal measures fun and violent. A game that has the power to transport anyone right back to their childhood, by way of the laundry room.
Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit, £99, amazon.co.uk
20 Therabody Wave Roller
Designed to improve flexibility, supercharge recovery and create an all-round soothing experience for your muscles. Therabody, the market leaders for massage guns, have released a Bluetooth-enabled foam roller for targeted relief before and after workouts. It boasts top-of-the-range vibration technology, as well as five intensity settings and an app that allows you to tailor your approach. It’s pretty quiet, too, and features a 3-hour battery life. Top stuff.
21 Naim Mu-so X Bentley Wireless Speaker System
Bentley Motors and British hi-fi manufacturer Naim have been working together for 12 years now, and this is undoubtedly their most stylish collaboration yet. Crafted with stained, sustainable African hardwood, this take on the award-winning Naim Mu-so all-in-one music system is an impressive evolution of the much-loved second-generation model, released in 2016. The colour accents are pulled from the Bentley Mulliner Bacalar, and the car brand’s signature lattice also features. It’s set for release in October, and you’ll be able to pick one up for £1799.
22 Zwift Runpod
Treadmill running is boring, but sometimes it’s a necessity. So how can you liven things up a bit? By adding a sense of competition, of course. You could angrily stare out your fellow runners or engage in some trash talk, or – and we think this is the better option – you could invest in a Zwift Runpod. Fix the device to one of your shoes and you’ll receive an avatar on a virtual island full of other runners, who you can challenge or join for workouts. Then you can watch it all unfold on your device, keeping an eye on your key stats and earning achievements along the way.
23 EPOS Adapt 660 Headphones
Millions across the world will be Zooming with colleagues for the foreseeable future, so it’s about time that you invested in some suitable tech. Headphones are the first port-of-call, really: your partner/family/housemates shouldn’t have to suffer your endless ‘brainstorm sessions’ any more, and your workmates shouldn’t have to see inside your ear canal as you to strain to hear through your laptop’s tinny speakers. The EPOS 660s are the perfect solution: light and comfortable, they’re packed with impressive noise cancelling tech and four built-in beam-forming mics (which use special artificial intelligence to lower outside noise as you speak.)
24 Google Pixel 4a
The Google Pixel 4 has a brilliant camera, but you knew that already. Google’s smartphone range has been leading the pack for years when it comes to image quality and innovative photography features, and the surprisingly affordable and compact 5.81-inch Pixel 4 model is no different, thanks to its 12.2MP f/1.7 rear camera, which packs in live HDR+ capabilities, Super Res Zoom, upgraded Night Sight, and astrophotography features. The OS is typically fast and slick, and the AMOLED display is brilliantly vibrant. We also welcome the glorious return of the headphone jack, which we all feared was a thing of the past. There are a lot of mid-market options out there, but Google’s effort is possibly the sleekest and most impressive option on the market. Plus: no bezel!
Google Pixel 4, £349, argos.co.uk
25 Transparent Speaker
This slightly scaled down version of the big Transparent Speaker is only 15 inches tall but packs a punch as well as adding a bit of style to your stack. A bit American Psycho, though you’re obviously under no obligation to blast Phil Collins’ ‘Sussudio’ while chopping up City boys.
Mr Porter, £450
26 RHA TrueConnect 2 earbuds
Glasgow’s RHA Audio turn out very handy wireless headphones, and this updated version of their earbud model takes what was good about the original and beefs it up a little. The battery now runs for nine hours, and the pleasingly sturdy charging case adds another 35 hours. Stronger Bluetooth, louder sound, more resistant to muck and dust: it’s all beefed.
27 Nanoleaf Shapes kit
Give your living room a 2001: A Space Odyssey reinvention with ultra-thin modular smart lights which you can turn into all sorts, including touch-sensitive or music-responsive lighting and mirror screening. You don’t need to drill either – there’s wall-saving mounting tape included. The shapes are endlessly remixable, so you can keep playing around and finding new ways to light things up.
28 Gilette heated razor kit
The chill blade of a slightly too cold razor on your cheek probably isn’t one of the most pressing difficulties of life in the 2020s, granted, but it’s still something that you can do something about. Gilette’s new one comes with a heating bar that gives you the instant sensation that the five blades crossing your face are being immediately followed by a hot towel. It warms up near enough instantly to either 43 or 50 degrees centigrade – your choice, sir – and charges wirelessly on its stand.
29 Slinger Bag
Full of the joys of summer, you decide to finally organise that tennis match with your friends. But you haven’t practised in years, and so every ball ends up in the net or a distant car park. After an hour of sweat-soaked frustration, you throw a McEnroe and retire to the pub. Same time next year?
But before then, you should probably get some practise in. Introducing the Slinger Bag: a tennis ball launcher and your best friend on the court. A transportable suitcase that carries 72 balls and all kinds of tech (including a remote), you can control the speed, frequency and angle of the shots to ensure that you’re ready for any situation. There’s also room for all your gear, and it has a camera holder that will enable you to analyse your form (with a phone charger attached, to make sure it can go a full session). The telescopic ball tube will make easy work of pick-up, too.
30 Kokoon ANC sleep headphones
Sleeping can be tricky at the minute. That’s OK. Relax. Breathe. Pop your noise-cancelling headphones on. The silicon’s so soft you’ll not notice you’re wearing them. Let yourself drift off with sleep podcasts and soundscapes, while brainwave and motion sensors keep track of how snoozy you are and nudge you gently into the land of nod.
31 Theragun Mini
A lot of sports professionals sing the praises of the Theragun – the rapid-movement deep muscle massager designed to aid recovery and relieve tension – but the price and size of the device can prove prohibitive to casual gym-goers. But now we have the Mini – the little but no less beastly brother of the Theragun, featuring three power settings ranging up to a 2,400 percussions per minute. It’s highly transportable and boasts new quieting tech, and while you can’t sync it up to the app, that’s a small concession to make for a big price drop.
32 Senstroke virtual drum kit
In the grand ranking of the least neighbourly pastimes you could take up during lockdown, learning to play the drums is right up there with indoor trampolining and smelting. Senstroke, though, uses sensors hooked up to its app to give you a near-silent way to clonk through ‘Use Somebody’ repeatedly for four hours. The app comes with lessons for absolute beginners upward.
33 Sonos Arc
A sleek new line-up of Sonos speakers are now available to pre-order, and the Arc smart soundbar looks the most exciting. It promises cinema-quality sound, with eight woofers and Dolby Atos – a new technology standard that really amps up the capabilities of surround sound. It’s as stylish and understated as you’d expect a Sonos soundbar to be, too. Elsewhere, the company is introducing the Sonos Sub Gen 3 (a new look with deep bass capabilities) and the Five (ditto, coming in the cheapest at £499). All three devices are available globally from 10 June, and you can pre-order them here.
34 REBO Wall
Who needs mates when you’ve got a wall? In the sport-less age of social distancing, the weather-proof REBO Wall is an ultra-premium way to keep fit and sharpen your tennis, football and cricket skills. With a high-density sound insulation core made from 70% recycled material, you can shift the astroturf wall’s angle to prepare yourself for any shot and increase your reaction speed with hundreds of drills. It’s also backed by a number of famous tennis trainers who offer private online sessions with the device. Take a look at Andy Murray making use of his own Rebo here.
Rebo Wall, starting at £9,995
35 Bosch IXO cordless drill
Presumably, you have a drill. You look at it sometimes, wondering when it will next taste sweet wood dust in its teeth again. But nothing needs drilling, not right now. You put it away again. Bosch’s IXO has been around a while, but its newest iteration can be put to work as a corkscrew, a barbecue lighter, or a salt and pepper mill.
36 Evolve Stoke Electric Skateboard
The name ‘Evolve Stoke’ sounds like a drum and bass night in the Potteries, and the skateboard’s just as terrifying as that sounds. Powered by a 3000-watt dual motor, it’s responsive and nimble to ride, and it’s made of eco-friendly bamboo and fibreglass too.
37 Master Lock Biometric Padlock
A normal padlock is boring. Practical? Sure. Essential for securing your bits and pieces? Undoubtedly. But a biometric padlock which opens with your thumbprint – buddy, you’re basically turning your shed/bike chain/secret stash of Wispas into a secure facility. You’re not just locking up your lawnmower/bike/choc. You’re a master spy.
38 Polaroid OneStep 2 i-type camera
This rejig of the original OneStep simplifies things and adds a few tweaks – the viewfinder’s easier to use, the flash is more powerful, it’s got a self-timer and there’s a fresh two-tone paint job – so you’re pretty much ready to go straight out of the box. Just add some film and you’re away.
39 Sage Fast Slow Multi-cooker
One from the bulging bald brain of Heston Blumenthal, this is part pressure cooker, part slow cooker, part robo-chef. Its sensors at both the top and bottom of the cooking chamber adjust the pressure, steam levels and heat to get the most out of all the individual ingredients you’re cooking in there.
40 Pure DiscovR speaker
There are absolutely loads of Bluetooth speakers out there, and most of them are hooked up to Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant. This one’s concerned with your privacy though – when you turn it off, by pressing the central speaker bit down into the body of the speaker, it physically disconnects the microphone so Jeff Bezos definitely can’t hear you. Plus, it’s small but mighty, and its kicky 45-watt speaker really fills a room.
41 LARQ purifying water bottle
You’re an environmentally conscious guy. You hate climate change – bloody hate it. It. Is. Rubbish. And being the great guy you are, you put up with the fact that your reusable water bottle smells a bit weird some of the time. That’s the price you pay for singlehandedly saving Earth. Guys! There’s no planet B!
But there is now a plan B for your bottle – this one, which self-cleans and uses UV-C light to purify water of 99.99 per cent of its bacteria and viruses. Just charge it up once a month and you’re sorted.
Mr Porter, £118
42 Bose Alto audio sunglasses
These Wayfarer-like frames aren’t just for preventing your corneas melting when you stare straight into the Sun, oh no. Miniaturised Bose speakers in the arms direct music, podcasts, calls and whatever other noises your phone makes into your ears, while also allowing you to bounce around hearing The Real World.
43 Samsung Galaxy Active2 stainless steel smart watch
The Galaxy continues to be one of the sleekest smartwatch designs on the market, and the Active2 offers customisable screens and much-improved insights into your fitness and health. It also comes with sleep and meditation programs, which might help you finally kick that early hours Kitchen Nightmare habit and actually get some rest.
44 Click And Grow Smart Garden
You just can’t keep those pesky basil plants alive, can you? Try as you might, you inevitably wake up to a wilting graveyard of tasteless leaves. Well, stop relying on shop-bought pots and invest in this trusty herb-gardening kit, featuring LED grow lights and self-watering mechanics.
45 Rock Jaw T5 Ultra Connect headphones
You might think that wireless headphones are all much of a muchness. The T5 Ultra Connect proves that you’re extremely wrong. They’re engineered and made in Britain by a British company for one thing, and for another much more flexible than your average. They come packed with three different filters for all-purpose listening, bass-boost or a bit more treble, as well as three silicone earbuds and three mouldable earbuds. And, most importantly, the sound quality is never less than crisp and punchy, and easily the equal of headphones way above its price point.
Rock Jaw Audio, £74.95
46 Parrot Anafi Drone
This 4K HD camera drone can be charged from your laptop or power bank but wins most kudos for its featherweight carbon fibre frame, something that helps it fold down to handheld ‘take anywhere’ size in a few seconds. You get (almost) half an hour of flight time on one charge, it’s great for low-angle shots and it captures video and photos crisply and sharply.
47 Moleskine Plain Paper Tablet
It’s got the looks of a classic black Moleskine notebook, but the notes you jot down with the smart stylus will be sent to your device via Bluetooth so you can share and edit them digitally.
48 RHA T20 wireless headphones
Top end headphones can all seem alike, but these have a few standout flair points. They’ve got a 12-hour battery life, precision-tooled DualCoil drivers and aptX Bluetooth for high-fidelity sound, and, most interestingly, a choice of three filters to swap in and out of the earbuds which give more control over bass and treble balance.
49 Pocketalk translator
Learning languages is great. It really is. Understanding other cultures, seeing the grand tapestry of global history knitting together, ordering a couple of ice cold cervezas without stammering and bailing out halfway – brilliant. However, it does take time. Pocketalk can translate into and out of 74 languages without any lag, is simple to use and picks up voices easily with noise-cancelling microphones. It won’t stop you nervously mangling Japanese pronunciations though. Sorry.
50 Luzli Roller MK01 headphones
This very, very beautiful thing is a set of headphones which rolls up like a metal link bracelet – when they’re rolled up they’re the smallest travel headphones about, and boast ultra-crisp sound. Which you’d hope for, at nearly three grand a pop.
51 iRobot Roomba 7+
No, a robotic hoover is not the sexiest purchase you could make this week. However, it’s the purchase that’s probably going to improve your quality of life most. Control it from your phone, and the little guy will remember the layout of your house and tailor its cleaning of your different floor surfaces.
52 Pure Siesta Charge
Phones have ruined the experience of being asleep. We don’t mean tapping through Instagram Stories of people you met in the smoking area of a club in Nottingham four years ago until 2am, though you should definitely stop doing that. We mean the icy dread that clutches you when you realise you’ve not plugged your phone in to charge overnight and weighing up whether you get up and do it or just drift off now you’re comfy. This DAB clock-radio has a wireless charging pad on top. Sorted.
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