Technology. One minute it’s making a cup of tea syncronised with your alarm clock; at the next its deciding to torture anyone who imagined its existence but didn’t work to bring this existence into existence. And hey, I have enough trouble as it is with my Alexa. What am I going to be like when the weaponised nanorobots finally become sentient and realise we’re just big sacks of blood who get sleepy? Anyway, until the Great Exodus, here are the technological bits and bobs that will make your life a little bit more palatable (and earn big brownie points should the end up under the tree for a tech-obsessed family member).
Best Smart Speaker: Bang & Olufsen Beosound 2 with Google Assistant
It might look like a dalek, but the only thing this freestanding smart speaker is exterminating is mediocrity. With 360 sound and some meaty woofers in the base, the Beosound 2 delivers, lush, rich bass tones — and so it’s naturally at home at the heftier end of the musical spectrum. Intricately and thoughtfully designed, with a truly Scandinavian attention to detail, Bang & Olufsen’s little alien probe is a remarkable piece of kit.
Best smartphone: Google Pixel 4
We were big fans of the Google Pixel 3, thanks to its progressive design which helps to combat ‘smartphone fatigue’ and encourage a more decluttered approach to modern living. But if there’s one feature that will really get your friends coveting your handset, it’s the Pixel 4’s outstanding camera.
In all kinds of scenarios, the Pixel 4 camera impresses — snapping shots with rich colour and great detail. The Night Sight mode that has wowed us on previous Pixels is here again, doing wonders with limited light, and this year it’s even able to have a go at some astrophotography – provided you can keep the phone perfectly still for four minutes while pointed at the night sky, so it can capture enough detail.
Best tablet: ReMarkable
Remarkable. Re-markable. Get it? Because it’s remarkable, yes, but because you can also mark it multiple times. Average pun; super tech. This tablet is for those that prefer paper — which, when you drill down into it, is all of us. Were your first paintings — pawed home from school with sticky palms and stuck with a Sesame Street magnet to the Aga — done on a screen?
No — they were strictly analogue, and all the better for it (I particularly enjoyed the one with the scarecrow, by the way.) With no social media, or e-mail or notifications, there are no distractions. ReMarkable helps you get back into that state of childlike imagination and natural focus. Pretty remarkable stuff.
Best wireless headphones: AKG Y500 Wireless
The AKG Y500 headphones are very good at drowning out the outside world — and if, like me, you live in a techno abattoir with added gong healing, that’s a pretty happy trait. They also hide a number of nifty tricks; from the ability to pause your song when you take them off to the volume control and call-taking features being found on built-in on-ear controls.
The sound, of course, when it does hit your eardrums, is super thanks to AKG’s smooth, multidimensional tones. Lush, immersive, delicious.
Best smartwatch: Montblanc Summit 2
Bridging fine watchmaking and cutting-edge wearable technology, the new Montblanc Summit 2 – a 42 mm smartwatch designed for both men and women – includes an advanced set of features and unique apps that make it the ideal connected companion for a life of travel, fitness and exploration.
We also really ought to mention that this is a really good-looking watch chic enough to make it seem as though you’re wearing a traditional luxury timepiece — even the heart rate sensor is subtly located behind the watch face. Perfect for the gentleman who prefers his tech to look a little less, well, like tech.
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