With Christmas behind us and the mad rush for glittery gadget gifts over and done, 2014 presents a new opportunity to revamp your personal gadget arsenal and make some purposeful (but still pretty) purchases. Here’s our top picks from this year’s International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
FITNESS – JayBird Reign
Wearable health and fitness monitors have gone from strength to strength in tandem with the big sportswear brands they are usually developed with, plus our society’s renewed vigour for taking care of ourselves hasn’t hurt the industry… Running a marathon at the weekend may be all in a day’s work for some but many of us who aren’t that way inclined still have the desire to track our calorie intake and keep moving as much as we need to get rid of those post-Xmas bulges.
How it works
Unlike most other fitness monitors currently on the market, the JayBird Reign is not just a tracker that supplies data for self-improvement but also provides a holistic take on health, providing records on sleep, sleep quality and the varying types of activities you did during the course of the day, measuring these appropriately and telling you how much of each you need based on its findings. The Reign recognises when you need more sleep, how much you tossed and turned, whether you need more movement and how much work you should be putting in, prompting you so you know exactly what you need to be doing and when. By placing your finger on the sensor each morning you’ll receive a ‘Go score’ that tells you how fatigued you are so you know to take a rest day, or how badly you need to get moving – preventing you from talking yourself out of a much-needed workout.
The device is light, comfortable, flexible, waterproof, available in 8 sizes and 3 colours. An LED display will provide real time information but most of the data will be displayed on your smartphone via the iOS and Android app that connects to the Reign via bluetooth. The kind of meaningful analyses provided by the Reign gives us the missing link between fitness and overall good health, drilled down to measure our day-to-day activities in a way that makes it a valuable resource for a dying breed of health-conscious non-runners/ non-biker riders as well as fitness buffs!
Available in May 2014 at approx. $199.00/ approx. £120
VISUAL – The Autographer
Expanding on the ever popular ‘wearables’ theme, cameras have gone even more compact and effortlessly mobile. The Autographer, developed by the Oxford Metrics Group (OMG), clips onto your shirt pocket, jacket or can be hung around your neck for hands-free image capturing. To make the process even more hands-off, the device decides for itself what makes a picture-perfect moment and what doesn’t, clicking as it pleases when a good subject comes into view. The Autographer doesn’t have a preview screen or a viewfinder so you’ll only reap the visual rewards of where you’ve been and what you’ve seen after it’s all done. It’s an interesting concept in an image-obsessed world where screening pictures is the norm but it’s a refreshing way of ‘life-logging’ that will definitely take the hassle of scenic hikes and active holidays.
How it works
Using a host of sensors that measure light, colour, movement, heat and direction as well as a GPS monitor, the Autographer captures what it believes to be interesting shots, gauging ‘interest’ using the sensor data and recognising significant changes in environment. There are very few settings to adjust but you can set the number of captures per hour (up to around 200 per hour). There’s a long battery life, a reasonable 8GB memory and you can get alerts when pictures are taken, or close the lens cap when you don’t require any images.
You retrieve your pics through the smartphone app and at 58 grams with dimensions of 37.44x90x22.93mm you won’t mind wearing it wherever you go. The wide 136° eye view lens and 5 megapixel quality make this nifty gadget a decent investment with a more spontaneous, emotional, personal first person perspective for viewing memories as opposed to the contrived photos we’re used to. The sensor readings allow images to be saved according to their metadata so you can easily filter your photos later, or organise by date or event.
The Autographer is available at www.autographer.com for £299.00/approx. $490.00
DESKTOP PC – Razer’s Project Christine
Razer has taken the yawn factor out of desktops with the bold, futuristic design of Project Christine, a modular system that makes upgrading easy and much more attractive. This slick tower allows each component – the external storage drives, RAM, motherboard and processor to slide into place without untidy wires and fiddly bits, while keeping temperatures low with built-in mineral-oil cooling.
Geek.com called Project Christine an ‘evergreen gaming system’ but with the device still in prototype phase while Razer waits for substantial consumer demand for this type of system, it could be that Project Christine, however attractive isn’t ideal from a strictly functional viewpoint. The main issue may be that the custom styling of the components means that Razer would need long term support from vendors like Intel, AMD, Nvidia in order for the device to be as easy and convenient for the user as it is aiming to be.
Watch this space!
COMPUTING ACCESSORIES – The LaCie Sphere Hard drive
External hard drives have never before been contenders for the best-looking tech item but the LaCie Sphere hard drive by Christofle changes all that with a perfectly polished dome that is as captivating as it is big on internal capacity. This beautiful ball stores 1TB of memory, has a high- speed USB 3.0 for quick file transfers and back-ups, with no need for an additional power adapter. The reflective piece of objet d’art will almost certainly be the most attractive piece of hardware at your work station.
If you’ve got the means to own a piece of equipment this illuminating, the LaCie Sphere will set you back $490/ £298.00
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