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Allbirds dasher

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.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKDomw6FTRuRsMApLqzJZcg

These Dashers have a footprint of 8kg of CO2 – 30 per cent less than an average trainer.

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.

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 imac 24-inch

11.5mm, that’s how thin Apple’s new iMac is. This slender frame is made possible by Apple’s new M1 chip. Previously, Apple put Intel tech at its core and connected it to various components to build its Macs. Now the company has channelled its work on smartphone and iPad chipsets to build a complete “system on a chip”.

Like having a neatly tidied desk, building the computer’s processing units on one piece of architecture means the new iMacs are able work more efficiently and quickly than their predecessors.

There’s also 4K Retina display onboard, with a six-speaker sound system squeezed in behind it. Plus, the iMac now has Touch ID so you can unlock your computer, log in and pay for shopping with your fingerprint.

From £1,249

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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 £799

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 gadgets, 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)

Carol exercise bike

“Get fit and healthy in 26 minutes a week.” That’s the bold claim made by the creators of this exercise bike, which combines high-intensity training with an algorithm that learns your fitness level and creates a training regime.

The bike is built on the idea that energetic bursts of exercise are effective at making you healthier. Research seems to support this idea, with several studies showing that periods of high-energy activity interspersed with more sedate intervals seem to push your body out of its comfort zone, improving heart health, lung capacity, fat-burning potential and more.

If you’re serious about training, the bike plugs into the growing market of online classes, including Peloton Digital and Apple Fitness .

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!

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

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.

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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 purifier hot cool formaldehyde

While many of us know air pollution harms our health, we may have overlooked what’s happening inside our homes. It turns out that cooking and cleaning are filling our homes with pollutants at higher concentrations than those outside. Even our furniture is off-gassing formaldehyde – a chemical used in its production.

So what can you do? Well, you could just reject society and retreat to the woods (we’ve considered it a few times this year), but if that’s not an option, you may want to consider an air purifier.

The latest version of Dyson’s Purifier Hot Cool is kitted out with filters to tackle the particles invading our home’s air, including formaldehyde. It also has loads of sensors to provide insight into what’s generating the most pollution (cooking, in our case, made the air quality ‘severe’), and it doubles as an effective fan or heater.

£599.99

Flare calmer

What are the most annoying sounds you can think of? Nails scratching down a chalkboard? Car alarms? 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.

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.

Furbo dog camera

If you want to keep in contact with your collie while out of the house, this full 1080p HD camera will give you a line of sight with your pup, day or night. With a 160º wide-angle lens, 4x zoom and infrared night vision mode, you’ll be able to keep an eye on your pedigree no matter what. 

There are a number of handy features including a barking alert which will send a push notification to your phone if your dog is upset, and a two way chat system that will let you speak to your pet if you need to comfort or calm them down. You can even store over 100 treats in the device and remotely toss them to your pet to keep them entertained with a tasty game of catch.

£188.99

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

Gigabyte aorus 17g

Most gaming laptops wouldn’t look out of place in a steampunk rave with all the extra wings, gubbins and lights that get bolted on to the design, which is why this understated powerhouse from Gigabyte appeals to us. It’s a punchy computer in a relatively slim, sleek case.

The Aorus is powered by the latest Nvidia SUPER graphics card, which is developed to handle ray tracing, the complex lighting graphics used in the latest games. The display can run at a blistering 300Hz, which means games will look incredibly smooth on-screen.

If you’re one of the gaming pros this laptop was designed for, that rapid refresh rate means that there’s no discernible delay between your input and what happens on screen. And of course, the laptop comes with a true mechanical keyboard to provide satisfying clicks with each key press.

£1,899

Gouthwaite backpack 23l

The brand behind this roll top bag is called Bear and its founders have a mission: to get more people outside to talk about their mental health. Sales from each bag will be funding free outdoor workshops from fly fishing to foraging to off-road cycling. Shoppers just have to sign up to their mailing list to find out when courses start.

In the meantime, while we’re all stuck mostly indoors, Bear will donate 10 per cent of sales to The Outward Bound Trust. On top of that, the company is carbon negative, relying on recyclable, fossil fuel-free materials where possible and carbon-offsetting the rest.

The actual bags are pretty smart too. There’s a quick release buckle holding the top together, which is the same one used by the rescue services, and the waxed canvas is made in Scotland without the use of PFCs (the chemicals typically used in waterproof coatings) which can wash off materials and end up in waterways.

£165, bearmade.co.uk

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

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

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.

Hyperx wireless gaming setup

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.

Le feu bioethanol fireplace

Although it’s hard to deny the charm of a log burner, it looks like their days are numbered as the government looks set to ban the most polluting fuels used in them to curb emissions.

There is a greener alternative – a biofuel burner. These fireplaces from Danish company Le Feu burn bioethanol, an alcohol produced from biomass like plant waste or straw. This burns cleanly, while providing enough heat to warm a room of 20m2, the company claims.

You don’t need a chimney to install one, although Le Feu recommends cracking a door open to maintain airflow. Unlike your old log burner, you can move this eco-burner around and get it to face you or take it outside. We trust our readers are smart enough not to do that while the fire’s on!

From £1,599

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.

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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, buy now from Amazon UK, Currys or Selfridges

Lg signature oled r

When you turn this TV off, the display just rolls itself up, and tucks into the small speaker cabinet below. Alternatively in ‘Line View’ mode, it shrinks down to about a fifth of its height to work as a display for the integrated sound bar. It’s an achingly cool party trick that’s made possible by OLED technology.

We’ve seen demos of this bendable screen technology for a couple of years now, but manufacturing is still fairly expensive and hard to perfect, which goes some way to explaining why you’ll have to cough up a house deposit to own one of these TVs…

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.

£199

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! 

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 2021: 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.

Naim uniti atom headphone edition

If you want to put on a pair of headphones, dissolve into an armchair and forget the world for a couple of hours, this Naim streaming audio system might be the best way to do it. This new edition of the Uniti essentially squeezes all the hi-fi equipment you might need to produce high-fidelity audio into one small box (headphones not included).

Inside there’s a digital-to-analogue (DAC) converter and a headphone amplifier, as well as a whole bunch of tech designed to optimise your music library for playback on your cans. It’s a self-contained system with hi-res streaming services like Qobuz and Tidal installed, alongside the likes of Spotify and Apple Music. You can also connect it to your smartphone or laptop, with or without wires.

£2,399

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 2021. 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.

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

£99, deciwatt.global

Nuraloop headphones

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.

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

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.

£1,199, Philips.co.uk, buy now from Amazon UK or Currys

Rocketbook smart reusable notebook

For the eco-conscious note-taker, this smart notebook has 32 pages that are easy to wipe clean with a damp cloth when paired with Pilot Frixion pens. The first reusable notepad of its kind, they claim it feels just like writing on a traditional pad thanks to its special space-aged paper.

Available in a variety of sizes, it’s also compatible with the Rocketbook app. This allows you to scan your notes which will then be saved into a cloud of your choice, so you’ll never lose your work and can easily revisit any sketches, notes and lists in the long run. 

£34.99

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 odyssey neo g9

Take your gaming up a notch with the Samsung Odyssey Neo G9, a next-generation monitor that promises to deliver an unparalleled, immersive experience. With a curved, ultra-wide 49-inch display, and Quantum Matrix Technology that aims to make dark areas darker and bright areas brighter, you’ll be right on top of the action with cutting-edge picture quality to guide you through the game. 

The physical display has a glossy white exterior, and features a rear infinity core lighting system which means you can personalise your set-up with 52 colours and five lighting effect options.

£1,099

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

Signia active hearing aids

Let’s face it, we give our ears a tough time. Loud concerts (remember those?), cotton buds, illnesses and even our own DNA works against our hearing health. It’s thought that 6.7 million people in the UK could benefit from a hearing aid, but only two million are wearing one.

Signia hopes to change that. With Bluetooth connectivity, an accompanying mobile app, a rechargeable battery and a sleek earbud-style design, the Signia Active hearing aids bring assistive technology on-trend.

Designed for those with mild to moderate hearing loss, the aids pack in intelligent software that boosts voices over background noise and come with a virtual assistant to boot.

£999 for two, active.signia-hearing.co.uk

Simba hybrid luxe mattress

A good night’s sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your health and wellbeing.

Memory foam mattresses are fashionable, but their spongy embrace isn’t for everyone. Simba’s patented hybrid solution pairs springs with open-cell foam, a memory foam-like material with internal pockets that allow the mattress to disperse heat. This creates a mattress that’s firm, ensures two people sleeping in a bed won’t feel each other move around, and is cooler than memory foam.

The company’s latest upgrade, the Hybrid Luxe, adds a second set of springs to provide extra support and remove any chance of sore joints for side sleepers. Plus, Simba has added a breathable bamboo wool layer just beneath the top layer, to help regulate your temperature and fend off a sweaty night’s sleep.

From £1,099 (single mattress)

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.

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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?

£995

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

Srs-nb10 wireless neckband speaker

What if putting on music didn’t have to mean shutting yourself off from the world? Sony’s new Neckband speaker gives your ears a rest and sits on your shoulders, firing your audio towards your ears in a focused beam. There’s a built-in microphone and Bluetooth connectivity, which means you can take calls or listen to music up to 30m away from your computer – no more excusing yourself from a meeting to make a cup of tea. 

You also needn’t worry about disturbing your partner or housemates, as Sony claims the upward angle of the full-range speaker optimises sound for your ears only, though we’d have to test that one for ourselves to believe it! Weighing only 113g, the neckband is light and comfortable. Take your pick from charcoal grey or pristine white. Can we see it in rose gold?

£135

Superstrata bike

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, buy now fromSelfridges

Trinoxo tee

An odour-fighting T-shirt made of recycled crab. Yes, you read that right. This unassuming T-shirt is made of chitosan, a material obtained from the exoskeletons of shellfish.

It’s one of the most abundant ingredients on the planet, so its creators, Allbirds, decided to use it to make some of its clothing line. According to Allbirds, this special blend also has odour-fighting properties (it presumably has a surface that’s hard for smelly bacteria to colonise), which hopefully means you have to wash it less, and it’ll last longer.

£45, allbirds.co.uk, buy now from allbirds.co.uk

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 theseepisodes 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

£119.99

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

Vaonis vespera smart telescope

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.

Withing scanwatch

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

Xbox wireless headset

The new official gaming headset for the Xbox Series X and S packs in a lot of features without costing a small fortune, and for once, it won’t make you look like an extra in a Tron film.

The cans are kitted out with the latest surround sound (Windows Sonic, Dolby Atmos and DTS) so that you can really hear those footsteps creeping up behind you. There’s a smart, retractable microphone inside, which can isolate your speech and tune down background noise.

Plus, It offers an auto-mute option, which turns off the mic when you’re done speaking: no more accidental heavy breathing over comms. We’ll have to reserve full judgement until we can get a pair on our ears, but it looks like this could be the smart way to get immersive sound on your Xbox.

£89.99

Xiaomi mi air charge

It’s early days, but Xiaomi has shown off a demo of a product it’s planning to put on sale in 2021. It’s called Mi Air Charge technology, and it uses 144 micro-antennae to transfer energy to your phone via a narrow wave beam.

According to Xiaomi’s demo, you’d be able to walk into a room and your phone would start charging, even if an object was in the way. Eventually, Xiaomi says it could be used to charge multiple devices at once in the room it’s sat in.

It’s tech we’ve seen presented at conferences before, but never so close to an actual final product.

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.

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

Helly hansen odin minimalist infinity jacket

Conventionally speaking, waterproof coats are sprayed with a water-repellent chemical that makes rain bead up and roll off the coat, instead of soaking in. The coating also means the material beneath it can be breathable, stopping from you getting too hot underneath.

Unfortunately, those chemicals have a habit of washing off, shortening the coat’s life and polluting the environment.

Now, Helly Hansen is using a new kind of material that has small enough pores to keep water from coming in, but lets hot vapour (sweat) out. This potentially means the coat could stay waterproof for its entire life, with no need for extra coatings, or the pollution that comes with the process.

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