With Christmas just three weeks away, we’ve decided to deliver a festive hot list this month, bringing you our fave gadget-based gifts and silicon stocking fillers
Samsung Gear VR
Samsung’s Gear VR feels like one of those gadgets we’ve been looking forward to for an inordinate amount of time. And it does not disappoint. Effectively the first true consumer VR device – and powered with some of the tech from the Oculus Rift – the Gear VR allows Samsung owners to plug in their phones and access a whole world of immersive content at a fraction of the Rift’s ticket price. Certainly it seems to be one of this Christmas’s hottest gadgets, with many stores running dangerously low and, at the time of writing, even Samsung UK reporting it was fresh out. So you better get on the hunt if you want to secure one for Crimbo.
OnePlus’s tactic of offering premium-quality phones at a fraction of the cost of the largest smartphone manufacturer’s flagships has undoubtedly ruffled a few feathers. Its latest offering, the OnePlus X, is adding insult to injury, bringing the flagship feel for just £199. And there’s nary a hint of plastic here; glass-backed and metal-edged, the OnePlus X is a wee beauty. Whilst it has a weaker camera and less impressive speakers than its bigger brother, the OnePlus 2, not to mention a comparatively elderly Snapdragon 801 CPU, there’s no doubt that the OnePlus X is the best bang you can get for your buck.
Plenty of devices gather all kinds of data-driven insight about our homes but very few communicate in a way we understand intuitively. Owl-shaped security cam Ulo turns this on its head – and is cute as a button to boot. Not only does it come with the usual raft of security camera features but it has one of most expressive interfaces we’ve ever seen, for example blinking when you take a snapshot from your phone and looking sleepy when it has a low battery. It also comes with a whole bunch of additional programmable reactions that can be linked up with other IoT devices – making your Ulo look grumpy on a rainy day is a particular favourite of ours.
There are few areas hotter for marketers and filmmakers than VR video. However, while plenty of VR cameras offer static, 360-degree video, creating a truly immersive film experience in which the viewer can move around the scene has thus far been beyond filmmakers' reach. Until the release of the Lytro Immerge, that is. Rather than capturing a flat image, the Immerge captures a broad range of the light reflected from any given point, meaning it can accurately calculate the position of everything in the scene and enable viewers to actually move around to a small degree. The slight drawback is that it is predicted to cost in the region of a few hundred thousand dollars: a camera for home movies this ain’t.
As the new wave of VR and AR devices marches inexorably closer, we’re going to need something far less cumbersome than a mouse or control pad to control them. Step in Gest. Potentially one of the most versatile gesture control devices we’ve ever seen, Gest can interpret a wide range of hand motions and allows the user to program their own to control all manner of apps and gadgets. And, whilst it has obvious applications for gaming and home computing, its Gest’s ability to integrate with our IoT devices that has us most excited. Do we want to be able to kill the lights with a karate chop or kick off our music with a devil’s horns gesture? Yes we do.