The best gadgets to keep you entertained this spring
Ruark MR1 MK2, £330
There are dozens of quality bookshelf speakers to choose from nowadays but, typically, premium products are rendered in a super-modern style. That’s fine if you live in a trendy loft apartment decked out with minimalist Scandi furniture, but if you’d rather something more subtle, the MR1s are a fantastic choice. Their handmade walnut casingand fabric grilles have a relaxed, classic feel about them but, with aptX Bluetooth streaming, remote control and an optical out, they also have every mod-con you could want—and, most importantly, they sound wonderful.
Nintendo Switch, £280
The runaway success—if you’ll pardon the pun—of Super Mario Run has proven there’s a dedicated smartphone audience for Nintendo’s colourful characters; surely it’s only a matter of time before all their major titles are resurrected as apps. So what’s the case for buying a dedicated portable console? To committed gamers, Switch offers much to admire: it seamlessly docks with your TV, so you can fluidly “switch” gameplay from sofa to commute; it has enough processing oomph to support beautiful open-world games such as Zelda: Breath of the Wild; and, with its physical buttons, it’s more satisfying to play for a protracted period than a phone. As a casual gamer though, I’m happy with my apps.
Sunnycam Activ, £120
After numerous false starts (Google abandoned its Glass project in 2015) we really are about to enter a world of video-capturing spectacles. Social media company Snap have got it right with their Spectacles product—fun, plastic specs that upload ten-second movies directly to Snapchat—while this effort from Sunnycam is aimed at the action-sports market. Their Activ glasses can record over 11 hours of video, if used with a 64GB microSD card. But the camera quality is poor, the build quality feels cheap and the design is very middle-aged-man-in-Lycra. If you’re off mountain biking or skiing, stick with a GoPro for now.
Apple app of the month: B&Q Gardens, Free
If spring appears to have sprung more fulsomely in other people’s gardensthan your own, this is a useful weapon. Simply snap a photo of a pretty plant you’ve spotted and this app will identify its species and variety, enabling you to buy your own. It can also identify weeds and what products you could buy (at B&Q, of course) to treat them.
Android app of the month: Radio Garden, Free
TuneIn remains the most reliable app for international radio, but if you prefer a bit of serendipity, try Radio Garden. Like a B-movie megalomaniac choosing which country to invade, you spin a satellite map, tap on a location, and instantly hear live radio from that region. You can switch from a country music station in Houston, to a talk radio network in Scotland, to a hip hop station in Sydney in seconds.
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