The Sonos Play:1 is the new baby brother in Sonos's line-up of wireless speakers. It's the cheapest Sonos speaker ever and by some margin selling for £169 (and it comes with a with a free Sonos Bridge if you're quick enough - the offer runs until the end of 2013). The Sonos Play:1 is designed to be a gateway into the Sonos universe of wireless multi-room audio. To that end Sonos has made it small, cute, not too alarmingly expensive and stuffed it so full of clever audio technology that it sounds nothing short of fantastic for something so small.
Smartwatches are all the rage at the moment. Wrist-mounted Bluetooth adjuncts to your smartphone the idea is that can use them to read e-mail, check incoming caller IDs and even access your apps all while leaving your precious phone in bag or pocket. It's not a new idea, Sony has been pitching its LiveView and SmartWatch devices for a few years now and there are numerous efforts from independents, many KickStarter funded. To be frank all have been pretty poor. But now the really big boys are getting in on the game. Apple is rumoured to be working on an iWatch while Samsung has just announced the Galaxy Gear.
A quick stroll down any high-street will demonstrate that big, garish, visually declamatory headphones are all the rage. But what if your main concerns are value, convenience and sound quality rather than telling the world and his dog that you have more money than sense and that you think Dr. Dre actually has anything more to do with the headphones that carry the Beats name other than him signing the licencing deal with the manufacturers? If they are then can I suggest you check out the K451 headphones from AKG?
A few weeks ago we reviewed the Ultimate Ears Boom Bluetooth speaker and came away suitably impressed though we'd be the first to agree that its sticker price of £170 is still at bit on the high side for a device designed for occasional or casual use. Now British Hi-Fi stalwart Cambridge Audio has jumped into the Bluetooth travel speaker ring with its new Minx Go unit which promises tip top sound quality for only £100. Granted the Minx doesn't have the Boom's funky, robust styling or its Coke-can size convenience, nor its waterproof credentials, but those features may not be needed by everyone.
The last few years has seen Sony's crown as the maker of the best tellys usurped by the likes of Samsung but the new W9 series TVs are set to put Sony right back on top . Gone is the heavy base and monolithic, macho styling of previous ranges and in comes a more futuristic, airy look, with a very cool circular chrome stand. The W9 design is called "Sense of Quartz" by Sony and features cut-glass edges, a narrow matte black bezel to set off the display and a so-called "intelligent core" below the screen which gently glows with a colour dependent on the input source. All in all it's a very smart bit of kit.
Robotic vacuum cleaners have been around for a couple of years now and most are frankly pretty terrible - expensive toys that are about as effective at cleaning your floors as a cat covered in double-sided sticky tape. But LG's new Hom-Bot Square is billed as one of the first that actually does the job and does it properly. Though with an anticipated UK price of £550 it's still not the most cost effective way of cleaning up after yourself.
If you’re Wi-Fi router can beam a reliable signal into all parts of your house then bully for you. If not then you can use your house’s electrical wiring to carry a signal using what is generally termed powerline (or HomePlug to be precise) technology. There are various types of kit available but Devolo’s new dLAN 500 Wireless Plus is easily the most feature-laden I've encountered and should solve any networking problems you have in the blink of an eye.
Small. That’s what Toshiba’s new BDX2400 Blu-ray player is all about. It measures just 290 x 180 x 36mm and weighs a piffling 800g and buying one will only lighten your wallet to the tune of £65. That’s not bad for a networked Blu-ray deck that can play USB media as well as discs. As we’ll see there are a few drawbacks for shopping in the Blu-ray bargain basement, but on the whole the new budget Tosh is a lot of media player for the money.
The ideal Bluetooth portable speaker should be small, easy to use, cheap to buy, waterproof (or at least water resistant) and capable of producing an excellent sound. That's a very tall order but the new Boom from Ultimate Ears (now a subsidiary of Logitech) comes close to ticking every box. Ladies and gentlemen, let me present to you the best portable Bluetooth speaker...in the world.
Wireless charging and NFC (or Near Field Communication to those of us who don’t speak fluent acronym) are the two current Big Ideas in mobile technology and though neither has taken off quite as quickly as the hardware vendors had hoped they offer some interesting possibilities. JBL’s new PowerUp audio dock shows them off to perfection.
Soundbars are an increasingly popular choice for anyone wanting to improve the sound from their telly without recourse to the expense, size and wires of a good 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound speaker system. With no cables other than those connecting it to your TV, Blu-Ray player and set top box, a slim profile and an easy setup procedure a good soundbar is all the home audio many people will ever want or need. How good a unit you can get for £250 has now been redefined by the new Philips HTL5120.