10 cool gadgets: our pick of the best new tech for 2020 (part 2)
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!
Tag Heuer Connected Golf Edition smartwatch
Golf, the ultimate game for the social distancer. Not only can you enjoy a swift nine holes without seeing a soul, if anyone does try to come close you can keep them at arm’s length by wafting a club towards in their direction. While at it, you can show off your rather luxurious new Tag Heuer Connected designed for golfers.
The Tag Heuer Connected smartwatch is completely circular, free of protrusions or odd-shaped displays, and is fronted by a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal that protects a high-resolution OLED touchscreen.
But the golf edition watch comes with a few extra bells and whistles, which when connected to the app show you 2D and 3D renders of the course, info about hazards and distance to the green, accurate shot distances and a neat dial around the bezel showing you how well you’ve done on each hole.
Furthering the golfing credentials, it also has a white rubber strap that looks a bit like a golf ball. Very swish.
Lexilife Lexilight dyslexia reading lamp
In the UK, around 10 per cent of people have dyslexia and a small study published in 2017 found evidence that one cause of the disease could be down to a patch of light-sensitive cells in the eye.
The study said that in non-dyslexics, the cells are arranged differently between the two eyes, with information from one eye overriding the other. However, in dyslexics, both eyes have the same pattern, meaning that two pieces of information are sent to the brain at the same time and creating a mirroring effect.
The Lexilight claims to reduce this mirroring effect by using pulsed light to allow one eye to take dominance, allowing those who suffer from dyslexia to read comfortably. It’s unlikely to be a miracle dyslexia cure, but when we tried one out we found it to be a useful reading aid – check out our full Lexilight review here.
Kärcher Battery Universe
Summer is officially here, and if you haven’t already been using the last few months of lockdown to consider sprucing up your garden, then it’s probably worth getting stuck in before the traditional British summer deluge strikes.
If you happen to have a garden that stretches out far enough to squeeze in a table and chairs (a luxury these days, we know), you’ll be needing some proper power tools to trim your bush, lop your trees and blow your leaves. However, that’s a lot of tools, and for that you’ll need either a lot of petrol to power them or run the risk of trailing a cable plugged into the mains behind you.
The Kärcher Battery Universe is a new collection of eight cordless garden tools that can all be powered by one interchangeable 18v battery. You simply swap it between whichever tool you need, and it comes with an LED display that lets you know how many minutes before you’re out of juice.
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. I’m not a huge fan of white devices as they tend to show up marks a little easier, but the one I tested had a subtle sheen to it that changes colour when you look at it from a different angle. Very classy.
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. However, as one of the first Chromebooks on Google and Intel’s progect Athena programme, it should be optimised enough to handle whatever you throw at it well into the future.
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.
Skullcandy true wireless earbuds
True wireless earbuds have come a long way since we first featured them. However, one thing that hasn’t changed is the fear of dropping one of these little musical nuggets and losing it forever.
To circumvent this ever-present fear, the new earbuds from Skullcandy have Tile technology built-in, so you’ll be able to see where you left it on a map, or connect to the Tile network to help locate it if one does go awry.
There are four new models available, ranging from the budget Sesh Evo at £59.99, the £89.99 Indy Evos, to the sporty Push Ultras, which for £119.99 give you water, sweat and dustproof earbuds, rapid charging and a range of funky colours.
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.
Senstroke bluetooth electric drumkit
Just imagine you’re at home (probably alone) blasting out some epic rock and air drumming like a gorilla in a chocolate advert. Wouldn’t it be more fun if your flailing limbs could actually be put to some use and lay down some heavy beats?
If you don’t have space for a full drumkit, the Senstroke virtual drumkit is a set of Bluetooth sensors that clip onto a pair of drumsticks and strap to your feet, which through the app or compatible recording software, lets you tap out a beat wherever you can find somewhere to tap it out on. This could be the kitchen table, some pillows, pots and pans, or something more sensible like a practice pad.
Once you have calibrated the sensors in the app, through some sort of rhythmic voodoo (read: gyroscope and magnetometer) it works out where you are in relation to the virtual kit and plays the appropriate cymbal or snare. It’ll also work out how you hit it depending on the angle, so there is plenty of dynamics you can throw around while playing, and although it takes a bit of getting used to, once you have the hang of it you’ll be able to lay down a decent beat.
OK, it’s not really the same as having a proper kit in front of you. There is a small but noticeable lag but otherwise, the Senstroke is a handy way to practise playing the drums if you’re just starting out (or locked in the house for 10 weeks) and is a neat way to release your inner Phil Collins with just a pair of drumsticks.
Fitbit Charge 4
As well as a new touchscreen, GPS and NFC as standard, the new Fitbit Charge 4 comes with a special trick up its sleeve (or yours given it’s a wrist-mounted wearable).
By tweaking its software, Fitbit now uses its pulse monitoring hardware to keep an eye on the volume of oxygen in your blood. There’s not a lot of use in this in the gym – unless you train at the top of a mountain where the air’s a bit thinner – but the reading can be useful in diagnosing sleep apnoea, a condition where people stop breathing in the middle of the night.
Sleep apnoea is estimated to affect some 1.5 million people in the UK, many of those undiagnosed, so by tracking your oxygen variability (what’s called ‘pulse oximetry’) during the night, the Charge 4 can help you find out if you have a high number of episodes where your oxygen is low. If that is the case, it might be worth talking to your doctor.
ShiftCam Multilens iPhone 11 case
It’s no secret that the iPhone 11 comes with one of the best smartphone cameras, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for a little improvement.
As far as iPhone cases go, the ShiftCam Multilens is definitely on the expensive end, but as well as two-metre drop protection, it comes with four lenses that slot over your current camera to add a telephoto, 10x and 20x macro lens, and a 180-degree fisheye lens to your arsenal. They also feature polarisers to filter out any unwanted glare and reflections.
Of course, you now have no excuses for sharing dodgy holiday snaps on Instagram.
In other Fitbit news, the company has also started investigating whether wearables can diagnose heart conditions.
Needless to say, you’ll need headphones, preferably wired, to get the best out of it, otherwise you’ll just hear the sound of you thwacking pillows.
Our pick of the bunch though would be the Indy Fuel true wireless earbuds, which not only look snazzy but also come with a wireless charging case.