Monday 11 September 2017

My TRE Talk Radio Europe 'gadget guru' technology for September 2017

Here's the technology I talked about in my September 2017 'gadget guru' chat on TRE Talk Radio Europe:

Samsung Galaxy Note8

The Note8 is a phablet, with all the functions of a phone but the size of a small tablet. This device is the successor to the ill-fated Note7, so there are no surprises that it’s called the Note8… and also no surprises that it’s had a whole load more pre-production checking.

The most obvious feature of the Note8 is the size: it has a 6.3-inch quadHD display. Because the screen’s so big, you can comfortably run more than one application at once. What also makes the Note8 stand out are the two cameras on the back. This means you can take a photo and then adjust the depth of field – effectively the focus – afterwards. You can even take a close-up shot (it’s got a 2x optical zoom) and a wide-angle shot at the same time.

The whole thing is waterproof, too – and it comes with Samsung’s voice assistant, Bixby, which can help with tasks and reminders without pressing buttons. Price is £869 without a contract.

Caterpillar T20 rugged tablet

Caterpillar is a brand that’s usually associated with construction equipment – but for a few years they’ve also lent their name to tough phones. Now, specialist mobile company Bullitt Group, which produces Cat-branded handsets, has made a tablet computer with the same kind of protection.

The T20 is the first Caterpillar-branded tablet on the market, it’s got an 8-inch screen and it runs the Windows 10 operating system. As well as WiFi it’s got a mobile connection, so you’re not tied to being near a broadband connection.

But it’s the protection that’s really notable. This is IP67-certified: dustproof and waterproof for 30 minutes at a depth of one metre. It is drop-resistant up t a height of 1.8 metres and is vibration-proof, too.

The whole thing runs on an Intel Atom chip, it’s got a five megapixel camera on the back, a two megapixel camera on the front and toughened glass on the screen. Rather sensibly, it’s also supplied with a hand strap. Expect to pay £599 without a contract.

ILIFE V5s Pro robot vacuum cleaner

Robot vacuum cleaners are a relatively recent innovation. Imagine something like one of those aluminium food covers that restaurants sometimes use, rolling itself around the floor and picking up dust. These robot cleaners can get under chairs and tables without you needing to move the furniture – and you can set them to work when you’re going out, so you don’t need to hear the noise.

ILIFE is a Chinese company that’s quite big in this kind of thing. The ILIFE V5s Pro isn’t just a vacuum cleaner but can also mop the floor. It’s got a microfibre cleaning pad and a 300ml water tank that can give you over an hour of cleaning; up to 180 square metres. (The water tank takes the same space inside the machine as the dirt bin: you need to take one out and put the other in.)

As you’d expect, it’s clever enough to avoid crashing into your furniture or falling downstairs. Yes, there are compromises but they’re reflected in the price: you can pick one of these up for less than £200.

BeoVision Eclipse TV

This television comes from a partnership between Bang & Olufsen and LG, although it’s being sold under the B&O brand. Effectively, it’s B&O's sound and design plus LG’s 4K display.

As with most big, flat televisions you can fix it to the wall – but this one offers the option of a motorised wall mount. That means you don’t have to keep the TV or the furniture in the best position to watch things. With this, you can hang the TV in the place that looks best for your room – perhaps flat against a wall – and push a button on the remote control when you’re all sitting down. The TV then angles itself into the room.

The optional floor stand does the same. Switch on and it’ll spin to bring the TV away from the wall, then you can angle it to suit where you’re sitting: up to 90 degrees either way.

There are two sizes available: a 55-inch version and a 65-inch version. Pricing reflects the technology: it’s just under £9000 for the 55-inch TV and around £11,500 (€13000) for the 65-inch model.