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The Gear

The 10 Best Gadgets To Watch Out For

A laptop to challenge Apple, an internet-powered bike, and a stylish TV – this technology update will improve your life

In a relatively short time, inventions have evolved from being a means to an end (the wheel, eyeglasses, electric light) to ways to improve life (the telephone, the car, the aeroplane), to today’s technology, which surpasses anything science fiction writers could have dreamed up 50 years ago (smartphones, Skype, 3-D printers).

But now technology has also become cool. Buzzy, even. In fact, it sometimes feels like you risk social exclusion if you don’t keep up. To help you out in this respect, MR PORTER has put together this selection of tech to lust after in 2016, seeking out products of quality, utility – and also beauty. Pre-order now, and be assured you’ll remain suitably cutting-edge throughout the coming year.

The life-simplifying phone

If you are the type of smartphone addict who loses hours on social media, playing Candy Crush Saga and tweaking your Fantasy Football team, you need to limit your distractions. At £229 ($346), the Punkt MP 01 simplifies life by not constantly demanding your attention with beeps and vibrations. All this classically simple, technically minimalist little phone does is calls and texts. The MP 01’s custom-made operating system is excellent, and the battery life is exceptional. It deliberately does less – which means that you can get on and do more.

The clear-as-a-bell wireless speaker

Portable Bluetooth stereo speakers are great for convenience but the sound doesn’t often match up. Enter KEF, a high-end hi-fi manufacturer beloved by audiophiles. Its Muon speakers will set you back a cool £140,000 ($211,842) but the Muo wireless Bluetooth speaker is a much more realistic £300 ($450). Designed by Mr Ross Lovegrove, who worked on early Sony Walkmans and Apple computers, it plays astonishing stereo. Buy two – one as a left speaker, one as a right – and you get a real hi-fi, but portable. A sound investment.

The premium compact camera

Big professional DSLR (digital single lens reflex) cameras like Canons and Nikons are superb, but they’re cumbersome and heavy. Germany’s Leica was the world’s first maker of portable cameras, and remains the finest. Its new SL (Typ 601), retailing at £5,050 ($7,640) plus lens, from £3,150 ($4,766) is Leica’s first mirrorless camera – the kind that has interchangeable lenses, like a DSLR – but is smaller because it electronically shortcuts the DSLR’s characteristic big mechanical mirror. The SL is still no pocket camera – unless you have deep pockets, both literally and metaphorically – but its photos are extraordinary. Even non-photography geeks will appreciate their clarity and luminosity. There’s a lot to Leica.

The world’s coolest headphones

True audiophiles despise Bluetooth headphones because the sound can be crackly and often drops out altogether. But the wireless Bluetooth MW60, priced £419 ($549) from New York newcomer Master & Dynamic has received rave reviews. With their retro-cool design, brushed aluminum construction and leather trim they look as beautiful as they sound – and thanks to their memory foam ear pads, they’re very comfortable to wear too.

Shop the Master & Dynamic range at MR PORTER

The Swiss smart watch

For many watch snobs, a key problem with the Apple Watch is that it isn’t Swiss. TAG Heuer’s Connected watch looks very much like a mechanical Carrera but instead of a self-winding movement, it features Intel hardware and a Google-powered operating system with a decent range of apps. And TAG has cleverly tackled the inherent problem of obsolescence: when the watch technology needs an upgrade you can trade it in for £991 ($1,500) and receive a mechanical Carrera.

The interior designer’s TV

TVs used to be massive pieces of furniture that dominated the room. Then they evolved to be flat panels that could be hung on a wall. And even though this achieved a sort of futuristic ideal, it’s not for the most design-conscious eye. Most people of taste want art on their walls, not ESPN. So Samsung hired French designers Messrs Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec to create the Serif TV – around £1,199 ($1,815) for the largest size – a stylish design that turns the goggle-box into something you would be happy to display in your home whether you choose the 24-, 32- or 40-inch screen. It has a little depth so you can put it on legs or use it as a shelf for books or knickknacks.

The in-house personal trainer

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has become widely accepted as the most effective form of fitness exercise. Properly supervised, even just two minutes of maximum, lung-bursting effort can demonstrably build fitness. So claims London company High Octane Ride, which has been supplying an internet-connected static bike, costing £2,200 ($3,330), to high-end studios for a year – and now has a home edition. Your “personal trainer” is a set of algorithms in the cloud that monitor and track your performance and heart rate, altering resistance to the pedals and changing your instructions as required.

The Apple-rivalling laptop

It’s taken the venerable Microsoft 40 years to produce its first laptop – but it was worth the wait. The super-premium Surface Book, from £749 ($1137), is engineered like an Audi and with a specification and features that will really give Apple a run for its hegemony. In fact, the Surface Book does more than any MacBook, and, dare one say, is even more stylish. Most of the time, it’s a 13.9-inch laptop, but touch a button and the screen ejects electronically to morph into a tablet – with exactly the same features, power and speed. Dock the screen again, and, with a satisfying, spacecraft-docking click, it’s back to being a laptop.

The ultimate boy’s toy

Drones are the newest and least-expected product to become cool, and this is largely down to Chinese company DJI – with arguably the first truly desirable, home-grown Chinese technology product since the abacus. DJI’s new Inspire 1 v2.0, priced £2,519 ($3,821) includes a professional 4K camera with a three-axis stabilisation gimbal that keeps the camera almost spookily steady. The drone offers live, wireless HD video transmission and comes with its own remote with flight and camera controls. 

The virtual doorman

Designer Mr Yves Béhar, famous for Jawbone tech products, has been fiddling with locks and come up with the comprehensive, clever and stylish August door security system from £132 ($199). August makes your phone your front door key. Wherever you are in the world you get notifications of who is entering and leaving your house – whether it’s your cleaner, dog walker or curfew-breaking offspring. And with new August accessories, you can be informed when people ring at the door, see their face and if, say, it’s a MR PORTER courier, open the door for a few seconds to drop the package inside.

Or try these

  • Revo SuperConnect Aluminium WiFi/DAB/DAB+/FM Table Radio

  • Master & Dynamic MH40 Leather Over-Ear Headphones

  • Suunto Kailash Carbon-Tone Titanium GPS Watch

  • Zenith El Primero Chronomaster 42mm Stainless Steel and Alligator Watch

  • Leica T 701 Compact Camera

  • Leica V-Lux Compact Camera