Technologies That Stand Out From The Crowd


Colorfly Pocket HiFi

Instead of: iPod Touch 32GB, £215
Get this: Colorfly, £600

The iPod may dominate the portable music player market, but that doesn't mean it's the best. That honour arguably goes to the Colorfly, a gadget designed to make audiophiles weep with joy. Its retro-styled black walnut case hides some very nifty tech, including the ability to play 24 bit/192 KHz WAV, FLAC and APE files (in other words, it provides super high-quality sound). The dynamic range reaches the dizzy heights of 120 dB, and there are also gold-plated headphone sockets - one for a 3.5mm jack, and one for a chunky quarter-inch version.


Fatman iTube ValveDock Carbon Edition 2

Instead of: Bose SoundDock digital music system, £200
Get this: Fatman iTube ValveDock Carbon Edition 2, £300

IPod docks come in all shapes and sizes. However, most of them look rather weedy compared to the Fatman iTube ValveDock. The Carbon Edition 2 is a one-piece tube amplifier that can pump out 25 watts per channel, providing great-sounding, warm, rich audio with plenty of muscle. There are also two pairs of RCA connections for additional audio sources, and a third input on a stereo 3.5mm jack. So even if you lose your iPod, you'll still be able to crank out some tunes from your phone, PC, tablet or other device.

Lytro Camera

Instead of: Canon IXUS 115 HS Digital Camera, £107
Get this: Lytro camera, from $399 (£260)

Point-and-shoot digital cameras have a lot of clever features to help you take a great photo. Nevertheless, it's still possible to take a bad one - particularly when the camera doesn't focus properly. But what if you could refocus a picture after you've taken it? That would be pretty amazing, right? That's clearly the thinking behind the Lytro Camera, which is available for pre-order in the US. Although it's not much bigger than a cigarette packet, it captures all the rays of light in a scene, creating interactive pictures that can be endlessly refocused. Perfect shots every time (providing you can get one on import).

Polaroid SC1630 Smart Camera

Instead of: Nokia N8, £340
Get this: Polaroid SC1630 Smart Camera, TBA

The cameras on smartphones have improved dramatically over the past couple of years. But one area where they always fall down is the zoom - a digital zoom simply can't match an optical one in terms of picture quality. As such, even casual photographers are still faced with carrying both a phone and a dedicated camera when they're out and about. Now there's another option: the 16MP Polaroid Smart Camera, powered by Android. Blurring the lines between smartphone and camera to the point of dissolution, this camera offers a 3X optical zoom, touchscreen display and access to the Android Market. You'll be able to get your hands on one later this year.

Atomic Floyd SuperDarts

Instead of: Monster Beats by Dr Drd Solo HD Headphones, £170
Get this: Atomic Floyd SuperDarts, £135

Yes, Beats by Dre headphones are everywhere, seemingly glued to the ears of everyone under 30 on the bus/train/tube. But there are other, possibly better, ways of consuming your music. It's not that Beats headphones are bad per se; they're just not always as good as they're cracked up to be, especially considering how much they cost. Atomic Floyd SuperDarts, on the other hand, are worth every penny of their price tag. They feature dual drivers, meaning there are four speakers inside instead of the two found in most earbuds. The design is top-quality as well: we're talking gold-plated plugs, steel body casings and an anti-tangle Kevlar cable. As SuperDarts' founder James Strong says: 'No amount of plastic could ever sound - or look - this good.'

Roomba 780 Series

Instead of: Dyson CT26 City Vacuum Cleaner, £190
Get this: Roomba 780 series, £500

Dyson has become almost as synonymous with floor cleaning as Hoover once was. The brightly coloured vacuum cleaners can be found in cupboards across the country, but they're a little...well, 20th century. These days we prefer to let our robot servants do the cleaning - such as the Roomba 780 series. More than five million Roomba's have been sold since 2002, and the technology has been further refined for the latest model. All you need to do is hit the start button, then put your feet up while the Roomba 780 scoots around the house, sucking up dirt, diving under chairs and dodging inquisitive pets.

Evo Arcade Video Cabinet

Instead of: Xbox 360/PS3 controller, £20
Get this: Evo Arcade Video Cabinet, approx. £4,000

If you pine after the golden age of the arcades, before they turned into depressing dens of problem gamblers and knackered Daytona USA cabinets, you'll love the Evo Cabinet. It combines all your favourite things about the arcade - the clacky buttons, the cool-looking machines, the weird guy who watches you play before offering to take over during a hard bit (optional) - with the best that modern home consoles have to offer. That's right: the Evo has full PS3/Xbox 360 compatibility, allowing you to enjoy the latest games on the Evo's better than 1080p TFT screen. Just don't go stubbing any cigarettes out on it.

Ion Audio LP2 Go

Instead of: Philips Fidelio Portable Docking Speaker, £70
Get this: Ion Audio LP 2 Go, TBA

It may seem like summer's a long way off, but once the barbecue season gets into full swing, you'll want some tunes to play while enjoying the great outdoors. With vinyl making a comeback, the Ion Audio LP 2 Go is the best way of spinning your records while you're soaking up some rays. This highly portable turntable includes a speaker and headphone output, and is powered by four AA batteries, making it a neat alternative to bog standard portable speaker systems. The LP 2 Go can also be powered by USB, and bundled convertor software allows you to rip your records to your PC or Mac. You know, just in case you get some sand in the grooves.






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