With Christmas fast approaching, it seemed time to suggest a few gadgets that readers might wish to find in their stockings.
As a prologue please note that, primarily as a result of unjustified prejudice, the writer has no great love for tech products sold by either Apple or Amazon (with the exception of the Kindle), hence no massively overpriced iPhone X or heavily discounted Echo made the list.
TV technology has been moving apace in the last couple of years and, after some extensive testing in a number of West End department stores, there can be little doubt that OLED TVs not only cost more than their rivals but have far better image quality.
LG pioneered the technology in the UK but others are now getting into the market and Sony argues that its latest offerings are not only wafer thin but state-of-the-art. To add to that company’s marketing spiel, the speakers are somehow implanted in the screen. Whether this is just a gimmick or improves sound quality is open to debate.
In any event, anyone that has £1,500 or more to spare, can pick up one of these little beauties, which will take them into the world of 4K television from which they will never look back.
At the moment, this columnist’s view is that it is too early to purchase 4K Blu-ray players for a number of reasons. To start with, the prices are still coming down. More significantly, unless you are seriously into action movies, there is almost nothing to buy and put inside them.
In the longer run, with the plethora of streaming offerings increasing by the week, there is a possibility that this technology will never take off, being superseded by Netflix and its rivals.
Dragon NaturallySpeaking 15
A full review of this product will follow in the next week or two. In simple language, this is high quality voice recognition software that enables anyone who hates writing to dictate their words of wisdom into a microphone or recorder and have them miraculously appear on a computer screen, practically in real time.
SSD hard drives
This article has taken far too long to produce due to the sluggish pace of the computer hard drive on to which it is being written. The perfect solution, which might again form part of a longer review some space time in the New Year, is a solid-state hard drive.
Rather than moving parts, these use new technology to power your computer, possibly accompanied by a separate internal or external hard drive to provide additional capacity.
The key here is that in the last few months, SSD hard drive prices have come down considerably so that a top of the range 500 GB internal unit now sells for less than £150 and will probably provide enough capacity for any normal home usage.
I haven't seen or heard one yet but the latest sound bar from Sky/Devialet might well be the gift to die for next year.
Devialet products give unbelievably high sound quality but with the bottom of the range costing well into four figures, might even be outside the price range of some accountants.
However, the Soundbox has a list price of £799 but only £299 if you are a Sky subscriber. This does sound very affordable. In fact, anyone interested might consider subscribing to Sky to save the £500.
Home control hardware and software
Some of the latest gadgetry on offer in the shops this Christmas connects homes electronically and via the Internet or possibly using one’s voice. While this is rather fun, in most cases getting up to turn a light on or off is not that much of a chore, even for a couch potato with a massive new TV.
Similarly, if you want heating to come on while you’re out, then there are perfectly good timers that will achieve this at a fraction of the cost.
As readers will realise, this review is far from comprehensive and if anyone would like to make suggestions about other products that are worthy of consideration, I would be most grateful.