Half a century has passed since the "Power of the Daleks" storyline aired on Doctor Who, arguably the series' boldest moment — the first test to see if the show's wild idea to rejuvenate its star with a new actor would work (spoilers: it did). But re-watching it this week has given me an altogether different appreciation for the story.
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It's late, I've just plugged the Google Home voice assistant in, and I've got a fridge full of pumpkin and pie crusts and Thanksgiving is three weeks away. "OK Google, how do I make a pumpkin pie?" Google Home happily answers my question, firing off a summary of the instructions as told to it by AllRecipes.com. If I could whip eggs and beat canned pumpkin in the thirty seconds it took Home to recite the recipe, I'd have had a pie. Instead, I nod, wowed that Home can answer my question with ease, but also a little dissatisfied. It's brilliant — so close to perfection that the minor imperfection nags.
The smartwatch and fitness tracker markets might be in a race to the bottom, but that hasn't stopped Huawei, the Chinese phone maker, from tossing a watch-shaped tracker into the mix. It's an interesting tack for a company known primarily for its phones (and barely known at all in the US). If this thing takes off when it appears in Best Buy today, and other big box retailers later this year, then it's a whole new introduction to America for Huawei. And what a wonderful introduction at that. The Huawei Fit looks like the Pebble Round smartwatch, functions like a Fitbit Charge, and costs less than both.
Google seems to have solved every issue I had with an entry-level VR headset. It still worked with your smartphone (well, if you had a Pixel, for now) but it was, well... beautiful.
Its strikingly clever, lightweight, fabric-based design and fancy-looking controller had me making grabby hands during the Google event when it was announced. Well, now I have had it in said hands, strapped firmly to my face, did it live up to expectations?
An arrogant genius whose confident snark keeps people distant finds themselves humbled after an accident leaves them gravely injured. The event sets the genius on a journey of self-discovery, in which they learn their talent can be used to help save the world. So. Am I describing 2016's Doctor Strange, or 2008's Iron Man?
When you're a kid, building a Lego fortress that can withstand attacks from G.I. Joe and Transformers is a real accomplishment. As an adult, you need a bigger challenge, and that's what Lego's 3,929-piece Technic Bucket Wheel Excavator set provides. It's the most work I've ever put into building a toy, but the resulting edifice makes you feel like you deserve a job at Legoland.
Gaming headsets have spent the last few years in a vicious race to the bottom. It seems like each new product is bigger, pricier, and flashier than the last. The companies that make these headsets have seemed more obsessed with bright lights and bizarre eye-catching shapes than they have with making genuinely good headsets that you can wear all day without looking and feeling like a toolbag. Steelseries' new line of Arctis headphones fights that trend with great sound, a top notch microphone, and looks that won't leave you feeling like a 2008 cliche of a gamer.
I was slotting my grappling gun back into place on my belt when it became clear to me that Playstation VR isn't just really good VR. Playstation VR is the first virtual reality any regular person should bother with. More than the fantastic gaming experience you get with Sony's new system, I was floored by how easy it was for me to go from watching a TV show to popping on the headset and turning on Batman Arkham: VR. Playstation VR is VR for people who don't care about having the best system in the world — they just want to have a good damn experience. It's actually fun, which despite the lofty ideas spouted by technologists is what playing games is all about.
The camera on the iPhone has developed such a reputation for excellence that it's one of the device's central selling points. It's worth upgrading to a new phone just to get the latest and greatest camera. After a week of rigorous shooting, one thing is totally clear: the iPhone 7 has a damn fine phone camera that's the best you can buy right now.
In late August I spent to weeks traipsing through Europe — on very important work assignments in London, and taking in the local culture of Amsterdam. Being a gadget blogger, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to completely load up my European adventure with every conceivable gadget I could possibly need. I wanted to travel like a 21st-century tech nerd — and it all went according to plan... for the most part.
The original Apple Watch wasn't amazing, but it did what it set out to do. You could answer phone calls on your watch, see notifications from your phone, and even track your heart rate. And with the most recent software upgrade, the watch has speed and interface improvements that refine it further. You can now text from the thing! Or write an entire email. The trouble is that only super nerds want that kind of smartwatch, so for the new version, called Series 2, Apple's focused on what people really demonstrably want: a fitness tracker.
I have a bag problem. It's rivaled only by my shoes and my jacket problems. I collect the things. I throw away too much money every year on the quest for the perfect bag for travel, or every day, or evening, or conventions. I have four different bags just for lugging my camera equipment around. But I only have one backpack in regular use (the other is from high school and covered in X-Files quotes). It's specifically a backpack for cameras, and unless I need to haul a multitude of lenses around it never leaves my closet.
Last month, Edward Snowden's lawyer told me that Oliver Stone's new Snowden biopic "tells a true story." After seeing it, I can confirm that it's an accurate portrayal of the events leading up to and following the whistleblower leaking a trove of National Security Agency documents to journalists. It's in there — just injected with decorative bullshit.
I adore my 10-year-old pup. A lot. To the point where my mother dodges my calls on vet days so she doesn't have to hear a breathless blow-by-blow of his every aspirated fatball. But my fixation is, admittedly, less about the dog, and more about the countless pet "gadgets" I'm offered on a daily basis. I, without fail, say "yes please send me your camera that sits on the dog's collar and takes pictures when the dog barks!" I do not know when I will need these devices, but I want to test them.
If you've still got your childhood Super Nintendo hooked up and on active duty you've probably discovered that while the console is going strong, its original controllers have long since died. But since it's 2016 and we've made so much progress on cutting cords, isn't it about time for your SNES to go wireless too?
When I met Savant's top executives in their posh SoHo office, they were quick to brag about how their company helped design Steve Jobs' yacht. The well dressed men went on to say that they'd also outfitted Bono's castle with a smart home system, years before anyone knew the word smarthome. So when I finally got to test Savant's new home remote for the everyman, I had high expectations.
Last Monday, I woke up to a series of strange, muffled noises next to me. "May-tah kuh!" My hand was caressing something furry. "Do you want to hear a song about a cheerleader?"
I blinked a few times and found myself staring into a pair of eyes illuminated by what I imagine is the kind of light you see right before you die.
What the f**k am I touching? Is someone talking to me? Did I accidentally smoke salvia in my sleep?
Remember that hoverboard craze? The fun toys that were mostly manufactured in China were a huge pop cultural phenomenon. That is until they started exploding and catching on fire. These cheap-arse hoverboards, which usually ran from $200 to $500, had the fatal flaw of randomly bursting into flames due to really terrible quality control of their poorly manufactured batteries. So the hoverboards were banned pretty much everywhere. Subways, planes, coffee shops, you name it, the hoverboard was banned. "Don't bring your exploding human transportation device anywhere near my artisanal coffee shop," a store owner might say.
In 2012 the Macbook Pro Retina wasn't so much the next stage of laptops as it was a fun oddity by Apple. It was a workstation, designed to handle gruelling video and photo editing tasks with aplomb, but it was missing some workstation musts, like a DVD drive or Ethernet port. Instead it was thinner and lighter than a traditional Macbook Pro, had a gorgeous 1800p display and was outfitted with a solid state drive.