Gadgets & Smart Home Reviews

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The Frame by Samsung is about as pretentious as a television could be. It's a $3299-plus 4K TV that doubles as a digital display for works of art. You can even hang it on your wall with a "no gap" mount and attach faux wood panels to the sides so that it looks like painting. Neat idea, sure, but inevitably, The Frame by Samsung is still just a television wrapped in a fancy sales pitch.

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There's nothing unique about loving Lego. Millions of people wax nostalgic when they see those colourful bricks. Millions more never stopped building. I've always been a bit in between. I like zoning out by putting stuff together so, every couple of years, I'll buy a Lego set and build it. But then what? Put it on my shelf? Thanks to the new Lego Boost Creative Toolbox, there's another possibility. Turning Lego creations into programmable robots makes them fun (and functional) in an amazing new way.

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My cat, Artemis, is a bustling career woman. She has many jobs that she juggles between stealing my hair ties and spilling her kibble; in addition to serving as the Mayor of Fluffingsville, she runs a network of freelancers as Editor-in-Chief of Catmodo. Since both of us are busy most of the day at our respective places of work, we forget to check in on each other. Thankfully, Petcube's newest gadget, Petcube Bites, lets humans check in on their furry companions when they're apart. It also lets us fling treats at them on command which is both heartwarming and mildly horrifying.

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Samsung's been making soundbars for a while -- and it sells the most of any A/V brand in Australia. Most of its soundbars have additional speakers or subwoofers to add a bit of extra audio oomph, but not the new MS650. Designed to operate without a subwoofer and still pump out dat bass, it's an all-in-one soundbar for small homes and apartments. But is it a waste of your time and effort?

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This is opulence. Suddenly, there is extra light blasting from behind my TV screen, making a day-glow title sequence positively atomic. The DreamScreen, a backlighting system that's designed to make your TV viewing more immersive, is a luxury that I absolutely don't need. In theory, the supplementary lights change colour based on the pixels on the TV screen for an "immersive theatre experience." In practice, it's an overstimulating, distracting, nauseating novelty, and I can't get enough of this shit.

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Sonos's latest speaker is built not to go around your TV, nor in front of it. It's built to go underneath, and to blend in with your existing furniture more than any Sonos speaker before it. It's only built for a certain kind of TV, but that doesn't mean you're not going to want to try it out anyway.

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I've got a struggle y'all. I've been using the new Kobo Aura H2O off and on for the last few weeks, switching between reading on it with reading on my overpriced but super damn slick Amazon Kindle Oasis. The two aren't entirely comparable: The Oasis costs $449 and the Kobo goes for $239. But the big difference between the two has nothing to do with price, or even hardware -- it comes down to how I get the books on the Kobo. And as I plug the Aura into my laptop, again, to load on another book, again, I'm really forced to ask myself, again, why am I enduring this?

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If you buy a Bluetooth speaker in 2017, you want it to be a little more useful than just being a squat black box that creates mediocre sound. The new Bose Revolve and Revolve Plus follow the tried-and-tested UE Boom formula: a waterproof, 360-degree Bluetooth speaker with great sound quality and portability, but also with the addition of built-in support for Siri or Google Assistant.

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The first night the Amazon Echo Show was in my bedroom I had to carefully lay it face down on my nightstand. The display, which was cycling through my upcoming meetings, most recent news, and the weather, was simply too bright. It was like having a little super informative sun shining in my face. The second night, as if it knew, the Echo Show had another slide on its screen. "Try saying 'Alexa, do not disturb.'"

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Bang & Olufsen's younger, funkier BeoPlay brand has really been kicking some goals recently; I haven't met a BeoPlay speaker that I haven't loved. The same is true even of this latest P2, a pint-sized USB-C-powered travel companion that makes perfect sense for anyone with a new Android phone to take with them in backpack or purse wherever they go. It sounds so much better than your phone's tinny speakers, but fits away in even the smallest bag.

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I might be the only person at Gizmodo that likes Sphero's new Cars toy. My co-workers hate the way the robot announces it's going to sleep, and the long animated process it takes to wake up. They're also horrified by the very existence of sentient automobiles and tractors that moo. But my colleagues are too caught up in trying to understand Pixar's Cars world to realise that they're playing with the incredible future of robotic toys.

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I have this vision of waking up in the morning, and pressing a button that plays music everywhere in my house. Sonos was the original pioneer that built a speaker system to get this multiroom job done, and it remains the best option for a number of reasons: The starting price point is reasonable, the system sounds phenomenal, and most importantly, it's reliable and easy to use. Copycat products from Denon, Polk, Samsung, and other manufacturers have never made a compelling case for themselves in the face of Sonos' success. Now, flashy headphone maker UrbanEars is the latest brand to leap into the mix with a multiroom system of its own, and since I'm a big fan if the company's products, I had to give it a chance.

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There's an abundance of amazing home smart tech hitting the market. From Samsung's Family Hub 2.0 fridge to the Amazon Alexa and Google Home (hopefully) finally hitting our shores. But there's more to the smart home than gadgets.

Let's take a look at how home automation and new tech like Tesla battery storage, smart thermostats, grid credits and smart meters are revolutionising our power consumption. Which also has a positive impact on both the environment and our bank accounts.