Welcome to Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, the column that takes freshly announced gadgets out for a hypothetical test run, rendering judgement long before they hit the shelves.
In the offing this week: Samsung’s latest mid-range smartphone, a gesture-based ring, shiny headphones and much more.
As always, these are first-impression opinions and not reviews. The ratings are merely an indicator of my desire to use each item.
Another Interplanetary Phone
Samsung has another mid-range smartphone in the Galaxy A7 (pictured above). Sure, it’s slimmer, faster, stronger and all the rest — but that’s just it.
There’s a voice-activated selfie tool, which I suppose is great if you’re into selfies and not asking someone nicely to take a photo of you instead like a normal person.
It’s probably too much to ask for Samsung and Apple, the two biggest players in the smartphone market, to truly innovate on killer features like stellar battery life or a second e-ink screen.
The A7 looks like a pedestrian update to an important line, and I’m inclined to casually stroll away and wait for something truly impressive.
Rating: 3 out of 5 Par for the Courses
Put Your Fingers in the Air
Fujitsu has offered details of the most ridiculous item we’ll likely see this year, and it’s mid-January.
Its smart ring offers motion control and a sensor that turns letters you write in the air into text — you know, when you can’t type letters on a phone’s keyboard or dictate into an app, because your hand is so encumbered by this monstrosity.
Goodness gracious. If Fujitsu wanted to make something similar but actually useful, it should have created a decoder ring.
Rating: 0 out of 5 Broken Fingers
A Remote for the Home
One of my big concerns about having a fully connected home is the disparity between platforms and the inability to control everything from a central hub. There are some attempting to fix that, including Neeo.
Its crowdfunded remote control lords over not only home entertainment, but all manner of devices scattered throughout the home. It’s a pretty little thing, and the individual user profiles, including parental controls, are a nice touch.
I like the idea of sitting back on my couch and using a single remote to control the TV, lights, thermostat, toaster, electric blanket, laundry machine, Roomba and the kitchen sink. If it works as well as promised, Neeo is onto a winner.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Remotes to Rule Them All
Beauty In Sound
Bang and Olufsen has long offered beautiful gadgets, and the BeoSound Moment and BeoPlay H8 are no exceptions. The tablet-esque music controller and wireless headphones look remarkable.
The Moment, in particular, stands out, thanks to its gorgeous wooden touch-sensitive surface.
I like this a ton, especially for its connectivity to music-streaming services, its ability to learn my tastes, and the color wheel that plays music depending on my mood. Utterly beautiful.
The headphones lag slightly behind on my need-to-get-right-now list, though they still look great in their own right. I’m sure they sound great, and I could use a set of quality noise-cancelling headphones for my commute.
Thanks to these, I’m drafting my letter to Father Christmas 10 months early.
Rating: 5 out of 5 Never Have to Listen to AM Radio Agains
The Leoht Tech Handbag is essentially useless to me, but it’s a wickedly useful-looking accessory, and one that I’m sure many will find appealing.
It’s a handbag with a built-in battery for charging devices on the go, and there are lights on the inside to help wearers illuminate their search for whatever item they need.
The bag is naturally pretty heavy, given the extra hardware, and the secret compartment tucked at the bottom doesn’t seem to serve much of a practical purpose.
Still, consolidating items (say, a handbag and portable charger) is a good thing, especially when one might carry them around all day.
Rating: 5 out of 5 Not for Me, but Will Buy for My Girlfriends
FlapIt also is an item I wouldn’t use personally, though I suspect I’d quite enjoy seeing its nifty analog ticker in storefronts of small businesses to tell me how popular they are on Twitter and Facebook and other social networks.
If nothing else, these could help me identify prime target clients for a potential side career as a social media consultant. Or chuckle to myself in the middle of the street at a company’s pathetic Twitter follower count.
Rating: 3 out of 5 More Followers Than Yous