Welcome to Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, the column that plays until it finds the Royal Flush of new gadget announcements and discards the 9-highs of terrible ones.
In the cards this week are a gizmo for fine-tuned audio, a display that renders 2D images as 3D holograms, a smart oven, and a bread knife that does more than just cut toast.
As always, the ratings relate only to how much I want to try each item with my own hands.
Also, these are as much reviews as I can hold a decent poker face (not at all, in case you were wondering).
Last time out, we peered at a set of earbuds called “Here Active Listening,” which are designed to improve how you hear the world around you, but can’t play music.
Aumeo is an attachment that’s all about fine-tuning your earphones to better hear anything you listen to on your smartphone, tablet or other audio-emitting gadget.
Using a smartphone app, it tests how well you can hear a number of different frequencies and provides you with a personal equalizer attuned to each of your ears.
The sound fidelity supposedly is far better, and the clarity means you’ll have little need to raise the volume to ear-splitting levels, helping preserve your delicate eardrums for longer.
Aumeo and Here are two halves of the same whole, and if we could find a way to combine the technology of each, we’d surely live in a far better-sounding world. As it is, Aumeo is a gadget that seeks to improve our listening experience, and I’m looking forward to getting my ears on one.
Rating: 5 out of 5 Equalized Beats
Holus is a machine that turns 2D displays for various devices into a 3D hologram. It projects images from below into a glass pyramid, and you can view the hologram from any point around the device.
You can use it to play games or to conduct video calls. Other uses include rendering three-dimensional designs before outputting them to a 3D printer.
The pro version of the crowdfunded system includes an HDMI port to vastly expand the number of devices it can connect to, and a software development kit so developers can create new compatible apps.
It’s fascinating, and I’d love to check out how it plays movies and high-end games with a high frame rate. However, after trying Oculus for the first time recently, I suspect virtual reality and not holograms are the next big display movement, so I’m a little more ambivalent about this than I might have been a few years ago.
Rating: 4 out of 5 R2-D2 Projections
The June Intelligent Oven is a smart convection oven that intends to improve the art of cooking — and at first glance, I must admit, I’m wildly impressed.
It’s a countertop system that can bake cookies and roast chicken, and it can do much more than basic cooking. It can, for instance, recognize the food you’ve placed inside, thanks to an internal camera, and suggest cooking temperatures and times.
I utterly love the idea of getting to control an oven with my smartphone. Even more than that, I would love to keep an eye on what’s going on inside with the live video stream. That’s a wonderful idea, and I can think of a lot of friends who’d love to share videos of their bread rising.
I also really like the built-in thermometer that sends an alert when the food is ready, as well as the scales on the top of the oven.
I would consider buying this if I didn’t already have a basic oven that would leave a very conspicuous gap in the kitchen were I to toss it for the June. This seems like something that’d be ideal for those with cramped food prep areas. (Hi, New Yorkers!) I have a decent-sized kitchen, and I still want it — mostly just to Instagram time-lapse videos of cookies baking away.
Rating: 5 out of 5 Perfect Pizzas
Hot Knife Through Butter
Sure, the June Oven is neat, but it barely holds a candle to another food-related gadget on our table this week.
An enterprising inventor has created a knife that toasts bread as it slices. It’s only a prototype, and it leaves the bread perhaps a little too charred, but I love this so very much.
I have a passion for bread and, left unchecked, could plow through four or five slices of toast before I remember what I’m actually doing. It’s a bad habit, I know. Yet I can’t help but want this knife right now, no matter how dangerous it might be for both my stomach and fire prevention.
Rating: 5 out of 5 End Slices