Listen while you sleep, slice more sharply, make your mouse live longer and let your thermostat learn from you - technology is getting smarter all the time.
Nokia Lumia 800
Around £430 SIM-free
Once the world's largest mobile phone manufacturer, Nokia is now playing catch-up in the smartphone wars. Still, their first Windows Mobile phone (after humiliatingly ditching Symbian) is largely excellent. It feels great - the one-piece body is easy to hold and more resilient to knocks. The 3.7" display is smaller than some, but with excellent 800 x 480 resolution. And the Windows Mobile software largely runs very well. The problems? Windows Mobile is way behind for apps (although all the normal productivity ones are there), the 8MP camera is merely OK and some users are reporting serious battery issues (although Nokia is promising to fix that shortly).
Nest Learning Thermostat
A "learning" thermostat with a click-wheel - it's fitting the founder of the company worked on the iPod and iPhone at Apple (the rest of the team includes alumni from Sling Media, Google and Logitech). The thermostat itself monitors outside temperature, lighting levels and other variables, as well as monitoring and learning from the way you set it. It learns your patterns of behaviour, when you want heat and when you don't, and constantly adapts to how you behave - but is also controllable over the Internet and via an app. It'll also drop temperatures slightly and manage your system to save money etc. Unfortunately, the Nest is only currently available in the US, so far.
This otherwise fairly simple wireless computer mouse has one trick up its sleeve - its battery life. "Advanced Optical Technology" not only delivers better precision, but according to Logitech cuts power use so much, that the M525 will run an estimated three years off one pair of AA batteries. Obviously, E&T has not fully tested that claim yet! Other flash features? A "micro-precise" wheel that packs "more grooves per millimetre" and left/right tilt buttons for forward/back web navigation, as well as 1,000 DPI tracking and a "Unifying Receiver" USB dongle that can handle up to six devices simultaneously.
Slice Box Cutter
The world's first "box cutter" with a ceramic blade is already the winner of the prestigious reddot Design Award 2011. This innovative knife uses a ceramic blade because it stays sharper ten times longer than steel - with the Box Cutter hand-sharpened for maximum, well, box cutting capability. The knife features retractable blade, great grip design to minimise injuries (also to make it easily hangable from a wall or trouser or belt loop) and also a safer rounded tip. And there's still enough of a straight handle to make detailed cuts and whittles when you're using the box cutter for modelling and crafting duties, though.
Lomo's retro camera styling finally comes to film - with a 35mm camera. Although, typically for the camera brand, it's simultaneously not quite what you expect and a bit more. You hand-crank the 36 exposure, 144 frame film through the camera at the speed you want to - but the maximum frame rate runs at 5 frames per second. So this isn't really film shooting so much as sequence stills. And there's no sound either. That said, the Lomokino does deliver lots of intriguing creative-friendly features: choice of film type, continuous aperture settings from f5.6-f/11, deep focus/macro switch and flash/light hot-shoe.