Quantified self technology gets smart, all your content in your backpack, and a camera that will scare snipers – the future of consumer technology is here.
Samsung Gear Fit
2014 is certainly shaping up to be the year of "quantified self" technology – gizmos that let you track everything you could conceivably track. That means Wi-Fi forks that tell how many mouthfuls you've eaten, sleep clocks that tell you how successful your dreams were and, above all else, fitness trackers. Samsung's Gear Fit joins the rapidly growing ranks of devices including the Nike+ Fuelband that tracks movement – and adds on water-resistance, a big screen and heartrate monitoring to the standard feature list. Of course, this being a Samsung device, it also alerts you if your Galaxy smartphone receives a call, SMS or email etc.
The world's first red dot laser sight camera. The SP-100EE features a 50x optical zoom, so the dot sight is useful for tracking visually alongside the massive zoom – use the dot to track a fast-moving and distant wild animal, then squeeze off a snap without having to recompose the shot. Just don't use in any tense police marksman stand-off situation, obviously. Elsewhere the SP-100EE (the last two letters stand for "Eagle Eye" apparently) touts 16MP sensor, optical image stabilisation (even down to the 1cm Super Macro mode) and full-HD 30/60fps video in a "bridge" (built-in lens) camera format.
Samsung Galaxy S5
One of the biggest phone launches of the year goes for solid improvements rather than flashy new features. The spec list is top end: a 5.1in full-HD screen, 2.5GHz quadcore processor and 2800mAh battery. The more flash features are a 16MP camera that autofocuses in 0.3 seconds and shoots 4K video at 30fps, IP67-rated water and dust resistance, and heartrate and fingerprint sensing built-in. The simpler user-interface that's closer to stock Android, without some of the marketing gimmicks previous Galaxy phones have gone for, is also welcome. But the lack of defining ideas does leave it open to Android and iOS rivals.
The Fuel means 1TB of portable storage to tote alongside your tablet or smartphone on the go. Shove it in your bag and wirelessly stream movies, music or office documents to up to five devices with the Fuel acting as a Wi-Fi hotspot (and working with Apple TV and Airplay too) – and even connecting to any Wi-Fi router nearby to then chain to those devices. The Fuel runs for up to 10 hours on a single battery charge and has USB 3.0 for fast, wired file transfer. It only weighs 0.3kg so won't break your back in your bag.
Line 6 Amplifi
A guitar amp and Bluetooth speaker in one. The five-speaker stereo amp sounds good enough to play on-stage, with a wider frequency range "than any other guitar amp", and coming in portable 75 Watts and powerful 150 Watts formats. The amp side of the equation features four preset sounds, and the usual knobs. But it also comes with an iOS app that can match tone and effects to songs in your iTunes library or let you create guitar sounds and fx from scratch (or download others). The Bluetooth then adds the ability to stream music from smartphones or tablets for home use.
This Austrian company specialises in mobile phones for older people – and the SMART is their first smartphone. The specs may be fairly basic (modified Android 4.3 OS, 5MP camera and 4.5in non-HD screen). But what's special is the reskinned version of Android designed to be super-simple and unthreatening for senior citizens. Settings menus are hidden, one swipe reveals Emporia's emergency call system, voicemail and favourite contacts, and there are physical buttons below the screen also. There's also a built-in stylus for easier typing, 2600mAh battery for more than full-day use and a charger with a handle so you can't attach it the wrong way, damaging the microUSB socket.