Inventory: Technology / Global
Style and substance
Objects of desire that are good-looking as well as high-functioning, including a smartwatch with panache, the new iPhone and two handsome music players.
If you like the features of a smartwatch but aren’t keen on the touchscreen, Withings has the answer. The French brand has created Scanwatch Horizon, which looks like a high-end timepiece but has an OLED screen that shows notifications, a timer and heart rate for working out or showing ECG metrics. The watch also measures how near you are to your activity goal and is water-resistant to a depth of 100 metres.
Astell & Kern
A & Ultima SP3000
Imagine an iPod but 20 times more glamorous and with scintillating audio quality. South Korean firm Astell & Kern has built its latest high-end portable from the kind of stainless steel favoured by watch-makers and that timepiece design is carried over to the side-mounted crown that controls the player’s interface on its 5.46-inch display. And the premium quality applies to the audio as well as the looks. This player can handle high-resolution sound files, so you need the 256GB of storage that it comes with (you can also add microSD cards). It also streams music from Spotify and others, and works with Bluetooth and wired headphones.
Design-wise, the iPhone 14 looks similar to the 13 – that is, it has a flat-edged style with an all-screen front. The 12-megapixel main camera now delivers better shots in low light and the front-facing one has had its pixel count upped so that your snaps will shine, even when taken in a modishly dark restaurant or club. Changes inside include two remarkable safety features. Crash detection means that if you’re in an accident, the iPhone knows. It will try to rouse you with an alarm and can contact emergency services, sharing your location. From November, if you’re in trouble when you’re off-grid, you can send an emergency message via satellite.
R2 Mk4 Smart Music System
British brand Ruark is known for beautifully crafted audio players, especially radios, with elegant sound. Its R2 speaker is now onto its fourth-generation model and has had quite a design update. A handsome slatted-wood grille sits beneath the clear colour display. What hasn’t changed is Ruark’s trademark circular controller, which is simple and satisfying to use. There’s a DAB radio, of course, and the speaker can stream music from Spotify Connect, Deezer and Amazon Music. The Bluetooth connection means that you can easily use the system with your phone or tablet and you can charge your device from it. Despite the R2’s small size, its sound is room-filling, with a pleasant tone, crisp mid-range notes and strong bass. There are two lacquered finishes: espresso and light cream.
Still life: Tony Hay