Technology: bright gadgets for big nights in
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Much like pulling on a cheery pair of socks to liven up an outfit, these lights are a quick and easy way to inject character into a room. The latest release from Canadian smart-light brand Nanoleaf, Lines is a collection of backlit, 30cm-long LED strips that you join together in whatever shape you please and attach to the wall (they have hexagonal, sticky-backed connecting blocks) in a painless set-up process. Rather than being a primary light source, the luminous sticks excel at creating a mood. Nanoleaf says they can change into 16m different colours; you can alter the hue and the rhythm of the lights (solid, flashing, gently flickering), and sync them to shift in time to music or the TV through a smartphone app or by pressing a button on the lights. Since the afternoons have been plunged into winter darkness, I’ve been enjoying a warm yellow-orange glow. For Friday-night drinks, however, reds, blues and pinks up the ante. They would also be fun for a child’s room. Nanoleaf Lines, from £179.99, nanoleaf.me
LV brings the vibe from outer space
Adele is singing to me from planet Louis Vuitton and she sounds pretty great. The source of her crystal-clear vocals and silky piano accompaniment? A dinky, flashing, UFO-shaped device that looks like something you’d expect to find floating through the Milky Way.
The latest foray into tech by the French luxury giant (following a suitcase-shaped speaker and wireless headphones), the Horizon Light Up speaker brings a high‑octane whack of glitz to the audio market. Portable and wireless, it’s modelled on Louis Vuitton’s spinning-top-like Toupie handbag designed by women’s artistic director Nicolas Ghesquière, who is known for his futuristic aesthetic. It’s similarly petite – although it’s relatively heavy at 1kg – and comes with a long leather strap that can be looped over the wrist when you want to take it on the go. (It could also easily be stashed in an overnight or carry-on bag.) And, with LV’s monogram embossed across its stainless-steel and black perforated-leather body, it’s far bolder than most of the understated offerings in the speakers’ market.
Developed with the help of audio specialist Master & Dynamic, the Horizon’s sound quality is good – especially for such a diminutive object – with a three-inch woofer that kicks in on dance tunes, a pair of 0.75in tweeters for capturing upper notes, and three microphones should you wish to make voice calls. Its shape offers 360° sound projection when positioned upright, so it’s crying out to be the centrepiece of the room. Alternatively, you can tilt it on its side, where it cleverly reorientates and directs all sound upwards. It will run for 15 hours between charges and works via AirPlay or Bluetooth.
While there are certainly more powerful speakers out there, this one is selling a vibe. Whether that’s to your taste is another matter. A ring of LEDs shaped like LV’s signature flowers lights up in a kaleidoscope of shades in time to the music, and a further circle of lights flashes “L-O-U-I-S-V-U-I-T-T-O-N.” You can control the lights’ colour combos, as well as song tracks, via a smartphone app or a touch-bar on the speaker (which, if I’m being picky, can be a little slow to respond). Think of it as that flamboyant friend who never fails to bring the party. Louis Vuitton Horizon Light Up Speaker £2,320, louisvuitton.com
Carry on screening
Looking to up your movie-night game? This 14kg black box could be the answer. It’s one of two new Sony home-cinema projectors featuring “true” (or “native”) 4K technology. This means they generate images with 8.8m pixels (like many commercial-cinema projectors) which, in terms of sharpness, puts them ahead of the vast majority of projectors on the market that use a trick called pixel-shifting to make it look like there are more pixels than there really are.
The VW290ES is an ideal entry-level true 4K model. (Its sibling, the laser-powered VW890ES, produces even clearer images but will set you back £25,000.) Its superpower is contrast ratio: there’s a strikingly large difference between its darkest black and lightest white. This makes images look particularly detailed and lifelike and is achieved through Sony’s cutting-edge panel technology in which a layer of liquid crystal sits atop a reflective silicon surface. Because its strength is contrast not brightness, make sure you use it in a dark room with a proper screen to watch every tear trickling down Leo’s cheeks. Sony VW290ES (VW325ES in the US), £5,500, pro.sony
The Ninja Ice Cream Maker is my new best friend. As someone who’s taken down an obscene number of Ben & Jerry’s pints in his time, I can assure you this machine makes terrific ice cream – and gelato, frozen yoghurt and sorbet. The key is the texture of the cold treats it churns out. It has a paddle that finely shaves and blends ingredients which, if my batches of vanilla-choc-chip ice cream and vanilla frozen yoghurt are anything to go by, results in a smooth consistency with zero graininess or iciness. Although much of the fun of making your own ice cream is customising flavours, the Ninja comes with a 30-strong recipe book to get you started, including classics, fancy options (limoncello ice cream, maple gelato), and light versions for those watching waistlines. You prepare the mixture, which takes five minutes of whisking, and freeze it in a tub for 24 hours. You then affix the tub to the machine and watch it whirr as it’s transformed into ice cream. (To add mix-ins such as chocolate chips, there’s an additional step.) It couldn’t be easier. Ninja Ice Cream Maker NC300UK, £199.99, ninjakitchen.co.uk
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