January brings feelings of new beginnings and fresh starts, while February always seems to be just another reminder of how quickly the year flies by. It probably has something to with the month clocking in at just 28 days, but that was still enough time for lots of weird and wonderful gadgets to debut this year, and now’s your chance to catch up.
February brought desktop storage solutions bulging at the seams, smartphones that can charge in just 10 minutes, John Deere going electric, and a tiny Lego brick computer capable of playing Doom — a marvel of miniaturized engineering.
Realme GT Neo 5
Battery anxiety is still a very relevant stress point for smartphone users, but until we can make batteries that last for weeks, a phone that can be fully charged in just 10 minutes is the next best thing. That’s what China’s Realme is promising with its new GT Neo 5, which boasts 240W fast charging super powers. The battery itself is also a respectable 4,600 mAh, so even if you don’t have 10 minutes to spare, your phone should easily make it through even the heaviest of social media doomscrolling.
Wilson Airless Basketball
For years, we’ve been promised airless, un-flattenable tires for cars, but Wilson recently tried something similar with basketballs. Debuting during the 2023 NBA All-Star Game, the company’s airless basketball was 3D-printed with a complex lattice of open hexagons so it doesn’t rely on air pressure inside to bounce. It feels almost like the real thing, straight from an NBA court, but never needs an air pump.
GM Patents Fingerprint Erasing Touchscreen Displays
Touchscreens are slowly taking over our lives, but the demise of buttons doesn’t mean you’ll have to give up french fries or other greasy foods. General Motors has patented a new system for in-car touchscreens that can make greasy smears and fingerprints disappear overnight. It uses special coatings and built-in UV lights that cause the organic materials on the surface of the screens to break down until they’re gone.
Anker 3-in-1 Cube with MagSafe Charger
If you’re all in on Apple and you leave the house every morning with iPhone, AirPods, and Apple Watch in tow, Anker’s transforming 3-in-1 Cube with MagSafe might be a useful addition to your everyday carry kit. It’s a compact cube that opens up to reveal wireless charging spots for all three devices, and it can even wirelessy charge a compatible iPhone at full 15W speeds.
Custom 45 kg Laptop With a 43-Inch Display
They say you should either go big or go home, but this fully-functional, 100-pound, 43-inch laptop is almost too heavy to leave the house with. Still, it might be worth the back-breaking effort to pull this out on a long flight, if only to see the horrified looks on your seatmates’ faces.
Sennheiser HD 660S2 Wired Headphones
Whisper, “Sennheiser HD 600,” in the ear of an audiophile, and you’ll see the goosebumps immediately appear on their arms. The headphones have been a source of impressive sound quality for over 25 years without wiping out budgets, but the Sennheiser HD 660S2 is the latest addition to the lineup, with improved low-end performance and build materials. They’re not wireless, but with an open-back design and high-quality source material, these $US600 ($833) wired cans will sound considerably better than Sony and Apple’s best wireless offerings.
Doom-Playing Lego Computer Brick
One of the most mind-blowing innovations of 2023 might be that someone has managed to create a Lego computer brick that’s an actual working computer. It’s too tiny to work from home on, but with a 0.42-inch OLED screen as well as touch and motion sensors, it can actually be used to play Doom.
Sony WH-CH720N Wireless ANC Headphones
Sony makes some of the best noise-cancelling wireless headphones on the market, but peace and quiet comes at a price: $US400 ($555) for the Sony WH-1000XM5. The company’s new WH-CH720N wireless headphones borrow some of the same ANC hardware as Sony’s flagship offerings, but at a $US150 ($208) price point.
Apple has been hyping up the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro’s Emergency SOS service as yet another potentially life-saving feature for its devices, but it’s only available on the latest iPhone model. The Motorola Defy brings similar functionality to nearly any Android or iOS smartphone, but with two-way satellite messaging, allowing off-the-grid adventurers to stay in touch with friends or provide crucial details to rescuers.
Teenage Engineering Field Desk
Teenage Engineering, best known for its fun electronic instruments, has been stretching its design legs more in recent years. It helped Panic design the crankable Playdate handheld last year, but this past month, it announced the Field Desk, which is part of a modular DIY furniture collection that can be customised for holding everything from synthesizers to a beefy desktop PC.
Benro Theta Auto-Levelling Travel Tripod
Expensive gear doesn’t make anyone a better photographer, but sometims it can make snapping the perfect shot a lot easier. Benro’s latest travel tripod is the Theta, which, at the push of a button, will automatically extend or retract its legs to ensure a camera perched on top is perfectly level. It feels more like a novelty than anything, but the motorised legs can also automatically activate should the tripod start to tip over, saving your camera from a nasty fall.
John Deere Z370R Electric ZTrak Mower
After finally agreeing to make it easier for farmers to repair John Deere equipment on their own, the company took another step in the right direction this month with the debut of the Z370R Electric ZTrak Mower: its first ride-on electric mower aimed at consumers that can cut two acres of land on a single charge. It does away with oil changes, spark plugs, gas cans, as well as emissions, while also being much quieter than traditional models.
LG Miraclass LED Movie Theatre Screens
Projectors have typically dominated movie theatres and other big screen vendors, but they come with lots of upkeep, including light sources that can burn out and a need for lots of cooling to prolong their operating life. LG’s Miraclass tech focuses on modular, edge-to-edge, self-emissive LED panels that can be assembled to create a giant screen without any visible seams, up to 46 feet in size with 4K resolutions. The projector booth’s days might be counting down.
IKEA Vindstyrka Indoor Air Quality Monitor
IKEA has updated its Vindriktning indoor air quality monitor, which used a simple colour-changing LED bar to warn of dangerous levels of PM2.5 pollutants, to the Vindstyrka. The new model features a large backlit screen that also provides details on a room’s temperature, humidity, and TVOC levels.
Taxidermied Bird Drones
No flying vehicle we’ve ever created can outperform a bird in flight when it comes to manoeuvrability, efficiency, and natural movement, but researchers from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology have an idea to improve the capabilities of drones. They’re not just designing them to look and fly like birds, but are using actual dead birds for the drone’s body and wings, which results in a lighter craft that’s naturally camouflaged because it blends in with nature.
Western Digital 22TB My Book and 44TB My Book Duo External Drives
Are you constantly worried that as soon as you delete a file you haven’t opened in months, you’ll immediately need it the next day? Western Digital has what every overly anxious digital hoarder needs: new versions of its My Book and My Book Duo external drives, now available in 22TB and 44TB capacities.
Vibrant Vibrating Constipation Remedy
Although it looks like a pill, Vibrant doesn’t fight constipation with medication. Instead, the durable capsule is activated with an included dock and swallowed, and as it makes it way through a patient’s body, it begins to vibrate in pre-programmed intervals to help stimulate nerve cells in the colon to trigger peristalsis: a natural process that helps push food and waste through the body. Studies have found Vibrant to be effective for many struggling with constipation, and without any of the unwanted side effects of traditional laxatives.
DJI Mini 2 SE
For novice drone pilots worried about a crash wiping out an expensive toy, DJI has updated its entry level offering with the new DJI Mini 2 SE which includes an extra minute of flight time, but more importantly, a boost in wireless video transmission from four kilometers to up to 10, so it can fly much larger. At 249 grams, it also squeaks under the FAA’s weight limitations for drones that don’t need to be registered.
A Sliding Wireless Keyboard That’s Also a Mouse
Struggling with limited desk space but still prefer a standalone keyboard and mouse over what your laptop offers? A resourceful YouTuber created their own wireless mechanical keyboard that was split in half for ergonomics, but also so that the right side could double as an optical mouse and be moved around without taking their fingers off the keys.
A Smartwatch That Stops Working if You Don’t Feed it
Don’t feel guilty if you’ve ever killed a Tamagotchi; caring for a digital creature is hard when there’s no real world consequences. To increase the stakes, researchers from the University of Chicago built a smartwatch with a real living creature inside it: a physarum polycephalum slime mould. The watch can only draw power if the mould is kept alive and well through regular feedings, as the mould itself completes the watch’s circuit. Ignore it and the slime dies, as does the smartwatch.
Researchers Created a Tent Cooling Fabric
Researchers from the University of Connecticut clearly have first-hand experience in trying to sleep in a tent during a stifling hot Summer evening. They’ve developed a fabric enhanced with titanium nanoparticles that can pull water from a reservoir at the base of a tent and spread it across the entire surface, where it evaporates and drops the temperature inside the tent by up to 20 degrees F. Just a gallon of water, even pulled from a nearby stream, powers the cooling effect for up to 24 hours.
Flying Robot Spiders? Yep, Flying Robot Spiders
If you needed another reason to find a pile of blankets to permanently curl up under and check out of daily life, researchers from The University of Tokyo have developed a lightweight robotic spider that swaps power-hungry servo motors for 16 manoeuvrable thrusters that move the robots legs. The thrusters are also powerful enough to let the robot take flight, allowing it to cross challenging terrain it wouldn’t otherwise be able to walk over.
A Self-Stacking Lego Domino Machine
Jason Allemann’s latest Lego creation is a marvel of automation. It’s a ring of dominoes that are perpetually toppling each other with the help of gravity, while also being raised back up again by a custom train making endless laps. If left running for an entire day, it could see over two million dominoes being toppled, which would definitely be a new world record.
Sony PSVR 2
Sony’s Playstation VR 2, it’s next step into virtual reality, came out this month. The hardware is truly excellent. Unfortunately, a lack of backwards compatibility for PSVR 1 games and a slim launch library that might force you to rebuy games you already own has us wishing the headset worked with PC, too.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Samsung’s Galaxy S23 Ultra flagship phone is here, if you can afford to drop a whopping $US1,200 ($1,666) on a phone. It comes with a slightly refreshed design and more cameras than you probably need, all of which work great. It’s probably overkill for even some power users, though, who might prefer a different kind of premium than photographers. If that sounds like you, we recommend a foldable, like the Oppo Find N2, which was also released this month.