Golden Shirt Awards: Coolest gadgets

Some gadgets are awesome. Whether they excel for design, software, engineering, innovation or the ability to fulfil needs and desires we didn’t know we had, these types of products bring something exciting or new to the tech experience. For injecting sparkle into the humdrum life of gadgeteer staffers, we salute these way cool gadgets with a Golden Shirt.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom

Phones have integrated cameras for many years, but they haven’t really been a satisfactory replacement for a dedicated compact shooter.

Samsung’s Galaxy S4 Zoom changed that by making the 2012 Galaxy Camera a bit smaller, and introducing mobile phone functionality to produce a device that is a camera with a built-in phone (rather than vice versa).

Is it the best camera we’ve ever seen? No, but it’s as good as many compacts, and even includes a half-decent 4G phone with a day’s worth of battery life.

Check out our review…

Sony 3D binoculars

Binoculars don’t really need technology, but hey, if you can make them cooler, why not?

Sony has done just that with a pair of binoculars that not only let you get up close and personal with flora, fauna, and the occasional opera singer, but which can also capture pictures using dual 20.4 megapixel sensors. These can be employed for either standard single imagery, or for ultra-cool stereo imagery and video for playback on a 3D TV.

There are more 3D movies than ever lately, but shooting your own with a pair of binoculars does sound pretty awesome. Plus, with zoom roughly equivalent to 2000mm, you’ll be getting up close and personal with, well… everything.

Check out more about the Sony 3D binoculars…

Parrot Flower Power

Gardens don’t often receive the tech treatment, but Parrot went all ‘motherboard’ on would-be green thumbs with the Flower Power. This Bluetooth gadget analyses the soil of your plants to work out how to better grow your fruit, veggies, and anything else that looks nice in a pot or the ground.

The Flower Power reads available sunlight, fertiliser levels, ambient temperature and soil moisture, then sends the information to the cloud where Parrot’s database of over 6000 plants applies analysis to help you how to make your plants grow better.

Check out our review…

Acer Aspire R7

Tablet. Laptop. Desktop. With so many computers, you have to pick which one you want.

Acer takes the difficulty out of the decision with the R7, an idea that merges a 15.6 inch desktop replacement with a tablet and turns it into a laptop. The screen can be positioned flat or perpendicular to the screen – just like a notebook – or oriented for watching movies.

It is certainly a neat idea, and we’re looking forward to seeing it perfected in 2014, Acer.

Check out our review…

LG SoundPlate

Soundbars are popular because they deliver good levels of sound from a space-spacing cabinet, which is important for anyone without a lot of room for a multi-speaker home theatre system. Most soundbars, however, are made for wall mounting, or have to be positioned in front of the TV on a credenza, and this doesn’t suit all setups.

LG tackles this with the Soundplate, a soundbar-like cabinet designed to sit right underneath your flat panel TV. The large enclosure supports LCD tellies up to 50 inches, and with space for two subwoofers, audio output is quite thunderous.

The Soundplate is such a smart rethink of the soundbar concept that we expect to see similar speaker models from other manufacturers as the year unfolds.

Check out our review…