One of the great things about the world of gadgets is that it’s never static – there’s always something new and wallet-baiting on the horizon.
And that’s very much the case this year. 2016 is going to see the usual annual updates to smartphones, tablets, cameras, notebooks and the like, but there are a bunch of truly innovative and hugely exciting new devices on the way.
You want examples? Here are the 10 most exciting gadgets that are (probably) arriving over the next 12 months.
Sky’s forthcoming top-of-the-range offering is the biggest overhaul of its broadcast service since the arrival of Sky+ 13 years ago, bringing in a whole new heap of features and functionality – and possibly convincing would-be cord cutters to hold fire on going “full Netflix” for their entertainment needs.
There’s a new set-top box, naturally (in fact there are two of them – one with 1TB of storage, the other with 2TB and 4K compatibility), and it’s packed with more tuners than a tin of John West. Even the base model allows you to record three channels while watching a fourth, streaming a fifth to a tablet and a sixth to a Sky Q Mini box in another room.
There’s a beautifully streamlined new interface and touchpad-equipped remote that provides a much-needed change from the clunky Sky+ UI, while the programme guide makes a better fist of finding you new stuff to watch. And they’ll be plenty of that on offer, with all the usual Sky content plus YouTube and Vevo online video – and, eventually, some 4K material.
Copter-style camera drones have already gone mainstream and affordable, but Parrot is thinking different with the Disco. It’s a fixed-wing flyer that – after being launched by being thrown in the air – will tear through the skies at up to 50mph, capturing video with a nose-mounted 14MP camera as it powers along (for up to 45 minutes on a single charge, no less).
If the thought of guiding something that fast safely through suburbia sends a chill through your bones, fear not – a GPS- and sensor-driven autopilot system will stop it ploughing into your local Esso garage and making the news headlines.
Apple iPhone 7
Apple’s 2015 iPhone 6s didn't deliver any giant leaps forward (unless you consider a slightly better camera or 3D Touch as earth shattering innovations), but we expect the iPhone 7 to be a very different beast.
On the design front it should be thinner, waterproof and back to an all-metal build, but the biggest changes could be under the surface. No headphone socket, you say? Well, that means Apple must’ve figured out a fantastic way to do wireless headphones. We’re all ears, frankly.
Let’s be honest: the Wii U has proved a bit of a stinker. While we fully appreciate Nintendo’s continuing efforts to “think different” to its console-making rivals with the Wii U’s distinctive controller, a console lives and dies on its games – and when you can only point to a handful of decent ones, you’re in trouble. Hence the Wii U’s dismal sales figures.
But we have high hopes for its followup, the mystery-shrouded console codenamed NX – which may well be unveiled at E3 in June and go on sale by the end of the year. Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima says the NX won’t be the “next version of Wii or Wii U” but “something unique and different”. What exactly that means, we’re not sure – but one solid rumour suggests that it’ll be the first hybrid console that teams up a base unit with a removable mobile unit.
One thing Nintendo always nails is first-party exclusive games (think Metroid, Mario, Zelda), but if the NX can also entice third-party developers to get on board, we could be looking at Nintendo’s first essential console in a long, long time.
Tesla Model X
SUVs aren’t generally considered fast, but Tesla’s upcoming Model X bucks that trend – which is even more of an achievement considering it’s entirely electric. This is a six-seater family car that’ll go from 0 to 60mph in the same time as a Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4 (3.2 seconds), but comes with more safety features than you can shake a stick at – including a HEPA filter system that’ll pretty much let you drive through a biological weapons attack unscathed.
UK pricing for the Model X has yet to be revealed, but given that the cheapest version is $132,000 in the US, you can expect to paying the best part of £100,000 for one when it arrives in the second half of 2016.