100 Best Gadgets Ever: The Connected Age

Sonos (2005)

100 best gadgets ever: the connected age

Until Sonos came along, multi-room music was the exclusive domain of megastars such as Craig David and Francis Rossi from Status Quo, but these understated grey and white boxes made it easy. Since then it’s gone from strength to strength, adding various standalone speakers, support for music streaming services and even a soundbar – but it’s the falling-off-a-log simplicity that makes it a winner.

XBOX 360 (2005)

100 best gadgets ever: the connected age

Firing first in a console battle isn’t always crucial, but it certainly helped the Xbox 360’s case in its fight against the PS3. What it lacked in Blu-ray powers it made up for with a superior online system, a far better control pad and in 2010 the addition of Kinect, a camera capable of tracking your whole body and translating your gestures into in-game movements or menu navigation. In practice it was often hit and miss, but what Kinect has done for gaming can’t be ignored. It now forms an integral part of the Xbox One package, with Sony also offering a motion-sensing cam as an accessory for the PS4.

YouTube (2005)

100 best gadgets ever: the connected age

What started with a clip of a man at the zoo and a desire to let people share their videos has become a cultural phenomenon, with over six billion hours watched every month. Ever expanding, YouTube now allows you to rent movies and TV shows, live stream a man falling from space in full HD, discover new music and share videos of your pet squirrel piloting a Parrot AR.Drone around the kitchen.

Yamaha YSP-1 (2005)

100 best gadgets ever: the connected age

In 2005 no one knew they needed a soundbar or really believed there was an alternative to bulky 5.1 surround systems. It took five years or more for the genius of the YSP-1 to resonate with the world at large. So far ahead of the curve it was barely a gentle incline, the YSP-1 set standards that rival manufacturers still struggle to replicate. Simon Lucas, What Hi-Fi? Sound And Vision

B&W Zeppelin (2006)

100 best gadgets ever: the connected age

Bowers & Wilkins makes the speakers used at Abbey Road Studios, the spiritual home of The Beatles. That should give you an idea of how highly regarded the company is. So when it produced a speaker dock for the iPod and embraced the (then) anti-audiophile world of digital music, it was a pretty big deal. The Zeppelin shared Apple’s taste for premium design, but more importantly it sounded brilliant. Since then other hi-fi heavyweights have weighed in, including Marantz, NAD and B&O, dragging the stuffy old kingdom of turntables and interconnects into the brave new world of lossless file formats and, eventually, wireless streaming. This is one Zeppelin that didn’t go down in flames.

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