2008: T-Mobile G1
Linsey Fryatt (Stuff 2000-2009):
When the world’s first Android phone landed on the planet, it did so not as a consumerist climax to a two-hour keynote, nor hoisted on a golden pagoda, surrounded by dancing bears, but rather in a small hotel room in Covent Garden.
An HTC engineer quietly guided me around the new Android OS on the T-Mobile G1 – or HTC Dream, as it was known elsewhere – and I knew right there I had found my mobile Zen, never again to be constricted by the digital hegemony of iOS. Beautifully simple, drag-and-drop, open-source, widget-based. This smartphone was whatever I wanted it to be, putting your choices – not Jobs’ or Ive’s to the fore.
Since then we’ve lost the keyboard, the controversial navigation nub and gained a global market leader of mobiles. Sad as it sounds, this was my gadget equivalent of seeing The Stone Roses at Spike Island.
2009: Panasonic Lumix GF1 and Olympus PEN E-P1
Simon Osborne-Walker (Stuff since 2005):
The Micro Four Thirds movement promised a revolution: SLR quality from svelter bodies and teensier lenses. The first model, the Panasonic G1, was too clunky and chunky for my liking, but soon a pair of MFT champions emerged. Olympus’ heavily teased PEN E-P1 was just downright gorgeous, kicking off the retro-cam trend and prompting oohs and aahs around the Stuff office.
But it was the understated Panasonic GF1 that persuaded me compact system cameras were the future. With the slimline 20mm f1.7 lens attached, it placed super-sharp imaging into my jacket pocket, carried everywhere like my trusty old Leica CL film camera once was. From that moment I was a CSC evangelist.
2012: MakerBot Replicator
Mark Wilson (Stuff since 2004):
The MakerBot was a charming little showman when it arrived in the Stuff office. But where bystanders saw a cute, bleeping box beavering away on a new creation, I saw a cube of pure evil whose aim was to destroy me via an impossible-to-calibrate extruder nozzle. Two days and piles of plastic later, we managed to print a three-dimensional Stuff logo. Once my high had subsided, I retired from 3D printer duty and passed the plastic albatross of responsibility to my colleague Jools. He’s never quite been the same since.
2013: Google Glass
Lucy Hedges (Stuff since 2009):
The massive hype surrounding Google Glass last summer meant I felt pretty smug wearing Google’s face furniture on their visit to Stuff. Once I’d got over the gawks and self-conscious nature of wearing it around genteel Teddington, I realised how cool it’ll be to one day have info hovering above my field of vision.
Opinion from the rest of the team was mixed – some were impressed by its ability to answer obscure questions, others were bored after two minutes. Those people were missing the point, though. I’ve seen loads of new-fangled tech in my five years at Stuff, but none as groundbreaking as Glass. Sure, it’s very beta and socially jarring, but then using early mobile phones was pretty laughable back in the day. The only downside? It didn’t like my voice much. I’m putting that down to an early bug rather than my husky tones.
READ MORE: Google Glass preview
2014: Oculus Rift Crystal Cove
Will Findlater (Stuff since 2004):
I’ve been at Stuff for the best part of 10 years and until I tried Oculus Rift, the best VR I’d seen was on a Virtuality machine at Guildford Spectrum leisure centre, circa 1993. I tried some Vuzix smart glasses a few years back and was amazed by the poor ergonomics, sub-par visuals and middling motion sensitivity. But Rift just blew me away.
It works as it’s supposed to. Its screen looks outstanding. It recognises every motion immediately and translates it into something that feels real. And Crystal Cove, with its extra degrees of freedom, goes far beyond the levels of immersion of any other system I’ve tried.
Sure, it’ll remain niche until we’re all wearing dual-mode contact lenses that allow us to switch into a game whenever work gets dull. But if there’s any good argument for sitting in your bedroom with a massive set of opaque ski goggles strapped to your bonce, Oculus Rift is it.
READ MORE: Oculus Rift preview