Leaves are falling, the days are shorter and the pumpkin-spiced latte crowd will soon be out in force. There’s no doubt you’re in no-man’s land between the summer Ibiza exodus and ski-season, where budgets are tight and the Clubland hangover is still fresh. So don’t go out; stay in and weather the dreary months. But as befits the FashionBeans man, do it in style with our round-up of the bleeding-edge tech that beats any night on the tiles. (Related: 32 Gadgets Every Man Needs)
Over time, consoles have transcended their juvenile stigma to become true entertainment hubs, through which you can stream music, TV and films as well as play video games. But which do you plump for, Xbox One or PS4? For retro gamers, the answer is probably neither, given that Nintendo is scheduled to relaunch the NES on 29 September and Atari has confirmed it is working on a games console for the first time in more than 20 years. PlayStation has arguably the better selection of games, but for brute processing power, the Xbox One X, which at launch on 7 November will be the most powerful (and most expensive) console in the world, is set to be the mac daddy machine.
Get (Voice) Active
If the recent obsession with virtual assistants is anything to go by, handheld remotes will soon be an ancient relic along with cassette tapes and the Windows maze screensaver. Since arriving earlier in 2017, Google Home has proved why robots taking over the world (or at least our morning routine) might not be such a bad thing after all. The voice-activated speaker system, which resembles something between air-freshener and a salt shaker, hasn’t suffered the same teething problems with ‘difficult’ (or as we say, ‘Glaswegian’) accents as other devices. As such, it’s fully capable of sending a text message, ordering a takeaway and turning off the lights straight out of the box, giving your home more than a touch of Tony Stark.
Staying in means lazy days, and sorting out a brew with the swipe of a thumb is perhaps the ultimate indulgence. Until we get the same service for pale ale, at least. The Prodigio Coffee Machine by Nespresso is a Wi-Fi connected kitchen gadget that allows you wake up, come home or just get off the sofa to an instant pick me up. A dedicated app allows you to pick from three different coffee sizes, schedule drink times and even manage your capsule stock from anywhere in the home, making it the single man’s solution to “Stick the kettle on, will ya?”
Hit The Bar
Perhaps the sleekest bit of acoustic kit on the market, the long-awaited Sonos Playbar is the ultimate home cinema sound system and music streaming speaker in one. The minimalist bar replaces your TV’s built-in speakers and is able to wirelessly cast every car chase to accompanying Sonos speakers around the room (purchased separately), all the while silently fine-tuning itself to the space it’s in. Surround sound is nothing new, mind, but if you’re looking for a product that doesn’t stick out like an ugly sore thumb in your living room, the Playbar is your movie night secret weapon. Just turn it off for Saving Private Ryan, unless you want PTSD.
Prime Time Viewing
The world is divided into two camps: Netflix vs Amazon Prime. Stranger Things vs Preacher. If you’re still on the fence, a year’s subscription to Prime offers better value for money than a rolling Netflix contract thanks to Amazon’s extras, like its stellar same-day delivery service and unlimited access to more than a thousand books and magazines. If you’re worried that shelling out on either could put your job/social life/marriage/all of the above at risk, consider the Amazon Fire Stick instead. For £39.99, the plug-in device gives access to Amazon Originals like The Man in the High Castle and other on-demand TV services. Prime and chill? Buy Now
Like it or not, virtual reality is taking off in a big way. Sure, from the outside the unwieldy goggles make you look like an X-Men reject, but that’s the price for a fully immersive experience, whether in a film or game. The Samsung Gear VR set is a market leader and more affordable than the Oculus Rift because it attaches to your phone to create your own private cinema. If you fancy dabbling in futurism, the Gear is the one to get. Because at home, no-one can see how stupid you look.
The Big Screen
If you want your entertainment supersized (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?) a cinema-grade projector is a man cave must-buy. With full 1080p resolution, a screen-size range of up to 120 inches and a dedicated gaming mode all for under £500, this beauty from Optoma is one of the best budget beamers around. All you need is a large white wall, hours to kill and plenty of “Sorry, I can’t tonight” excuses for the Whatsapp group.
Cut The Cord
True audiophiles are practically incapable of not listening to music wherever they are, so it makes sense that even your at-home headphones should deliver the best sound-per-pound possible. Despite there being little chance of getting tangled up in treadmill (let’s face it: even if you have one, you aren’t using it) going wireless with a pair of noise-cancelling cans is still the gold standard. Sony’s critically acclaimed MDR-1000X, which feature luxurious leather earpads, use digital noise cancellation to block out surrounding sounds so you can podcast in peace.
Granted, tele-land has been full of dumb ideas (shock, nobody actually wanted to watch the footie wearing 3D goggles), but a smart TV may be the wisest way to level-up your lounge. These WiFi-enabled devices combine the best parts of a computer and TV, allowing you to scan the web, watch YouTube clips and catch up on social media without straining your eyes on a tiny screen. Packing four times the resolution of a standard 1080p high-definition picture, an ultra-high-definition 4K set like Samsung’s handsomely curved UE55MU650 model is the pixel-perfect way to hibernate from now until next summer.
(Related: 10 Pieces Of Tech Every Man Should Own This Year)
No one ever said staying in meant being alone. To bring the noise to your next house party (sorry ‘civilised dinner gathering’) tap up a sleek multi-room speaker system. Delivering top-notch audio action to every corner of your crib, the Bose SoundTouch 30 can wirelessly link with up to four remote speakers, so your guests can continue living it up, even in the toilet. All the while, the kit lets you play conductor from your phone or by using the built-in buttons to access a pre-set playlist from streaming services like Spotify and Deezer.