Back in the day

Back in the day, computer users were encouraged to use screen savers to protect their monitor from suffering something called `screen burn’. To display an image on the screen of an old-fashioned cathode ray tube (CRT) monitor, photons were fired at the screen. If the image on the screen was static and didn’t change for an extended period, the photons could `burn’ into the screen. Screen savers were invented to help prevent that happening by giving the screen a bit of a break. Of course, this is no longer a real concern, since modern flatscreen monitors use either LCD or LED backlighting and therefore aren’t susceptible to screen burn. Modern operating systems switch off the screen after long periods of inactivity, not to save the screen, but to save electricity. So, unless you’re using a screen saver to personalise your computer, they don’t actually serve a purpose anymore.

Samsung pioneered the big-screen cellphone market with the hugely successful Galaxy Note series. The tech giant assumed it was on to another winner when it revealed its Galaxy Note 7 in August 2016. Featuring a waterproof design, large battery, new eye-scanning technology and the same great camera as the Galaxy S7, the new Note would be a genuine contender for phone of the year. Then the reports started to trickle in. One person claimed their Note 7 had caught fire, then another user reported the same problem. Soon, 30 incidents had been reported to the company. Samsung halted all sales and recalled the product. It cited the battery (big surprise) as the culprit. Samsung was praised for its swift and decisive action. Unfortunately, the worst was still to come. The company claimed a fresh batch of phones had been made and they went on sale just a few weeks later. But the new devices combusted spontaneously too. One incident involved an airline passenger in his seat waiting to take off. The phone was banned in several places, including planes. That prompted a second recall and, ultimately, the cancellation of one of the most anticipated phones of the year ­ as well as a $5.5 billion loss for Samsung.

It is no longer enough for a set of speakers to merely sound good these days. A bunch of speakers sound good. They have to look spectacular too, although in an understated way that makes them a casual talking point ­ rather than a tasteless social statement. Tricky. Bang & Olufsen has been at the top of that game for more than 90 years, with all of its multimedia products exploring the fine balance between exceptional sound quality and decor chic. The latest piece of kit from the Danish firm ticks both of those boxes. These aluminium cones are wireless, but they will link up with your music service of choice using Bluetooth, AirPlay or Google Cast.

Aluminium is used for its rigidity, which helps maintain audio fidelity. The conical body appears to hover above the ground, which allows the down-firing bass to reverberate throughout the room. The sound from the tweeters is evenly distributed in all directions using a custom speaker design and B&O’s Acoustic Lens Technology. The rounded geometry isn’t just for good looks. Though one can’t deny the visual appeal, it serves a functional purpose too. In essence, conventional surround sound tries to encircle the listener with audio, but this rounded shape lets it push out sound equally in all directions. Also pretty cool: the 1 and 2 both have a proximity sensor, so you can approach from any angle and the controls will always face you. No matter where you are in the room, the sweet spot will find you.

At first glance, this appears to be one of those unnecessary, impractical inventions that exists purely for some whimsical enjoyment. But, believe it or not, in its native China, the Ninebot One and its two-wheeled sibling the Ninebot Mini are functional devices. In our cramped city spaces, having a small electrically motorised form of transport is remarkably useful. The Ninebot One makes negotiating long distances in a metropolis ­ shuffling between meetings, getting to and from work, for example ­ a much less daunting prospect. You can stay off the packed roads, save on fuel costs and look as if you’re from the future. A motion-sensitive gyroscope system manages its throttle. It can detect if its rider is leaning forwards and then kicks into action by driving its wheel a bit faster. Your speed is determined by how far forward you lean, but it can achieve a maximum speed of about 20 km/h, and has a range of about 30 km on a single charge. No surprises here; after all, Ninebot owns Segway. And while the One works best on flat, smooth surfaces, its single wheel can handle grass and gravel too.