Samsung Gear S2
Samsung takes aim at the Apple Watch with the release of Gear S2. The newest entry into the wearable market comes with a stainless steel body and replaceable leather band. A rotating bezel allows users to easily navigate apps including Twitter, Yelp, Nike+ and more. Samsung also introduces its own health-tracking capabilities as well as Samsung Pay, with an ecosystem growing every day. Other Gear S2 features include media storage for up to 300 songs, stylish watch faces by Atelier Mendini and optional 3G connectivity. $299.99–349.99.
If you find yourself disappointed by Siri, virtual assistance reaches new heights with Amazon Echo, a voice command device built out of a wireless speaker and microphone array, all housed in a black cylinder. The device looks impressive, but the real power is in its speech recognition ability. Trigger the device by saying “Alexa,” allowing you to check your calendar, get weather reports, play Pandora and more. While the device was made fully available summer 2015, Amazon Prime members had a year to play around with Echo, saying its voice recognition improves over time. Amazon is simultaneously unveiling new features. $179.99.
Icontrol Piper nv
With the advent of smartphones and Web 2.0, home security is no longer an expensive undertaking. Many companies offer a variety of monitoring solutions, but Icontrol’s Piper nv aims to be the complete DIY security solution. It features a 3.4-megapixel camera that can pan, tilt, zoom and even do a four-panel split screen, but Piper offers more than video monitoring. Motion and sound detectors are built into the device, which can trigger a 105dB alarm. The microphone allows two-way audio communication through Icontrol’s feature-rich app. Piper also has a Z-Wave hub, allowing you to link your other smart products to the device, like digital locks and smart thermostats. $279.
Apple iPad Pro
Apple’s latest offering is the flagship iPad Pro, the 12.9-inch follow-up to its popular line of tablets. Unlike the Air and the Mini, the Pro aims to replace the computer as your primary work device. iPad Pro provides 78 percent more screen space combined with a desktop-grade, 64-bit A9X chip, which is 1.8 times faster than the Air 2’s CPU. Using technology from the iMac with Retina 5K display, the iPad Pro offers a resolution of 2732 x 2048 pixels, calculating to 226 pixels per square inch. Other features include a four-speaker audio system, 10-hour battery life, an 8-megapixel rear camera, a 1.2-megapixel front camera and the new Apple Pencil. 32GB $799; 128GB $949; 128GB with 4G $1,079.
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