Looking up at the heavens through a telescope is fun and all, but it’s even better if you know what you’re looking at. Celestron’s NexStar Evolution 8 Telescope uses an 8-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain optical tube with StarBright XLT optical coatings, Fastar compatibility, and a computerized, motorized GoTo mount that accurately points the lens towards whatever you want it to. More importantly, though, compatibility with the free SkyPortal app ensures straightforward setup and intuitive navigation across the night sky using nothing but your iOS/Android smartphone or tablet. Plus, its 10 hour rechargeable li-ion battery means this workhorse telescope is just getting started by the time you’re ready to call it quits.
Grab one on Amazon – $1,600
In our books, the Kindle Paperwhite has been the gold standard of e-readers since its entry. Unsurprising, then, that the e-reader to top it would also be the work of Amazon. With a 300 ppi 6″ display, light sensor-lead adaptive front lighting, and the thinnest profile a Kindle’s ever had (at 7.6 mm), we might be lead to accidentally overlook — on paper anyway — its glare-free, micro-etched glass front that sits flush with its edges and replaces what would otherwise be plastic. It also boasts weeks of battery life, PagePress pressure sensors for page turns (each accompanied by haptic feedback), a lighter build than its predecessors, and 4GB of storage that translates to a 2,000+ book capacity.
Preorder at Amazon – $220
Any self-respecting iPad stand needs to offer multiple viewing angles, stability on soft surfaces like pillows or sheets, and, naturally, a design as elegant as the tablet itself. Yohann handily attains all three. This gorgeous stand comes milled from a single piece of either cherry, walnut, oak, or maple in three sizes, and grips your corresponding iPad in either portrait or landscape orientations to perfectly balance in three distinct angles. Yohann also leaves speakers unhindered, sports milled holes to permit charging while in use, and comes in a fifth, colorful Lacquer option with interchangeable grippy back rests to cover iPads 2 through Air.
Grab one at Kickstarter – $69 (Lacquer) to $149 (wood)
Smart thermometers like Nest promise to keep your home at just the right temperature and save you a few bucks while doing it. But learning algorithms don’t always get it right. The Zen thermostat aims to somewhat simplify things all while giving you full control. This minimalistic white or black slab illuminates with LEDs when touched, letting you control heating, cooling, and your system’s fans from its straightforward touchscreen interface or from anywhere else using your Android/iOS device. It also lets you set schedules from your smartphone and works with smart home systems like Apple HomeKit and OpenHome, if you need anything more than just the basics.
Find it at IndieGoGo – $150
We live in an age of excess. Even our devices boast far more functionality than the layman will admit to actually using (or, frankly, knowing how to use). Leica’s M Edition 60 commemorates their original M3, released 60 years ago, by stripping it down to the essentials: it boasts controls for shutter speed, aperture, focus, and ISO sensitivity, and nothing more to distract the photographer from their subject. Its internals, however, are digital — a full-frame 24 megapixel Leica sensor — though without a viewfinder to review shots it still gives off a decidedly analog feel. But with only 600 available worldwide, if you want one you’d better not miss your shot.
Available in October. Read more at Leica – $TBA
Can a cube a fraction the size of a traditional soundbar — let alone a set of stereo speakers — truly fill a well-sized room with booming sound? Mass Fidelity seems to think so, as do several reviewers, about their Core wireless speaker. While it’s slightly bigger than its truly portable counterparts, Core uses Acoustic Holography technology and Wave Field Synthesis to makes it sound like two distinct speakers without a specific sweet spot, meaning it sounds great from any listener’s perspective. And unlike other small speakers, it also produces bone-shaking bass, boasts a slew of connectivity options (including optical, auxiliary, and Bluetooth with aptX codec), plus 12 hours of battery life, making it just as proficient for home theatre use as it is for streaming audio.
Learn more at Mass Fidelity or preorder at IndieGoGo – $389
The splash made by Apple Watch temporarily distracted many from noticing another recently released smartwatch of the Android variety — notably, one that’s actually available for preorder right now. Motorola’s Moto 360 is a thriftier but just as functional timepiece, its internals contained in a round stainless steel case that’s capped with a scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass screen and attached to a Horween leather strap. Its default screen, a customizable watch face, displays time in an analog or digital manner, but quickly makes way for notifications, weather, flight alerts, traffic, its built-in activity tracker (including heart rate monitor), and third party apps from the likes of Facebook, Pinterest, and others. It also enjoys an all-day battery, widespread Android compatibility, working with any device running 4.3 or above, and a wireless docking station that lets it double as a bedside clock.
Preorder at Motorola starting tomorrow – $250
Bose is the undisputed leader in acoustic noise cancelling headphones, but their previous industrial-looking designs were a little too busy for our liking. Enter the QuietComfort 25. Continuing from where their QuietComfort 15 left off, the QC25 was re-engineered for deeper, more powerful sound, improved noise cancellation, and a sleeker design that’s more accommodating, comfortable, and just as lightweight as ever. A single AAA battery gives off enough juice to run these cans for 35 hours straight, though if it runs flat you can still listen, albeit without any active noise cancellation. It also boasts an inline mic plus remote, folding hinges to pack away tightly in the included case, and a huge range of customizable Colorware color options — for a price.
Learn more at Bose – $300 ($400 for custom colors)
Happen to watch a lot of TV? Like really, a lot? Then perhaps the upcoming TiVo Mega is for you. This machined server-sized device packs a ridiculous 24 terabyte storage capacity, recording up to 3 years straight worth of programming without breaking a sweat. To help best make use of this are 6 tuners and search capabilities that allow it to scour cable TV and streaming apps like Netflix and Hulu Plus to hunt down your next fix and archive it forever. Plus, if the built-in drives weren’t enough, they’re also hot-swappable for additional space.
Learn more at TiVo – $5,000
Thinner, bigger, better – actually, you’ll be hard pressed to find anything about the iPhone 6 that isn’t improved when compared to its predecessor. Most obvious, Apple’s latest features a 4.7-inch or 5.5-inch sapphire crystal-shielded display with 1335 x 750 and 1920 x 1080 resolutions, respectively, the latter with a pixel density (401 ppi) that eclipses the 5 & 5S. But the changes don’t stop there. At its core lies a new, power-efficient 64-bit A8 chip and M8 coprocessor, better batteries (especially in the Plus), an improved 8MP iSight camera with optical image stabilization and 60fps 1080p video, 150 Mbps LTE capabilities, 802.11ac WiFi support, the inclusion of a barometer to estimate height elevation (and stairs climbed, etc), compatibility with Apple Pay, and software that takes full advantage of the extra real estate. And all this in a sleek, rounded device that measures in at a paltry 6.9 mm or 7.1 mm (Plus) thin.
Read more at Apple – $200+