Shiny new things to play with and listen to

By: Gary Steel

Shiny new things to play with and listen to BB-8 Droid and its Force Band: a fun challenge for summer Shiny new things to play with and listen to
Shiny new things to play with and listen to The Weeknd sounds good on regular days, too Shiny new things to play with and listen to
Shiny new things to play with and listen to The Rolling Stones return to their down and dirty roots Shiny new things to play with and listen to
Shiny new things to play with and listen to Samsung's extraordinary Internet-in-a-fridge Shiny new things to play with and listen to
Shiny new things to play with and listen to The first great 4K Blu-ray player, courtesy of Oppo Shiny new things to play with and listen to

Gary Steel with more on music in New Zealand

Star Wars BB-8 Droid With Force Band

Okay, so it doesn’t make music or show movies, but this collaboration between Star Wars and Sphero has to be the coolest gift going, and playing with the battle-worn little robo-orb is so much fun, you will wonder where summer has gone by the time you are through with him. Originating in the crazy Sphero ball, which combines robotics with a gyroscope and the ability to control it through an app, the Star Wars character is especially battle-worn after surviving heavy combat, and this special edition comes with the Force Band. When you clasp this thing to your wrist, you can learn how to gesture-control the BB-8 and conjure up all sorts of tricks. There is so much you can do with this wee fellow, including training him to react to your voice and record holographic videos. $359.95 from your nearest appliance store.  

The Weeknd—Starboy

If you want to win brownie points with the kids during this seasonal flux, keeping the latest long player from Abel Tesfaye (aka The Weeknd) casually sitting around the house should do the trick, especially if you choose the explicit version. Just about the biggest act right now, The Weeknd has a canny knack of crossing genres and eras with his nu-soul sound that carries echoes of Michael Jackson vocals, while utilising famous guests such as French electronic duo Daft Punk, 1980s Tears For Fears man Roland Orzabel, contemporary diva Lana Del Ray, and hip-hop icon Kendrick Lamar. It is the same but different, and it is one heck of a lot cooler than Justin Bieber.

The Rolling Stones—Blue & Lonesome

it is easy to overlook the first Rolling Stones album from way back in 1964 before they learned how to write classic songs such as Brown Sugar and Satisfaction where the group simply bashed out a dirty set of mostly rocking blues covers and made them their own. But after decades of ordinary records (you have to go right back to the early 1980s to find anything remotely good), these septuagenarians have made an album that seems like a fitting end to their illustrious career: a second album of dirty rocking blues covers. This is the sound of The Stones going back to their roots, and they sound like they really mean it, with plenty of swaggering grooves and Mick Jagger sounding like a grumpy old blues man rather than a prancing superstar.

Samsung Family Hub Refrigerator

For decades, one of the standing jokes in tech circles has been the long-promised, so-called internet fridge. Now, Samsung has turned its attention away from exploding smartphones to the Family Hub refrigerator, which it says sits "in the sweet spot between the twin trend of smart homes and the internet of things." Yep, the internet fridge is here! The standout feature of the Samsung Family Hub is an LCD screen that is as big as some people’s TVs albeit turned around the wrong way. At 21 inches, the HD screen can display content from your smartphone and TV and allow you to stream your favourite music. Coldplay or Snow Patrol, perhaps? Or some EMO group from Iceland? Something a little "Chill-Wave"? With its internal cameras linked to your smart phone app, you can check to see whether the wife has chugged all the beer or a little mouse has nibbled all the cheese, all before you leave the office. The future is cold, and only costs $9,999.

Oppo UDP-203 Ultra-HD Blu-ray Player

At last, a Blu-ray player that serves the 4K content you have been waiting for to show off that massive flat screen that is taking up three quarters of the wall space in your increasingly gadget-cramped lounge. But this is Oppo, a brand that never stops surprising us with their quality, innovation, or smart moves, which means that the UDP-203 is so much more than simply a player of discs. While it will play just about anything, from the humble DVD to high-res discs such as SACDs, this Oppo also sports a premium eight-channel, 32-bit digital-to-analogue converter, support for the latest HDMI cables, and it is also a veritable expert in the art of streaming. And all for a mere $1049.

Keep up to date in the industry by signing up to Dealsonwheels' free newsletter or liking us on Facebook