Rory Sutherland

This year’s top gadgets – according to my inner chimp

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I’d hoped to spend this week writing about my new Geberit Japanese-style toilet, but since the grout is not yet dry, all you filthy toilet-gaijin will have to wait until the new year for my review.

So I thought I’d write instead some reviews of my favourite gadgets of the year. But since our real reasons for buying gadgetry have nothing to do with the hastily contrived post-rationalisations created in the prefrontal cortex, in the interests of impartiality, I have asked my inner chimp to provide an honest second opinion on each.

1) Smart energy meter (free).

Prefrontal cortex verdict: ‘Blah blah blah energy reduction, green industrial revolution, global warming, polar bears.’

Inner chimp: ‘Sod the bears —they’re terrifying. Look, just make sure you put it beside your front door. That way you can check you haven’t left anything switched on when you go out, so you aren’t paranoid about the house catching fire. Hair straighteners are the worst, apparently.’

2) Philips Avance Collection MicroMasticating Juicer (from £200).

PFC: ‘The new generation of masticating food juicers work at lower temperatures and have a much lower rate of oxidation. You can use them to juice leafy greens, to get your five-a-day in liquid form.’

IC: ‘Look, if you want your five-a-day in liquid form, what’s wrong with Pimm’s? On the other hand you can use this to crush ginger, banana and strawberry into a juice and then add vodka over ice. How is that not cool? Besides, when you reassemble the device after rinsing it, you feel like Edward Fox assembling his gun in The Day of the Jackal. Love it.’

3) Naim Audio Mu-so Wireless Bluetooth Music System (from £650).

PFC: ‘Naim has brought out a new generation of this product from £1,200. Unfortunately this is a lot to spend on a humongous wireless speaker, especially when you factor in the cost of the accompanying divorce. Fortunately, the cheaper earlier model is still very good indeed. When I bought this, I suddenly realised I had spent far too much time worrying about how to download music, and far too little time listening to it.’

IC: ‘All true. But more to the point, it looks pukka.’

4) Samsung Frame 4K 55in television (£1,200).

PFC: ‘When I first wanted to get an enormous TV, my wife complained that it would “dominate the room”.  “Well what do you want to dominate the room? A chair?” I asked. “Tell you what, I’ll get a lifesize cardboard cutout of Donald Trump as well; that will help deflect attention from it.” I won that argument.

‘But I soon discovered one of the great things about the new generation of 4K LCD TVs is that the screens don’t suffer burnout. This means that when they are switched off (i.e. when you have upper-middle-class guests) you can display works of art instead of a vast black rectangle. Got quite a nice Sisley up at the mo. Art is ravishing on a 4K screen.’

IC: ‘All true, again. But here’s what I don’t understand. When you’re watching fast-moving TV, can anyone tell the difference between HD and 4K or UHD? That’s why all the displays in shops don’t show a football match on a 4K screen — they show a static close-up of an ant or something. It’s only with still pictures that your brain can spot the difference.

‘The real killer use for 4K is that if you plug a laptop into a 55in 4K TV, you have a fabulous monitor so huge you feel like a James Bond villain. Why don’t the manufacturers tell you that?”

PFC: ‘I haven’t the faintest idea.’

Rory Sutherland is vice-chairman of Ogilvy UK.
Written byRory Sutherland

Rory Sutherland is vice-chairman of Ogilvy Group UK. He writes The Spectator's Wiki Man column.

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