Top entertainment innovations of 2017 | Popular Science
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Ted Cavanaugh

The best entertainment tech of the year

Are you not entertained? You will be if you spend some time with these gadgets.

This article is a segment of 2017's Best of What's New list. For the complete tabulation of the year's most transformative products and discoveries, head right this way.


Signature TV W

OLED TV

The alpha OLED.

LG

Unofficially known as the “wallpaper” TV, this 65-inch display is just 2.5mm thick and weighs 17 pounds. You can mount it on any wall primarily using magnets. It’s compatible with multiple standards for high-dynamic-range picture, so you can enjoy colorful content from Blu-ray or Netflix. All the guts needed to power the screen live in a Dolby-Atmos-equipped sound bar you can place up to 6 feet away. $8,470.

Hulu Live

Hulu Live

Replace the cord.

Hulu

In the age of “micro bundles,” replacing cable with a heap of individual subscriptions can end up costing you more than your pre-cord-cut bill. For $40 monthly, Hulu Live offers original programming, more than 50 live channels, a catalog of on-demand TV and movies, as well as local programming (in some areas) streamed over your broadband connection. It’s wrapped in an interface designed to be surfable.

Predator 21 X

Acer predator 21 X

Whoa, look at that screen.

ACER

The gaming laptop, pushed to wonderful absurdity: It packs a seventh-gen Intel Core i7 processor, a pair of ultrapowerful NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 graphics cards, and a mechanical keyboard with a touchpad that flips to become a number pad. All that power manifests itself through a 21-inch, 21:9 aspect-ratio curved display with eye-tracking technology to maximize immersion without dipping into virtual reality. $9,000.

Even H2 Headphones

Even H2 headphones

Cans tuned to your ears.

Even

The first step of setting up these over-the-ear headphones is a 90-second listening test to create a graph of your hearing called an audiogram. You listen to music from eight different segments of the audible spectrum in each ear at increasing volume to map how sensitive you are to different frequencies. A custom sound profile—which you can see in the companion app— tunes sound response to each individual ear. $299.

Acoustic Surface

Sony acoustic surface

The screen is a speaker.

SONY

Edge-to-edge screens are the hot look for high-end TVs, so room for a speaker grate is out of the question. Sony solved this design problem in its Bravia OLED A1E 4K HDR TV by embedding four actuators behind the display to create visually imperceptible vibrations—in other words, sound. The distance between actuators can create localized audio, so sound can move across the display to match the action. $2,998.

MA770 Speaker

MA770 speaker

Concrete that absorbs echoes.

Master & Dynamic

Concrete speakers are great for combating rattle-inducing vibrations, but the trade-off is typically unwanted echo. This 35-pound Brutalist monolith has a tapered shape and is made from a proprietary blend of concrete with polymers in the mix to dampen the reverberations. Sound comes courtesy of a pair of 4-inch woven Kevlar long throw woofers and a 1.5-inch titanium tweeter embedded in the cabinet. $1,800.

Lenovo Explorer

Lenovo Explorer

Mainstream mixed reality.

Lenovo

Two motion-tracking cameras on the front of Lenovo’s Explorer headset place virtual objects into a real-world setting. Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system has already started implementing mixed reality for things like virtual field trips, even adding 3D drawing tools to MS Paint. Paired with a keyboard, it can be a virtual workspace. Or, add motion-sensing controllers for immersive gaming. $349.

8K Monitor

Dell 8k monitor

The high-def harbinger.

Dell

The 7,680-by-4,320 resolution on this ultra-sharp 31.5-inch display is like having four small 4K monitors crammed into one screen. That’s enough pixels to view four full-width browser windows with room left over, or watch four shows at once to quadruple the efficiency with which you can take in those YouTube cooking tutorials. With a total digital dimension of 33.2-megapixels, you’re going to need a bigger background photo. $3,900.

Spark DJI drone

DJI spark

An easy-fly drone.

DJI

Piloting a drone is still too difficult, but DJI gave its most consumer-friendly flying machine options to lessen the learning curve. You can use simple hand movements to give it commands, like waving to make it fly away or holding out your hand to make it land in your palm. A suite of preprogrammed shooting modes can complete complex aerial maneuvers with one button press, which will up the production quality of your airborne movies. $549.

An automated record press

automated record press

WarmTone record press.

Viryl Technologies

Vinyl albums are selling better than they have since the early ’90s, so it’s about time the production process caught up. This $195,000 machine presses a disc in about 24 seconds. If a problem pops up, it can automatically diagnose and quickly address it, a far cry from the finicky performance of its vintage forebears.

Grand Award Winner: Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Switch

A real console, really mobile.

Ted Cavanaugh

While Microsoft and Sony compete to see who can fit more computing power into their machines and app developers look for places to cram microtransactions, Nintendo has built a system that bridges the gap between home and on-the-go play. The key to the Switch is a 6.2-inch, capacitive HD touchscreen sandwiched between a pair of removable controllers. The setup has its own battery and storage, so you can play Zelda on your lunch break just like you would in your living room. Each motion-sensitive Joy-Con can act as an independent controller for impromptu Mario Kart multiplayer battles. $325.


Best of What's New was originally published in the November/December 2017 issue of Popular Science.

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