Tech me out
There's no burden like that of being the one tech-head in your social or family group.
Simultaneously revered for your arcane knowledge and looked down upon for your weird tech fetish, being the resident gadget expert is tough.
Among other things, it's a position that requires you to have a perpetually updating list of cool tech recommendations sat somewhere near the front of your brain. These are the situations where you don't just want to show off or talk about the best tech on the market - you want to impress with smart, cool, and relatable gadgets.
Allow us to help. This isn't a list of the best tech out there at the moment - it's a run down of the alternatives, the things that you wouldn't expect. Someone tells you they want a tablet but not an iPad? How about one with a projector in?
What about VR? Anyone doing anything cool with that? We've got you covered. Read on, and see what cool, alternative and intelligent things are spewing out of the tech world right now.
UE Boom 2
The UE Boom has been one of the best ways to project your music while out and about for some time now, and the UE Boom 2 is even better.
Chief among the UE Boom 2's list of improvements is a IPX7 waterproof rating, which means that it's suitable for use by the pool or in the bathroom. Or, as we head into another dank winter, just outside.
The Boom 2's internal components are all-new, producing an even fuller sound profile, while its Bluetooth range has been extended to 100 feet. You can also now skip tracks by picking it up and giving it a smack upside the head.
Samsung Gear VR
We've been hearing about the second wave of virtual reality for what feels like ages now. Perhaps fittingly, however, it all seems somewhat intangible.
Here's an accomplished VR headset experience that you can get up and running right now. All you need is a 2015 flagship Samsung phone such as the Samsung Galaxy S6 or Samsung Galaxy Note 5, and one of the two Gear VR headsets Samsung has now made available.
Slot the former into the latter, and you have access to a full Oculus-powered VR experience.
With more and more VR content coming on the market, from immersive films to games that put you in the thick of the action, this is a rare instance of polished final hardware from a reputable brand that's on the market right now.
Microsoft Band 2
Fitness trackers have got to a point where they're almost uniformly useful and comfortable. While most can measure your heart rate, however, few can raise it.
Microsoft's stylish second-generation fitness tracker, the Microsoft Band 2, goes the extra mile. It's got 11 sensors for tracking heart rate, calorie burn, sleep quality, and more. It even has a barometer so it knows what altitude you're operating at.
Beyond that, the Microsoft Band 2 will work in conjunction with your smartphone (Android, iOS, or Windows) to provide workout insights, email notifications, and more. It'll even help you with your golf swing if your friends with those kinds of people.
Yes, we are recommending a BlackBerry in a 2015 list of desirable gadgets. Why? Because the Priv stands out a mile in a market filled with me-too smartphones.
There's always at least one non-techy mate who bemoans the modern smartphone typing experience. Said person usually has a BlackBerry for a work phone and an iPhone or an Android phone for a personal phone. If only the two could meet as one beautiful hybrid device, all of the world's problems would surely be fixed.
The BlackBerry Priv is that phone. It runs on Android, and has a large, curved, 5.4-inch QHD OLED touchscreen display to match. Yet, lo and behold - a slight nudge slides out a full BlackBerry keyboard for speedy and mistake-free emails. It's the best of both worlds and a true show stopper - to a certain type of person, at least.
OK, so the Bluesmart isn't actually due to ship until December, and any description of it must feature two words that will have the tech cynics running for the hills: 'crowd' and 'funded'.
But the Bluesmart has been attracting an unbelievable amount of positive buzz from an awful lot of reputable sources. It's arguably the most promising addition to the emerging smart luggage category that we've seen yet.
The Bluesmart carry-on connects to your smartphone, allowing for remote locking, location tracking, proximity alerts, and self-weighing. It even has a battery that will charge your smartphone half a dozen times.
Basically, the Bluesmart could conceivably wipe out a good half of the reasons we find flying so stressful in one fell swoop. It also manages to make luggage exciting - now if only we could ride the thing...
Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro
For a while now, the number one choice for tablets has been the iPad range. With the Microsoft Surface offering a top-end hybrid alternative, it's perhaps become difficult to work up much enthusiasm for a new Android tablet.
Meet the Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro, which achieves just that. Here is a premium 10-inch tablet with an unusual asymmetrical design and a couple of well though-out and innovative features.
A vibrant QHD display and a built-in kickstand-cum-hook serves to make the Yoga Tab 3 Pro a great kitchen media player, but you're wondering how we can feature this over the best from Samsung or Sony.
Well the unexpected delight of its built-in pico projector gives you the kind of on-the-fly widescreen options that could very well revolutionise your trips and presentations. And it's a projector. In a tablet.
Sonos has all but cornered the multi-room home audio market in recent years, and the new Sonos Play:5 looks to be its finest wireless speaker yet.
Available from November 25, the Sonos Play:5 packs an almighty punch for its compact size. It's been completely re-engineered from the previous model for superior sound, but the real talking point here is Trueplay.
This is the name of a clever piece of software that utilises your iPhone's microphone to fine tune its audio output according to your room's specific layout. It means that wherever you position the Play:5, it should still sound great. 'Sweet spots' be damned.
If you're the sort of person who thinks that smartphones have made cameras obsolete, you're probably best off skipping to the next bit. You're certainly not going to want to spend the best part of £3,000 / $4600 / AU$6500 on the Leica Q.
Actually, we doubt even camera enthusiasts are going to be prepared to spend that much on it. But they'll want one all the same. Oh, they'll want one.
For your money, you get a true modern day camera icon - a fixed-lens full-frame compact camera that takes speedy 24-megapixel shots of breathtaking quality - all wrapped up in a timelessly desirable body.
We could go further into the specs, but this is power and precision combined in one body - we urge you to try one out if you ever happen to be nearby. You'll go from blurry snapper to arty creator in the time it takes you to develop a sudden sense of ennui with life.
DJI Phantom 3
Drones are undoubtedly cool. The name alone evokes something edgy, futuristic, and just a little bit dangerous.
The DJI Phantom 3 is arguably the best mainstream consumer drone series around, offering intuitive semi-automated flight controls that will enable you to capture spectacular aerial footage in the easiest and safest way possible.
It comes in two basic flavours - Standard and Advanced - but most people will only need the Standard version with its 2.7K video capture, 12-megapixel stills (in JPEG or RAW), and half-mile range for each 25-minute flight.
Apple TV has been around for eight years now, and the last significant new model was launched way back in 2012. But that's the old Apple TV. The new Apple TV is out to revolutionise the living room.
It might only look like a fatter version of the old model, but it's what the new Apple TV can do that will impress your mates. You can use its sophisticated new remote control to browse through a slick new interface containing native iOS-like apps.
From the remote you can prompt Siri to launch naturalistic voice-based searches, so you can ask the new Apple TV to show you '80s action movies, films starring Benedict Cumberbatch, and more.
We're not sure if it will actually revolutionise the living room just yet, but the new Apple TV will undoubtedly get the conversation going. Even if it is just you begging Siri to find your more films with Jason Statham.