Week in tech: Car wars, space-age socks and another glimpse of Nintendo's NX


All together now: der der der, der der der der der derrrrrrr! Yes, there's only one thing people are talking about this week, and that's Star Trek. We kid! It's Star Wars, of course! With techradar continuing to embrace the dark side as techvadar, we've been waving kitchen roll tubes around like they're lightsabers and talking like Yoda, which doesn't get extremely irritating very quickly. Oh no. But the Death Star isn't the only big thing on our horizon this week. We've got self-driving car wars, Apple's attempt at making the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey and, er, sci-fi socks. Hold on to your wookie: it's week in tech!

The Force is strong with this one

The hype has peaked, the toys are in the shops and the embargoes have been lifted, so there are just two questions left to ask: one, is The Force Awakens any good, and two, can someone publish a review that doesn't include great big blooming spoilers? The answers are yes and yes, as you'll discover in Patrick Goss's thoroughly spoiler-free review.

Turn your phone into a lightsaber

In a week when we discovered the existence of Star Wars oranges and tea strainers – more farce than force, we feel – it was nice to see something Star Wars related that wasn't just a hopeless cash-in. That something is Lightsaber Escape, a Google app that turns your phone into a lightsaber. The game is played on your computer while you wave your phone around to control your on-screen saber. It's technically impressive, and fun to play too.

To boldly go where no trailer has gone before

Let's imagine you're in charge of marketing the next Star Trek film. When do you think would be the best time to get the world's attention? If you answered: "well, duh, two days before The Force Awakens premiere," then maybe you're playing a clever game we don't understand. Nevertheless the trailer is a thing that is real, and you can watch it here.

Nintendo's NX could have a really cool controller

A newly discovered patent suggests that the still-secret Nintendo NX console could have a really unusual controller. It appears to have two shoulder buttons, two thumb sticks, some form of card slot, motion sensing and a large touchscreen, and one theory is that the screen will show contextual controls – so if you need to jump you'll see a jump button. As Nick Pino says: "we have to treat the patents more as proof-of-concepts rather than a hard and fast promise from Nintendo, but what's here is interesting."

Hideo and seek

Legendary games designer Hideo Kojima has solved a mystery dating back, ooh, six weeks or so: he has indeed left Konami, and he's formed his own studio. The first game will be a PS4 exclusive, and while Konami owns the rights to the Silent Hills game Kojima was working on with director Guillermo Del Toro, there's no reason he couldn't ditch the name and do something else in the same genre. Kojima is "thrilled" about his new gig, and we're pretty excited too.

Self-driving car wars

How's this for a road block: California is proposing new regulations that mean self-driving cars will have to have real, qualified human drivers available at all times. Driverless cars and taxis would effectively be banned, and as you can imagine Google isn't too happy about that. Another firm that'll be watching developments in California with interest is Kia, whose CES 2016 plans are all about the autonomous driving. The firm expects to have partly autonomous cars on sale by 2020 and fully self-driving ones by 2030.

My God, it's full of Star Wars

Some lucky people have been watching the Star Wars trailer not on smartphones, but in the four-speaker, massive-screened enormo-vision of the monolithic new iPad Pro. The tablet is the biggest iPad ever made, and if you leave it near some monkeys they'll suddenly discover tools and war. But is it the best iPad ever made? According to mobile supremo Gareth Beavis, it is. It's not a laptop replacement, but it isn't supposed to be: it's a really big iPad, and for many people that's exactly what they need.

Big, but not clever

We've had another big-screened mobile device in our labs this week: Microsoft's Lumia 950XL, the even bigger version of the Lumia 950. While Sean Cameron loved the "superb camera, lovely screen and smooth performance," he suspects that it's "an easy sell for the Windows faithful… but it isn't for everyone." The lack of apps remains a thorn in Windows Phone's side.

They know what you did last summer

It wouldn't be Christmas without Google's annual report on the things we've been searching for, and it turns out that the top term in the UK in 2015 was Cilla Black, who was responsible for a lorra lorra searches. Lady Colin Campbell was second thanks to her appearance on I'm a Celebrity, and other notable names included Jeremy Clarkson, Charlie Sheen and "the most feared man in Hull, Ronnie Pickering." Who? Ronnie Pickering!

Sock it to Netflix

Good news for the many people who can't wait for smart socks to be invented: Netflix is on the cotton case. In a move that's in no way an attempt to remind people that Netflix subs make a great gift, it has published a design for socks that will automatically pause your show or movie if you fall asleep while watching it. It isn't actually making the socks, but it's provided all the information you need should you decide that doing so would be a great use of your time.

The TechRadar hive mind. The Megazord. The Voltron. When our powers combine, we become 'TECHRADAR STAFF'. You'll usually see this author name when the entire team has collaborated on a project or an article, whether that's a run-down ranking of our favorite Marvel films, or a round-up of all the coolest things we've collectively seen at annual tech shows like CES and MWC. We are one.