Week in Tech: New Xperias, smarter smartwatches and your very own droid

New Xperias, Samsung's smarter smartwatch and your very own Star Wars droid

It's the beginning of September, and that means three things: summer's over, there are stacks of exciting new goodies being shown off at IFA and we're days away from a huge Apple event. This week we saw new Sony smartphones and Samsung smartwatches, a top-end TomTom and a rolling robot straight outta Star Wars. It's week in tech!

Are you Xperianced?

Sony's smartphone elves have been busy: this week it unveiled not one, not two, but three brand new Xperias. The Sony Xperia Z5 is James Bond's new phone and "packs some impressive new tech," says Gareth Beavis, while the Xperia Z5 Compact is "smaller but still powerful – we love the Compact range." And then there's the Xperia Z5 Premium. "It's a 4K phone," Gareth says. "Seriously." Does a phone actually need a 4K screen? Gareth's hands-on review has at the answer.

Samsung gets into Gear again

Has Samsung perfected the smartwatch? Er, no – but it's got closer than ever before with the brand new Gear S2, which is "by far Samsung's best smartwatch yet." It has a clever rotating bezel to address the problem of fingers obscuring the screen, it works with lots of Android phones rather than just Samsungs, and it's prettier than Samsung's previous efforts. It still looks a bit Inspector Gadget for our taste, but Samsung's clearly upping its smartwatch game.

A vital Spark?

Would you like to "pavement pound to the Ministry of Sound," as Hugh Langley puts it? Thanks to TomTom you can: the new TomTom Spark is a fitness watch with an integrated music player. Fitness-wise it's very similar to the TomTom Cardio, which tracks all kinds of sports and exercise, and it monitors your sleep too. The Spark also comes with a pre-loaded playlist created by Ministry of Sound DJs, which probably won't include any Spandau Ballet.

Is this the droid you're looking for?

If you were wowed by the BB-8 droid in the imminent new Star Wars movie, you'll love what Sphero has done: the firm responsible for the real, not CGI, droid in the film has made a smaller, smartphone controlled version that you can actually buy. The Sphero BB-8 is cute and a complete hoot, and it's yours for US$150 (£130).

IFA lot of TVs

While smartphones and smartwatches dominated the headlines, IFA also brought us some seriously impressive new TVs. LG showed off four new 4K TVs, two of which are curved, while Panasonic pushed OLED technology and, we suspect, people's wallets to the very limits with the Viera TX-65CZ950, as well as announcing Freeview Play for its smart TVs.

Amazon goes offline

Don't worry, we don't mean in a bad way. Amazon Prime, the retail giant's TV and film service, now offers offline viewing on iOS and Android. Patrick Goss says that Netflix should be afraid. "Netflix's insistence that Wi-Fi everywhere makes offline viewing redundant is, currently, just wrong," he says. "For any commuter, frequent flyer or even those that care about quality, a good enough connection cannot be guaranteed and watching pixellated noise or just not being able to access content we've actively paid for is, frankly, irritating."

Amazon's move isn't just a blow for Netflix, though. It's also a sign that "the TV and movie industry is clearly softening its stance on licensing its content for offline caching as it comes to understand the needs of the public."

New Apples imminent

Apple's big event takes place next week, and it looks like there'll be big news: not just the iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, new Apple Watch straps, iOS 9, OS X El Capitan and the new Apple TV, but maybe the long-rumoured iPad Pro too. Well-connected rumour-mongers suggest that iPad Pro is the actual name of the product, that it'll have a 12.9-inch touchscreen and a detachable keyboard and that it'll be announced next week and shipping in November. Only a few more days until we find out if the rumours are right.

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