Cool is such a tricky thing to define that we’re not even going to try. Instead, we’re going to show you. Here you’ll find some gadgets, apps, cars, digital services and technologies which encapsulate what it means to be cool in 2013. So the next time someone asks you for a definition, you can just show them this.
#1. Buzz Aldrin’s speakers (possibly). PHILIPS Fidelio PS1 There’s something about Space Age design us geeks find irresistible. So for the Philips PS1s. grabbing a spot on the Cool List was like shooting interstellar fish. Its tweeters are suspended on chrome stalks 1.1m up — ear-level when you’re sitting down — and its ground-dwelling 6.5in woofers are encased in inert, sculpted wood. It’ll kick out 2x100W of audio, has Airplay for hooking up iThings and aptX Bluetooth for superior wireless audio from Androids, plus there’s an HDMI for connecting your TV. And, like 2012 Cool List alumni the SoundSpheres, they look like aliens. Gets us every time. £2000 / philips.co.uk
#2 Tablet DJing goes pro. TRAKTOR DJ
As anyone who follows @DJsComplaining on Twitter will know, a disc jockey’s life involves getting paid vast sums for moaning about public transport. Nice work if you can get it. The good news is that Traktor DJ is powerful enough to turn almost any iPad owner into a floor-filling superstar. It analyses your iTunes library and recommends songs to mix based on BPM, with auto-sync making the transition smoother than a buttered beaver. You’ll also find tricks to loop, cue and remix on the fly; try Freeze mode, which chops the track up into chunks that can be triggered with a tap. Nobody will guess it’s not your own work, but if anyone does get suspicious, just slag off an airport or two. £13.99 / native-instruments.com
#3 LEHMANN LA100. The friendlier UAV .
Some facts: 1) unmanned aerial vehicles are extremely cool and 2) pootling around high in the sky, dropping surprise death on those down below, is quite a lot less so. So let’s have a big hand, please, for Lehmann’s LA100. This civilian video drone is designed to fill a wholly peaceful role: that of flying smoothly in a fixed radius loop, with nothing more deadly than a GoPro action cam as its payload. You can use that to take overhead snaps or video of the ground below and it’s completely autonomous, so even somebody with the flying skills of an overweight ostrich can use it to drop directorial bombs. But not real ones, thanks very much. €990 / lehmannaviation.com
#4 HTC ONE. The high art Android
Normally something with a Beats by Dre’ logo attached (a Premier League player, for example) wouldn’t get within a hundred miles of the Cool List. But like the One X before it, HTC’snewestflagship phone is impossible to ignore. WhereSamsung’sS4 is light and somewhat plasticky, the HTC is solid and metallic, with a screen so crisp it could’ve been made by Walkers. It also has a beautiful new iteration of the Sense interface plus a 4 ‘UltraPixel’ camera — fewer, but bigger and smarter pixels in order to trap more light. The HTC One is a perfect storm of design, innovation and build quality — and so we’ll even put up with a Beats logo. £530/ htc.com
#5 VINE. The secret to social network success is joining at just the right time: too soon and you’ve got no-one to socially network with; too late and you’ll be laughed out of internetsville for being a luddite. Vine’s time is now. Its six-second, GIF-like videos are perfect for sharing and the touch-to-record interface opens up a load of opportunities for nifty stop-motion style clips. Want evidence of its now-ness? Daft Punk used it to announce the tracklisting of Random /Access Memories, while the Tribeca film festival ran a competition to find the best Vine-made movie (see panel). It’s clear this is a bandwagon you need to jump on before it’s too late. Efree (iOS) / vine.co
#6 4K. This is future of TV.
As soon as Discovery Summerhouse channel got an HD suffix in the EPG, high definition got old. So, we’re terrifically excited about levelling-up to 4K. Here are seven reasons why:
1. It’s four times better than HD We’re all agreed that HD is better than standard def, right? 4K — also known as Ultra HD — is an equally profound improvement in quality. The 3840×2160 pixels that make up a 4K video image will make your 1080p TV look like watching a CCTV monitor.
2. It’s the future of gaming High-end PCs already support 4K gaming, while Sony has already suggested 4K for the PS4 — albeit added after release, much like 3D was on the PS3. An accompanying video-on-demand store is also a shoo-in.
3. It’s almost affordable In the US. Seiki is charging just US$1300 for a 50in 4K TV. Brand snob? Sony’s KD-55X9000A 55-incher (pictured) is, rather appropriately, £4000. Not exactly pocket change, but TV prices only ever go one way. Doooown.
4. It’ll be in your next phone Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 chip, due this winter, shoots 4000×2560 video. Don’t expect a pocket-sized 4K screen just yet, but streaming 4K footage to your TV is well within the realms of possibility.
5. It’s here, there and multiplying Lots of home cinema gear is ready for 4K: amps that pass it through, Blu-ray players that upscale it and Sony’s 4K-streaming biscuit tin, the FMP-X1. And there’s lots of ways to shoot it: JVC’s GY-HMQ10 camcorder and Canon’s 1D C SLR, for a start. Panasonic’s even made a 20in, 4K tablet that runs Windows 8.
6. It’s justifying massive TVs If you’ve always wanted a TV that could double as a garage door, LG’s 84LM9600 is for you. Although an 84in monster, with 4K it’s still crisp at any distance, and thanks to its sheer size, there’s room for 10 speakers (including two subs) – so it sounds as big as it looks.
7. No idiot glasses Most importantly, 4K is an exciting new TV tech that doesn’t involve wearing dopey plastic glasses.
#7 3D printing hits the High St
IMAKR STORE 3D printing is awesome and we’ve been excited about it for years. But what we’re even more excited about right now is a project that makes 3D printing a little, well…. easier. That something is the iMakr Store. This 2500-square-foot shrine to all things 3D printed is just down the road from East London’s Silicon Roundabout and offers classes, workshops and the chance to get your own CAD files printed. You can also buy pricey 3D printers from Makerbot, CubeX etol. or even make a statue of yourself using a 3D scanner. If you can persuade John Terry to stop using it, that is. imakr.com
#8 World’s most powerful compact
Practicality rarefy comes into the equation when working out what is cool. For example, if Bill Murray wants to wear two hats to play golf, Bill Murray will wear two hats to play golf. And Bill Murray is the coolest man in the world See? So while spending £2600 on a compact camera with a fixed lens isn’t exacts sensible, it’s the audacity of the retro-tinged RX1 that makes it cool. And yes, with a 24 MP full-frame sensor, it takes incredible pictures, but for that kind of money you could easily afford a versatile Canon EOS 5D Mk III. The Sony RX1 is the two hats of the camera world — which means Bill Murray almost certainly has his eye on one. £2600 / sonv.co.uk