Gadgets of the month: Coolest Cooler, Surface Pro 3 and the wearable revolution unfolds

29 Aug 2014

Image via joingate/Shutterstock

We take a look back at some of the biggest gadget news this month and look ahead at what’s to come.

This month…

Coolest Cooler raises more than US$11m in crowdfunding

The Coolest Cooler (and that’s its name, not an endorsement) has become the most-funded project ever on Kickstarter, surpassing the record US$10m set by the Pebble E-Watch in 2012.

Starting with a target of US$50,000, this crowdfunded project to build a cooler fit for 21st-century living was a hit for the duration of its campaign, and will end on 31 August with a final tally totalling more than US$11m.

The 60-quart Coolest comes with a built-in 18v battery-powered blender, removable waterproof Bluetooth speaker, USB charger and a LED light fitted inside the lid. It also has a number of practical features, such as an integrated bottle opener, cutlery storage, extra-wide tyres, a gear tie-down and a divider that doubles a chopping board.

Inventor Ryan Grepper seemingly thought of everything you would need for the ideal outdoor caddy and more than 52,000 backers agreed. Select backers are expected to receive their Coolest Coolers as early as September, while others will wait for shipping to start in February 2015 – in plenty of time to start planning for a seriously cool summer.

Surface Pro 3 released in Ireland

Sneaking in right before the close of the month, Microsoft released its Surface Pro 3 hybrid computer to the Irish market on 28 August, with prices starting at €819.

The new device comes with a larger 12-inch screen and is both thinner and lighter than an 11-inch Apple MacBook Air. Our reviewer John Kennedy was completely won over by its raw computing power and blisteringly fast speed, and even described its ‘pixel-free’ 2K resolution as a true competitor to Apple’s Retina display.

Microsoft Surface Pro 3

Coming soon…

September launches

Next month is set to be jam packed with gadget launches from the big names in the game. To start, Samsung will host an Unpacked press event on 3 September in Berlin ahead of the IFA electronics trade show, which runs from 5 to 10 September. We expect to see a virtual-reality headset and a Galaxy Note 4 unveiled at this event, though there may also be some mobile products tied to the internet of things, as CEO Boo-Keun Yoon plans to discuss the ‘Home of the Future’ during his IFA keynote later the same week.

We also have an Apple event on 9 September, where we expect to see two new iPhones with 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch screens – perhaps even in sapphire.

Later this year, we may also see a larger iPad from Apple, as a 12.9-inch tablet is said to be in the works for release in the first quarter of 2015.

Watch out for new smart wearables

The majority of the hype this month centred on wearable tech and smartwatches in particular. First we got a teaser of the LG G Watch R, which LG has since revealed in full.

This Android Wear-powered smartwatch features a 1.3-inch full-circle plastic OLED display, a 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 processor, 4GB storage, 512MB RAM and 410mAh of battery power. It’s water and dust-proof to an IP67 rating and includes an embedded photoplethysmography (PPG) sensor to support the monitoring of heartbeats.

The LG G Watch R will be available in key markets in the fourth quarter of 2014, with prices and details to be revealed closer to launch.

LG G Watch R

The LG G Watch R

Almost simultaneously, Samsung revealed new wearable tech of its own in the form of the Gear S smartwatch and a Gear Circle – a Bluetooth headset it’s trying to flog as a smart necklace. The Gear S comes with a 2-inch curved screen and 3G connectivity, so it doesn’t rely on a smartphone for full functionality, while the Gear Circle is a pair of wireless earphones that lock in a magnetically clasped circle around the wearer’s neck and allows him or her to make voice commands to a paired smartphone. Both these devices are set to launch globally from the start of October.

Samsung Gear Circle
The Samsung Gear Circle

The wearable we all want to see, though, is the Apple smartwatch and – after years of speculation – the guessmen are almost certain it will arrive along with the new iPhone on 9 September.

We also have Intel partnering with the Michael J Fox Foundation on a smartwatch that could track the development of Parkinson’s disease, and HP pairing with designer brand Gilt on a highly fashionable model to launch later this year. And though Sony’s SmartWatch 2 was found wanting by our reviewer Colm Gorey, the Japanese electronics giant is sure to have some treats up its sleeve to unveil during IFA next week. In short, there’s lots more to come in the wearables space.

Main gadgets image via Shutterstock

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.