T3 - - Man VS. Tech - PAUL DIMERY

Back in the day, all you needed for a good house party was a Dansette, a cou­ple of Matt Bianco LP s and a gen­er­ous car­ton of liebfrau­milch. But that just doesn’t cut it any more. These days, the kids want cock­tails, con­soles and karaoke (and if you can throw in a few bags of Wot­sits, too, that’ll be much ap­pre­ci­ated).

So when T3 asks me to throw a (mock) house party for my team­mates, I reach for my lit­tle black book of gad­gets to find the best kit for a do­mes­tic blowout. Like Russ Ab­bot, I want an at­mos­phere – and I’m going to use tech to help me get it.


But I’m also going to use al­co­hol. Now, I’m not say­ing you need booze to have a good time (un­less you’re a mor­ris dancer), but hey – it gives me the ex­cuse to try out some pretty awe­some gad­gets.

The first of those is Klarstein’s Stal Beer Tap Dis­penser. Art edi­tor Luke looks vis­i­bly dis­tressed when he walks into the kitchen to dis­cover that I haven’t laid on any tin­nies for the party – but then I show him what this beau­ti­ful stain­less-steel beast does. Hav­ing al­ready in­serted a five-litre keg of Czech lager, all I have to do is pull down the tap and out flows the delicious brew. An in­te­grated ther­mo­elec­tric cooling sys­tem keeps the beer re­fresh­ingly chilled, while CO2 car­tridges in­side the ma­chine en­sure you get a nice foamy head – some­thing I haven’t had since I fell asleep in the bath.

For those who don’t like beer, there’s the So­daStream Fizzi. Now, I know what you’re think­ing: a) it’s not the 1980s, and b) how are my guests going to get pissed on cher­ryade? Well, reader, ev­ery­one’s favourite Is­raeli drinks gi­ant is back, and the Fizzi is a su­per-sleek new take on its iconic pop pro­ducer. With the sup­plied can­is­ter pro­vid­ing enough gas to car­bon­ate 60 litres of tap wa­ter, it’s a fun way of rustling up be­spoke cock­tails – add a squeeze of lemon and some Bour­bon, and you have your­self a de­li­ciously fresh whisky lemon­ade.

I also have a gadget called the Co­ravin Model One Sys­tem, a trig­ger-op­er­ated hand­held that pushes a fine nee­dle through the cork of a wine bot­tle, en­abling you to en­joy a glass of wine and save the rest of the bot­tle for an­other day. It’s the per­fect tech for dis­cern­ing drinkers – not that there are any to be found at this party.

Af­ter an hour’s booz­ing, the mood has livened up some­what and in­hi­bi­tions are aban­doned – I even hear some­one laugh­ing at one of deputy edi­tor Nick’s jokes. This tells me that it’s time to start the swingers – sorry, singers! – party. I love a bit of karaoke but my war­bling skills are more Pat Butcher than Pat Boone, so the Easy Karaoke CD/CDG Pro Sys­tem is ideal. Echo, pitch-shift and auto-tune con­trols give your vo­cal acro­bat­ics the X fac­tor; it comes with a 100-track CD to help you prac­tise (the lyrics ap­pear on a sev­eninch colour TFT screen). There are also two mics so you can team up with a mate if you’re lack­ing in con­fi­dence. As­sis­tant edi­tor Claire and free­lance writer Chris re­ceive heaps of praise for their mov­ing ren­di­tion of Take That’s Never For­get – be­fore clar­i­fy­ing that they were ac­tu­ally singing Queen’s We Will Rock You.

infi nit y and be­yond

At this point, I ask the rest of the team if they want to try some­thing that’ll blow their minds. As a ner­vous hush falls over the party, I slip out into the back room, be­fore re­turn­ing a few min­utes later with… a PlayS­ta­tion VR head­set. It wasn’t so long ago that vir­tual re­al­ity was a lonely place; once you’d at­tached those crummy hand­made gog­gles to your eyes, it was you and you alone who would par­take in the ex­pe­ri­ence (and by ‘ex­pe­ri­ence’, I mean squint­ing your eyes so that you could tell if that thing be­hind you was the Eif­fel Tower or just a lamp­post).

But VR has come on in leaps and bounds over the past cou­ple of years, and Sony’s head­set is a much more in­clu­sive propo­si­tion; not only can you mir­ror on the TV what you’re see­ing on those lenses, giv­ing your bud­dies the chance to ex­pe­ri­ence those blood-spew­ing zom­bies, too; but on some games (such as launch ti­tle The Play­room VR), they can also play along­side you, al­beit not in the vir­tual world. As it turns out, nei­ther of those op­tions beat star­ing at War­ren,

T3’ s gam­ing ex­pert, as he swats and swipes his Move Mo­tion Con­trollers in front of his hel­met, like The Stig on acid.

This sight be­comes even more amus­ing once I get the disco started. Thank­fully, I don’t have to don a ridicu­lous over­sized base­ball cap and start talk­ing like Nicey and Smashy’s long-lost cousin (bonkers, mate!). In fact, I don’t even need a set of decks. I can do it all via some prod­ucts from the Blue­sound high-res mu­sic-sys­tem range, and a few care­fully placed Philips Hue lights. Cen­tral to my Blue­sound set-up is the Vault 2. This solidly built 2TB unit (it looks like a safe!) will store high-res mu­sic down­loaded – via your mo­bile de­vice – from the likes of TI­DAL, Spo­tify and Qobuz; as well as any CDs that you’ve ripped (there’s a CD slot on the front). Fur­ther mu­sic can be streamed from in­ter­net ra­dio, and you can dis­trib­ute all of the above to fur­ther Blue­sound speak­ers dot­ted around your gaff (I used the Pulse 2 and the Pulse Mini). There’s no sign of lag as my mu­sic is pumped from room to room, with Ka­ja­goo­goo’s Great­est Hits sound­ing crisp and punchy at all times (some might say that’s a bad thing).

I teamed this Eight­ies sound­track with some suit­ably kalei­do­scope light­ing from Philips. The Hue Bloom and the Hue Go ta­ble lamps are each ca­pa­ble of pro­ject­ing 16 mil­lion shades of colour onto your wall (cos­mic!), and both can be con­trolled via the com­pan­ion app – you can even set them so that they change colours to the beat of your mu­sic. The only real dif­fer­ence be­tween the two is that the Hue Go can be used as a por­ta­ble lamp – its recharge­able bat­tery should be good for three hours of use – plus, the Hue Go also gives you a bunch of ‘nat­u­ral dy­namic light­ing ef­fects’. Our favourite is Night Ad­ven­ture, which might well sound like an in­tense 1970s porn film but ac­tu­ally adds some chilled am­bi­ence to pro­ceed­ings.

With the party in full swing, and ev­ery­one hav­ing thrown a few shapes on the dance floor (I can’t tell if Luke’s is a hexagon or a do­dec­a­he­dron), I de­cide that now is a good time to take a selfie – and HTC’s new U Ul­tra phone is the per­fect way to do it. A fea­ture called Ul­traPixel gives you un­par­al­leled 4x light sen­si­tiv­ity – ideal for cap­tur­ing de­tail (smudged lip­stick, vomit stains, that kind of thing) in darker set­tings. An­other called Live Makeup smooths the sub­jects’ skin in real time. And you can set the cam­era to take pic­tures when­ever some­one says cheese (not ideal if you work on a cheese counter). Then, once your selfie is taken, you can ad­mire your hand­i­work on the U Ul­tra’s glo­ri­ous 5.7-inch liq­uid-sur­face dis­play.

Speak­ing of liq­uid sur­faces, the blearyeyed faces on the pic­ture lead me to think that some­one might soon yack-up on the kitchen work­top. And see­ing as it’s not my kitchen, that’s good enough rea­son to call time on T3’ s tech party. It’s been a blast and I’ve learned a few things to­day. For one, you don’t need al­co­hol to have a good time – but you need it to have a bril­liant time. Se­condly, Ka­ja­goo­goo really should con­sider mak­ing a come­back. And fi­nally, some cool tech can have a won­drous ef­fect on gath­er­ings such as these, help­ing your guests to mix cock­tails like bar­tenders, dance like West End stars and take self­ies like pro pho­tog­ra­phers. Right, I’m off to find some tech to help me sleep.

“VR has come on in leaps and bounds, and Sony’s head­set is more in­clu­sive”


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