From Stair-Climbing Robovacs to Apple's Vision of the Future, These Were June's Coolest and Weirdest Gadgets – Gizmodo

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June brought with it another major Apple event where the company revealed its first headset device, the Apple Vision Pro, which could be its next iPhone or its next Newton. But the month also delivered lots of other new hardware announcements that may have slipped under your radar.
From even more folding phones, to super-sized backup batteries, to even a brand new Game Boy Color game released by McDonald’s in 2023, make sure to check out all the coolest and weirdest gadgets that arrived in June before your brain completely checks out in July.
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If you travel a lot and frequently find yourself working at a temporary desk without a big screen to connect your laptop to, LG’s second-generation StanbyME tablet/TV/display packs a pop-up, 27-inch, 1080P touchscreen into a portable briefcase complete with a rechargeable battery and speakers so it works as a portable home theater as well.
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An economy plane seat is just about the worst place to try and grab some shuteye, but instead of wrapping a pillow around your neck and reclining back into another passenger’s personal space, the TruRest is a folding device that promises a comfier sleep by having you lean forward while it supports your face and torso.
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Most robovacs are designed to avoid stairs at all costs, as they won’t survive the tumble. The Ascender is the first robot vacuum that’s promised to not only easily climb up and down stairs using a pair of extending, articulated legs, but also clean each step along the way using omnidirectional wheels that allow it to maneuver from side to side.
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If you’re worried about your smartphone not lasting through a day of heavy use, Anker’s pocket-sized batteries are a great backup power solution. But if you’re worried about everything in your fridge going bad after a prolonged power outage, you’ll want to step up to the 67-pound Anker PowerHouse 767 Portable Power Station which can keep your icebox running for days.
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Although best known for its wireless headphones that use bone conduction to deliver sound to your eardrums, Shokz’s first wireless earbuds instead use something the company is calling “air conduction technology” so the sound is directed into the user’s ear canals without actually blocking them. The result is a set of wireless earbuds that still provide a private listening experience while still allowing other sounds, like a conversation, to be heard.
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Dogs and vacuum cleaners are mortal enemies, but some engineers at iRobot (the company behind the Roomba robovac) want to change that with an optional attachment that swaps the bot’s dust bin for a treat dispenser, with the goal of eventually creating a positive connection between your pupper and the machine that’s cleaning up all (or most) of the messes it makes.
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Passengers should receive a badge of honor every time they survive a flight flying economy, but United recently announced that it’s hoping to make the experience less grueling by installing Panasonic’s Astrova in-flight entertainment system on several planes which includes large, 4K, OLED screens, Bluetooth connectivity to wireless headphones, and USB-C ports for charging smartphones or even powering laptops.
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McDonald’s is really going all in on Grimace’s birthday with special meals, a bright purple milkshake, and a brand new Game Boy Color game called Grimace’s Birthday that has the super-sized piece of purple candy corn racing through McDonaldland to find his fellow mascots and bring them to his party. It’s playable online but also works with emulators and Game Boy clones.
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Although companies like Samsung are several generations into their folding phone lines, the Pixel Fold is Google’s first folding device, and it feels like a first-generation product. The screen doesn’t entirely fold flat when opened, and the smartphone’s user interface doesn’t yet take full advantage of the extra screen real estate introduced. That makes its $1,800 price tag—which is actually the cheapest version of Google’s first foldable—a tough sell.
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Following a Poké Ball-themed case it released for its wireless earbuds last year, Samsung is rolling out three new Pokémon-themed case options for its Galaxy Buds 2 and Galaxy Buds 2 Pro earbuds, turning them into Ditto, Jigglypuff, and Snorlax.
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Would you be more deliberate and careful with the photos you took if your screen-less camera was limited to just 27 shots and you had to wait 24 hours to see how they turned out? That’s the idea behind the Flashback ONE35: a digital camera that acts like a film camera, sending photographs to a smartphone app a full day after they were taken.
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Just days before Tim Cook took the stage at WWDC 2023 to reveal Apple’s AR/VR ambitions, Marc Zuckerberg took to his social platforms to reveal the third-generation Meta Quest VR headset which is slimmer, has twice the processing power, and higher-res screens, with a price tag that will start at $500.
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Rumored for years, June finally brought with it the reveal of Apple’s first VR/AR headset: a slick-looking visor with incredibly high-res screens allowing the Apple Vision Pro to recreate a home theater experience, or even run multiple mobile apps turning anywhere you’re sitting into a desk covered in giant screens. Does it have what it takes to topple the recently announced Meta Quest 3? With a $3,500 price tag, many are doubtful.
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How far can Ikea take its obsession with stuffing large furniture pieces into flat-packed boxes? Apparently, well past the limitations of a box. Designed with the help of an AI used for brainstorming ideas, the company recently revealed its Couch in an Envelope, made from aluminum and biodegradable “cellulose-based fabrics and mycelium foam,” which can be shipped in a vacuum-sealed envelope and weighs just 22lbs.
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Tired of interrupting your run to constantly take off and put on your jacket to help regulate your body temperature? Nike’s new Run Division Aerogami Jacket uses a special moisture-reactive coating so that when you start to sweat, a series of vents automatically open to allow air to flow right through the jacket to cool you down. Once it dries, the vents close again to help keep you warm by trapping heat.
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Google’s on-again/off-again relationship with tablets continues with the new Pixel Tablet which hopefully won’t fizzle out again. Although not an industry-leading device by any means, the Pixel Tablet runs Android 13 and manages to distinguish itself from the competition with a very useful speaker dock turning the tablet into what is essentially a passive Nest Hub device when not in use.
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Anker announced quite a few products last month, but the stand out is its Solix line of super-sized batteries that are large enough to keep an entire home powered for a day, or weeks on end, depending on how many you can afford to install. Designed to be charged by solar panels on a roof, or from the local grid overnight when rates are low, the Solix line isn’t cheap, but you’re buying peace of mind more than anything, which is invaluable.
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Although hands-on demos were very limited, Gizmodo’s Editor-in-Chief, Dan Ackerman, had the chance to try out the Apple Vision Pro at Apple’s WWDC and walked away not only impressed with the headset’s 4K screens, but its ability to capture events in 3D and allow them to be relived at a later date—which could be the Vision Pro’s killer app come launch.
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In addition to batteries, Anker also revealed the next generation of its Soundcore Liberty wireless earbuds with the new Liberty 4 NC offering 50 hours of battery life when paired with a charging case, as well as active noise cancellation. These buds skip the spatial audio and heart rate tracking features of their predecessors in order to hit a $100 price point.
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Looking for a good mystery that doesn’t involve murder or other atrocious crimes? For some reason, thousands of NABU (Natural Access to Bi-directional Utilities) computers have become available through eBay, which could be a fun collector’s item for PC fans as the NABU was actually one of the first computers to stream everything from the cloud: games, software, even its own operating system. It was unfortunately too ahead of its time, which is why you can now buy one for just a few hundred bucks.
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8BitDo released its first wireless arcade stick back in September of 2020 with a design that made upgrading or swapping out its joystick and buttons quite easy with nothing but a screwdriver. For the recent launch of Street Fighter 6 on the Xbox Series X|S, 8BitDo revealed an updated version of its Arcade Stick last month, with full Xbox wireless compatibility, as well as Windows-based PCs.
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Although the 15-inch MacBook Air revealed at WWDC 2023 might seem like a small bump in size over the existing 13-inch MBA, we found the larger screen, and its boost in resolution, provided just enough extra real estate to not be completely dependent on a second monitor when working at a desk. The Air models continue to be some of Apple’s best bargains, but we really wish this 15-inch laptop came with more than just two USB-C ports.
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Known best among Apple and Mac fans for its plush throw pillows featuring designs influenced by Apple’s most iconic hardware, Throwboy’s latest creation instead draws inspiration from the company’s software. As the name implies, the Classic Desktop Knit Cotton Blanket features a design reminiscent of several classic Macintosh operating systems, but rest assured, it will never crash.
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It’s finally time to start considering the Insta360 GO line of action cameras a serious alternative to GoPro and DJI’s offerings. The latest model, the GO 3, gets rid of all recording length limitations, while also boosting resolution and battery life. The GO 3 also connects to a Pod accessory that finally gives the thumb-sized action camera a preview screen for framing shots, that also doubles as a video-streaming wireless remote.
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With wildfires raging across North America that are spreading smoke as far away as Europe, now’s probably not the best time to introduce a flame-throwing robot dog. But that didn’t stop Throwflame from revealing its Therminator last month, which can make short work of what’s left of Canada’s forests using a 30-foot shooting flame that can also wander across nearly any terrain.
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Many wearable devices, including the latest Apple Watch models, can measure a user’s temperature through their skin but aren’t accurate enough to be used as medical devices for detecting fevers. However, a new app could turn a stock smartphone into a near medical-grade thermometer when the device’s screen is held against a user’s forehead for 90 seconds, without requiring any hardware upgrades or accessories to be attached.
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The Motorola Razr was once the undisputed queen of flip phones with an incredibly slim design paired with awful software that users were happy to ignore. Reborn again in 2019 with a folding screen and running Android, that Razr also felt less than polished, but the latest model might be one of the best folding phones on the market now that it includes a sizeable half-height screen on the outside and starts at $999.
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A gaming chair seems like a great accessory if gaming is your job, but if you just want to relax, Bauhutte’s new Gaming Sofa Deluxe seems like a more comfortable alternative. It’s an extra-plush, single-seat sofa that can recline but also includes connection points on each armrest for attaching articulated arms to hold mobile devices or handheld consoles. It’s also got wheels, so you can wheel it to the dining table, or into the living room for watching TV.
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