For the past few mornings, instead of being shaken by the militant buzzer on my iPhone, I’ve been woken up, very gently, by a little box of calm called Loftie. Dreamed of by a New York startup, this smart alarm clock has a simple reason: it aims to ban your phone from the bedroom while you sleep. This means more time away from emails, social media, and the smartphone’s hard blue light, which is widely known to suppress the secretion of the sleep hormone, melatonin. And while we’ve heard this sentiment expressed before by brands and wellness gurus hoping to please teary eyed digital junkies desperate for zzzs, the Loftie is particularly compelling.
Everything about the Bluetooth-enabled device – which plugs into the wall and is controlled via an app or, more aptly, by pressing its physical buttons – contributes to a calming ambience. A curved object whose allure has earned it a place in the MoMA Design Store, it has a night light that shines warmly under its black polycarbonate shell (maybe it’s a little too soft: I would have liked it to be brighter so that it can be used as a reading light). However, its strong point is the sound. It has a plethora of aural features including a white noise machine, meditation and breathing exercises, gong-infused southern baths, and other background comforts including the chirping of cicadas and, my favorite, a crackling campfire that’s sure to make your eyelids drop. It can also play music and podcasts from your phone (if you’ve hid it under the radar) – its speakers are perfect for the task.
The main event is a two-stage alarm: the first is soft; the second, which rings nine minutes later, is louder and more casual. Waking up to the sound of a “Jungle” bird song, followed by a xylophone-accented walk (there are 10 choices for each alarm), was certainly a better way to start the day. It delayed me scrolling Instagram and checking heart rate increasing emails for at least 15 minutes. These days, there are plenty of smart alarms out there – you can find clocks with wake-up lights, Alexa functions, and built-in projectors – but when the Loftie coos, “There won’t be any stress in the bedroom,” that convinced me. loft alarm clock, $ 149
Not just a pretty face
Smartwatches are a lot of things, but sexy isn’t usually one of them. They can look the same and, well, cheesy. But if anyone wants to upset this perception, it’s Louis Vuitton. In recent years, the luxury house has been making inroads into this market – and its third model, the Tambour Horizon Light Up, is the most glitzy to date.
The Drum offers much of what you’d expect – display messages; control the music; providing alarms – but its USP is a MyDay program that collects data on heart rate and steps, daily schedule, weather and, oddly enough, air pollution. It lets you add a second time zone to its clock, comes with a suite of city guides, and is waterproof. It’s easy and intuitive to use – finger-swipe, push-button, or app-operated – and is compatible with iPhone, Android, and HarmonyOS smartphones. With a twist of the crown, the watch face can be changed to backgrounds featuring a cartoon ox (and another menagerie of animated animals) holding a purse; Vivienne, the brand’s flower-faced mascot; and drawings with the initials of the wearers. The color combinations are endless. Louis Vuitton claims it is the most customizable smartwatch in the world. Louis Vuitton Horizon Light Up Drum, £ 2,320
Set the agenda
The morning commuter looking to get back on his feet will open his Nova Air with a feeling of smugness. The latest release from Chinese brand Onyx Boox is a two-in-one e-reader and digital note-taker that lets you switch between work and play with the doodle of a stylus. (Think of it like a Kindle with a productivity feature.) Lightweight and small enough to fit in one hand, it lasts for two weeks between charges and its greatest asset is its tactile stylus – it snaps magnetically to the side and is easy to use, whether you’re jotting down to-do lists or annotating PDFs. The device runs on Android, and through Google Play you can access apps including news, email, and Dropbox. It has an internal library (which consists mostly of classics) and you can download books from other apps or transfer titles from your phone or tablet. It’s not an iPad – surfing the internet isn’t that fast – but for reading and writing it excels. Onyx Box Nova Air, $ 349.99
A speaker that will blow your socks off
This speaker, shaped like a cursed 19th century airship, made me shake my hips before breakfast. The latest take on British brand Bowers & Wilkins’ beloved Zeppelin design – which was last updated in 2015 – delivers wonderfully crisp sound that far exceeds its (quite) average price tag. The 65cm-wide wireless device comes in charcoal or dove gray, and while it does have a handful of physical buttons, it is mostly controlled through an app or through Alexa (it can stream music from services such as Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect and Bluetooth). The app is particularly simple but has a few nifty features, including the ability to control the treble (which I increased for a Billie Eilish ballad) and bass (max, of course, to make Lil Nas X vibrate). Its sound is played through five speakers placed on its elegantly elongated body, although to the ear it registers as a block of noise rather than a divided stereo system. Less about audio gymnastics than about delivering reliable punchy sound. Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin speaker, £ 699