The Shiny Shiny team were invited to The Gadget Show Live 2014 event at the Birmingham NEC yesterday and we went along armed with a camera and a tonne of questions ready to grill the top tech companies about their latest products.
Although there were no big launches, and many of the gadgets have been featured here on Shiny Shiny already, it was a great chance to have a hands-on with some of the latest tech that we've only seen in press shots up until now.
Throughout the day we saw so many gadgets, but here are our top picks, featuring health and fitness wearables, pet wearables, cool DIY gaming kits and the most beautiful headphones we've ever seen.
The Fitbug Orb, a tiny, disk-like fitness tracker, has been on the market for a few months, but The Gadget Show gave us a great chance to see how it compares to similar trackers on the market. We found that it's light, compact and most importantly can be worn with both a wrist strap and a belt clip. We're hoping to get our hands on a Fitbug Orb to review soon, so watch this space!
Technology Will Save Us is a truly awesome company dedicated to empowering anyone to make their own tech. At The Gadget Show, the Technology Will Save Us team were showing off a number of their DIY kits, and we thought the DIY Gamer Kit was the most fun. The kit allows complete beginners to learn the basics of constructing and programming their own basic, mini games console.
The Vivofit wrist band is Garmin's consumer-focused fitness tracking product (it also makes a lot of high-end trackers specifically for runners and athletes). The great thing about the Vivofit is it's an advanced tracker in a small and flexible band that actually feels really comfortable when you try it on. It's different to competitors like the Jawbone Up and the Fitbit Flex because it's got a huge LED screen. For some people this will look a little ugly and OTT, but for those who want to know how they're doing throughout the day and don't want to keep checking their smartphone, it's ideal.
I rarely swoon over tech and care much more about how gadgets feel and work, but even I was blown away by how amazing Parrot's Zik headphones look. It's no surprise they look good considering they're designed by Philippe Starck, a French designer known for his interior and product design innovations.
But enough of how they look and onto the tech that's packed inside them. The Parrot team was keen to show off the device's new high performance noise-cancellation system, which promises to cancel out more than 99% of ambient noise.
Another great feature of the Zik headphones is that you can activate basic controls by swiping across the cup, you can slide your finger vertically to adjust the volume and horizontally to skip to the next track.
I put the headphones to the test - see my awkward selfie below - and not only do they look a little more subtle than I expected once they're on (they are bright white and shiny gold after all), but they're incredibly comfortable and the noise cancelling tech inside them meant my music had a lot of depth and clarity despite being in the middle of a crowded show floor.
It's one of the top contenders in the fitness tracking space and the Fitbit Flex certainly didn't disappoint in the flesh. The gadget gets a huge thumbs-up from Shiny Shiny because it's flexible and feels comfortable on the wrist, has a very basic LED light functionality that tells you how you're doing throughout the day and of course syncs up to Fitbit's comprehensive dashboard.
For those looking for something a little more advanced, the Fitbit Force is a device with a larger screen that'll serve up even more information about your day.
Sick of reading about wearables for your wrist? Well this one isn't for you, it's for your dog. Fitbark started its life out on Kickstarter, and after smashing its funding goal it's been developed into a compact wearable that straps onto your pet's collar. The idea is that really we're all aware of how much activity we've had during a day if we're paying attention to our movements, right? But a lot of the time we're not so sure what our dogs have been getting up to. The Fitbark solves that problem by tracking movements 24/7 and then serving up insights via an app.
iHealth's activity tracking offering may not look as slick and well-designed as the likes of the Jawbone Up or Fibit Flex, but it's a much cheaper offering for those who can't splash the cash to get fit. It tracks your steps and activity throughout the day, as well as painting a pretty accurate picture of your sleep. It's another one that can be worn on a belt clip or on your wrist - this means the wrist straps look quite basic, but does give you the freedom to mix it up depending on where you prefer to keep the tracker or what you're going to be doing throughout the day.