In this year’s Best of the Best, we honour the brands and people behind the most covetable products. From a VR headset to a loudspeaker, here’s everything you will need to make life at home better
Best Virtual-Reality Headset
HTC Vive Pro 2
HTC’s new Vive Pro is not the simplest or most user-friendly VR headset on the market—that’s still the Meta (née Oculus) Quest 2—but for pure capability, there’s no competition. To get the most out of the system, you’ll need to purchase a pair of compatible base stations and motion controllers (conveniently, you can buy those components packaged with the headset for US$1,399) and tether the unit to a PC with hefty processing power. Once that’s accomplished, you’ve got an unbeatable world-rendering machine: industry-leading 5K resolution at 2,488 pixels x 2,488 pixels per eye; a 120-degree field of view thanks to the dual stacked-lens configuration; and 3D sound from headphones with high-res-audio certification. The playback, picture and fidelity are astoundingly realistic, befitting a headset that was designed for both the corporate and consumer markets.
Arguably as famous as some of the iconic photographers who have wielded them—think Henri Cartier-Bresson and Alberto Korda—Leica’s M-System cameras are guaranteed hits the instant an updated model is released. And with the new M11 rangefinder (US$8,995), there’s more to love than just the hype. Improving on the M10’s difficult-to-manage battery and SD card, access is now a cinch and the rear touchscreen has double the resolution of the outgoing model. A new sensor, with a lower base ISO of 64, means better performance and less digital noise in brighter environments (the new 1/16,000 per second shutter speed provides an additional assist in bright light) even shooting with the aperture wide open, with zero over-exposure. Plus the camera now has internal memory, so you can shoot without an SD card—or use both simultaneously to back up images in real time—while three raw sizes (18, 36 and 60 megapixels) mean better file management and storage as well as a boost in resolution over the M10’s top reach of 24 megapixels.
Best NFT Frame
Lago Founders’ Frame
Compatible with common crypto wallets, the 33-inch, limited-edition Lago Founders’ Frame (US$9,000) is designed to accommodate all types of minted art at their highest quality, whether layered, 3D motion, generative or augmented reality; for digital pieces that include music or audio, there’s an optional Lago x Master & Dynamic sound bar. The frame recognises voice commands and hand gestures so you can interface with interactive artworks, while the connected app lets you follow artists and curators, giving exclusive access to NFT drops and private-collection sales in real time, as well the ability to track an artwork’s location, provenance of display, viewership, interactions and more. There are several options to customise the look of your frame online, or you can work directly with the company to create a bespoke enclosure that matches your taste—and decor—exactly.
Best Rule-Breaking ID Firm
Prestige Global Designs
At once audacious, classic, irreverent and sophisticated, Prestige Global Designs’ greatest strength lies in its agile versatility. Founders Michael Ong and Jeremy Tay refuse to be bound by design conventions; the award-winning firm is more interested in adapting to its clients’ needs. Its customer-forward philosophy means taking a chameleon-like approach to each project—every need is acknowledged, every whim considered. One thing the design firm remains absolutely uncompromising on is its signature touch of luxury in every property it works on.
Bowers & Wilkins 801 D4
Think of the new 801 D4 (US$35,000 per pair), the fourth generation of Bowers & Wilkins’s flagship Diamond Series loudspeaker, which debuted in 1979 with the 801, as artful sculpture capable of world-class sound. At 1.2m tall and weighing 100kg, this big floor-stander is distinguished by a novel three-piece enclosure, advanced driver technology and immaculate fit and finish that combine to give it a presence, both visually and sonically, that far exceeds its price. The curved main cabinet of the 801 D4 comes in wood-veneer or gloss-paint finishes and houses a pair of 10-inch Aerofoil cone drivers that can plumb bass depths to 18Hz.
The shapely Turbine Head mid-range enclosure in the centre is made of cast aluminium to eliminate resonances; covered in black or grey Connolly leather, it houses a six-inch mid-range surrounded by a stiff aluminium chassis, with a cone made of a proprietary composite called Continuum. The one-inch diamond dome tweeter (from which the speaker gets its name) is housed within a tapered tube milled from solid aluminium. A true full-range speaker manufactured in the UK, the 801 D4 delights in reproducing all musical genres at realistic levels, and even though it can get by on 50 watts, considerably more power will let them truly sing.