The Geneverse HomePower Pro Series

A battery-powered home generator that’s more wieldy than Tesla’s

There is a core contradiction in technological progress: the more that innovation promises to make our life easier, the more helpless we become when the technology goes wrong—and hence the harder life gets again.

And so it is with electric power. The more convenient it has made everything, the more pathetically dependent on it we are. A hundred years ago, a power outage meant little more than the lights going out. Today, a blackout likely means you can’t work, communicate, keep yourself or your food cool, or power your electric car.

It is widely predicted that power outages—both total blackouts and the even more insidious brownouts—are going to become ever more common when the grid voltage is reduced, which, among other things, can damage computers. So, making your own emergency-power arrangements, even if you live in a city or suburb rather than a remote spot, is ceasing to seem like the drastic measure of a cranky survivalist.

The extreme way to give your home or business power security (and, incidentally, save a ton on utility bills) is to install what are known as home batteries. They can be powerful enough to run major appliances, and can be recharged either by the main power grid when it is working or by solar or wind energy.

Tesla is pre-eminent in this field, with a series of products called Powerwall. You can get an entry-level Powerwall kit for around $11,000. There are homes around the world with huge custom installations—we’re talking tennis-court-size banks of solar panels, and enough free, off-grid power to keep a home and several Tesla cars going for several days.

But, aside from the fact that having paid a good six figures for your emergency-backup system you will likely spend your life willing a blackout to justify it, Powerwall is a bit of a commitment. Even reading about it and its reportedly lengthy waiting list is exhausting.

Wouldn’t it be almost as reassuring, and a lot less of a headache, just to have a simple box (or bunch of boxes) you keep fully charged in a garage or closet, ready when required to power your kitchen, office, air-conditioning, and so forth?

Step forward Geneverse, a company based in the San Francisco Bay Area that has been working on such boxes for a few years now (previously under the name Generark), and has just launched its best range yet, complete with dedicated, foldout solar panels: the Geneverse HomePower Pro series. The smaller HomePower Pro unit weighs roughly 40 pounds; the larger, around 60.

For just under $5,000, you can provide emergency power for the electrical essentials in a home of up to six people for up to one week. HomePower Pro boxes can be charged from a wall outlet in one to two hours, or by solar power in three to four. Fully charged units can then be stored for at least a year without loss of power, and the batteries are good for over 3,000 charge cycles—unless you’re wildly unlucky, you won’t have that many emergencies. There’s also an excellent app to control and monitor your system.

In industrial-design terms, Geneverse doesn’t look a quarter as cool as Tesla Powerwall. You will also have to check carefully if a HomePower Pro box will charge your electric car. Geneverse won’t charge a Tesla, for example, as those cars require a physically grounded charger.

All the same, we think for non-tech obsessives who just want a simple solution to break out when the power goes down, Geneverse is the way to go.

The Cambridge Audio Evo 150

A simple-looking box to thrill the reactionary vinyl nut and ultra-modern streaming obsessive alike. (Cambridge Audio Evo 150, $3,249)

An all-in-one hi-fi player that’s built for the streaming age

There’s a species of hi-fi nut that is almost offended by beautiful home-audio gear. He (nearly always he) is only happy when his audio system consists of several visually clashing pieces from different manufacturers, lashed together by thick cables, preferably all different.

The idea of an all-in-one amplifier, streamer, and everything else is also anathema to Homo audio. That just isn’t sufficiently esoteric or complicated.

This sumptuous-looking, all-in-one system from the U.K.’s venerable Cambridge Audio will therefore be of no interest whatsoever to high-end-hi-fi nuts. Which we think is their loss, because it is not just a beauty—it’s a joy to use and sounds sublime.

The Cambridge Audio Evo 150 needs only speakers plugged into it, and it will elegantly do what 95 percent of music-lovers desire. Which speakers? Now there’s an open question. Cambridge’s own SX series, which ranges from $239 to $799, will do the job glamorously.

We would be tempted to pair it, however, with an admittedly non-matching pair of bookshelf speakers from another British company we have featured here previously—the $1,600 LS50 Meta from Kef. Or, if we had space and were feeling slightly insane, the even less matching $10,000-ish TuneTot from Wilson Audio, in Utah.

The Evo 150, we should add, is compatibility incarnate. It shines with every music format from vinyl to CD to streaming, with every connection possibility—digital and analog—built in.

The Furbo 360° Dog Camera

Who let the dogs out? This nanny cam for your pet will reveal the truth. (Furbo 360°, $210, plus $6.99-per-month Dog Nanny service)

A pet monitor that will do everything but walk your dog

In our review of the Geneverse HomePower Pro, we noted how some home-battery setups leave you longing for a power outage just so you can try out your backup-power system.

Well, with this new dog Webcam from eight-year-old, West Coast-based maker Furbo, we were sorely tempted to get a dog to justify having the device.

The Furbo 360° Dog Camera (which, in the interest of species equality, we should emphasize works fine with cats too, and people at a push) is, as the name suggests, a fully rotating HD camera operated remotely from your phone.

You can see your pet in color from afar whether it’s light outside or dark. You can speak to him or her. The Furbo will automatically let you know if your pet is barking or meowing. The camera will also follow the animal around the room. Best of all (serious drumroll for this feature), using the Furbo app, you can toss your pet a treat. Treats are expelled at some speed, which can turn into quite the game.

Furbo Dog Nanny, the inevitable subscription sold separately, will send you additional alerts such as dog-activity alert, person alert, CO/smoke-alarm alert, and more, to forestall home emergencies and accidents.

With Furbo users reporting that their pet spends time gazing at the machine in hopes of a flying treat, there’s no word from the company on what to do if your pet ends up preferring its robot avatar to you.

The Geomag Glow

Who says you aren’t getting any brighter? (Geomag Glow, from $14.81)

A desk toy that will leave your workspace radiant

You need to be at least 50 to remember the heyday of the executive desk toy. In the 1970s and 1980s, there was hardly a corporate big shot who didn’t have his or her great business thoughts while playing with a desktop Newton’s cradle. Although, we have to say we never witnessed this happening. It could be a myth for the ages, put about by Big Cradle.

Whatever, we think this deeply satisfying toy designed and (rather amazingly, since it’s far from expensive) made in Switzerland, one of the world’s most expensive places to manufacture, is an authentic 2020s executive aide. The box says it’s for ages 3 to 99, but it is too sophisticated for actual children.

Geomag construction kits have existed for nearly 25 years, and consist of sets of magnetized rods and steel ball bearings, from which you can make an infinite variety of shapes. In this new version, however, the 100 percent recycled-plastic rods are mixed with a natural fluorescent material that absorbs and accumulates light energy. In the dark, accordingly, your models glow spookily.

This functionality is, for all practical purposes, rather useless, but we challenge you not to start taking your assembled model from your desk to darkened closets, bathrooms, and so on just to see it glow in the dark.

Based in London and New York, AIR MAIL’s tech columnist, Jonathan Margolis, spent more than two decades as a technology writer for the Financial Times. He is also the author of A Brief History of Tomorrow, a book on the history of futurology