RAYMOND Zhong, a technology reporter based in Beijing, discussed the tech he's using.

1. Hoverboards aside, what gadget trends are emerging?
In a country as gadget crazy as China, it's interesting that smart speakers aren't taking off as they are in the United States.

A lot of people I know are buying handheld voice translation devices, usually for older relatives. They don't work so well, I'm told. But they try to solve a real problem.

Recently, I watched a waiter in a hotel restaurant communicate with foreign guests using a voice translation app.

''China needs to get better at English to become stronger in the world,'' the waiter said, and the app read out his his words in English.

It was all very poignant - until one guest barked at the waiter about a broken juice machine, and the app dutifully translated his insults into Chinese.

2. Outside your job, what tech products are you personally obsessed with? What's so great about it and what could be better?

China is a glorious place to be a Karaoke lover, and Exhibit No. 1 is the nation's ubiquitous karaoke booths.

For a couple of bucks, you and a friend can squeeze into a soundproof glass box and sing your hearts out for 15 minutes before going back to your normal lives.

The booths are everywhere in Chinese cities. In malls, in movie theaters. I've even seen them outside factories, so workers can nip out for a rousing round of ''My Way'' before returning to the assembly line.

One time, I saw people singing in booths at the Beijing airport at 6.30 in the morning.

I must say I like the idea of Karaoke booths more than the actual experience. The ventilation isn't great. You have to wear headphones, and there is something about Karaoke that is diminished when when you experience it through headphones.

Or maybe I just don't sound as good singing ''Try a little Tenderness'' as I think I do.

In the end, karaoke might be another thing that was probably best left undisrupted by technology.


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