UrbanHello: Giving the home phone some smarts

Adding “smart” to the home phone seems like an obvious leap, especially since the proliferation on clever mobile phones has been so succesful. Then again with such wonderful mobiles and with companies such as ePure replicating the home phone experience on the mobile perhaps the home phone is a thing of the past?

UrbanHello, a young French start-up begs to differ and has taken CES by storm with its Innovations Award-winning UrbanHello home phone.

UrbanHello-Home-Phone

Beautifully designed (the company liken it to a bouquet of flowers) the Home Phone is also designed with simplicity in mind and comes in a range of colours to blend with interior decor if that sort of thing matters to you. But what about the tech?

The Home Phone’s mechanical keyboard is stripped of all superfluous functions unlike previous attempts at home smartphone that have tried to unnecessarily cram the whole Android experience into a home handset. The Home Phone has a Less is More take and only features the essential buttons with only one single obvious function per button. Two discrete OLED displays are located on the top and at the bottom of the handse and self activate only when in use to reduce power consumption.

The Home Phone has HD sound so your calls should be much clearer. It’s also context sensitive and knows when it should be a loudspeaker for conference calls or multi-person chats. The telephone automatically switches to hands-free and transmits 360° High Definition sound. The inbuilt 360° speaker reproduces deep bass sounds and transmits a natural, profound and clear sound. This ease is supposed to encourage shared conversation.

“The Smartphone was conceived for the individual. The Home Phone was designed for the whole household.”

Hervé Artus, Founder of UrbanHello.

It should also be plug and play in most households – the UrbanHello handset is 100% compatible with any standard DECT-GAP base station and with any advanced internet gateway with the CAT-iq standard.

UrbanHello has launched a campaign on KickStarter. The first UrbanHello products are available for pre-order from $85. For more information check out UrbanHello.

Opalum Flow 1010: Understated statement speakers

If you like your technology to match, your gadgets to “hang” and your wires disguised, the new Flow 1010 “floating” speakers may just grab your attention.

 
Opalum-flow
 

Badged as “the TV’s new best friend” by its manufacturer, Scandinavian audio company Opalum, these diminutive, yet statement speakers are designed to sit streamlined while smartly flanking your LED or Plasma telly.

But jostling for position in a busy speaker market, Flow 1010’s key differentiator is the fact they’re so unobtrusive they appear to “float”. They were designed by Scandinavian designer Eva Hanner, and have a translucent, acrylic glass front, responsible for the floating effect.

Choose from white or high-gloss black to either blend into your magnolia walls or match your goggle box and listen in wonder to the patented “Actisonic” and “Actiline” digital audio technology, which promises a clear, crisp and natural sound. This technology leans on “decades of academic research”, using impressive-sounding “inverse filtering algorithms and psychoacoustics” to manage air movement around the speaker for optimum sound reproduction.

Although the wave shape of the actual features could be attributed to its chic ambitions and designer heritage, apparently it lends itself to boosting depth of sound and delivers smooth bass.

But don’t let your telly have all the fun. Flow 1010 comes with a hub and RF touch remote so you can hook them up to your other audio devices and spread the floaty-sound around. They use a 20W amplifier for high frequencies and a 60W amplifier for low frequencies, resulting in “bi-amplification” and 80 watts of power in each speaker.

Saving all the design time for the speakers themselves, the comparatively ungainly hub and its – woe-betide – cabling can be hidden out of sight even when in use.

Floating designer speakers will inevitably leave your wallet a lot lighter – you’ll need to stump up £1,649 to give your TV, your lounge room lines and other audio technology a breath of fresh air.

EchoStar Ultra Slim Box DTR

EchoStar invited us to oogle the world’s slimmest digital TV recorder (DTR) the Ultra Slim Box (or the slightly less alluring name of HDT-610R), which crams a tonne of features inside a 14mm aluminium chassis.

Ultra-Slim-Box-Profile

If you’re into watching broadcast TV the Freeview+ HD Ultra Slim Box offers consumers subscription free TV with access to 50 digital channels plus 4 in HD. You can pause or rewind live TV and record a complete series at the touch of a button using Series Link.

“We’re already inviting consumers to watch their TV anywhere and now we’re offering them the opportunity to own the slimmest digital TV recorder in the world. The Ultra Slim Box represents the coming of age for the DVR and is the perfect complement to the latest range of ultra slim TVs,” commented Rhod Williams, Senior Vice President and General Manager of EchoStar Europe.

EchoStar were keen to point out exactly how good looking the Ultra Slim Box is compared with a conventional DTR and displayed other design classics to drive the point home. And they do have a point. It looks great. But it’s not all good looks and charm. Inside they’ve managed to squeeze a 500GB hard disk drive (up to 300 hours of recording space+), a twin tuner to ensure that consumers can watch one channel whilst recording another and an HDMI connection. There’s also an Ethernet port so you can access to Smart TV features including catch-up TV from BBC iPlayer.

Ultra-Slim-Box

“Consumers are looking forward to an exciting summer of sport and facing a packed viewing schedule, digital video recording will be one of the key features that viewers will be looking for”, said Ilse Howling, Managing Director of Freeview.

EchoStar has partnered with The Connected Marketplace to bring on demand services to the Ultra Slim Box platform through the BoxOffice365 service, plus movies from PictureBox, all available for a monthly fee with more choices to come. But no NetFlix. Everything should have NetFlix.

Ultra Slim Box is available for pre-order online now from Amazon, John Lewis and Maplin for about £260. Want to walk into a shop and purchase one? You’ll have to wait till the end of May.

Currys collaborates with fashion designer

We do not usually talk fashion here at LG Towers but London Fashion Week is upon us. To the men reading this, that means catwalk models stomping up and down the runway and you laugh uncontrollably at the insane clothes. If I said there is a dress made entirely of just HDMI cables, would you believe me? In the run-up to London Fashion Week, Sandstrom collaborated with knitwear extraordinaire, Craig Lawrence to make just such a dress. Sandstrom is a Scandinavian technology brand known for their design, available exclusively at Currys and PC World. Craig Lawrence is a rising star in the fashion world and known for his complex knitwear.

Sandstrom

So what has this got to do technology? The Sandstrom Cable Knit dress was hand knitted with 500 metres of premium Sandstrom gold series HDMI cables. Currys says that HDMI cables are ‘unsung heroes and can make the difference between a good viewing experience and a great one.’ There are three series of HDMI cables at Sandstrom. The Black series is the entry level made with standard copper. The Silver series is the mid-level and raises the transfer rate and made from oxygen free copper. The Gold series the premium and has the highest transfer rate and can transmit the highest resolutions including 4k x2k. The copper is treated making it oxygen-free thermal conductivity copper.

Ever since the introduction of HDMI, there has been the never-ending debate of does the expensive HDMI cables offer better picture? I believe you get what you pay for. The difference may be negligible in some cases but put them side by side and you will spot the difference.

The Black series starts from £39.99. The Silver series starts from £69.99 and the Gold Series starts from £84.99. If you would like to see the Sandstrom cable knit dress, it will be going on tour around Currys store in the UK. It is currently at the Currys Tottenham Court Road Store near Warren Street Station for a few days. Catch it while you can!

Elipson relaunch tribute to BS50 loudspeaker design

In a nice move to celebrate its 60th birthday, earlier this week Elipson announced that it is honouring the landmark models that have shaped its history leading a market centred around the fusion of lifestyle design and high quality audio engineering.

Elipson-BS50

So, the first Elipson speaker to do very well on said market was the BS 50 (or, erm the Ball Staff, 50 cm diameter). Originally, this little 2 way white beauty (weighing in at a perfectly manageable 69.2 pounds and 31.4kg) was designed in 1953 to compliment the very first sound and light shows at the famous Château de Chambord in France (which, for the record look darn impressive… Google ’em). So, it’s pretty cool then? No bro, it’s cooler than cool. This charming spherical speaker (positioned on its alloy tripod, and complete with a distinctive ear piece) with its respectable 80 Watts of max music power also became the reference for voicing at the equally as prestigious Maison de la Radio Broadcasting House in Paris. Man, this thing has been getting about over its time, eh?!

All things considered, this is a more than fitting tribute to the world-beating original, Elipson has reproduced this slick and experienced noisebox using today’s latest materials, while preserving the acoustic sound qualities that were so valuable to a product that quite frankly defied the average standards of loudspeaker design. Take that.

The BS 50 Tribute loudspeaker system is available now via BBG Distribution Limited at http://www.bbg.eu.com.

Great Gadgets & Gifts for Her

Forget the usual perfume or underwear and think outside the box this year with a few gadget ideas…

Zeo Sleep Manager

Do you have a sister or partner who is always looking for way to improve her health and wellbeing? The Zeo Sleep Manager Mobile (£89) uses the latest technology to tell you how you slept. A Zeo Softwave headband tracks your sleep stages throughout the night and then transfers your sleep data either to a bedside unit or wirelessly to your smart phone. In the morning, Zeo shows you how much time you spent in Light, Deep and REM sleep and gives you a real, timed sleep graph with your sleep patterns. You can then compare your nightly Zeo sleep score to your age group, personal target and learn how to improve your sleep.

Price: £89
From: www.myzeo.co.uk

Zeo

Jelly Belly Scented phone covers

The Jelly Belly Candy Company has launched a new range of scented smartphone covers for BlackBerry and Apple users. There are nine popular scented covers to choose from, so she can carry her favourite jelly bean scent with her wherever she goes. Choose from Bubblegum, Very Cherry, Blueberry, Top Banana, Green Apple, Wild Blackberry, French Vanilla, Liquorice and Grape. Each purchase comes with a 10g bag of jelly beans (which you can gobble up before Christmas if you like!) – even the camera lens hole is the shape of a jelly bean!

Price: £15.99 and £17.99
From: www.amazon.co.uk

Black-Zomm

ZOMM Wireless Leash

Using Bluetooth® technology, the ZOMM Leash prevents users from losing their mobile phone by vibrating, flashing lights and sounding an alarm whenever they walk a set distance away from it. The device is designed to easily attach to key rings, bag straps or fit into pockets and is fully-customisable. Many women also use the Leash as a safety device to keep their children from wandering-off while out and about. Pop the Leash into a child’s pocket and if they stray too far away, the alarm will sound – alerting parents that their child is out of sight.

Price: £69.95
From: www.zomm.co.uk

Griffin-and-Threadless

Threadless iPhone & iPod Cases

Griffin has teamed up with crowd-sourcing company, Threadless, to turn its most popular t-shirts into great-looking iPhone cases. Available in a range of designs there’s sure to be something to suit her taste.

Price: : £24.99
From: Apple stores

Prima-Donna

PrimaDonna S from De’Longhi

Good things come in small packages and if she loves a really good cup of coffee in the morning but can’t justify taking up space in the kitchen, De Longhi has released the PrimaDonna S coffee machine, which it says is the most compact and feature-rich bean to cup coffee machine to date. She can enjoy espressos, cappuccinos and lattes all at the touch of a button, if your pockets are deep enough..

Price: £1,395
From: www.johnlewis.com

Sky+-Agent-Provocateur

Sky+HD Designer Boxes

Has she been hinting that she’d like a little something from Agent Provocateur? Well here’s something you’ll both enjoy then – a limited edition Sky+HD box with a design especially created by the famous lingerie designers. Other designers who have got in on the act include Matthew Williamson, Farrow & Ball and Julie Verhoeven. Treat yourself to a Sky Sports package while you’re at it!

Price: £49 for existing customers (£149 for new customers)
From: www.sky.com/designerboxes

Atomic-Flyod

Atomic Floyd MiniDarts + Remote

Especially made for more delicately proportioned ears, Atomic Floyd has updated its MiniDarts earphone to include a remote feature that offers full control of playback and volume, plus seamless switching between music and chat (with full iPhone and iPad compatibility). Made from metal for a bigger sound and durability and offering soundproof noise isolation.

Price: £179.95
From: www.atomicfloyd.com

John Lewis Hearmuffs

Warm ears, cool sounds. These fashionable cable knit headphones connect to her iPod/iPhone/Phone/MP3 player via a 3.5mm headphone jack. They have an adjustable backband design for a great fit and are available in cream, black, pink and grey.

Price: £15
From: www.johnlewis.com

HoMedics

Homedics Me laser hair reduction system

Okay, this is not something to be buying a new girlfriend unless you want her to be an ex-girlfriend pretty rapidly, but if you’re sure your other half will not take offence, this system combines IPL with radio frequency to remove up to 89% more hair in just four treatments. The makers claim the system is unique, fast and efficient and can be used on a much wider spectrum of skin types as well as on the face below the cheekbones. A full body treatment takes just 30 minutes with ten per leg and two per underarm and one cartridge holds three full body treatments.

Price: £399.99
From: www.boots.com

Griffin’s Elan Form Chilewich for iPhone 4 and 4

I remember way back in 2007 when it was enough to simply have an iPhone and people’s eyes would raise in wonder. However Apple’s smash hit phone has been so successful it’s borderline ubiquitous. If you love attention as much as I do, you will have dipped into the weird and wonderful world of iPhone cases. However, not all iPhone cases are created equal. The iPhone 4S is a wonderfully designed phone and many cases only seem to make it worse, with bulky, tacky looking designs.

Chilewich

If you’ll pardon the pun, this is not the case for Griffin Technology Inc., who have teamed up with American textile designer Sandy Chilewich this month launch to market the Elan Form Chilewich for iPhone 4 and 4S. The stylish new case is available in two colours Dark Walnut and Ice and is an extension of the Griffin + Chilewich Co-Op Initiative.

The Elan Form Chilewich case provides two layers of protection for your iPhone 4/4S in a slim and pocketable design. Each case has an outer layer of designer Sandy Chilewich’s trademarked vinyl Basketweave textile. It is then bonded to an impact-resistant polycarbonate inner shell to protect and surround your phone. The Elan Form Chilewich for iPhone 4/4S allows unobstructed access to all controls, ports, cameras, and, of course, the Multi-Touch display.

The result is a functional, durable case for your iPhone 4/4S that is protective, but also pretty head turning. I got to try out a Chilewich case and the number of people who instictively reached out to stroke the textile back of the case was amazing – it was almost like being in 2007 again.

Priced at £29.99 the case is available now at Apple stores nationwide and online.

Pantone app: Designers get a world of colours on their mobiles

Pantone colours are a vital tool for the designer – quote a Pantone colour to a repro house or printer and you can be assured that what comes out in your finished product will be the colour you were expecting.

So, it’s no surprise that Pantone colours have already been brought into the mobile arena – an iPhone app was introduced a couple of years ago – because who knows when you might see just the right colour, while you’re on the bus, taking a walk, or doing a bit of window shopping. That app has now been upgraded, plus Pantone has brought the same facilities to Android users.

Pantone-app

MyPantone for Android lets users capture, create, and share colour palettes – offering access to more than 13,000 Pantone colours wherever you are.

Take a shot of a colour you like on your camera phone, and the app will let you extract it from the image and match it to the closest Pantone colours – a useful facility that will cut out a lot of fiddling about.

Libraries include Plus Series Formula Guide (coated and uncoated), Plus Series CMYK, Color Bridge, Premium Metallics, Pastels & Neons, Goe (coated and uncoated), GoeBridge (coated), Fashion + Home Color System Library (paper and cotton), and Fashion + Home nylon brights.

As well as giving you the values for sRGB, HTML and L*a*b*, each colour swatch will also offer up a number of L*a*b* harmonious colour combinations. Plus, its cross-referencing abilities let you find similar shades across the Pantone Colour Libraries.

myPantone 2.0 for the iPhone, iPod and iPad is a free update for owners of the current Pantone app.

New features include the facility to calibrate your iPhone display so that it shows Pantone Colours in a more ‘true’ format, plus it offers CMYK data for all Plus Series Colors. You can also print from compatible iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch devices using AirPrint.

The free upgrade is available to all MyPantone app owners, while new users will pay £6.99 for a download from the App Store.

The Android app costs $7.99 from Android Market.