Make sure you check out part one of this guide from yesterday.
The Gadget Show Live @ Christmas brought all sorts of fun and games to East London. We had a play with a few choice items.
Fridja Ironing is very few people’s idea of a rollicking good time but the Fridja ironing system was the second most desirable item I saw in the whole show (after the OP-1). As I’m often fresh, dressed like a million bucks I need my garments to look crisp. Fridja brings high grade garment steaming to the people, and at £99 it’s at a fraction of the cost of a local dry cleaners.
Replicator 2 3D Printer If you read Chris Anderson’s Makers (or even just my review of the book here) you’ll know that there’s a brave new world of 3D printing, where people can apply all the exciting and collaborative elements of Web 2.0 and apply them to the real world of bits and bobs. The Replicator is great for knocking up all sorts of amazing knick knacks, although at £1799 is far from an impulse purchase.
R2D2 Star Wars landed in the late 70s and then never really went away. And there’s even a possibility that the recently announced sequels buy Disney might be … well good. I was charmed by this inflatable remote controlled R2D2 which can spin 360 degrees and generally float around. It’s best feature is its self-righting system that defies being knocked over – as was throughly tested by the gang of schoolboys I saw trying to give poor Artoo the kicking of his life.
Stickem Stickems are simple screen wipes made from ultra fine microfibres. What makes sticks special – and fun – is their “self -cling” backing that means you can pop them on the back of your tablet or smartphone and have them handy any time you want to remove any make-up, oil, grease of whatever you happen to have covering your phone. They come in a range of fun designs in collaboration with up and coming artists so they’re a good way of keeping your phone clean and personal.
Mu Sometimes the best ideas are the simplest and we just need to take time to think about the simple things that we take for granted. The Mu rethinks the ubiquitous three-pin and makes it a portable pleasure for the pocket-focused smartphone world. The Mu folds down to a compact 14mm completely hiding the three pins via a clever (and patented) swivel mechanism, making The Mu 70 per cent smaller than a standard plug.
We took out annual pilgrimage up to the Birmingham NEC to visit the Gadget Show Live 2012. As usual there was a weird and wonderful range of gadgets on display, but various things stood out.
IK Multimedia iRig Mic Cast Released on the first day of the Gadget Show Live, the IK Multimedia iRig Mic Cast is the latest step in IK Multimedia’s plan to plug almost everything into your iPhone. Small and lightweight, the Podcast Mic uses the 3.5 mm headphone jack (rather than the 30-pin connector) and features a monitoring output port and the ability to easily toggle between high and low levels when recording. http://www.ikmultimedia.com/irigmiccast/features/
Antares Autotune Guitar When my father was teaching me to play guitar he had the annoying habit of always, always insisting I tune my guitar before playing (as well as the annoying habit of insisting his band had already covered practically every style of music already in the 70s). Anyway, I can set his mind to rest with the Antares Auto-tune guitar. The pretty amazing onboard DSP will automatically tune your guitar for you, keep it in tune and maintain perfect intonation. It uses some very smart technology so you can switch between tunings on the fly. For more info head to http://guitar.auto-tune.com/
Bamboo Stylus duo Wacom launched a Bamboo Stylus duo for the iPad and Android tablets that combines one of the best capacitive pen tips I’ve used with a premium ball-point ink pen at the opposite end for use on old-fashioned paper. http://www.wacom.eu/index2.asp?pid=9221&spid=2&lang=en
Griffin Helo TC Assault We also popped by Griffin for some old fashioned RC helicopter fun with the Helo TC Assault, a fantasic iPhone controlled helicopter, with built-in soft missiles that you can launch across the office or living room. Check out some footage here.
Latest Gadgets made its yearly pilgrimage to the Gadget Show Live in Birmingham to play with the latest and greatest tech that manufacturers had to offer. Fighting our way through the bear pit that is the coffee table in the press room, we emerged refreshed and ran around attempting to see as much as possible before the caffeine wore off.
Our first stop was Brasso (covered here) who had a little stall set up to clean all our gadgets. As an owner of a filthy iPhone, iPad and pair of glasses it was nice to have someone give them a quick wipedown. Plus there was cake. Orbitsound had their T3 mobile stereo speaker on display – a little iPod classic shaped unit that provides stereo sound on the go – and that can be worn around the neck to create a sound aura. Amazing. Also a potential nightmare if young kids on London buses get hold of it.
Wacom had just that day released a Bamboo stylus for the iPad. I’m keen doodler and had a quick play. It feels great to hold – and is very close to holding a real pen. It’s also 25 percent slimmer tip than main competitors as the reps insisted on telling me. The prototype app to accompany it (you can of course use the stylus with all drawing apps) looks pretty fun as well but wasn’t yet ready for final assessment. The stylus should be out in mid-May for about £25.
We waved at the people from 3M who were showing off their MPro 180 wireless pico projector rigged up to a PS3 and an iPad. We had a more in-depth look at it here. The most stylish area was the shiny white Golla zone where lots of beautiful people looked over enthusiastic about a range of pretty looking laptop bags and camera cases. We took a look at some here.
iPad stands were ubiquitous, but the only one that actually caught our eye was Cygnett’s that had copied Apple’s Smart Cover technology (well the wake from sleep functionality) and added a stand that works vertically and horizontally – all in a big (and admittedly slightly bulky) leather case. They were stood next to Henge Docks – a great laptop dock that enabled you to use your MacBook with a Widescreen monitor and pretend you have a full desktop. We also had a quick look at the PopBox – a self-styled “Apple TV” killer, that streams your HD content via DLNA and its own app store. And we also played with some wireless Jaybird headphones, the Qb desktop USB speakers and FlipVideo who surprisingly said nothing about their impending demise.
Of course this is a tiny fraction of what we had a play with so expect to see a few more in-depth articles over the coming week.
Online tech retailer eXpansys is bored of just selling gadgets. Starting now, they’re going be to talking about them, too. Teaming up with Jason Bradbury, the site will embark on a new eXpanse – weekly video tech previews presented by The Gadget Show’s front-man.
We spoke to Jason in the fittingly eclectic surroundings of Sketch London to discuss his new venture, factual previews, favourite gadgets and tech fame.
“Because of the stuff I do in other areas, lots of adrenaline and physical stuff, it’s nice to get my hands on tech and do a straight-forward review. And that’s why the stuff you see on eXpansys is straight. It’s not spectacularly well-lit or edited, or even has music. It’s just me waxing lyrical about tech that eXpansys has managed to get hold of.”
“I asked the guys if we can get hold of a Windows 7 phone and they were like ‘yeah, we’ll do that next week’. So in that sense it’s really nice. It is different from what I normally do. It’s not even about reviewing, it is introducing the features. A preview of the feature set – just providing people with a way into it.”
“There was research recently when they ask loads of young people around the country what their favourite search engine was, and the majority of them said YouTube. That’s why there is merit in doing little virals, short stabs at gadgets at eXpansys, because you can find them via search.”
“And we’re not going to avoid any topic. I’m just going to pick up a bit of tech and play with it for a while, hopefully a morning. And then I’ll just say whatever comes out in as short a space as possible. Although you’ve got to be a bit careful giving an opinion on something you haven’t had a lot of experience with.” “Whatever I say, it always goes on Twitter or on the web, and it always gets argued about and pulled apart. It’s important to note that there is nothing ‘true’ in all this, it’s only subjective.”
“The Samsung Galaxy Tab, for example – it is the first contender to come along and sit alongside the iPad and not look half bad. But do I want it more than the iPad? No. The iPad feels more real-time, more straightforward, more real, more organic. But that debate, if I said that on Twitter like I did this morning, the response is incredible. I guess I’m only a figurehead for a debate that everyone is having anyway.”
So with Jason’s work at eXpansys moving away from the high-octane adventures of The Gadget Show, does this mean we should expect a dull, just-the-facts rendition of a technical blog post?
” When specs are written on a piece of paper – or a digital screen, which is more likely now – for the likes of you or I, that has meaning. So when it talks about the processor and the RAM, or the megapixels, or the HD 720p, that has meaning to us.”
“But for a lot of people, that doesn’t mean anything. There are two ways you can approach that. One is that you can conceptualise something, and that’s what I do in my other work. But the other thing is to vocalise that, to tell you it in a sentence. And that in itself has a great deal more meaning.”
“For instance, I talked about HSDPA+ in the Milestone 2 video – if you read HSDPA and you weren’t a savvy tech-head, it would just past you by. But I talked about the speed of it, which most people could understand because their home internet is supposedly 8 meg. I mentioned that the ‘Milestone is 10 meg, 10.2 at theoretical maximum, which means I could download this video game very quickly.’ That is pretty entry level stuff, video gives you that, conversation gives you that. Spec sheets on a blog post don’t.”
“I am aware there are [famous] people out there that are genuinely into their tech, that have a perspective and can genuinely talk about it in a lively way. But there are not that many. Stephen Fry is, and Jonathon Ross is a real tech-head. I can see there is a bit of a gap though, which is where I’d like to think I come in.”
We know there’s a Milestone 2 preview, then. But what else is there to come from the Jason and eXpansys team?
“I’m open to anything really, but the HP Slate. And Windows Phone 7 – I haven’t played with it yet and I want to enter my Xbox Live details.”
“We’re trying to get hold of the HP Slate. Although it is difficult – it’s like Gran Turismo 5 – will it ever be released? And anything by HTC I’m always interested to see. They have the DNA to produce a genuine iPhone butt-kicing device.”
“Here’s the thing: I absolutely love my iPhone, I adore my iPad. But do I want alternatives? Hell yeah! Please, get that iPhone out of my hand; I’m bored with that whole world. I think it is great, but I’d love to be able to pick up a Microsoft-originated handset and get the same experience, get the same joy, pleasure and instant interactivity that I get from an iPhone. Or an HTC Desire. Or an Android 2.3 operating system that delivers on the promise of Android.”
“And I do believe that Android will ultimately be the phone of choice for most of the world, because it is so inexpensive and because of the open nature of its development process. The closed shop that Apple prefers to give you is a very polished and luxurious product, but it doesn’t make for mass consumer devices. It makes expensive designer devices.”
As good as it is to have another popular tech-head on the web; it would be a real shame to lose Jason’s trademark adrenaline in his transition to web-video champion. Thus, we quick-fired some impulse questions his way to see if he’s softened up yet. No such luck – that Gadget Show energy seems equally invested in this eXpansys project:
Windows 7 or Mac OS X? “Windows 7.” Google or Bing? “Google.” Gmail or Yahoo Mail? “Gmail.” Xbox 360 or PS3? “Both.” Nintendo DS or PSP? “Undoubtably the Nintendo DS.” Kinect or Move? “Do I commit? Kinect – because it has Dance Central on it. My only worry is that there is not enough of that on it – there is a lot of animal jianimals on it. Xbox, if you’re listening – a Kung Fu game, on the Kinect.” iPhone or Android? “iPhone.” iPad or Something else? “iPad. iPad. iPad. iPad.” What laptop? “You mean, the laptop that I hardly ever use ever because of the iPad? It’s a Macbook. A Blackbook – old black one. Sweet as.”
As this year’s Gadget Show Live draws to a close we round up the top tech that caught our eye during our trek across every inch of the NEC, Birmingham.
The foldaway Yikebike caught our eye as it looks to become the latest answer to personal travel solutions. It’s a sleekly styled piece of kit with carbon composite frame and a leather seat and looks to bring back the classic penny-farthing design. Expect to shell out £3,000 for one of Time Magazine’s top inventions of 2009, weighing in at a measly 21lb’s it can clock a top speed of 25kph and will have a range of 9km.
One of the best and cheapest things we came across was from Hong-Kong based Sumvision, called the Cyclone Micro. It’s a USB 2.0 1080p up-scaling HDMI media player adapter, which allows you to plug and play with any USB storage device and play your media files directly to TV via HDMI, and at £40 it’s great value.
The most expensive gadget we came across was the Sky Car MK2 from Wiltshire Company Parajet. Half car, half plane, the Sky Car is rear wheel off-road buggy, which can hit 110 mph and o-62 in 4.2 seconds. As well the impressive performance on the road, it can also fly with the attaching of a ram-air wing and is capable of take-off from a field or airstrip in less than 200 metres. It’s £55,320 and is on sale now.
We loved new headphones from US company Monster who in partnership with rap legend Dr Dre are looking to revolutionise headphones. Called Beats by Dre, they have been designed to allow you listen to music the way artists recorded it. The big powerful speakers dwarf the capabilities of in-ear buds and with excellent power, clarity and super-deep bass we were blown away by the sound quality. And with Monster’s powered isolation technology these headphones cut all external noise so all you hear is the music. On sale now they will set you back a premium price of £270.
At this year’s show, watch phone brand Swap unveiled the new Swap Lady and Swap Rebel designs. The former is “gorgeous” bangle-style watch and phone for the ladies and the latter a lightweight colourful version for the hip young lads. The new Lady design and Rebel design join the recently announced sporty, waterproof Active Design. Prices are predicted to be around £300.
And finally in the year 2010, no gadget show would be complete without 3D kit everywhere you look. To this end, Sony showed of its latest 3D gear, as did Panasonic, MSI, Nvidia, and the rest. We really liked Sony’s 3D TV, which looked impressive when hooked up to a 3D PS3, you can expect a software update this summer for your Playstation, but you will need to save £2,000 for their 3D TV which will be on sale later this year.