Latest Gadgets at IFA 2011: Best of the best part two

IFA 2011 had too many gadgets for one article so I’ve split this into a two-parter. And we will of course be looking in great depth at many of the announcements from the past few days in coming articles.

Bird-Speakers

Gavio – a leading lifestyle brand I’ve never heard of caught my eye with their Wrenz decorative speakers. Using a simple 3.5 mm jack they can accept sound from most devices and also play nicely with Bluetooth. You can daisy chain them as well if you so desire. But most importantly they look like ridiculously cute birds.

Seagate sat me down to play with their Wireless hard drive for iOS devices. Even the largest iPad maxes out at 64Gb and streaming things from the cloud and eat up horrific amounts of data (I speak as someone who has been both throttled and cut off by O2 after “excessive” podcast listening) so their little pocket hard drive which can boost your iDevices storage to 500GB is pretty neat. Of course it’s not perfect – Apple did an amazing job of abstracting the file system away on the iPad and this brings it right back to the fore. And you only seem to be able to deal with media from the world of the hub – I could view a photo stored on the HDD, and even download it to the device but there didn’t seem to be a way to interact with it in the wider world of my iPad – editing images with the Photoshop express app for example or using stored video footage on the hard drive to make a short montage in iMovie. I’m sure a software update is being penned as we speak.

Logitech-Keyboard

Logitech’s fold up iPad keyboard was a marvel of engineering. Unlike most iPad keyboard cases, which are forced to use the iPad’s 9.something” screen as limit for keyboard size – and therefore constraining the keyboards to cramped, hard-to-type-on devices, Logitech have created a super clever hinge mechanism the gives you a large and satisfying chic-let keyboard. And when you are done typing, it hides away behind your iPad case.

Skech

Another iPad keyboard case that caught my eye was this one by Skech that had a removable magnetic Bluetooth keyboard that you could reposition for your comfort. We should have a review coming soon.

As you’d expect, premium TV Loewe manufacture had some high-need eye candy to induce some serious jealousy among the crowds. With the Loewe Pivot, the pivoting 21:9 format wide screen automatically positions itself horizontally or vertically – as usage requires. In this way, the multimedia TV can serve as an information terminal or an exclusive home cinema system, for example in a business scenario. And with the help of screen art, it can also create a uniquely individual atmosphere.

The Loewe Module study on the other hand focuses on the way in which “young people” use different media in parallel. Whilst racing on a virtual track on the main screen, a simple glance at the adjacent screen affords contact with other players or an overview of friends’ latest posts on facebook. I’ve envy anyone with the concentration to pull this off.

My favourite was the Loewe Mirror, which creates wholly surprising, almost magical effects – such as virtual leaves swirling around the mirrored wall. You can also just start at yourself in the shiny surface and think “I bought this“.

Seeing hundreds of gadgets in the same room you sometimes get a little blasé so it’s good to occasionally be amazed by something. Hands down the best thing I saw was the Samsonite Micro Scooter luggage case, which is as the picture shows, a suitcase with a scooter attached. Maybe if I hadn’t been lugging my hand luggage around a busy conference centre I wouldn’t have been quite so enamoured with the idea but at the time it looked like the greatest invention in since the wheel, was the wheel with a cabin-safe bag attached.

It must be Loewe: New high-end Individual range of LED TV range

Latest Gadgets were invited to take a look at the high-end of high-end televisions at Loewe. Loewe are a German manufacture of quality flatscreens, and their latest, “Individual” range, looks set to continue the firm’s tradition of “meaningful innovation” with a frankly stunning flatscreen.

Loewe-Individual

Energy efficient, LED backlit and with Full HD 400 Hz motion picture display the Individual range starts well and then gets better.
Individual is almost like a bespoke television, with the ability to add features that matter to you. The dual channel versions of the Individual TV are equipped with the integrated Loewe DR+ hard disk recorder, with 250 GB of onboard memory for HD recordings.

An HDTV tuner is integrated as standard affording terrestrial, cable reception, and satellite-based digital reception in Compose 40, 46 and 55, while 24p motion picture display affords perfect playback of Blu-ray disks and retains the all important “film look”.

Connectivity on the Individual is also impressive. I’ve used a lot of DLNA systems, the worst of which have unattractive file browsers and clunky navigation. The Individual has one of the best looking navigation systems I have seen and was the first time I’d used an onboard connectivity option and not pined for the elegance of XBMC or the Apple TV.

Loewe MediaHome enables, images, music and videos to be played via USB or the network. Even better MediaNet, enables Internet content such as Internet radio, Internet video or Web TV to be viewed. Best of all, Loewe say there will be software updates, enabling new functions over time, so you are no longer at the mercy of whatever website/streaming service was popular at the time when you bought your TV.

Priced firmly in the “if you have to ask” range of goods, the new 40 and 46 inch LCD televisions will be available from the end of May, with the 55 inch available from July and the 32 inch from August.

Loewe’s beautiful new high-end Mediacenter

The new Mediacenter from Loewe is a monster. It sets the benchmark for any cross-media platform. It’ll play your CDs and DVDs and can receive any radio via antenna, cable, satellite or the web…are you excited already? You should be.

With this beast any precious digital files that you’ve got stored on hard drives or within your own network can be accessed, as can those from your tech soulmates the iPod or iPhone. Rather conveniently it’s also possible to control the external Blu-Ray Player via this nifty gadget – all you have to do to get the most out of your Blu is push a button on the Assist Media remote control which will also help you browse through your collection with ease. Sweet, eh?

Loewe-Media-Centre

The Mediacenter is built to connect directly to the TV set and it’ll use the screen to display all music sources (and CD / DVD artwork) on a clear interface. The center can be used with any TV supporting an HDMI connection, and so it’s not only restricted to the Loewe range. Because of this, we’ve found that the Mediacenter is simply one of the more accessible multi-room platforms about.

Indeed, one of the highlights of this beauty (apart from the high-class shiny, sexy exterior) is that all audio sources can be streamed to secondary rooms, where the Mediacenter can be operated by means of the aforementioned remote control.

We’re not done yet – the Mediacenter has three versions – the Loewe Reference Mediacenter, the Individual Mediacenter DR+ and the integrated hard drive-less Individual Mediacenter. On the first two, all of your songs can be saved centrally on two integrated hard drives totalling 320 GB while the latter model comes without that luxury. The Reference one takes around seven minutes to “rip” each CD and the name of the artist along with track information that can be altered at any time. As an additional option, music files can be copied from a PC onto the Mediacenter hard drive via the network and, as an added bonus all data is backed up on the second integrated drive (160 GB) – so the loss of special music files is near impossible.

The device is made to be hung on a wall with a slick profile of just 74 mm, including the wall mount which is supplied – a table and floor stand are also available on request. For more information visit the official Loewe website.