The Steel: Stylish, impressive sound and modestly priced

Whilst not all iPod docking stations look suave and sophisticated – Speakal’s iPig iPod docking station springs to mind – if such a device is more urbane in appearance, it can make a classy addition to a room. Magicbox’s latest charging base for iPods and iPhones, the Steel, can be most definitely put in the ‘enhancing the classiness and elegance of a home’ category.

MagicBox-Steel

Being named ‘the Steel’, this docking station certainly sounds domineering, and in boasting a classy design of simple lines, hi-gloss piano black finish and ‘cradle hewn’ from precision stainless steel, interrupted only for a laser-cut, blue-backlit control panel, undoubtedly looks the part. But does the Steel pump out as equally as impressive optimum sound?

Magicbox assure us that the Steel provides users with ‘distinctively rich sound with precise vocal transparency and definitive bass response’, and with two ten-watt speakers attached, who are we to argue?  Unlike some docking stations, Steel users can have complete control over the acoustic sound blasting from the device using the treble and bass controls and with an aux-in jack, users will also have the option to connect non-Apple MP3 players.

With this classy piece of equipment users will be able to charge and play Apple devices simultaneously and, by operating the Steel via a remote control, can do so from the luxury of their  armchair.

Oh yes, another great feature of the Steel… its price, just £49.99.

If you are on the market for an iPod docking station or, as they do make a good Christmas present, are looking to buy a loved one such a gadget this Christmas, then you could do a whole lot worse than opt for the Steel.

Check it out at MagicBox

Magicbox’s Carnaby – Bringing the landline back into the limelight

Landlines have really taken a back seat since the popularity of mobile phones has reached almost epidemic proportions. Bringing the good old, reliable landline back into the limelight is communication and audio product designers and manufacturers, Magicbox, with its launch of its new landline telephone, the Carnaby.

Magicbox-Carnaby

I have to admit that the Carnaby, in combining a retro, 60s and 70s design with a contemporary twist, may succeed in the landline revival. Not only does this phone’s smooth contoured and shiny retro design exude style and sophistication, but it also contains plenty of features that makes it fit for 21st century living and which makes it a realistic rival to the mobile. Such features include a 25 name and number phonebook with caller display, an answerphone with seventeen minutes of recording time and with an auto-answer option on handset pick-up – a useful feature if you happen to be legging it to the phone in desperation to try and pick it up before it rings off, and a memory that is capable of storing up to 40 calls in its history.

The irritation of losing your mobile and having to get another member of your family to call it in order to locate it is an irritation not present with the Carnaby. As if you do happen to misplace your stylish new cordless handset, fear not as the base includes a ‘find handset’ button, which does just what it claims it will do. And that’s not all; the chic and elegant Carnaby also doubles up as a clock and alarm clock – A multi-tasking handset, now there’s a novelty.

Available at John Lewis for £59.95, we reckon Magicbox’s Carnaby will not only make a stylish and novel addition to the home, but will also make a refreshing change to the mobile.

Magicbox Beam: Beam the world into your living room

We all want more and more from our gadgets don’t we? After all, cash is tight these days, not to mention space, so who needs two gadgets when one can do everything for you? I guess this must be the thinking behind the new Beam from UK-based consumer electronics outfit Magicbox.

Beam-dock

Not only is it an iPod and iPhone docking station (and there are plenty of those around) but it also offers DAB, internet radio and Wi-Fi connectivity. So, you can access your usual DAB radio, plus make your choice from more than 11,000 internet radio stations and pre-recorded podcasts and ‘listen again’ content.

Plug your Apple device into the dock (or even, dare we say it, a non-Apple MP3 player via the audio in jack) and you can access your own music library. Your iPod or iPhone can also be charged at the same time.

Content can also be streamed wirelessly from your computer.

The Magicbox Beam looks pretty stylish with its black matte and gloss chassis, and if space is short it can be taken off the base and mounted on the wall (and hooray – a wall bracket is included in the box).

Music comes through two 10-watt speakers, and control is via a 3.5inch colour TFT touch-screen or a remote control. As well as accessing all your own music, there is a digital alarm clock with snooze and sleep modes – you can choose which radio station will wake you up each morning. The FM radio receptor features RDS, so that you can easily see which radio station you’ve tuned into, and you can choose up to 20 presets to allow for quick access to your favourite stations.

The Beam costs £179.99. Find out more at www.magicboxes.com

Parabola DAB radio: Stylish, portable and cheap

Anything that advertises itself as being “too hot to handle” whips up a certain degree of intrigue and interest. When, therefore, an email titled, ‘a DAB that is too hot to handle’ arrives in your inbox, you feel compelled to take a further look. At a first glimpse at a picture of Magicbox’s Parabola, this DAB Radio looks unquestionably modern and stylish, although it has to be said, its spec remains comparatively mediocre, a far cry from being “too hot to handle”.

Parabola-DAB

Having said this, if you are after a portable, stylish and affordable radio, you are reading the write review, as with the Parabola portability, affordability and being ‘pleasing to the eye’, is at its core. Its most remarkable feature is its unique rounded shape which cleverly doubles up as a handle. The Parabola’s large and sturdy handle makes it ideal for carrying, which together with its optional battery feature, means Magicbox’s latest radio is tremendously portable.

Simplicity and ‘un-complication’ is also another component of the Parabola, offering a desirable alternative to many of the complicated and ‘too technical’ radios currently littering the DAB radio market. An uncomplicated set up means users can start enjoying a vast choice of national and local DAB/FM stations within seconds, whilst displaying the station’s name rather than frequency supports the Parabola’s notion of being user-friendly.

All the usual features we have grown accustomed to in a modern radio apply with the Parabola, which benefits from a headphone socket, a fully functioning clock and a dual alarm with ‘snooze’ option.

Being available in a range of five colours including silver, gold, green, red and blue, the Parabola DAB radio would make a stylish addition to a number of different rooms within a house, to suit the different tastes of each family member.

But the best thing about the Parabola radio is most definitely its price. Costing just £49.99, radio listeners can enjoy the usual features of a radio, but with a greater sense of style, freedom and uncomplicatedness. Whether it’s ‘too hot to handle’ remains to be seen.

MagicBox Ark iPod dock review

The MagicBox Ark floated into our offices this week, bringing with it two of every speaker (that’s bible-talk for stereo sound). This £40 iPhone/iPod dock pumps out eight watts, powered straight from the mains. It’s an incredibly affordable price, but does it sink or swim?

Let’s get the good out of the way first: it’s compact – its small footprint doesn’t take up much self-room at all. That may be a bad thing though, because if it were bigger more people would notice its beautiful piano black finish.

MagicBox-Ark

It’s also amazingly simple, with just two controls: volume up and volume down. It’ll charge your iPhone/iPod while it’s plugged in, and there’s a snazzy blue light that looks like a beacon mounted atop your Apple device. In fact, the blue light is our favourite bit about the whole device. In our opinion, all Apple products should have a shinning blue on their top.

The final two benefits are the auxiliary input, for playing other-brand MP3 players (cable not included) and the loud 8W output, which causes quite a din.

Unfortunately, by din, we mean the dictionary definition: “a jumble of loud, usually discordant sounds”. The problem with the Ark, you see, is that it just doesn’t produce a clear sound.

At low-levels, you’ll find the device passable. Take full advantage of the 8W output, however, and things go horribly wrong. You’ll get about as much bass as Justin Bieber pre-puberty, while higher sounds crackle and lose clarity.

We were so disappointed that we worried about being a little biased: after all, our computers boast Harman Kardon’s £140 SoundSticks, and when we were reviewing the Ark it was perched on top of a full £500+ hi-fi stereo. Perhaps we’ve been musically spoilt. After all, it does sound miles better than the iPhone’s built-in speaker – and goes much louder, too.

But then we compared it to the XMI X-II Speaker. The portable speaker is cheaper, battery-powered and sounds awesome. For quiet listening, the X-II is superior, more portable and costs less. Oh dear.

To be honest, we’ve got very mixed feelings. We knew that for £40, the Ark wasn’t going to sound brilliant. It looks nice though, and it really does pump out decibels if not clarity. If you’re looking for something to rock out to at parties – where freaking out to loud music is more important than fidelity – the simplistic and stylish MagicBox Ark is for you. But if you’re an audiophile, dance on by.

Torque Digital Cordless Telephone: It’s good to Torque

Poor old landline phones – we’re all so busy admiring the latest gadgetry delights on offer from the likes of HTC and Apple, that sometimes we forget about them. I have to admit that while I have a lovely shiny iPhone in a beautiful leather case, my landline phone is the cheapest one I could find in Argos, and hardly looks like a stylish piece of kit.

Torque-digital-phone

The Torque Digital Cordless Telephone, from Magicbox, could change all that. Not only is it shiny and stylish, but it’s the world’s first full touch sensor key pad landline phone, or so say Magicbox anyway.This cordless phone includes an answering machine and has a high gloss finish that will fit in to your high-gloss, modern home (if that is, indeed, what you have).

But the style features don’t stop there; the keypads on the piano black-finish phone have been etched with a white laser, and only show up when you touch the handset. The base multitasks as it is also the charging station, and offers a flashing blue glow if you have a message waiting.

Magicbox claims the Torque is easy to navigate, thanks to its icon-based menu, and features a 100-name phonebook, caller ID, three-way conferencing call, SMS and a ‘find handset’ feature.
A fully charged handset offers up to 10.5 hours talktime, 160 hours standby time and has a 50m range indoors and 300m outdoors

The Torque comes in black and white and prices for one handset start at around £79.99.
For more details head to www.magicboxproducts.com/

Minuet DAB Radio: Put simply, it’s child’s play!

The benefits of buying your child a radio are more multi-faceted than the fact they can keep the kids ‘out of your hair’ by keeping them entertained for hours. Apart from relishing with delight that they have been given their very own grown-up technological ‘gadget’, evidence has proven that listening to the radio can develop listening and speaking skills in children, particularly young children.

Minuet-DAB

With this knowledge firmly on-board, Magicbox, a manufacturer of affordable DAB radios and other communication devices, has launched the Minuet – a simple, affordable and funky DAB radio, comparably fantastic for both adults and children.

Available in both black and pink – to cater for either gender – this stylish yet simple and uncomplicated radio provides access to up to 250 commercial and 34 BBC radio stations. Although it has to be said that part of the fun of ‘playing with’ a radio, is meticulously moving the tuning dial, painstakingly trying to find more radio stations before spending another half an hour trying to fine-tune a station to make it relatively audible. DAB radio’s predisposition to have the time, date and stations automatically added, arguably takes some of the fun out of searching and seeking out some unregulated pirate radio station, being illegally transmitted off the Caribbean coast.

Nonetheless DAB radio has simplified this process and in doing so have, in actual fact, made radios much more ‘child-friendly’. Maintaining its child-friendly status the Minuet displays information about the digital station on a bright and backlit, two line display, which displays station names in alphabetical order rather than by frequency – another educational attribute. Although the information displayed does not stop at the station’s name, as also provided on the vivid screen, is data about signal strength as well as information about each individual station.

Being equipped with a headphone socket will also delight your children endlessly as they will be able to listen to their music privately, without the interfering ears of Mum and Dad monitoring their listening habits.

At just £29.99, I think the Minuet DAB Radio would make an excellent birthday gift to educate and entertain the kids.