Ok so since I bought my iPad, my laptop has seen a little less couch love than it used to. Designed to casually browse websites, my iPad is pretty awesome when curled up on the sofa. However there are times when Apple’s magic tablet is sub-optimal. When I want to view something Flash-based, do some extended typing or multi-task (that 4.2 update can’t get here fast enough). Fortunately I have an old laptop lying around for these tasks. Unfortunately making the transition from the iPad back to the laptop is a little awkward.
However, for those of you sensible enough to not buy Apple’s overprice wonder-gadget, troubled by awkward design, (laptops aren’t actually that great for extend periods on your lap), or fed up with tinny sound from built-in speakers, Logitech has a lovely treat for you with the Lapdesk.
When I first saw the Lapdesk at a Logitech product preview event, I instantly thought of my mother, who is constantly complaining about the heat from her laptop and how uncomfortable it is on her lap over long periods of time. She also complains about my career choices and lack of visits but Logitech has nothing that really addresses that.
The N700 has a lovely padded base that tilts your laptop at a slightly better angle. There are also some attachments that enables you to increase the angle of elevation. The pads means the device sits comfortably on your lap. It looks a little ridiculous – doubling the bulk of your laptop, but it you are going to be sitting for a long period of time then it is amazingly comfortable. There is a heat-shielding design to stop hot laptops from creating discomfort.
There is also a USB port that connects to your laptop for enhanced functionality. The N700 packs a tiny fan that helps to keep your laptop cool. Power users rocking SSD drives may snigger, but for older laptops this cooling feature is pretty cool. It’s also pretty silent – it’s hard to hear when it’s on and there is a little switch you can flick on or off depending on need.
Logitech would have you believe that most laptop owners are unsatisfied with the quality of audio from their laptops. And, unless you own HP Beats by Dre, then there is a pretty good chance they have a point. You can go wireless with their Z515s or you could cut down on clutter and utilise the N700s speaker system. It also has onboard controls for volume and installation is pretty instant.
Look long and hard at that picture above. Ignore the man who has kept his flip-flops on for no reason. If you can see yourself or a loved one using it, then splash out on the N700, which is £69.99 in stores now.
What with it being the London Marathon today we thought we’d road test the Jaybrid Endorphin sports earphones – which they have recently started distributing in the UK via Amazon.co.uk. I was looking for the best headphones to work out in – with as little interference from wires as possible, whilst retaining sound quality. I do a lot of outdoor running, with a little freerunning/tricking thrown in and nothing ruins a perfectly executed Butterfly Twist more than having you headphones fall out mid-air.
Initially the Wireless Bluetooth headset – the Sportsband seemed ideal. But whilst they offer a good wireless work out for the average treadmill runner, the pair I tried on at the Gadget show live seemed to slip whenever I was inverted. And the sound quality, whilst good, wasn’t as amazing as standard Jaybird wired products. We are keen to see Jaybird’s latest generation wireless headphones, the BlueBuds, which are released at the end of April . Bluebuds promise wired sound quality, combined with wireless convenience. But more about those when we get our hands on a pair.
The Jaybird Endorphins promised a wire-free rather than wireless workout. They are designed to be secured at the back of the head and then threaded down through your shirt keeping them out of the way without compromising sound quality. And with 10mm high performance neodymium drivers the performers, the sound quality on these headphones is top notch. The bass from the Endorphins’ sound chambers is warm and expansive and successfully drowns out all external distraction – be it in a gym, park or even an office. The earphones are titanium coated, which protects them from sweat based deterioration (sweat can destroy a perfectly good pair of headphones). They also come with a lifetime’s anti-sweat guarantee.
The headphones come with a massive variety of tips to suit most ears, a comfortingly solid travel case and some plastic hooks to guide them around your ears. Once I’d set them up I headed to the park for a nerd happy run wearing some Vibrim FiveFingers, the Jaybird Endorphins and using Runkeeper on my iPhone. To be honest I was amazed. The sound quality was, as expected superlative and created a truly immersive running experience. The wire-free system was also great and they stayed put through my admittedly tame repertoire of tricks. But I’m fairly confident that if they can stay put during a headspin then they will stay put through anything.
So for a hassle free, high quality workout and listening experience, I would have to recommend the Jaybird Endorphins. Until the Bluebuds come out at least.
iPods, Zens and mobile MP3 players have become common household items over the last few years. Now, technology has taken the portable music experience a step further. Shunning the usual target markets, American audio company NuVo have released a new MP3 system for unborn babies. The Ritmo Advanced Sound System allows the fetus to listen in on their mothers’ MP3 tracks, providing a unique bonding experience for mother and child. Whether you want to introduce your child to Mozart or get that High School Musical phase out of the way as quickly as possible, the player provides a safe way for parents and babies to interact.
Development studies have proven that reactive listening starts at 17 weeks gestation. The manufacturers claim the system could be highly beneficial for the fetus in the development stage, as scientific research has shown that exposure to music can have many positive benefits on unborn children.
While some parents might be worried about the potential health risks of exposing their baby to sound at such a young age, NuVo have designed the system with safety in mind. While the mother can adjust the volume of her music, the device continuously adjusts the baby’s music to ensure it stays at an optimal level.
Check out this demo video:
Although some parents might want to start introducing their offspring to their favourite tunes, you don’t have to stop with chart classics. The Ritmo Advanced Sound System also allows you to play your own recordings. Babies remember sounds they hear in-utero and respond favourably to them after birth so the player allows parents to familiarise the child with their voices and common household sounds before they are even born.
The device fits around the mother’s stomach using an elasticised band. It contains two speakers so the baby can hear the music wherever it is positioned in the womb. Soft, flexible fabric has been used for comfort and it can be adjusted as the mother grows. The system is also hands-free, so can be worn while doing a number of activities. Available for $129.99 (approximately £87), the Ritmo Advanced Sound System can be ordered from the NuVo group website: http://www.nuvo-group.com/product.php?id=1
The Gristleism (or Buddha Machine 3.0) is a nifty little gadget for fans of alternative electronic music. This sonic mutant was created by FM3’s Christiaan Virant in partnership with the cult industrial (electro music featuring acoustic and rock instrumentation…FYI) act Throbbing Gristle and manufactured by Industrial Records Ltd. Basically though, it’s the infinitely wacky and wonderful offspring of FM3’s original Buddha Machine concept but it packs almost twice the frequency range and a few more loops than any of the original models.
This tiny beast (that sort of resembles a cheap transistor radio) will fit into the palm of your hand and features a variety of vibrant sounds that will blow your mind. While this might seem like a gadget geared solely to appeal to fans of TG, there are elements to this portable monster that make it instantly appealing and accessible to all types of music fans.
The Gristleism is simple to operate – there are three easy to use buttons including volume control pitch control and loop selection so that you can effortlessly pick through and change the sounds after deciding whether you fancy something soothing or just downright trippy.
All of the 13 loops available for you to choose from were created by Throbbing Gristle and each one is original and very fun to mess around with. Note the imaginative titles as well – ‘Hamburger Lady’ and ‘Twenty Jazz Funk Greats’ rank as some of my personal favourites. The unique sounds that you can experiment with range from pure electronic music, to classical via experimental noise. The latter option sounds pretty cool being belted out of the built-in 50mm speaker – though it’s compact it’ll definitely give you a decent smack in the ear leaving you as delightfully red as the most colourful model.
So, if you’d like to create experimental music but can’t be arsed to buy an expensive program to make your own, or if you just like the sound of creatively pulverising another artist’s tunes using a box that you can buy for under £20, then this is the gadget for you.
Gristleism is powered by two AA batteries and available at £21.99. It’s now available via amazon.co.uk (search ‘Gristleism’). Find out more by checking out www.gristleism.com.