Latest Gadgets at the Gadget Show Live 2011

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.

Batman-Car

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.

Bamboo-Stylus

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.

Cyngett-iPad-2-stand

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.

Mini in the Box: Cheap iPad accessories

Useful as iPads are (and before you complain, for the most part they are useful) they can often be augmented with a carefully made accessory – hence the thriving third party eco-system of cases, stands and what have you. But they can be quite expensive.

Mini in the Box, a small company based in China asked use very kindly to have a look at a few of the cut-price accessories they supplied for the iPad and we are a sucker for good manners so we agreed.

Miniinthebox

The rotating iPad stand
A charging dock for the iPad, this stand is a very peculiar contraption. You can insert your iPad in portrait mode and charge it as well as sync with iTunes via the USB connection. The rotating aspect is also curious – it refers to the iPad 30-pin port connector rather than the dock itself. I spent a good deal of time baffled as to how to hold the iPad on the stand horizontally before I realised they intended for you to simply slide the charging connector out of the way and merely rest the iPad in landscape orientation without charging. This feels a little less secure and is a bit of a fudge – but does work. When you plug the stand in, the bottom edge that holds your iPad in glows a futuristic blue, which is reasonably cool although it would be good if this were linked to the charging mechanism somehow rather than just blue all the time. The whole unit is plastic and the build quality is very average – erring on the flimsy side. However, it is also very, very cheap and if you’ve spent all your money getting your hands on an iPad in the first place, an inexpensive iPad stand isn’t the worst idea in the world.

USB/SD card reader
iPad detractors often bemoan the lack of USB or SD card support, and whilst it’s debatable as to whether this should have been built directly into the iPad, rather than merely part of the external camera connector kit, the magic of having the USB and SD ports built into the one dongle is undeniable. As with the stand, the build quality is a little on the cheap side, but it is a useful accessory -especially if you take lots of photos on the road and want to offload them. The USB port also lets you plug in USB keyboards and a seemingly random selection of other accessories. Nifty.

iPad stylus
Small drawing tool if you don’t feel that comfortable painting with your fingers. I couldn’t get this to work doing more than simple lines and it was hard to draw with any degree of subtly. One to avoid.

New iPhone and iPad accessories roundup

LatestGadgets were invited to see some of the best gadgets for the iPhone and iPad. Here are some of the most innovative products out now.

Cygnett have released the Zooom for the iPhone 4 and 3GS. It is shaped like a PS3 controller and holds the iPhone for secure gaming. It enhances gaming on the iPhone 4 as you can grip on to the Zooom and make control much easier. The Zooom really comes alive when you play tilt-to-steer racing games like Need For Speed.

Mickey

Blue have released Mikey, a microphone which records directly on to your iPhone. It has 230° rotating design with three settings allowing you to record everything from a loud concert, lectures or an interview.  The quality of sound recorded is CD-quality and clear for something so small.

Moshi-Moshi

Native Union launch the Moshi Moshi line of handsets designed to offer the convenience of a landline wireless handset without the radiation from mobile phones which the government repeatedly warns us about. Ideal for small offices and homes, the handsets can be paired to 2 mobile phone devices using Bluetooth. The MM04 can also be used as a speaker to playback music or even conference calls.

Agent-18

There are an abundance of cases for the iPhone. Some are hard, soft, plain or have graphics. With so much to choose from, your case should make a statement about you by the design or features. Agent18 have the EcoSheild+ for the iPhone4. For the environmentally conscious among you, one recycled plastic bottle is used in every Ecosheild+. One thing I like about this case is the integrated stand which rotates open to allow easy viewing of movies and FaceTime. Docking is convenient as the bottom half of the case can be removed.

i360-Stand

Several accessories for the iPad were debuted. A stand with a difference is the i360 by Intelligent Touch. The unique feature about this stand is the 360° movement. Ideal if you move around the house and want to rotate the stand so you can see the screen from wherever you are. We have all heard about the much rumoured iPad Mini and the i360 takes this into account and is future-proofed as the ‘claw’, which holds the iPad, can be interchanged with different sizes. The i360 is available from December at £79.95.

iPad-Stand

Twelve South have announced the BookArc for the iPad. The BookArc is made of steel and one of the best features is the sleek look to match your iPad. It allows you to position your iPad in four ways allowing ease of use for work, watching videos or just charging. It is small enough to fit in a bag so you can take it with you on the go and use it show your iPad off to friends. It doesn’t have the flexibility of the i360 but it is more portable.

How many times have you been out to have your iPhone or your iPad die on you? There are several chargers for the iPhone but not so many for the iPad. Mophie’s juice pack powerstation can charge an iPad or any USB device. It has a 3600mAh capacity with multiple USB charging ports so you can charge two devices at the same time.  A LED power indicator shows how much charge is in the powerstation.

be-ez

Be.ez, French manufacturer of laptop cases and bags, expand the Le Rush range of iPad bags with Le Rush En Ville. With so many bags available, it can be hard to choose one. Le Rush En Ville is light and made from high-quality ballistic nylon to protect your iPad. The look is streamlined and stylish. I always like lots of pockets in my bag or I am left standing in a shop looking for my purse for a very long time. The Le Rush En Ville has more than enough pockets, including a dedicated compartment for your iPad.

Libratone-Beat

Libratone are a new Danish audio company providing innovative wireless sound. Libratone Beat offers high quality stereo sound and can connect wirelessly to an iPhone or an iPad. The speakers are fairly large with an unusual soft exterior which feels like a carpet. The design is meant to be Scandinavian. These speakers are definitely a statement and different from the hard and cold feel of most speakers.

For frequent travellers, Seinnheiser offer PXC 250-II. The provide NoiseGard™ active noise cancellation technology so you hear nothing but the music on your plane or train ride, useful for when you have a screaming child next to you on a long-haul trip. One battery will last 50 hours. You can use the headphones without the batteries; however, you will not have the noise cancellation technology. A space-saving feature with the PXC 250-II is you can fold it away as the headphones can be turned in towards the headband.