Opalum Flow 1010: Understated statement speakers

If you like your technology to match, your gadgets to “hang” and your wires disguised, the new Flow 1010 “floating” speakers may just grab your attention.

 
Opalum-flow
 

Badged as “the TV’s new best friend” by its manufacturer, Scandinavian audio company Opalum, these diminutive, yet statement speakers are designed to sit streamlined while smartly flanking your LED or Plasma telly.

But jostling for position in a busy speaker market, Flow 1010’s key differentiator is the fact they’re so unobtrusive they appear to “float”. They were designed by Scandinavian designer Eva Hanner, and have a translucent, acrylic glass front, responsible for the floating effect.

Choose from white or high-gloss black to either blend into your magnolia walls or match your goggle box and listen in wonder to the patented “Actisonic” and “Actiline” digital audio technology, which promises a clear, crisp and natural sound. This technology leans on “decades of academic research”, using impressive-sounding “inverse filtering algorithms and psychoacoustics” to manage air movement around the speaker for optimum sound reproduction.

Although the wave shape of the actual features could be attributed to its chic ambitions and designer heritage, apparently it lends itself to boosting depth of sound and delivers smooth bass.

But don’t let your telly have all the fun. Flow 1010 comes with a hub and RF touch remote so you can hook them up to your other audio devices and spread the floaty-sound around. They use a 20W amplifier for high frequencies and a 60W amplifier for low frequencies, resulting in “bi-amplification” and 80 watts of power in each speaker.

Saving all the design time for the speakers themselves, the comparatively ungainly hub and its – woe-betide – cabling can be hidden out of sight even when in use.

Floating designer speakers will inevitably leave your wallet a lot lighter – you’ll need to stump up £1,649 to give your TV, your lounge room lines and other audio technology a breath of fresh air.

Elipson relaunch tribute to BS50 loudspeaker design

In a nice move to celebrate its 60th birthday, earlier this week Elipson announced that it is honouring the landmark models that have shaped its history leading a market centred around the fusion of lifestyle design and high quality audio engineering.

Elipson-BS50

So, the first Elipson speaker to do very well on said market was the BS 50 (or, erm the Ball Staff, 50 cm diameter). Originally, this little 2 way white beauty (weighing in at a perfectly manageable 69.2 pounds and 31.4kg) was designed in 1953 to compliment the very first sound and light shows at the famous Château de Chambord in France (which, for the record look darn impressive… Google ’em). So, it’s pretty cool then? No bro, it’s cooler than cool. This charming spherical speaker (positioned on its alloy tripod, and complete with a distinctive ear piece) with its respectable 80 Watts of max music power also became the reference for voicing at the equally as prestigious Maison de la Radio Broadcasting House in Paris. Man, this thing has been getting about over its time, eh?!

All things considered, this is a more than fitting tribute to the world-beating original, Elipson has reproduced this slick and experienced noisebox using today’s latest materials, while preserving the acoustic sound qualities that were so valuable to a product that quite frankly defied the average standards of loudspeaker design. Take that.

The BS 50 Tribute loudspeaker system is available now via BBG Distribution Limited at http://www.bbg.eu.com.

Urbanisita London headphones: Swish and soothing

Recently, Urbanista, the Stockholm-based design concept shop which produces products geared towards the needs and fashions of urban living (they’re “wicked” cool…), released something that looks (and feels) rather awesome creating the ultimate in on t’move (Yorkshire speak…sorry) aural pleasure, in the form of the London headphone.

Urbanista-London

This is indeed a pretty gosh-darn slick piece of kit; an “in-ear” headphone (10mm speaker size) with microphone and nice overall design with a steel surface, and six bright colours (from Crispy Apple green to Red Snapper erm… red) to choose from.

Urbanista London comes wrapped in a particularly functional “cuff link”-box with cable management for easy storage when not in use (the box and product together only weighs in at 250g… easy.

To fit modern urban life (and catering for the rushed, stressed and somewhat well-dressed), the cord has an integrated microphone and a 3.5 mm plug that works with most phones and music players on the market (so even the ol’ Sony Ericsson will be covered alongside an iPhone or iPad). As an added bonus, a hands-free (with microphone) option is available.

This London headphone is the perfect accompaniment to your busiest day – it’ll soothe your ears before and after work. To be fair (direct your eyes to the nice image above), you’re going to look pretty swish through the journeys as well.

The London Headphone series is available at SRP £44.99 from http://uk.urbanista.com/

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.

Clean up in style: The latest and greatest in vacuum cleaners

Who would have thought you could be stylish while you’re vacuuming? Well Yat Wong-Jones, buyer of small electrical appliances at John Lewis, who, we suspect, is going to turn out to be the Gok Wan of the gadget world, reckons you can vacuum AND look fabulous.

Vacuum-Cleaners

His choice for stylish cleaners? Well if you want 1940s glamour, you should opt for the Oreck XL4 Upright vacuum clearer with Multi-Vac Canister. Not only does it boast chic, retro styling, but it is half the weight of a conventional model and has a C-shaped handle, which reduces stress on your arm, wrist and back (personally I think the best way to avoid this stress is to get someone else to do the housework but if that’s not an option this is the next best thing). Its bristles are shaped in a double helix (this must be the science part), which means they can lift up embedded dirt from your carpet, and sweep hard floors without scratching them. The bag features a Saniseal system, whch closes the bag as you remove it, so no more nasty accidents with bags full of fluff and dust. The price for this glamorous model? £295

Contemporary domestic goddesses (and gods) should opt for the Sebo Airbelt D2 Storm Cylinder vacuum cleaner, which has been designed in conjunction with the German Design Council. It has a Turbofan motor, which uses turbine technology to get the best results. It also has ‘parking’ and ‘carrying ‘ slots to make storage simple, and its on/off button can also alter the power levels. All this contemporary coolness for £229, exclusively at John Lewis.

If you prefer the futurist approach – and hate pushing a vacuum across the floors – opt for the i-Robot Roomba 555 vacuum cleaner, which can cover up to four rooms on a single charge, and is able to find its way into hard to reach areas such as under furniture and around wall edges. You can preset it to clean while you are out, and it also has anti-tangle technology so get out of cord tangles and tassels. When it’s done, it heads back to its home base to recharge – all for the princely sum of £349.

Finally, if you’re a city slicker, the Dyson DC35 Multi Floor vacuum cleaner is likely to be more your style. This is a lightweight cordless cleaner, ideal for those with little in the way of storage space. It has a motorised floor tool that uses ultra-fine conductive carbon fibre brushes to remove fine dust from hard floors and stiff nylon bristles to agitate the carpet to dislodge and remove ground-in dirt. Finally, a combination accessory tool with a wide nozzle picks up crumbs and large particles. It also converts to a brush tool for dusting, so you can get your cleaning done quicker. This lightweight cleaner costs £199.

All the cleaners above are available from John Lewis. Style tips from Yat Wong-Jones, will, we suspect, cost extra!

Samsung SF310: Style and substance?

People may be aware that Lilly Allen decided to trade in her battered old Macbook for a trendy new Samsung SF310 a couple of months ago. The multi-talented star was probably influenced by the sleek and elegant design of this brand new laptop.

The manufacturers decided to put the SF310 through In Mold Rolling, as they had done previously with their NF210. The result is a finely sculpted chassis which enables the keyboard and lid to fit snugly together when the laptop is closed.

Samsung-SF310

The new Samsung is quite small compared with rival products of a similar spec. While the SF310 is heavier than the average user might like, it is still relatively portable. Prospective buyers may be interested to hear that this computer is also rather durable and is expected to have a long lifespan.

The SF310 is ideal for individuals who regularly commute via train and plane, as it last for 6.5 after a full charge. The sleep-and-charge function is another attraction, which allows for the charging of mobile phones and cameras while the laptop is in hibernation.

People who are prepared to spend £750 on a new laptop will undoubtedly be looking for high performance. Thankfully the SF310 is kitted out with a dynamic dual-core Intel Core i5-460M processor and 4gb of RAM.

Fun seekers will enjoy playing all the latest games on a laptop which makes full use of the Nvidia GeForce 310M chip. People who are using less demanding applications will utilise the alternative GMA HD card.

Darren Matthews, General Manager of Samsung’s Note PC Division said, “we’re excited to announce that the SF310 is now available in store and I believe that this new look notebook will see the start of a trend for more stylish mobile computing in the industry.

“Combining style, portability and performance the SF310 is the ultimate all-rounder to our notebook range and with our webcam promotion running up until the 31st of January next year, there’s no better time to invest in a new notebook.”

The Samsung is currently on sale as part of a combined package with the Microsoft Livecam Cinema HD webcam. It is thought that buyers will enjoy video conversations with their close friends and family, using both the hi tech webcam and the 13.3” widescreen LED backlit display.

Ted Baker and Proporta team up to make pretty iPhone cases

There are plenty of brands associated with the iPhone, but Ted Baker and the House of Fraser are usually not among them. However, the latter thought so much of the former’s new range of iPhone cases that it threw them party, uncorked the champagne and poured some designer cases into our hands.

Ted-Baker-iPhone-case

Ted Baker, teamed up with accessory veterans Proporta, have crafted a selection of thirteen leather cases, pouches and hard shells to tie-in with the designer’s Autumn/Winter range. The result is some pretty sweet iPhone 4 cases, at less sweet designer prices.

The premium offerings are the male and female leather cases. At £39.95, you get quality leather with a rigid feel to it. You also get a protective flap that, for men, holds your most important cards. Women? You’re blessed with a compact mirror and a poppy print lining.

The best cases, as judged by the harem of females, were the Patent Leather Style Pouches. Aimed at the female market (although, you know, who are we to judge personal taste?) They come in red or black with either an embossed bow and pull tag, or an oversized zip for easy pouch access. The zip edition was the real favourite, drawing crowds and coos of “I wish that my [make of mobile phone] fitted in that!”

Luckily, we had an older iPhone available for testing, and we’re pleased to announce that for the Leather Style Pouches, older models of iPhone fit in without a hitch. In the Leather Cases, it’s a tight squeeze, while the hard shells are definitely anti-iPhone 3G.

Whilt the hard shells may not be as forgiving as the other models, they are the cheapest option (£29.95). They’re basically the same as any clip-on shell you might meet, except with some fancy prints and Ted Baker on the back. It’s a bit of a steep price, but they are some of the best-looking hard shell cases on the market.
We did an extended trial of the Leather Case for Men (no mirror, unfortunately) and found it beautiful and mostly functional. The magnetic-closing flap is a real joy to fiddle with, and comforting too. It’s as if some unnatural force has been harnessed to pull the case closed, protecting your screen from damage.

The Leather Case also avoids the mistake of reducing button availability. All of the buttons are accessible, and although the standby button is hidden, you can easily push it through the case.

Unfortunately, it’s a bit chunky. If you like skinny jeans or prefer unstrained pockets, it’s not for you. And the leather that holds the phone in place gets in the way of the touchscreen at times, creating a minor annoyance.
So while the jury is still out on the Leather Cases (they’re certainly fine on the eye), pouch fans everywhere should rejoice. Especially ones with feminine tastes; the women’s range offers the most stylish phone pouch in the world.

Versatile and stylish – Pioneer’s KODO XW-NAW1 iPod wall mounted speaker system

As we mentioned in our feature on the best iPod docks due to high consumer demand, competition to produce the very highest of quality iPod speaker systems is hastily gathering speed. Born from this surge in spiritedness Pioneer GB has launched an exciting new addition to its KODO range of iPod speaker systems – the KODO XW-NAW1.

KODO-XW-NAW1

In the same way TV wall brackets deliver the luxury of being able to hang a flat screen television on the wall, the KODO XW-NAW1 is a wall-mounted iPod speaker system; ensuring quality sound can be pumped out in any room without requiring precious shelf space.

Being just 83mm thick, black and elegant, by either mounting the KODO XW-NAW1 to the wall or transporting it with you and resting it on its own stand, it the will add a touch of glamour to wherever this speaker system is positioned. In keeping with its attractive exterior, the KODO XW-NAW1 is controlled by several blue illuminated touch sensors. Although if having to wearily reach up to crank the volume up a notch or two sounds like too much of a burden, an infra red remote is provided so users can control their digital music collection at their leisure.

Analogous to its elegant appearance, the quality of the sound the KODO XW-NAW1 produces will not disappoint – according to Pioneer. With a two-way 30W stereo speaker with neodymium tweetermagnets, Pioneer claim its latest iPod speaker system delivers “rich, powerful and outstanding” sound. For the less audio-technological-terminology-minded among us, we ask ourselves what the hell are neodymium tweetermagnets? After a few minutes research on Google, I learn that neodymium tweetermagnets are compact high efficiency dome tweeters with extended frequency response. Although this sheds little light and I am still a little confused of their function, I am later informed there is nothing new or revolutionary about neodymium technology and it is a common material for producing magnets.

Despite the fact the impressive techno terminology Pioneer uses to describe its new product is slated by some for being unoriginal and incapable of ‘razing a building’, I am reassured that neodymium tweetermagnets and the KODO XW-NAW1 produces high-quality sound. Although producing premium sounding music is not the only trait of this speaker system. A component video output is also at hand for outputting video from an iPod or iPhone to a television. An additional asset of the XW-NAW1 is that can charge any docked iPhone or iPod.

From September onwards you’ll be able to see whether this versatile and stylish iPod docking device, which uses neodymium tweetermagnets and can conveniently accommodate any living space, is worth its hefty £199 price tag.