Get smart with the latest release from Dune – the HDI Smart B1

If you want to enjoy your multimedia in full HD – that’s 1080p – then take a look at the all-singing, all-dancing Dune HD Smart B1 High Definition Network Media Player with Blu-Ray Player.

The makers promise you the full cinema 3D experience, from the likes of 3D Toy Story 3 – from the comfort of the couch – thanks to its “RealD” compatibility.

Dune-HDI

The box also offers compatibility with multiple formats, so you can watch HDD, Blu-Ray and DVD from your local network or an SD Memory Card – and if you’re listening to your favourite tunes, it offers Dolby True HD techology too. But it doesn’t stop there. No, you can also surf the web on your TV using the built-in Web browser – and catch up with your soaps using the likes of BBC iPlayer,

Iphone and Ipad owners can also download a free control app, which turns your Mac device into a remote control for the HDI Dune, using the magic of Wi-Fi.

If you don’t want to splash out the full £249 now, opt for the Dune HD Smart H1 (£179) or Dune HD Smart D1 (£199) and you can choose to add a Blu-Ray player later on, although at £139, it makes the device more pricey in the end.

The HDI Dune is available from www.amp3.co.uk.

Parrot Red Dragon speakers – better by design

Anyone who loves modern design will know the work of French product designer Philippe Starck. His modernist furniture is legendary and unusual in that he doesn’t produce one-off expensive pieces, but rather produces designs that are made for mass production.

Parrot-Zikmu

This time, he has turned his attention to the speaker – and teaming up with Parrot has produced this extraordinary pair of speakers in bright red and appropriately named Red Dragon.

The speakers – full name Parrot Zikmu by Philippe Starck – which will set you back the grand price of, well, a grand, are made by wireless peripherals maker Parrot. They are wireless (obviously) and also feature an iPod/Iphone docking station, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth audio streaming and a total power output of 100W RMS. As well as being compatible with all digital formats and PC audio players, they also offer an analogue Hi-Fi input for connecting CD players and TVs.

As Starck himself puts it:

“The aim wasn’t just to make another loudspeaker. It is clear that our design produces amazing sound, but what’s more, whether you use Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, whether you put your mobile phone or your MP3 player next to it, it plays music as if by magic, and that’s incredible. But, and this is what got me interested, what we designed is not a loudspeaker. What we designed was vibrating air.”

The speaker has been designed to emit 360-degree sound (if you want to delve into all the technical explanations, which we don’t have space for here, head over to http://zikmu.parrot.com/en/360-sound).
Finally, if red is not your thing, they also come in black, grey, lime and white.

Who’s who in wireless power?

In recent years, we’ve managed to cut just about every cable from our gadgets –  bluetooth used the airwaves to liberate our keyboards and mice, WiFi brought us high-spreed data at home and 3G covered everywhere else. Even the information sent from a computer to its monitor can now be transferred wirelessly.

So what prevents us from living as a cable-less nomad, strolling through life, untethered by a mass of knotted cables (usually found under a desk, covered in dust)? You probably know all-too-well: the power cord.

However, like Alexander the Great cutting through the Gordian Knot, four companies believe they can slice through the burden that ties us to our plug sockets and become the king of wireless power: eCoupled, Powermat, Wild Charge and PowerBeam.

The first player, eCoupled, comes from Fulton Innovation, who have partnered with major companies including Texas Instruments, Motorola, Nokia, RIM, Energizer and Duracel to form Qi – a wireless power consortium consisting of 27 members.

Their device, which consist of an external charging pad and a battery pack which fits inside gadgets, were shown to power anything from a mobile phone, to a laptop computer, to a power drill – all at 70% efficiency.

While the size of the instruments they can power is impressive, there is no doubt that green enthusiasts will be complaining about that lower efficiency percentage, and those 27 members are missing some major names such as Apple, who appear to have shown no interest in the technology at all.

This lack of commitment by some big players leaves hope for eCoupled’s most similar rival, Powermat. The device uses the same kind of technology to Fulton’s product, which consists of a coil of wire in a charging pad and another in the device, through which electricity is transmitted via a magnetic field – a process called ‘near field induction’. Fulton provide an explanation of the technology here. Unfortunately, the two companies products are entirely and frustratingly incompatible.

However, unlike Fulton, Powermat has already launched retail versions of its product and is beginning a big marketing push, creating its own Powermat-compatible battery packs for popular mobile phones.

Wild Charge are attempting to solve the problem in a slightly lower-tech way than the previous two, by still using physical contact. Small sleeves with metal contacts are fitted over devices, such as mobile phones and home-entertainment console controllers, which are then placed on a pad with similar contacts, and the power flows through.

The final, and probably most exciting offering, comes from PowerBeam, who intend to beam electricity through a laser to power picture frames and wireless speakers.  Cool? Yes. Terrifying? Slightly.

While it is always difficult to predict a winner from new, emerging technologies, usually the guy with the strongest friends wins. My advice? Invest in eCoupled, just as most of the big-boys seem to have.