Archive for Jan 24, 2007

Remember when Benetton made cool ads?

With a photo like this, it’s obviously time for another “press release amateur psychology” moment.  Now in my mind, the guy is saying to the girl “stop it, you don’t have to call me, I’m stood right here you clingy lunatic” – you can see the anguish in his eyes, for he knows that he’ll have to dump her as soon as he can.  She, on the other hand, is unable to stop grinning thanks to her pony-tail dragging every last scrap of skin up her face.  Are these really the sort of people shock-ad-aficionados Benetton would like promoting their new cellphone?

To be honest, though, there’s not much to promote.  The NICO handset, made by Willcom, is bloody basic – in fact the most entertaining thing about it is the SIM, which has a built-in radio. 


mp3 RC robot skater

“What’s that you’ve got there, little Johnny?”
“Oh, hi mister Tom, it’s a robot skateboarder!  He has an mp3 player attached to its leg to listen to while he skates around, and there’s a USB and SD memory card slot too!”
“No, Johnny, I meant that cigarette in your other hand.  Come on, let’s go and find your mother”
“Dammit, no college fund for me!”

This is just an example of the scene I didn’t witness this morning on the way into work, but I could’ve seen it had ZELOX’s RC Skate-Botz toys been available.  The plasticy-looking figures trundle round on wheels and play music via the in-built mp3 player.

Will kids want them?  I guess it depends on price, and the speed that other – better – robot toys come to market.  Personally I’m not impressed, but then I’m not 12.


Gadget lookalikes: SII’s Sony-wannabe

Gadget lookalikes: SII’s Sony-wannabe

Anyone got an idea where SII might've looked to get "design inspiration" for their DB-J990 electronic dictionary?  No?  Well, I'm sure the Sony VGN-UX50 is blushing right about now.  But aside from flattery through imitation, does the J990 hold up?  To be fair it's not just a dictionary; it also has the Mobipocket eBook reader, an mp3 player, supports Word, Powerpoint, PDF and HTML documents.

Thing is, something like this could cause a whole lot of embarrassment.  You whip it out while at the local Starbucks, wanting to look up the meaning of "monopoly", and a curious crowd gathers wanting to see Sony's minor-miracle.  Imagine their surprise - and its rapid descent into disgust - on realising it's most certainly not a UX50.  Expect bruising and jeers.

SII [via Akihabara News]

HTC Athena poses, gets T-Mobile Exclusive launch

The Google translation makes figuring out where they got it from pretty cryptic (“through layers of the author, piles of compassion, in a string of night-time network last night”), but all that’s important right now is that MobileLife have got their hands on HTC’s Athena Windows Mobile wunder-device.  Now I know people have criticised it for its OS (or, more accurately, for not running the Tablet PC edition of XP or even Vista) but there have been some excellent counter-arguments quoting battery life among other reasons; anyway, whether you think it an oversized PDA or a gorgeous addition to the UMPC breed, check out these photos and try to deny that it’s a sexy little beast.

Pocketinfo [via Engadget] are reporting that T-Mobile Europe will be have an exclusive deal on supplying the Athena – under the name Ameo – soon, following a wider European launch.  Specs will include an 8GB hard-drive, GPS, quadband GSM and HSDPA, a 3-megapixel camera and 624MHz processor.  I particularly like the keyboard-cum-cover; the transparent strip, instead of being just a design flourish as I first thought, in fact leaves a narrow gap of screen visible so that battery status, time and other important information is visible.  Clever stuff!  Pictures of this – and more – after the cut.


ASUS ScreenDUO puts SideShow in the palm of your hand

Now this might look like a bland DAP, but hold your highly-critical horses, mister – it’s not.  While details are sparse, scarce, and everything in-between, it seems to be a plucky little Windows Vista SideShow display unit, such as the one embedded into the Eleksen laptop bag I was so fond of.

Capable of showing contact, email and scheduling details from Outlook, together with RSS feeds and plenty of other information and Widget-goodness from your otherwise standby-bound notebook, SideShow screens are tipped to be the next big thing in portable computing.  Considering what we see here is called the ASUS ScreenDUO, I’m with Kevin Tofel in thinking that it’s reasonable to expect it to fall under the SideShow banner.


Centrino gets a speed boost

For all they’ve been criticised in the past as industry tyrants, Intel certainly made buying a laptop easier over the past few years.  Their Centrino branding, bringing together certain cooperative graphics, processor and networking strands, is a good rule-of-thumb for buyers both naive and mildly knowledgeable.  Still, the tides of tech wait for no man, woman or multi-national, and with ‘n’ flavour WiFi fast approaching ratification (well, fast by WiFi ratification standards, anyway) it’s time for Intel to ratchet up their own specifications to remain competitive.


HTC Vox – I’m still kinda yawning

It was quite reassuring to see that, after I derided the design of HTC’s keyboard-slide smartphones a few days ago (in a sort of dreary celebration of HTC Titan photos emerging), quite a few other tech opinionists came out in agreement.  Still, I suppose it’s a little too soon to expect the company’s designers to entirely rethink their product line, hence the similarly-mundane appearance of this, the HTC Vox.

Managing to look, I suppose, a little more like a reasonable cellphone than some of its predecessors, the Windows Mobile 5 Smartphone is a quad-band, WiFi and Bluetooth toting powerhouse, complete with spring-assisted slide and 2-megapixel camera.  I can’t get too excited, I confess, but if they put these specs into a kick ass body then you’d see me happy.


The law fights back – top cop toys!

Never mind James Bond – it looks like the police force are getting all the cool toys.  Popular Science flagged down a cop-car and went shopping for some serious future law-enforcement tech, and came up with a list of must-haves that is by turns jaw droppingly cool or pants wettingly scary.  As the environment that todays police are tasked to work in develops – and by “develops” I mean the bad guys are swapping knives and pistols for machine guns and bombs – then so do their demands of the kit they’re equipped with. Here’s a quick run-down of just some of the stuff that the felon of tomorrow can look forward to…

This little beauty is a machine gun capable of spitting out 700 rounds of pepper-spray filled pellets a minute, creating a cloud of the stuff up to 200 feet away.  It’s been designed to manage unruly crowds in a non-lethal way, and I imagine it’d be pretty effective.

Check out after the cut for more high-tech cop toys…


Panasonic TC-32LX60 32-Inch LCD User Review

Panasonic TC-32LX60 32-Inch LCD User Review

One of our reader Dan sent me his personal review to share with SlashGear readers on his recent purchase of a 32" LCD from Panasonic.

The Panasonic 32" LCD HDTV, Model Number TC-32LX60 can be purchased rather inexpensively from Circuit City for $999.00 USD. When looking for an HDTV with great value and picture quality you need not go any further than this model. It is ideal for the bedroom, for those of you who enjoy watching TV from the comfort of your room this particular unit does not take up much space. It is a little larger than the standard entertainment center but can be mounted on a wall quite easily. This particular TV comes with 720p and a 3000:1 contrast ratio which creates very attractive deep blacks and clean bright colors Response time is listed at 14ms but I’ve comer to learn that it is actually an 8ms response time.

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Real heavy music

If you’ve got some time on your hands and fancy some unique and decent-sounding speakers, then why not make them yourself out of concrete?  That’s exactly what Markus Egger did, making his own frames for poured-concrete and using wax blocks to hollow them out.  Apparently the high-density of the material means that bass response is particularly fine.

If it were me, as good as the painted results look, I think I would’ve left it raw concrete – very cool in a minimalist decor kind of way.  Full project log at Markus’ site.


OQO Model 2: Interview with Director of Design

The boy Scoble’s new paymasters, PodTech, sit down and grab some interview fun with OQO’s Nick Merz, director of design at the company that he had a hand in creating.  At only a pound in weight the OQO Model 2 is the smallest Vista-capable PC, and it certainly stimulated our Vincent’s dribble-gland when he got some playtime with it at CES.

Specs are nowhere near anaemic: Bluetooth, WiFi, 1GB of RAM, 1.5GHz VIA C7M ULV processor and Sprint Revision 0. EV-DO, as well as an HDMI-DVI adapter included in the package.  I am very excited about this handheld.

PodTech [via GottaBeMobile]

More Microsoft Home Server News

Colin Walker splashes out some more Windows Home Server news, with the telling tidbit that it seems Microsoft are leaning toward making it a software release for DIYers as well as pre-built units for those who’d rather just plug’n’play.  This and more information is to be found in a PressPass document (.doc file) unearthed from among the corporation’s CES files.

Also of note is that HP’s monolithic home server unit, photo-star of the coverage, will be capable of a maximum 6 terabytes of storage (internal and external combined), with half of that coming from four 750GB drive bays and the rest via USB.

DIY Windows Home Servers? [Randomelements]

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