A Few Of Our Favourite Things

By Ahmed Shaikh Published Date
01 - Feb - 2007
| Last Updated
01 - Feb - 2007
A Few Of Our Favourite Things

Smart design and ultra eyecandy-stuff you just can't keep your hands off

Beauty has always transcended function. Utility tends to take a back seat to visual oomph, and it is rare to find something that captures both form and function in a beautiful package. Which is why we all love products that do just that; like the iPod, or Shakira. It's even fashionable to hate the diminutive music player that has spawned an army of zealots, and has kick-started an industry (the iPod, not Shakira). But the iPod is not the only tech product that has good design and good looks on its side. Here we talk about a few of our favourite tech products that offer something compelling, and wear shades while doing it.

Sonos Music System
Sonos is a brilliant wireless music solution that just works out of the box. It lets you play digital music all over your house-and control it all from the palm of your hand. With a wireless controller the product offers plug-and-play access to millions of songs-from your iPod, or your favourite music service, Internet radio, your personal digital music collection, or all of the above. It also works with a Universal Plug and Play server so it really doesn't need a PC to be on.

With a Sonos ZonePlayer in the rooms of your choice, you can play the same song in different rooms, or different songs in different rooms. All you need to do is grab the full-colour controller and simply pick a room, pick a song and hit play.

Sonos is ultimately a great design through integration-wireless technologies, LCD displays, intuitive control system, and great software to back it all.                                                  

Kodak EasyShare-ONE Zoom Digital Camera
The EasyShare-ONE brings you closer to your photos like never before-it's a camera with a touchscreen! Its big 3-inch touch-screen LCD flips and twists on a hinge for reviewing photos or capturing a wide range of compositions, from self-portraits to timer shots or ad hoc moments.

The touchscreen really simplifies the camera's operation and setup-you can shoot, mail, and print without trudging through nests of menus with clumsy buttons. What's more, the camera is also a Wi-Fi Internet-connected photo viewer that allows users to easily share, print, and e-mail pictures. This Kodak is great product design through a touch interface.                                                  

iRiver U10 and S10
iRiver has been rocking the design boat: in a market where most MP3 players are iPod me-toos, iRiver's products dare to be different. The U10, for example is a slick screen driven MP3 player that resembles a small traditional TV unit when sitting in its cradle. It is controlled by pressing on one of the four sides of its screen. The U10 can record music, video, play MP3, display photos and e-books, while sitting pretty in its TV-cradle on your desk.

It even comes with a small IR remote! iRiver also recently unveiled the S10-an MP3 player in the shape of a watch. This unit's screen has a short tail of a USB cord, which can be wrapped around the wrist much like a watch. While the player looks slick it is also Bluetooth capable and can thus relay music files wirelessly to a Bluetooth headset-an elegant and function design rolled into one!                                                             

Logitech diNovo Edge
The diNovo Edge marries a sexy razor-sharp form with a feature long overdue for wireless keyboards-rechargeable units. The diNovo is a Bluetooth wireless keyboard and is Li-Ion powered.  Stylishly sleek with its elegant charging base and backlit controls, the diNovo Edge has a multifunction touchpad that unifies scrolling, selection and cursor control.

Its laser-cut Plexiglas and aluminium frame hide hot keys that light up on command and then fade into the background. With a touch-sensitive volume control, the Edge makes a bold statement and is optimised to work and play with Windows Vista.                                                      

Sony Vaio TX Notebook
The Vaio TX is elegance elevated. The notebook aspires to, and attains the goal of power in a small package. With just over a kilogram in weight, this ultrathin notebook has an ultra-flat 11.1-inch widescreen display with a thickness of just 4.5 mm; made possible with an LED backlight. The TX series notebooks also feature an innovative housing made entirely of carbon fibre.

Compared to conventional synthetic materials, this material is distinguished by double the resilience, four times the rigidity, and one third the weight. While this thin wonder packs enough punch to run Windows XP Professional, it can also quickly boot into a stripped version of Linux for audio and DVD playback.                                                     

Kodak EasyShare V570 
Instead of one lens, the V570 packs two -- one fixed focal length and the other a more traditional zoom-capable.

That gives the camera the ability, unavailable in anything in its diminutive size, to take expansive wide-angle photos. 

Lexar Mercury 
The Lexar Mercury plugs a great idea into its body-a fuel gauge which tells you, without plugging the drive, how full it is.

Thanks to E-Ink technology, the bar is always visible without requiring any power. 

Samsung Helix
With a press of a button, the Samsung Helix allows you to record any song that might be playing on its XM satellite radio: you need not hit

that record button at the beginning of the song-it records the entire song even if the button is pressed late into the number. 

LaCie Brick Mobile Hard Drive 
Much like Lego blocks, these LaCie drives can be stacked one on top of another to expand the overall storage capacity,

while saving desk space and looking cool. Stack and Play, what a great idea!
SanDisk Ultra II SD PLUS
Here's the simplest of ideas-integrate a USB connector into a flash memory card. Now there is no losing hair over forgotten USB cables, just plug the card directly.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 and C1
An external flash unit offers the flexibility to bounce light off the ceiling for an even lighting of a subject, something an inbuilt flash unit does not offer. However, you might not always have an external unit handy. 

These cameras from Panasonic offer the best of both worlds: if you eject the built-in flash firmly, it pops up and faces forward. But if you push lightly, it pops up angled 45 degrees upward towards the ceiling. It's a great idea!                                                                       

MagSafe Power Adapter
Another design win for Apple-the MagSafe is a simple idea that solves a very real problem of accidentally dragging your laptop to the ground by tumbling over its power cord.

The idea behind the designis simple-a magnet attaches the power cord to the laptop, which easily detaches and drops when yanked, without dragging the laptop along.
Canon face finder feature 
Several Canon cameras offer a facial-recognition feature that hunts out faces from a scene about to be shot-this is a great feature that allows 

the camera to better calculate for focus and exposure, while avoiding blasting their faces with a bright flash light.
Toshiba Red Transformer
The Toshiba Red Transformer laptop, with its 17-inch flat screen, easily transforms from the utility of a laptop computer to the fun of a flat screen home entertainment centre. A unique sliding hinge attached to the back of the screen transforms the computer into entertainment mode by pushing the screen to the forefront.

The screen rests on the integrated speaker panel and a removable remote control and keyboard allow the computer to be controlled from afar. In work mode, the keyboard is removable for wireless use. In entertainment mode, a remote control slides out of the aluminium housing and the speaker enclosure flips up to connect flush with the screen, creating a surface with video and sound oriented directly toward the viewer.

Nintendo's Wii
The Wii is an excellent game console that succeeds because it is not afraid to have fun. At the heart of this design masterpiece is a wireless controller, which detects the motion of your arm in three dimensions and in real-time.

As you slice, swing, or swoop through the air, your animated character on the TV screen swings the corresponding baseball bat, tennis racquet, fishing rod and so on. Not only is it a lot of fun, but it also doubles as a great workout routine. The Wii's accessible form is proof that a great design ought to follow a clear and well thought out function.                                                  

LG AN110 Digital Projector
The LG AN110 is a digital projector that gives this genre a new aesthetic appearance. The projector delivers on two fronts-it is aesthetically pleasant, so much so that it would not be out of place in the living room, and it delivers a low profile, allowing it to be integrated with furniture or hung on walls.

The mirror finish of the acrylic front panel along with fretwork-patterns is designed to reduce fingerprint marks and dust collection. It may be wall-mounted, set up freely on its own stand or simply be placed on a desktop. The automatic lens door, the ventilator, the auto focus as well as the zoom are controlled via a remote, and are adjustable to fit many different viewing scenarios. At a distance of 3.2 metres, the AN110 projector provides a 100-inch HD quality screen picture.                                                            

Wacom Intuos3 Graphic Tablet
The Intuos3 successfully simulates the feel of paper in a digital garb. Intelligent key placements and ergonomics play a vital role in this tablet's design: a vertically arranged touchpad serves to scroll up and down Internet pages, or to zoom in and out under Photoshop or Painter.

The tablet is suited to both right- and left-handed use due to a symmetric arrangement of keys. The cordless and battery-less pen that drives the system comes with three exchangeable tips so that only one pen can be used for a wide variety of applications. The pen holder enables vertical and horizontal placement. In its design, the Wacom Intuos3 is clear and concise.                                   

Apple iPhone
Sure, you won't see one until late this year (if you're lucky), but the recently announced iPhone from Apple is built on great ideas. The most striking feature is the phone's 3.5-inch touch-screen with multi-touch: what this means is that the screen is capable of detecting multiple touch points rather than a single point of contact.

This feature allows the phone to recognise gestures such as a pinching motion with the fingers to zoom into and out of an image. The phone also comes with a proximity sensor which detects if you are holding the unit close to the ear-switching off the screen and locking the touch functions to prevent accidental presses. The iPhone  comes with a motion sensor that detects the orientation of the screen and displays photos and videos in either landscape or portrait modes automatically. Apple's design has always been about underlying simplicity of use, and the iPhone, at least on paper, seems to be no different.                    

Samsung M70 Notebook
With notebooks displaying large 19-inch screens; wouldn't it be great if you could use your laptop's display for your desktop PC? The M70 seeks to fill both the laptop and the desktop shoes: the most striking characteristic of the M70 notebook is its 19-inch screen, which can be detached from the laptop and placed on a base of its own.

You can thus do away with the laptop's laptop-sized keyboard and trackpad for a true desktop experience. The M70 also offers VGA and DVI ports, through which it can be connected to a separate computer. What a neat idea!                                                   

Dell UltraSharp 30-inch Widescreen Monitor Apple Cinema Display
Sometimes, design takes a backseat to sheer form. These 30-inch displays from Dell and Apple scream appeal and demand attention. The Dell's screen is adjustable in height by up to 90 mm and can be rotated left and right by up to 60 degrees, and tilted forward and backward. The monitor is equipped with four high-speed USB 2.0 ports and an integrated 9-in-2 media card reader, so you can connect keyboards, digital cameras, additional hard drives and printers.
Dell UltrapSharp 30"        Apple Cinema Display
wide screen

The Apple Cinema Display's heart lies in the functionally designed, smoothly operating hinge. With a hardly noticeable movement the monitor's position can be altered. The display design also creates a visibility angle ranging from -5 to 25 degrees. Never mind all that though, these darn things are 30-inch monitors! We want.                        
007 USB Flash Drive
Here's a product for the truly paranoid-the 007 USB Flash Drive is a small dust- and waterproof USB stick with multiple data security functions. Its housing is made of stainless steel, equipped with a combination lock protecting the lid from unwanted removal, and the entire stick from loss by using an anti-theft cable made of steel. Only those users who know the right combination to the lock can connect the stick up to a computer.

Additional protection is provided by a data encryption function, allowing access only after having entered the correct password. Wow. Paranoia makes for cool design!