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.
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.
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 design is 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.
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.
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.