Lifestyle Gift Ideas Gadgets and gizmos
Gadgets and gizmos
Friday, 01 June 2007

asianwomanphone.jpg The experts tout the 21st century as the start of a golden age of technology. The world is shrinking because of our advanced technological doo-dads. Everything is becoming more streamlined, convenient, and interconnected - today's gadgets look like they are plucked from the latest James Bond movie. But do these gizmos make life more convenient?

One of the big upsides to technology is that everything comes with a remote control, which means no more fiddling with nobs or rifling through your CD collection - control is at your fingertips. But when your lounge room becomes clogged with them, what do you do?

>The Harmony 1000i universal remote. All your gizmos at your command. The Logitech Harmony 1000i Remote Control is one of several 'universal remotes' that comes in a programmable touch screen format. It handles up to 15 devices (in one room) like your TV, stereo, DVD player, and even lighting controls. With over 4500 brands and 150,000 devices in its database, it is a safe bet your standard home or office gear will be covered. The Harmony 1000i retails for $699.

Try pointing that fancy new remote at the latest high definition (HD) flat screen TV. The Philips 42PF9831 107cm LCD flat screen is a cutting edge example with a difference. The TV uses 'Ambilight Surround technology' to project a subtle coloured glow about the wall surrounding the screen. This 'digital halo' dynamically blends into the on-screen image, complementing it and giving the impression the screen is bigger than it actually is. A TV with this angelic touch will set you back about $5700.

Followed by a moon shadow: Mathmos Eclipse lights.Then there is the Mathmos Eclipse. This cute little device is the 21st century's equivalent to the lava lamp. Available in two styles, Solar and Lunar (each with its own colour range), the Eclipse has at its heart a series of LEDs that reflect their light off a metal sphere in the centre of a blown-glass dome. The LEDs then slowly cycle through a range of colours and the glass dome subtly distorts the image as you move around it, producing some striking visual effects. Useless, but very cool.

Cool shades, cool tunes: Dark Shadow MP3 sunglasses. For the 'naughties' time-poor professional, Nu-Australia has fused too seemingly well-matched concepts - sunglasses and a MP3 portable audio player - into the Dark Shadow MP3 Sunglasses. The MP3 player has a 256 MB capacity (about 60 songs) and the shades come in a variety of alternative tints and colours. The MP3 controls are on the arms of the glasses and are fairly straightforward but a little fiddly to adjust mid-stride. The Dark Shadow is available for $199.

More traditional MP3 and personal audio players are commonplace these days, with the Apple iPod the undisputed king. A booming industry has developed recently to cater for iPod users, with a huge range of customisable accessories available.

One for the sci-fi nerds is the iDS-03 HAL 9000 iPod dock from Intempo. It bears a striking resemblance to the notorious computer from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. Available for about $180, the dock comes in black, white, or silver and will blast out all your favourite iPod tunes on two 7.5-watt stereo speakers and a 15-watt subwoofer. It can also connect to a Mac or PC to sync your iPod, although you are chancing that it will go crazy and lock you outside your house.

For something more serene (but equally futuristic), try a digital photo frame. The Sagem 7" Digital Photo Frame, one of several such devices on the market, will give your home or office the 'Jetsons' look. For $179, you get a 7" flat LCD screen in black plastic or brown leather that displays either a single digital photo or a slideshow (that automatically resizes images to look their best). The frame also functions as a clock and calendar and comes with a remote.

Bring your photos to life with a digital frame. One gadget that needs no introduction is the console computer game, which dominates kids' lives today. Three games systems dominate the market, ranging from $399 (Nintendo Wii) to $999 (Playstation 3).

The latest, in terms of high-end performance and multimedia dooverlackies is Sony's Playstation 3. This comes with a Blu-ray disc player (the next generation DVD system), the ability to play music, movies, and online through Wi-Fi, and the best graphics on the market. The Microsoft Xbox 360 is similar in most ways, including performance and multimedia capacity, meaning the two rivals will fiercely compete for lounge room dominance.

Unlike its competitors, the Nintendo Wii hasn't opted for ultra-high performance features. The secret of the Wii's magic is its unique controller, the Wii Remote (the Wiimote?). By twisting, turning, and thrusting this simple-looking, motion-sensitive controller, you can manipulate the action onscreen. It is a lot of fun and could change the way console games are played in the future. Virtual reality, anyone?