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Monthly Archives: August 2006

The Constellation: A Poor Man’s Vertu?

constellation vertu

By David Ponce

Although we think that Vertu phones are rather fugly, they do a pretty good job of being ridiculously expensive and presumably exclusive (which is richspeak for “I’m better than you”). However, Vertu’s recently announced the introduction of the Constellation line of phones, which will allegedly be more affordable.

There are three models available, one with gold and black leather, one with polished steel and black leather, and the third with satin steel and dark-brown leather. The good news is these phones won?t be entirely featureless, as they?re coming with EDGE, GPRS, Bluetooth, USB connectivity and a music player. They?re also using the Nokia S40UI, which is better than the old Vertu?s UI by quite a long shot.

Of course, whether this means that the handsets will come down into the three-digit range is still under debate, as the company has not announced pricing. They’ll be out in October.

VIA [Crunchgear]

USB Stewie Griffin

stewie griffin usbBy David Ponce

I give up trying to make this article funny. Writer’s block, etc. Just know that there is a Stewie Griffin USB gadget. It plugs into your PC, and after installing the software, will spew any one of a number of Stewie Griffin catchphrases, such as “Silence!” “Stop mocking me!” and (hopefully) “Your anguish sustains me…” upon pressing certain key combinations on your keyboard.

It’s $28, from Urban Outfitters.

[Stewie Griffin USB] VIA [Gearlog]

Lumalive LED Textile To Herald New Era Of Advertorial Annoyance

lumaliveBy David Ponce

It’s sad to think that what could be a promising new technology is shaping up to be yet another way to spam us some more. Philips’ Research Lumalive technology is a new type of textile that incorporates

flexible arrays of colored light-emitting diodes (LEDs) fully integrated into the fabric – without compromising the softness or flexibility of the cloth. These light emitting textiles make it possible to create materials that can carry dynamic messages, graphics or multicolored surfaces.

Unfortunately, the people seemingly most interested in making use of this new technology are advertising companies looking for new, “high-impact” media.

And it seems we’ll soon find out if Philips’ Research’s Lumalive will be ushering a new wave of tacky, wearable eyesores, as the fabric is now ready for production and the company is looking for production partners.

[Lumalive] VIA [FreshTechnology]

Johns Hopkins U. Students Develop Low Cost Handheld Braille Writer

low cost braille reader

By David Ponce

It’s not easy being blind. Especially when you’re trying to, say, send a letter. Typical Braille typewriters are pretty expensive, though of course, there’ also computers. But both of these are a lot more expensive than the $10 prototype handheld Braille writer device developed by a team of undergraduate students from Johns Hopkins University. As you can see from the picture, the device consists of a handheld puncher and a plastic guide. The writer depresses the appropriate combination of buttons and the related pins extend to create an indentation on the paper when pressed against it. Because the buttons are close together, one finger can depress more than one, thus making it unnecessary for you to have six-fingered hands.

The students estimate that if it were to be mass produced, the unit could easily retail for as little as $10.

[Low Cost Handheld Braille Writer]

Volkner Mobile RV With Garage

Volkner Mobile RV (Image courtesy The Daily Mail)
By Andrew Liszewski

If buying an RV of this caliber is well within your financial means then odds are you don’t want to be hauling some low-price, tow-friendly family sedan for taking day trips while on your vacation.

That’s why German RV maker Volkner Mobile is showing off their latest innovation at the International Caravan Fair in Dusseldorf. The motorcoach is the first of its kind to include an actual garage (in a manner of speaking) situated between the front and rear axles. The RV can accomodate lower style cars up to five meters in length like a BMW Z4 or a Mercedes-Benz SLK. Just pull your ride onto the slideout platform and it will automatically be pulled into the RV’s belly. Just make sure to get out of the car first.

There is currently no pricing info on the RV at this time but odds are it falls into the ‘if you have to ask…’ category.

[Volkner Mobile RV With Garage (in German)] VIA [Autoblog]

Wind-Up Robot Pencil Sharpener

Wind-Up Robot Pencil Sharpener (Images courtesy Hawkin's Bazar)
By Andrew Liszewski

While this pencil sharpener doesn’t really improve on the design or function of sharpeners in general it does provide a fun pay-off to the whole process.

The turning motion of sharpening a pencil is used to wind-up a clockwork mechanism causing this classic sci-fi themed robot to wander around your desk for a few seconds. And if you find yourself completely out of pencils the robot also comes with a winding key to keep it going.

Get your own Wind-up Robot pencil sharpener at Hawkin’s Bazar for ?3.50.

[Wind-Up Robot Pencil Sharpener @ Hawkin’s Bazar]

“Giant Knife Version 1.0” From Wenger

swiss army knife giant version 1.0

By David Ponce

One day, the good folk at Wenger (makers of the Swiss Army Knife) got together and got drunk. In their drunken stupor, somone’s joke magically turned into a good idea: “Hey, wouldn’t it be funny if we made a new knife with ALL the tools we’ve ever put on a knife??”

Well, yeah, it’s funny, and it looks like what you see on that picture. It’s called “Giant Knife Version 1.0”, and includes 85 tools. It weighs 2 pounds, 11 ounces and measures 8.75 inches. Some of the tools include a cigar cutter, a bicycle chain rivet setter and a golf divot repair tool. Oh, and tweezers and a toothpick.

Now, don’t expect to find this baby at any retail store. You have to call the company at 800-431-2996 to order your own knife. And expect your credit card to be dinged a cool $1,200.

[Outdoorlife Article] VIA [Every darn gadget blog]

KVH To Release TracVision A7, In-Car DirecTV System

tracvision a7

By David Ponce

It’s not the first satellite dish for the car we’ve come across. The TracVision A7, from KVH is however the latest to hit the market, and happens to give you access to up to 185 DirecTV channels. Whether you’re in the deep woods, camping, or tearing down the highway at 100 mph a reasonable speed, the device will keep your loved ones glued to the TV set. Just like at home.

And if you get tired of the fine DirecTV programming, you also have access to local stations. The unit itself is five inches high, thus keeping a relatively low profile.

There’s no word on price, though it is available now at retailers nationwide. Previous models (like the A5) have sold in the four digits, with the first digit being a 3. Chances are, this isn’t far off.

[KVH TracVision A7 Press Release]

The Espon EMP-1715 Projector Can Go Uber-Widescreen… With Some Help

epson emp 1715

By David Ponce

Recently released to the Japanese market, the Epson EMP-1715 (along with the 1700, 1705 and 1710) seems like a regular with a 400:1 contrast ratio and 2,700 ANSI lumens. However, it is possible to connect four of them to one computer, to create an array of the user’s choosing. It’s even possible to put them side by side, to create a giant 16:3 display, even though each individual screen goes out at a 4:3 ratio with an XGA (1024 x 768) resolution.

It’s not clear what sort of requirements this sort of setup would put on your graphic card, nor whether Windows can display 16:3 in the first place, though we’re assuming that bundled software is probably taking care of the pesky details. One detail that isn’t pesky however, is the price: $3,250 for the EMP-1715 alone.

[Epson Japan] VIA [AboutProjectors]