Archive for the ‘Gadgets’ Category

Best Inventions of 2006

Time Magazine has compiled a list of what it considers the best inventions of 2006. The categories cover everything from Cars to Cooking so there is sure to be something of interest to you.

RobobikeOne of the things to catch my attention was Robobike. The first robot that can ride a bike. Not only can he keep himself upright, but he can also peer ahead to make sure he rides in a straight line. An ultrasonic sensor in his chest keeps him from riding into walls, and wireless technology allows him to communicate with a PC for navigating complex routes.

Or how about the Air Mattress. It works by using a matching set of repelling magnets to levitate above the ground. I can see some uses for it. No more junk accumulating under the bed and the wife would love being able to hoover under it too 😉 But a whopping $1.5 million price tag seems an expensive way to fall out of bed!

Here is an interesting military invention. Imagine shouting “Medic!” and being greeted by the Battlefield Extraction-Assist Robot (BEAR). It can carry an injured soldier weighing up to 400lbs. A system of wheels, tracks and joints enable it to maneuver in all sorts of positions. It should be field-ready by 2010.

Source: Time Magazine’s best inventions of 2006 digg_16x16.gif digg this cute.gif ma.gnolia


Apple 1Gb iPod Shuffle First Impressions

I finally managed to get my hands on the new Apple iPod 1Gb Shuffle earlier this week. I’d originally ordered one of these from about a month ago, but after waiting over 3 weeks I gave up and cancelled my order. The UK Amazon site seems to be suffering with supplier problems currently, their web site currently has this message next to the product description:

“We are currently waiting for information from the supplier on when stock of iPod shuffle will be available. We are working hard to get stock for customers who have already pre-ordered the Shuffle. Please click the “sign up” button above to be notified when this item is available for order.”

I had a tip-off that the UK Apple site was selling the iPod 1Gb Shuffle with free engraving, so I’m glad I cancelled my Amazon order. I ordered my Shuffle from Apple on the 14th November and it arrived 2 days later. How’s that for service 🙂

There are loads of good reviews out there on the new Shuffle, so I won’t repeat what you may have read elsewhere. My main objectives were to see how well such a small MP3 player could perform, and secondly, would it work on Ubuntu Edgy 6.10. Overall a great result.

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720 Megapixel Photo

I’ve always been happy with my 3.2 megapixel Canon Powershot A70. It’s easy to use, takes nice pictures and has some neat features. In the last couple of years I’ve seen 5 to 8 megapixel cameras become the new standard. I’ve never bothered to upgrade since I’ve always considered that unless you’re a serious photographer, to the average user you wouldn’t notice much difference between a photo taken on a 3.2 and 8 megapixel camera.

I read an interesting article over at Cybernet Technology News about a Swiss company called Seitz that have developed a 160 megapixel camera. You would certainly need a Swiss bank account when you look at the price tag! At prices starting around $36,000 you would need to be a serious photographer.

Anyway, what I was really interested in was looking at the photo quality of these megapixel cameras. Here is an example of a 222 megapixel photo of Machu Picchu in Peru. Use the zoom function and you really get a feel for the amount of detail stored in the photo. It is very impressive.

Here is another example of a 720 megapixel photo of the Sydney skyline at night. Use the zoom function and you can literally zoom right into a single window on a building and look inside.

The Seitz camera is certainly big and very expensive but it shows the kind of photo quality you could one day find in your average camera that we all could afford to buy.

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Plug and Surf


If you’re baffled by setting up a home wireless network, or don’t want to flood your house with loads of wires, or maybe you’re worried about someone eavesdropping on your wireless network, then maybe the Solwise HomePlug Ethernet Turbo is for you.

This device enables you to create a network at home using the existing electricity mains wiring in your house. One of the sockets connects directly with your ADSL/cable router, this acts as the sender. The other socket plugs into any 3 pin socket in your house (it incorporates a standard RJ45 socket and includes a CAT5 cable). This enables another PC/game console in your house to connect to the existing ADSL connection.

Each device transmits up to 85Mbps which is significantly faster than the 802.11b standard of 11Mbps or 54Mbps of an 802.11g network. The devices come with a CDROM which allows you to configure the devices such as allowing you to apply passwords to each device to stop tampering, change the default network name, plus diagnostic software to look at stuff like MAC addresses, date last seen on network, etc.

ADSLguide also have an excellent review of the Solwise HomePlug Ethernet Turbo.

Looks like quite an interesting device 🙂

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Sky Gnome Impressions

Back in August I was deciding should I buy a Sky gnome. About a month ago I finally decided to buy one on eBay. There are normally a few new Sky gnomes for sales on eBay. A few people were paying almost £60 for these on eBay which seems silly when that’s almost the price you pay for it bought from Sky direct. I set my limit and didn’t mind getting outbid at the last minute since there are always more coming up for sale, in the end I got a brand new boxed one for £51 including postage which ain’t bad.

I’ve been very happy with the Sky gnome. The reception is fine anywhere in the house and no interference. I’ll have to try walking down the street and see how far the range is 😉 It has 10 presets to store your favourite stations. The battery life is good too.

The buttons are fairly easy to use and it’s nice to see the volume and channel buttons in the same relative position as the Sky remote control for your TV. That’s me being a software developer, I notice little usability things like that 🙂 My only niggle is that when selecting a channel using one of the preset buttons you need to hold it for a couple of seconds. It’s very easy for your finger to slip off the button before the channel has been selected. I would have preferred an instant channel change as soon as the preset button is pressed.

Overall I am very happy with my purchase.

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Should I buy a Sky Gnome?

I’ve been reading up on the Sky Gnome recently. I see they have come down in price from £69.99 to £59.99. They seem an interesting idea but I would like to see them come down in price further. If they start selling for under £40 I would consider buying one, but for now it’s probably a gadget I wouldn’t make much use of. Sky Gnome image 2 in Networking devices

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