Bluetooth Headset Happy

Like many places, California implemented a new law prohibiting cellular use without a handsfree device while driving. Ironically that’s when Jawbone contacted me to do a review on their second generation bluetooth headset. Same aesthetic but significantly smaller, lighter, and improved sound quality. What more could one ask for?

The original Jawbone received accolades for separating itself from a sea of overtly tech looking bluetooth headsets. You know the kind; bright, shiny, and an array of annoying blinking LED lights. The Jawbone was thin and sexy without sacraficing any functionality. It looked more like ear jewelry than a tech device.

But somehow it managed to get its naysayers. It was heavy, thanks to its metal construction. The ear hook was huge and a bit too eager to cut off circulation. It also cost just as much as better performing units even tho they were uglier. Fortunately Jawbone took those criticisms to heart and thus we have Jawbone II.

It’s the same device but significantly lighter and smaller, 50% to be exact. The metal has been replaced with plastic molded in a way to look like a gemstone cut. The ear hook has shrunk dramatically and now carefully wrapped in leather. The combination of improvements made for a device that’s a lot more comfortable to wear for longer periods of time. I hardly even noticed the thing in my ear.

Sound quality is amazing. People on the other end were hard pressed to believe I was using a headset. It’s still pricey but with good reason. The noise cancellation technology Jawbone calls Noise Assassin actually works. There’s a faster processor on board to handle heavier signal processing duties for canceling out ambient noises better, along with that Voice Activity Sensor which lets the Jawbone know when you’re talking so the rest of the time can be noise free.

Like the original Jawbone, packaging is important. The new Jawbone comes beautifully boxed, displaying the device like an art piece. Place it next to any other headset and you’ll understand why. It’s really beautiful.

The new charger pumps the headset to 80% capacity in just 30 minutes via wall socket or USB – a boon for us yappers.  Unfortunately the smaller size also meant smaller battery life. At most I got about 7 days standby and 4 hours talktime. It’s not really a complaint since my iPhone doesn’t even last that long with heavy use. As long as you recharge it every 3 days or so, you’re good to go. Pairing with my phone was incredibly easy as is with most new headsets today. The surface hides two buttons, one to turn it on/off and another to activate the Noise Assassin technology.

If you’re in the market for an insconspicious headset and have $130 to spend, I highly recommend the new Jawbone.

[ Buy It Here ]

Decent Descent

With a huge amount of the world’s population heading up to find living and working space, much focus has turned on finding safe and efficient ways of letting people down in ways not involving George W. Bush. “The Wizard” was dreamed up to make the high-rise lifestyle a little less scary by providing a quick exit in an emergency situation. The Wizard “caters for this necessity by providing automated public safety solutions with up to 250m of reciprocating lifeline technology.” Let’s say a fire breaks out in the first ten floors of your high rise and Bruce Willis is on the roof trying to mow down some well dressed German terrorists, what can you do? Well you can make like Spiderman, strap on The Wizard and scream “weee weee weeee” all the way down. This life saving device uses webbing woven from liquid polyester capable of withstanding forces in excess of 2 tonnes. Engineering plastics based on semi-crystalline polyamides were specified for the case and internal drum, encasing a cassette spring recoil system capable of deploying a 50-250m Kevlar lanyard. The compact design and robust injection moulded shell protects the unique internal mechanism from the environment and user abuse, allowing the unit to be serviced at minimum cost.

Designer: HJC Design

Flat, black and all that

Since Apple’s iPhone was such a runaway success, the entire mobile phone industry has been playing catch-up with the pocket wonder. Jonathan Ive’s (Apple’s Chief of Design) minimal flat black screen design has instantly become a gadget icon and seems to be the inevitable future of mobile phone designs for everyone looking to grab market share. The problem with this design direction is the very limited aesthetic potential. How many ways can you reinterpret the flat black touchscreen screen? Well designer Jaren Goh has done a pretty decent job of putting his own spin on this movement with his “Basic Tab” mobile phone design. He has masterfully taken softer side out of the iPhone silhouette and gave it a more edgy, masculine appearance. His clever use of red translucent materials mixed with chrome harkens more retro future funk sci-fi creations like 2001 A Space Odysseys “HAL 9000″ and the Cylons on Battlestar Gallactica.

Designer: Jaren Goh

Texts from the designer:

The heart of the design for this mobile phone does not lie on the technological advances it had in it. It lies on being a normal phone and was designed to complement our fashion and the way we dress and not to evoke too much technological gadget traits.

On the front lies a lush wide black screen and nothing else to steal anything away. The screen resides on a metal slab to add volume and a premium touch to it.

Perhaps a better way to show how this design correlates to fashion is the camera tab on the back. Instead of having it looking like camera shutter or lens cover. It was designed using features found on handbags and fashion accessories that is so everlasting.

Ghost is the Machine: The Phantom Lapboard Review

If you don’t know the now legendary story of the mother of all vaporware companies Infinium Labs and their fabled Phantom Gaming Console, I won’t bore you with those details. Suffice to say the company famous for not delivering on a gaming dream has delivered a pretty decent gaming/multimedia keyboard and mouse. The Phantom Lapboard was originally designed to accompany a console gaming system that never arrived. But in the aftermath of that car crash, a shining little hubcap rolled out of the wreckage in the form of a keyboard/ mouse combo that is both ergonomically sound and aesthetically pleasing enough in comparison to all other keyboards outside the latest Apple creations.

As the name implies, this “lapboard” is deigned to sit on your lap. The keyboard/mouse combo has two unique features that set it apart from all the others. It has the ability to rotate 360 degrees in any direction. This is helpful for left handers (Including me) that tend to do our point and clicking on the other side of the playing field. Another key design feature is the keyboards ability to not only rotate a full 360 degrees but also tilt forward to what seems to be a 22 degree angle. This is perfect for sitting on your sofa while surfing the internet. When the lapboard is in its tilted position, a flat surface is revealed underneath giving you a perfect place to place the included wireless mouse. I am typing this review on the Lapboard and am trying to find something of note that I am not pleased with. If i wanted to get picky I might complain that the mouse seems a little cheap with fit and finish and a little flimsy. I may also whine that for a keyboard designed for casual living room use, the inclusion of backlit keys might have been a consideration.

All in all, this lapboard design does provide you with everything promised by the manufacturer. It is the perfect keyboard/mouse combo for gaming casually, not to be confused with “casual gaming”. Gaming casually is being able to play your favorite game while sitting comfortably at your sofa or bed. “Casual gaming” is a whole other post and has nothing to do with this review. The Phantom Lapboard is the first and only product from Infinium Labs to date and a healthy start. It is not the latest in technology (but they never promised that). It is however a clever and useful design for anyone looking to have a solution for computing casually. Both PC and MAC compatible, the Phantom Lapboard comes with a wireless mouse and USB dongle.

[ Buy It Here ]

(Retailed at $129.00 USD)

Eclipse Intuit Phone Love Sun

Check out the Eclipse Intuit Phone by Eddie Goh. It’s got all the basic stuff we’ve come to expect from our mobiles; powerful 5 megapixel camera with built-in software for editing and uploading to a photo album, slide-out touch keyboard with tactile feedback, and a nice big touchscreen front and center. What makes this concept unique is parts of the phone are made from a chemically based thin solar skin to charge the battery when exposed to any kind of light. We’ve recently seen patents from companies like Apple detailing this exact thing. It would seem the technology is viable and Eddie Goh isn’t too far off.

Designer: Eddie Goh

Silicon Valley meets Napa Valley

Well it was bound to happen. There seems to be a USB everything these days. From a humping dog to sushi to even a severed bloody finger, designers and novelty manufacturers are determined to turn anything into a USB thumb drive. Designer Arwye Wan wants you to taste the finer side of Universal Serial Bus with his “Wine Stopper USB Memory Stick”. Hand made and aged to perfection with 1GB of built memory goodness.

Designer: Arwye Wan

裤子键盘?!

Fashion and technology have been dancing with each other for years now. Sadly, it’s not been the kind of dancing you see in movies where everyone seems to know when to pop-n-lock and bust out the serious Justin Timberlake moves, that eventually ends in a triumphant “tada!” with hands lifted in the air. No, sadly this dance looks more like Paris Hilton biting her toe nails while opening a jar of pickles with her iPhone. It makes no sense and is just wrong! Which brings me to this latest WTF moment by designer Erik De Nijs, Erik has stitched together this eye catching pair of “Beauty and the Geek” jeans. These “modern shaped trousers which is often worn by youngsters..” are the perfect solution for Googling quick exits while running from the fashion police. Ah, but look closely! Now as you jump over fences and dodge barking dogs, you can take your chase music with you. Built into the knees are a pair of crotch rocking speakers that really add that extra level of excitement while sticking it to the man. Around back you have the added convenience of a back pocket for your “mouse”(which will be your only friend at this point). And for you gamers, there is even a joystick controller located just behind the front zipper. Looking at the key arrangement I am oddly compelled to want to write “poop” over and over again.

Designer: Erik De Nijs