At CES the sun sets at Belkin. It was the most natural, inviting, "home" to hang out in... with a grassy courtyard in the center where the band played live music with the sun setting behind them... bedrooms, offices, kitchens, living rooms to the sides... even a perfectly darkly lit gamer den off to one corner... mannequins out for a jog out front... the VW parked out back. With lush green grasstroturf in the center space they nicely insulated from the chaos of CES, and hardwood floors with clean black furniture in the others... i felt more like i fell into a pre-fab house out of Dwell. Honestly you could momentarily forget that you were at an industry only electronics convention... they have really transformed themselves the last few years, and i am thrilled to hear that their design process for products and even the booth put Users First! They work with focus groups and run in home usability studies to find out what people really NEED in their lives, and only THEN do they bring together the designs and technology to fit ~ and it really shows, since they have managed to really put the "lifestyle" aspect into their products. Even the careful detail on the designs of products show, from the buttons, to the fonts and glows, the color choices and materials used... (remember the rockstar and conserve surge protector?)... and when it came to the booth ~ we see more of the silhouetted furnishings motif (like at HP) and i love the touches like both REAL black goldfishes in bowls as well as subtle vinyl stickered goldfish bowls at the top of the stairs where few may even notice such a minute detail.
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I think this is one of my favorite pictures from CES. Just something so fun about that glow. This was actually a backlit display on a concrete little table on their big grassy courtyard with little concrete stools all around it (you'll see more of the Belkin booth soon). But i just love how this picture blacks out the insanity surrounding it. Anyhow, the Belkin Rockstar is a super splitter of sorts ~ only it doesn't split, it actually has a chip inside to make sure the sound quality isn't dropping with each added connection. And most interesting thing is you can have TWO INPUTS... so yes, you can put two ipods together and live dj! While also having a few other people listening in, or hooking up some speakers... targeted at the 12-17 set, but world of opportunities here... imagine daisy chaining a few together? More images after the jump!
That is a giant hand held switch. They call it a remote, but i think giant powerstrip switch works a bit better... especially since it even comes with a wall plate where you can magnetically dock it like a light switch. As mentioned in my Top 10 CES Cravings ~ this is the Belkin Conserve Surge Protector. As we've all been hearing,even when off, plugged in electronics are still slowly sucking energy... so here's one way to actually cut off power to the tv, laptop/phone/mps chargers, etc when not in use. The interesting thing here (besides the awesome switch and magnetic mount) is that there are two plugs on the power strip which will stay on regardless (perfect for alarm clocks, tivos, etc), and the others are controlled with the switch. And if you have multiple ones of these? Well they wont interfere with each other since you can set the channel on the back, but if you have more than 6, be careful. Also, i worry about wandering over to a neighbors and turning their lights on and off... or vice versa... but Belkin seems to think that would be a luxury problem... although after watching the TV-B-GONE in action at CES, i'm not sure. I'd hate to have a desktop lose power because of an incident like this. How about some more secure pairing technology? See more images of it in action and close up after the jump!
Nokia goes green this CES with their Nokia 3110 Evolve, and to show it off they gave it a special corner of their large booth space. The most eyecatching things there? The Toyota Hybrid COVERED in green vinyl sticker trees (YES, i am so dreaming up things to do to my car) ~ the beautifully simple compressed wood layered displays ~ the bold typographic 60% recycled packaging. If there was one common trend between my favorite design centric booth displays this year it would definitely be silhouettes in vinyl...
I must say that i was proud to have our sites sponsored by HP when i walked into this booth... it was like a designers wet dream. I was just floored by the intense amount of design classics everywhere, and didn't expect to find a booth covered in silhouettes of design classics ~ as well as many beautiful design pieces in their settings as well. Can you name/spot all the pieces? I have LOTS of pictures for you below, and it does feel like they might have gone nuts with a DWR catalog. And even down to the tiniest details ~ they have a normann copenhagen WOOFY on a shelf ~ looks like a nava notebook and automoblox on a desk even! And now they have me pondering whether to start printing out silhouettes of life size design classics (like lamps and chairs) with my vinyl cutter! Even the artimide tolomeo mega classic floor lamp is there. My absolute favorite i'm tempted to replicate is their Vitra Algue wall... i never could justify spending enough to make a proper wall hanging of those, but with the push of a button the vinyl silhouette version would be sooooo easy. I think there is even a french bulldog on one of the walls.... and the mix of woodgrain and the various hues of blue for the faux walls in their walls mixed with the crisp black and white of the products.... *swoon* Look at the pics below, let me know what else you spot!
One of the first booths i encountered that i actually loved wandering around in was the one for Eton ~ which is re_inventing radio, but more to come on those later! I started from their darker Porsche design collaboration space (i've always been a sucker for those Porsche design radio), and working into their strangely spacious feeling (not an easy task at such a large trade show) main space that used many illuminated white geometric forms for both displays as well as overhead ambiance and projection spaces. the result was a multifaceted cloud like environment. Their main bar showed all their latest products in a range of colors, and surrounded by playful orange stools were very inviting and their colorful, rugged radios displayed on nicely layered pieces of plexi with info on the various models, as well as simple layers of shapes and colors on the main surface. Apparently Eton is Palo Alto based, which was a pleasant surprised ~ seeing as their booth looked far more european and heavily design influenced than the majority of silicon valley companies represented at CES! I also found out from their VP, John Smith, that the booth was the brain child of Jesse Kearney. Take a quick tour of the booth in pictures after the jump!
This is not your usual list of Top 10 CES picks ~ here are 10 products that are actually relatively attainable (either out now, or soon, and aren't concepts), that made my wishlist far too quickly - and don't fall under the cliche mobile, tv, pc launches you've probably been reading about and seeing everywhere.
Freshly back from CES, and i can barely feel my feet. As can be expected - it was one insane 36 hour vegas trip filled with more gadgetry than you can imagine, taxi lines longer than those at amusement parks, bright lights, tacky hotel rooms, the drone of slot machines pinging away, camera crews/bloggers/businessmen everywhere, booth babes galore, 150" tvs, robots, giant dancing/singing frogs with waterfall projections at the wynn, etc... But before i get into all of that, i need some sleep! ~ So, see below for the full list, and rest assured i'll have some up close and personal pics/posts to show you some design details of these products and more probably in the next few days!
It's that time of year again. What other way to kick off a new year than the annual CES Vegas madness? I'm sure you feel the buzz of all the tech launches every 5 seconds burning up your RSS readers... Well i'm off at the crack of dawn for two days to wander through the mayhem, and this year dan is coming along as well! Seeing as you have all the tech sites live blogging the latest announcements, just like last year, i'll be showing you what is actually worthwhile in person, who has the most innovative and well designed booths and displays (the big companies don't hold back for this one, and last year Belkin blew me away), and which products we're dying to BUY. So please be patient if my blogging and editing is a bit slow while i'm caught up in the whirlwind for two days, you know i'll catch you up when i have time to process it all and clean up the pics!
*fingers crossed* its a good show this year ~ hopefully the front page of the CES page saying "Experience the Art of Technology" with their super colorful gadget paintings are a good sign!
Oh, and if you're there and/or have something we can't afford to miss, leave us a note!
I gave in the day after xmas and finally went over to the Red Monkey store/workshop in West Hollywood, played with all their beautiful leather goods, and ordered one of their camera straps (i wrote about them before and featured them in the photography gift guide!)... what i didn't know was how sweet the packaging was, with the strap in bubble pack, with sticker and warranty, in a black matte plastic chinese take out container with the logo pressed into it! Also the store itself is pretty sweet as well, if you're anxious, jump ahead to the store pics here, with guitars hanging from the walls, chandeliers, mirrors, motorcycles and more. The quality of their workmanship is really high, and their service and really fast turnaround for custom jobs was quite impressive (they got this one ready for me in half the expected time)... Anyhow, browse the many pics below!
On upcoming things to look forward to at CES ~ Liquid Image ~ the ultimate underwater third eye cam? A new level of strap-on waterproof wearable tech? But this really would be pretty fun for everything from diving to playing in the pool, bathtub, hot tub, fish tank? And the images aren't bad with the camera coming in a 3 and 5 megapixel option for pictures and videos! See examples below!
Another option? How about they have strap on bluetooth camera/headset in my mask/regulator? and then my phone can just come with in a drysack? With voice activated "email image to..."? And while we're at it might as well add a heads up display in the mask? and google maps with gps and instead of traffic it could have current tracking? with a dot for where i am and where my boat is? Ok ok, so maybe getting a bit out of control here, since my favorite part of scuba diving was always that serene relatively tech/internet free peacefulness of the vast unknown under the surface.
The Pingmag holiday delights post had these crazy little Kaomoji characters from Yojin on them, and i had no idea what to expect when i clicked through... one thing's for sure though, i didn't see the super crazy animation coming! These Kaomoji are part ascii art, part emoticon, and part crazy japanese toy character... more images of them below!
A box full of RayD8s just showed up ~ they are the stocking stuffer of choice for my NOTCOT team this year... and i can't stop playing with it... and watching the videos (great interviews with suckloard and poykpac right now!) in Mimozine 1 that comes loaded on him! Also really cool screensavers, icons packs, music, wallpapers... these little guys really are TOYS with some digital depth to them... and you can use them as the 4gig USB keys they are too. And more reasons why i'm obsessing on RayD8... he GLOWS in the dark and has a split personality... and he actually has FEET on the bottom! You can see all my favorite parts in his photoshoot below... the kids over at Mimobots even sent them over ready for this cold weather with their furry jump suits (different colors so we can keep track of who's who).
As you know, i've played with Mimobots before (remember my ramona?) ~ and they were one of our gift guide sponsors (had SO much fun making that guide) ~ but somehow i hadn't gotten the chance to fully explore the Mimozine till now... i wish all usb devices came with fun content/magazines to enjoy! It's been an honor to have them as such strong supporters of NOTCOT!
Gift Guide Day 2 ~ the second to last of our 31 Days of Gift Guides! So today's is all about Photography! Unexpected mounts, tripods, suction cups, lens distorters, look around corner adapters, sd-usb sd cards, rockstar guitar straps.... you know, the fun stuff your camera needs! Afterall, what fun are the holidays without lots of pictures to document it with?
Gift Guide Day 3 is all about some musical gadgetry that can accompany the mp3 players/ipods that we all have... as well as a fun mini guitar amp, portable mp3 dj device launching in feb, and more! As usual ~ you can view all the gift guides to date on one page!
Pleo's two week stint here at NOTCOT is up, so just packaged him back up to ship him home... its been an interesting experience having a baby robodino wandering around as i work. So what's my final conclusion about the user experience of having him around? Honestly, its a really cool robot. An extremely unique experience for people of all ages, but i'm not sure that he has what it takes to hold your attention after he captures it with his inexplicably adorable sounds and behaviors that tug on your heartstrings. I found he's most amusing when treated like a lap cat... he sits and whines and basically purrs and howls happily if you just pet him constantly, tickle his feet, etc. When left to his own devices he kept wandering *very very slowly* around the room, finding objects, rubbing up against them, eating the air, calling out for more attention or else falling asleep. The hardest part about any robotics right now, is throughout your playtime with him, it is impossible to forget that he's a robot. As cute as he is batting his deep blue eyes at you, the sounds of the gears grind on constantly ~ although more quiet than most, its still hard to ignore. Also impressive is that he really is one robust little guy, he can probably survive some of the worst of kids and still keep doing his thing (with the exception of his skin perhaps which doesn't seem to be on quite the same level as his robotics). I wasn't able to yet play with programming my own behaviors and personalities for him, but when that happens i can certainly see the amount of time you'd spend futzing with him increase dramatically, but for now i did check out his *guard dog* mode which was pretty hilarious... pop the personality on an SD card and into his slot... and suddenly he barks at anything that moves!
Bottom line? I'm glad he's wandered through my life for these few weeks, and i've had friends and family all amused by playing with him, its fascinating to see how far the tech has come for this... and with a $350 price tag, he's certainly an *it* toy worth owning for the kids and gadget lovers who have it all... especially when the ability to really hack him up and give him personalities and behaviors of your choosing is ready! And are you curious about seeing what's beneath Pleo's rubbery exterior? More below...
I'm sure by now you've noticed that casting the everyday into silver and making it some wearable form like jewelry is instant subversive luxe. From plastic vampire teeth for belt buckles and cocktail swords as necklaces, to forget me knot strings around the finger and peeled bark as cuffs... so part of me isn't at all surprised to see that someone has gone and cast zip ties in silver as rings. In fact, i can't help but wonder why it wasn't done sooner. Granted i'd probably have to turn down any man who dared propose we marry with a pair of these, the concept certainly has a lot of potential. Personally, i feel like zip ties are the new duct tape... from tying back cables, to tying plants to poles, looping through dishrags to have a loop to hang them from, tying bad guys up instead of handcuffs, locking your suitcases... (i'm sure you have more examples to insert here)... these rings are from Metalnat by Natalie Gomensoro at Supermarket.
Guitar + Vox + OhMiBod = Vibrator responding to the sounds of the guitar. Ever have those days where it you're holding two objects and it suddenly *clicks* that they're meant to be put together? Well a box of toys showed up from OhMiBod and the VOX AmPlug came on the same day, and it suddenly dawned on me that together they could be the perfect combo gift and only ~$100! [There's a quick video if below if you don't know what i mean.]
Ok ok, hear me out. The VOX AmPlug is perfect for electric guitarists who want to hear that beautiful full bodied sound through headphones. The OhMiBod and the more attractive and enticing new Gspot vibrate to the music connected through a headphone cable... Connect the two together ~ and its an interesting way to seriously touch someone through the music you PLAY.
We all know girls can't resist a musician (yes, yes, protest if you must, but we all know its pretty hard?) ~ this would take that love of musician and his music to a whole new level. Also, if he is the worst guitar player ever maybe this would be a nice gift for his poor girlfriend. And for all those groupies you can even plug in more than one... Come to think of it... this *could* work out nicely for those gamer guys too, hook it up to the output of your XBOX/PC/etc and every shot you take (or when you get shot) in a shooter game will have a whole new effect?
"Digital meets analog" is the tagline for 45 iPod Cases and it carries through even to their posters (which you can earn rebates on their cases by postering for them) ~ which are very cool illustrated posters! We've been seeing a lot of USB/Cassette Tape integrations this season, and records and record sleeves as purses, notebook covers, fruit bowls, ash trays, etc are inevitable at every crafty/recycled/found goods store these days... but i haven't seen the records cut and remolded for musical reasons before this! (and i do hope that the music on those records was digitized to go with the ipod before they folded and cut them up!) ~ also instead of adding the usb factor to the mix tape, its a cute idea to make it into a nano case... of course it'd be even more fun if i could somehow just stick that in my cassette player in my car? Fun designs, fun cases ~ see more images below!
UPDATE: Hey Kotaku people - these ARE 5 min doodles that got scanned and vectorized and printed just to see what the vinyl cutter could do... the wiimote was next to me, so just stuck them on there ~ (and our resident engineer made the tree) ~ this whole post is really just about a girl playing with her new toy.
Sorry i've been pretty quiet... big proposals, meetings, and i've been happily forced to take a little breather the last two days... and today i'm old. Quarter of a century old. It just doesn't feel right quite yet... but i must say, its far easier to deal with when i have the best present ever in front of me...
Funny thing is, the more i write about products and review and critique, the less i had on the wishlist this year... in fact i have actually been more obsessed with what to gift others! When some of the other bloggers hit me up for the "what's on YOUR wishlist?" i came up BLANK (sorry josh spear and design*sponge! I tried!). But Dan apparently managed to go beyond reading my mind, and found me the perfect gift ~ an industrial 24" vinyl cutter, with all the tools, a few rolls of vinyl stickering (enough to cover every wall i can find at the moment), and some transfer paper... it hooks up via usb, and illustrator just prints right to it... combine it with the magic of Live Trace and... WOW. This truly is the most fun i've had in a long time... we've been printing so many random illustrator files all night, and a few of the crazy experiments shown below (jeez this thing can print super thin lines!) - from some wiimote decorating, pirate brontos on the mac apple, and just crazy stickering... expect some more amusing projects/art installations/street art/event signage/stickers.... soon. But for now, i'm taking a little break! Gift guide update for the day coming later on after i get some shut eye!
PLEO! Just got dropped off by the FedEx girl ~ and i remember wondering when i first met Bob Christopher and Pleo for drinks at the Peninsula Hotel what the packaging/unboxing/hatching experience was going to be like. Well, here's the answer... lots of packaging and unboxing images below, and a few shots of him waking up to the world (much whining and moaning and slow eye opening as he went into exploration stages...) I even introduced him to my Roboraptor. First impression? Strangely adorable, definitely far more emotional than my now seemingly mentally handicapped roboraptor (who is currently running into the pleo box and pushing it around while pleo begs and purrs from petting)... and it is rather bizarre having this Littlefoot (come on, don't you remember Land Before Time... movies 1-infinity?) looking dino wandering the halls. Loving the DNA details in the box graphics... and the shot on the bottom of the box is brilliant... more to come on my adventures with pleo over the next 2 weeks probably...
Oh, and looking back compared to the prototype pics ~ he sure has gotten more color in his skin! And its so bizarrely skin/rubbery like to the touch...
Ooooooh. Ok, to be honest, when i first say the Griffin Evolve Speaker images i thought it had floating speakers... they are in fact ~ "wireless rechargable digital speakers", and it's also you're all in one ipod dock ~ with audio out channels, video out, s-video, etc... And you can even add more speakers - they have a cute little Multicast flash piece that shows you various members pairing their speakers then taking them to various rooms! They say "So have your friends bring their Evolve speakers next time they come over"... but doesn't that seem a bit silly? I mean we're already supposed to be carrying our wiimotes around, but our speakers too?
Gift Guide Day 22! our sponsor is Balmuda ~ we showed you their X-Base laptop stand a while back, and since then they have launched their new Highrise desk lamp that is worth taking a look at for those on your gift list that live at their monitor(s)... an ultra bright led lamp, with this interesting details i have yet to try myself - "The color emitted by Highwire matches the color of a computer display therefore, the display is not distorted. The light coming from Highwire does not include infrared rays and so emits less heat." Also check out some of their sweet cable organizing pieces available in japan in the guide... and as with all of them, click the products to find out more!
Gift Guide Day 23 is more Mimobots than i've ever tried putting on one page, and it was far too fun to make this sponsored day! (Especially with the new second series of Star Wars Mimobots that just launched yesterday!)... Anyhow take a look at the new guide... my Ramona still hangs out below my monitor, and honestly these little guys are one of my fun stocking stuffer backup gifts - not just toys - not just usb keys - but filled with digital goodies that correspond to your character of choice.
Latest gadget to make it across my desk (and on my many road trips this last week) ~ the Happy Ear Flamingo. Ok get over the name, and moving along... while i've tried my share of bluetooth ear pieces, i was intrigued by this one because they decided to try something new with the way it actually stays in place... instead of inserting something directly into your ear canal, this one has two nubs that hook into the space above and below (look at the diagrams below to make more sense of it), and testing it on road trips from la-sd-sf its been working great. On silly features that won me over, the charging base is magnetic, so it just snaps right into where it needs to be to charge. Also sound quality has been great, and it really doesn't get tangled in your hair, etc ~ it was quite comfortable having that straight part hang straight against my face, i guess making it look like a flamingo with one leg up next to my head? Anyhow, the blister packaging didn't do much for me, but the comfort, stability, and sound quality of the headset impressed me.