Some of the best gadgets are one-of-a-kind devices that can either be runaway successes with consumers and define a new category or become major flops.
In the tenth and last part of our series on the essential gadgets of the past year, we take a look at these unclassifiable gizmos – Paul Taylor sums up his best of the rest after the jump, while Richard Waters reviews the mono-functional Twitterpeek and we republish our looks at the Livescribe pen and Qualcomm personal TV below. Read more
In a world awash with smartphones, why would anyone want a mobile gadget that did only one thing?
Perhaps if it did that one thing really, really well – and if that thing was central to your life – there might be a case for it.
There may indeed be die-hard addicts out there who require a permanent, dedicated connection to Twitter, though I’m certainly not one of them. But if those people exist, they will certainly want something better than the TwitterPeek to get their fix. Read more
Yet another “App Store” launched this week, but the new Livescribe Application Store is for a smart pen rather than smart phone.
The Livescribe Pulse has changed the way I make a record of interviews since I started using it 18 months ago. It’s a pen that records both my scratchy notes, with a built-in camera in the nib section, and the audio of interviews, with its microphone.
(This post was first published on November 22, 2009) Read more
Qualcomm, which once produced its own handsets to try to win wider acceptance of its cell phone chips, is repeating the strategy with the announcement of a Personal TV product, aimed at boosting take-up of its FLO TV mobile technology.
The new handheld device is FLO branded, Frog designed and made for Qualcomm by Taiwan’s HTC. It will go on sale at US retailers during the holiday season for $249 and will require a monthly subscription of around $10.
(This review was first published on October 7, 2009) Read more
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 sold 6.1m copies in the US alone in November, according to the monthly video game sales figures just released by the NPD research firm.
That’s three times the 2m in sales in November 2008 of the previous title in the series – Call of Duty: World at War. The game had already broken records with the biggest sales at launch on November 10 of any entertainment property, when around 3.5m units were shifted in the first 24 hours in the US. Read more
The clutter of game accessories around the living-room TV continues to grow. Apart from the usual Xbox, PS3 and Wii controllers, there are the Guitar Hero instruments, some Buzz quiz-game buzzers, the Wii balance board, Mario Kart racing wheel, Lips and Singstar karaoke microphones and a camera in our set-up.
But wait! We’re missing a few more. Activision Blizzard came out with two late in the year that showed great originality, although disappointing sales figures to date suggest the public is suffering console accessorisation fatigue and is not willing to pay out large sums for the latest gizmos. Read more
Social networking has always been more about making memories rather than friends for me.
Early social networks, such as Friends Reunited, brought back memories and photos of schooldays. Flickr then provided new ways of creating and preserving them in the present, with photos shared with family and friends. Read more
There was a touch of the absurd about the grand unveiling of Sir Richard Branson’s tourist spacecraft in the Mojave desert of California earlier this week, reports John Gapper in today’s FT.
We gathered after dusk in a freezing wind to watch the Virgin Space Ship Enterprise (yes, really) trundle several hundred metres along a runway and come to a halt. Read more
Pico projectors brought the big screen to small devices in 2009, with iPods, cameras and phones benefiting from the new technology.
Pico projectors exist in their own pocket format or are integrated into the device itself. They reached maturity as products this year, overcoming problems of poor battery life, resolution and luminescence, but they will always suffer from one key weakness. Read more
The first reviews are out on Barnes & Noble’s eReader, the Nook. Like the device itself apparently, they don’t make for pretty reading.
The influential reviewer David Pogue, writing in the New York Times, accuses B&N of rushing the product to market before it is ready and says: “To use the technical term, it’s slower than an anesthetized slug in winter.”
Peter Svensson, AP Technology writer, begins his review equally unpromisingly: “I’ve been trying Barnes & Noble Inc.’s $259 Nook for a few days, and I’m not eager to prolong the acquaintance,” he says. Read more