Gadgets & Gizmos: Genus PR1
Charlotte Ricca-Smith reviews the best new products
Wednesday 02 February 2005
Genus PR1, £149, 08456 049049;
Genus PR1, £149, 08456 049049; www.johnlewis.co.uk
DAB radio just keeps getting better. I'm not talking about coverage or choice of stations, but the extra functions on the radios themselves. Take the PR1 (we may as well, it's the only one I'm reviewing this month). It has a CD slot discreetly positioned under its front panel, which can also play MP3s. And that's not all; it is the first digital radio/CD combo that lets you pause and rewind live radio for up to 20 minutes. So next time the phone rings, or nature calls, you won't miss a moment. It couldn't be simpler to operate and it comes with a credit card-sized remote control. A lot of thought has gone into its design; the PR1 is stylish and compact and, with its chunky handle, not unlike a handbag to look at. My only gripe is that the volume and scan buttons feel flimsy and are awkward to use.
Mac mini, £399, 0800 783 4846; www.apple.com/uk
It's not the size of Apple's latest computer I'm most impressed with, but its price tag. OK, its dimensions are to be commended - at just 6.5in square and 2in tall, it has to be the most compact on the market. As we all know, size isn't everything, but money sadly is, and for less than 400 quid you can buy into the Mac lifestyle, where all is beautiful. And, while the Mac mini sounds like something you order with fries, its design doesn't disappoint. For those who care about technicalities, it has 256Mb of RAM, an 80Gb hard drive and 1.42GHz processing speed (for £50 less, you get 40Gb and 1.25GHz). Some will need to fork out for a keyboard, monitor and mouse, but that doesn't detract from what is a very desirable product at an equally attractive price tag.
Nokia 7280, £389 (contract free), 08700 555777; www.nokia.co.uk
The 7280 is one of three phones in Nokia's new art deco range. With its bold colour scheme and slim dimensions it looks more like a make-up case, complete with mirror, than a phone. Even more radical is Nokia's decision to remove the keyboard. Confused? I was, and had to turn to the quick-start guide before I could get the thing working. In its place is a dial, which you spin to scroll through the digits on the screen. It isn't difficult, just very time-consuming. Sending text messages is even more laborious; despite predictive texting you need to spin your way through the whole alphabet to write most words.
Still, the 7280 does have a number of decent functions, such as voice dialling (thank goodness), FM radio, Bluetooth and a VGA camera, complete with 50Mb of internal memory. But who cares, when the basics are such a hassle? This is a handset for serious fashion lovers, or those with time on their hands.
Nintendo DS, £100, 0870 6060 247; www.nintendods.com
The Game Boy has dominated the portable gaming market for 15 years, but there are an increasing number of consoles trying to steal its crown. Nintendo has retaliated with the DS (that's "Developers' System", apparently), which has enough exciting features to keep the competition at bay. It's put on some weight over the years but now has two superb screens, giving you different perspectives on the game. The lower screen is touch-sensitive and you can use a stylus, thumb strap (included with the console) or finger for a totally new gaming experience. Speaking of games, there are 15 to choose from, starting at £20, and it is also backward-compatible with all Game Boy Advanced games; a nice touch. Another feature that gregarious gamers will love is PictoChat, which enables up to 16 users within a 100ft radius to send scribbled notes wirelessly or to play multiplayer games. Looks like Nintendo has another winner.
Navman R300, £99, 01978 729941; www.sport-tool.com/
Whether you're still trying to work off the excesses of Christmas, or you're training for the London Marathon (only 73 days away), running has so much more meaning with the R300 strapped to your arm. It is a GPS receiver that can tell you how far you've run, how fast, and - more importantly - how much cake you've burned off. Operation is simple; just enter in your weight, and preferences for kph or mph, and away you go. The screen is positioned so that you can easily read read it as you run, and every time you stop it bleeps to show its disapproval. You can't even use the rain as an excuse to miss training, as it is water resistant. Other readings available, should you run up a mountain or around a track, include altitude and lap times. The only problem with all this information is what to do with it, as you can't download it; but this is a small gripe about what is otherwise a great gadget. The product launch is under way now, and online information should be available from Monday.
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