Gadgets & Gizmos: Lomography Frogeye Underwater
Victorinox Swiss Memory
DM-Tech Recordable Multimedia Player
Charlotte Ricca-Smith reviews the best new products
Wednesday 30 June 2004
Lomography Frogeye Underwater
Lomography Frogeye Underwater, £50, 00431 8994400, www.lomography.com
I've long been a fan of the quirky cameras produced by Austria's Lomographic Society. This is the company's first waterproof camera and can be used in depths of up to 13ft (4m). Its automatic flash is great for murky water, while its Frogeye lens provides a wide-angle view of whatever underwater life form you are shooting. To help you take the shot when wearing a mask it has a handy pop up "Gunsight" viewfinder, and when you're swimming and not shooting it has a neoprene carrying case you can strap to your arm or leg. But you don't have to use it snorkelling, or exploring your local pool: much fun can be had in the sprinkler or even the bath. The only thing stopping you is your imagination.
Tivoli iPal, £139.99, 01702 601410, www.tivoliaudio.com
It seems that every manufacturer wants to make friends with the iPod, and who can blame them? The simplest way to flog a gadget these days is to stick an "i" in front of its name. Take the Tivoli Pal for example; already a great looking portable radio with the sound quality of Tivoli's highly acclaimed Model One, but now it is to be known as the iPal. It is exactly the same product, in the same weatherproof rubber (perfect for the great British summer), but now with the trademark white and silver finish. The idea is that instead of plugging in any old portable music device into its auxiliary input, you plug in an iPod. They do make a very attractive couple, but its mono speaker won't make the most of your music collection.
Victorinox Swiss Memory, From £58, 0116-234 4644, www.victorinox.ch
For many years Victorinox has been coming up with legitimate reasons to carry a knife on the street; the miniature Swiss Memory has to be its best effort to date. Besides the usual stainless steel blade, scissors, and nail file with screwdriver, it has a ball point pen, red light and - ta-daa! - a USB storage device called the Swiss Memory, available in 64 or 128Mb forms. Simply insert the device into your PC or Mac's USB slot and it will automatically appear as an extra drive, to which you can drag and drop documents, photos, MP3 files and more. If you want to carry your documents when flying (no sharp objects, remember?) the Air Travel version omits the knife. Alternatively, unclip the flash memory stick and carry it separately.
DM-Tech Recordable Multimedia Player, £289, 0870 745 2000, www.boystuff.co.uk
This may be a bit of a gimmick - and an expensive one at that - but I fell for its numerous charms. Not much bigger than your wallet, the DM-Tech fits easily in a pocket or bag, but can carry enough entertainment to ensure you need never worry about late trains or buses again. It will connect to virtually any media device so you can record music from your CD or MP3 player, films from your DVD or VCR and even your favourite TV show direct from your television.
Playback quality is surprisingly good, although its 3.5-in screen can be a (literal) pain in the neck after long periods of viewing. It is also very easy to use - just connect it to your device of choice and press record. It has 128Mb of onboard memory, but you can add another gigabyte through its SD card slot. OK, it can't compete with similarly priced MP3 players, but you get so much more for your money.
Digifusion FVRT100, £249.99, 01423 825000, www.fusiondigitec.com
After living with Sky+ for a few months, I can't imagine going back to antiquated VHS. However, the downside is that you need a dish and a subscription to enjoy all its benefits. Which is what makes Digifusion's digital video recorder so fantastic - for a one-off fee you get all the free digital TV channels (via Freeview) as well as a 40-gigabyte hard disk recorder.
But unlike other Freeview boxes, it has an on-screen electronic programme guide for the week ahead. (Fusion broadcasts its own EPG, though viewers in London and parts of Wales should now get an official one too). You can record up to 60 hours of programmes (20 hours more than Sky) if you opt for the lowest-quality recording option, and as with other hard disk recorders it lets you pause and rewind live TV.
It has two tuners, so you can watch one channel while recording another, or record two channels simultaneously while watching a previous recording. The icing on the cake is that while recording it takes a screen grab of the programme every five minutes, which is then displayed in the library screen (like DVD menus) for fast and easy navigation. A well-thought through product that would be a welcome addition to any home.
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