Ahh, the humble telephone… Once a purely practical device, tethered to a single location allowing two people to converse over long distances. Now, it’s a pocket computer and communications device which is essential to daily life for a lot of people. Because it’s the thing we always have with us, we like to make our phone feel our own by adding customisations to it. That’s not just changing the background picture, but adding custom cases, charms, and a host of other things. Here’s a few ideas to choose from.
There’s a huge selection of designs that will show off your liking for anything from pets to retro design or photography on custom iPhone cases. A decent website will allow you to upload and alter the look of the case before ordering; it’s probably a good idea to go for an upright rather than landscape – as you’ll usually be holding it up to your ear.
Edit the photograph choice before uploading to add the effects you want using a free package such as Picasa or Fotor (or any of these other options). Also consider creating two or more photographic cases with different designs as perfect gifts for family and friends, but don’t forget that if the actual device changes then most likely its size will as well – who knows when the latest and greatest iPhone will muscle its way into the market.
A gift that can be created from chains, cords, ribbons or any other similar materials, to be combined with jewellery, badges, and even cuddly toys. The careful charm creator will look for something that will not fall or or tear, and won’t be jagged enough to tear clothing or handbags when pulled out. The charm can be combined with a keyring, or ring, and easily transferred from one phone to the other when the newer models emerge.
Music connoisseurs might baulk at altering their expensive brand headphones, and no-one would advocate attaching anything that could ruin the phones and make them impossible to use or sell on.
That said, the actual choice of headphone itself is a way of distinguishing yourself in the busy arena of musical listening on the move, and described in this Guardian piece as an accessory rather than a gadget. Retro is back in the form of these Master and Dynamic old-schoolers, a stereo world away from Beats, for example.
A quick search across the internet will reveal some spectacular and artistically beautiful example of iPhone laser engraving, and sometimes at unexpectedly cheap prices. Names, Marvel superheroes, faces of loved ones, and individual patterns are among the options. Consider matching up the designs with your tablet for the complete package.
There are plenty of excellent holders on the market for propping up your iPhone when you want to watch a video or read an e-book, but can’t be bothered to hold it up. Here are several examples of an item for an occasion when you won’t want to be touching the screen; when you’re getting messy with ingredients in the kitchen and you want to read the recipe without gunking up the screen.
Other potential options available to buy include simple wooden blocks with a name carving, and even a slotted human pillow, while home-made ideas could include creating a holder from an old cassette case – time to look back through your 80s and 90s compilation for some retro inspiration.
This week, we have a bunch of products on Geektest for you. These first 2 will help you out when you find your power is running low on the plethora of USB powered devices you now have in your life.
Intocircuit 15000mAh Power Bank
First up is the Intocircuit Power Castle – a 4.8A Output Dual USB External Battery (aka a Power Bank) so you can charge up your devices on the go. I collected a number of power banks over the last few years, and they each work with varying degrees of success. This one though, is one of the most impressive I’ve used.
First thing you notice is the solid construction. The entire shell is (expect the ends) is covered in brushed metal, so it feels sturdy and looks great. Given you’re likely to taking this out and about, that’s no bad thing. On one side there is an LED display which shows power level, charging and discharging status.
It also comes with 2 USB ports, which will let you charge any two USB-charged devices at top speed simultaneously, partly thanks to it’s SmartID technology, which can identifying what specific device is attached, and ensure it’s outputting the maximum charging efficiency and speed.
The massive 15000Ah capacity means 1 charge should give you the ability to recharge your smart phone around 4-7 times (depending on the phone), and an iPad more than once.
The whole unit costs less than £30, and is well worth the money if you’re looking for a solid, reliable battery backup.
9/10 – Extremely impressive power bank at a really good price.
iClever 6 Port USB Charger
The next item we had up for a Geektest is iClever’s 6 Port USB Charger. Like the Power Castle above, it use SmartID Technology, so it can identify the device that’s attached, and maximize the device-charing efficiency. It’s small, light-weight, and lets you charge up to 6 devices at once. Each port outputs 2.4A, so you could happily use it to charge 6 iPads, if you happen to be Mr. Moneybags, or just a really obsessive Apple fan. It will of course charge any other USB devices too. I’ve been using it for weeks now with my Nexus 5 and 7 with no problems at all. Even used it to charge the Power Castle mentioned above.
It’s also extremely well put together, and covered with a lovely smooth matte black layer of that rubbery plastic stuff, so it feels good to carry around. It runs on a standard wall socket, so you just need to plug it in and get charging! It runs AC 110-220V input voltage makes it ideal for international travel. Overall, I really can’t fault it.
10/10 – Great little charger for all your USB devices.
This week sees the return of The Gadget Show Live to Birmingham’s NEC, so yesterday I took a look around to see what interesting and new innovations I could find that you should be looking out for in the next 12 months.
Personal Transport Vehicles
Personal transport vehicles were out in force at the show this year. The biggest and most well know is obviously Segway, but there are lots of variations out there now, including 2 wheeled ‘base board’ versions that don’t have the arm in the middle to hold on to, and even unicycle versions, that just have one big wheel in the centre! I had a go on a couple of these and the standard ‘Segway type’ is definitely the easiest to control, however, the base board versions aren’t as hard as you may think. It takes around 5 mins for your body to get used to the idea that you’re balancing on wheels, but once you have it, they feel like a natural extension of yourself. It’s a very odd experience!
The biggest issue with all these PTVs though is price… The Segway’s are still around 5k, and even though the other Segway types are close to half that, two and a half grand could buy you a reasonable 2nd hand car, so it’s a lot of money to throw at something which for most people would be an expensive toy. The base board and unicycle types are much cheaper at £600-£800, but until they can get them down to the £300-£400 range, I don’t think you’re going to see mass take up of them yet! Find more info at airwheel.direct and smartrax-shop.com.
There were a number of impressive medical devices at the show this year, ranges from apps to dedicated units. First up is Touch Surgery, an app described as ‘the Operating Room in your pocket’ that allows medical students to practice performing surgeries from any phone or tablet. Developed by medical professionals to help improve and advance surgical skills outside of the limited time students have in real OR’s, they’ve been getting great feedback from the users about how they’ve helped improve their surgical techniques before setting foot into a live theatre. It’s one of those apps that’s so obvious, it’s surprising it’s taken someone this long to put it into development!
Next is Kito, a health case for you iPhone. It looks pretty much like any other iPhone sleeve case, however Kito has a set of sensors on the back and sides that you can hold and use to check your heart rate, ECG, Temperature, Blood Oxygen and Respiration. What I loved about this gadget was the fact it’s so unobtrusive. It’s not some bulky add-on, it really looks like a nice, solid phone case. It just happens to have some amazing additional functions! Find more at azoi.com
The 3rd medical device I saw was ArcEvo, a non-invasive tissue repair system. All the cells in your body communicate with each other using electrical current, and when your ill, or there is damage to those cells, the current can drop or go out of whack. ArcEvo is a small external device designed to re-introduce the current to kick start and accelerate the metabolic processes to speed up healing. Originally it was designed to help race horses, where they had huge success healing animals which would otherwise have been put down. They then discovered some of the owners who has been injured riding had used the device on themselves! So they developed a new unit specifically for human use. They’re also launching a unit for smaller animals such as dogs and cats. For more info visit arc-evo.com
Lastly in the medical category, there’s Eyejusters, the adjustable focus reading glasses. For people out there who need different glasses for reading and computer work, it can be a real pain having to switch glasses all the time. Eyejusters get around that by having subtle dials on each lens to allow the wearer to change the focus to whatever they need. This is something that’s been attempted before using various techniques, but the Eyejuster guys seems to have cracked it with a simple elegant solution. The internal moving lens is sealed within the unit, so there’s no chance of moisture or dirt getting in there, and they look like any other pair of glasses. Really simple and easy to use. Find out more at eyejusters.com
There were a number of interesting camping related gadgets at the show this year. The first one is not really a gadget, but was personally so nostalgic for me that I had to add it. The OPUS Folder Camper is somewhat reminiscent of the old Dandy folding camper I spent many a holiday in during my youth. The OPUS however, is incredibly spacious with large skylights in the roof making it a lovely space to be in. It’s well fitted with all mod-cons and has full double beds at either end, so can comfortably sleep 4 adults. A really great update on a classic idea.
Next is the Tegstove. Still in development, they’ve come up with an ingenious way of using a stove that holds the conventional, cheaper, butane gas cylinders, to not only cook in a more effective way than the common Butane, Propane and Isobutane mix, but also to power a thermoelectric generator which can charge your phone or tablet. They’re currently refining the design to make it even lighter and more efficient, so i look forward to seeing the final model.
Finally in this category, the Aquaforno Portable Outdoor Oven. A really easy to set up system that works as a BBQ, grill, water heater and oven, all which packs down into a handy carrying case. You can set it up in just 2 mins by pulling up the sections of it’s telescopic body, adding fuel to the bottom, and you’re good to go! You can even use the hooks on the outside to dry out your socks. 😀
There were obviously a million speakers, TV’s and other entertainment bits at the show, but these were the few that stood out for me. Firstly the Philips Screeneo – a short distance home projector. And by that, I mean it only needs to be 10cm away from the wall to project a 50 inch screen. So you don’t have to have it halfway across the room, and have the annoyance of people walking in front of it for it to work. You can just stack it on top of you Sky box and Blu-ray, and it’ll project a huge screen from a short distance. Despite it not being very dark in the show hall, it gave really good colour and picture quality, has a decent speaker system built in, and runs Android OS, so you can install apps on it.
Next was some more youthful nostalgia for me. Elite System’s full size recreation of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum! It looks and feels like the old Speccy we knew and loved, and it allows you to play Spectrum games via your phone or tablet. In essence it’s a glorified bluetooth keyboard which uses an emulator app on your Android or iOS device to allow you to play games. You can then use Apple TV or Chromecast (or the native Android screen sharing) to throw the screen to your TV. You can also use it as a standard bluetooth keyboard on other apps too. More info here.
Thirdly, there’s the Analogue Amp. So low tech it’s basically no-tech! There’s no wires, power, wifi, bluetooth or set-up. It’s a hand crafted stoneware funnel which can amplify sound from your phone up to 40Db by just slotting it in the top. Essentially working like an old gramophone speaker. Lovely looking and beautifully crafted. Their website is here.
Lastly, TVPlayer. An app and website that lets you watch all the the live streams from UK free TV channels in one place online or on your mobile device. There have been a number of apps that have tried to do this, but usually they don’t have the official agreement of the channels they’re streaming, and they can be very spammy with ads. TVPlayer isn’t. It’s smart, elegant, and well put together. Sure, you can get all this content from native apps, but the live tv can be tricky to find. TVPlayer puts it all in one place. Currently they only have live TV on there, but they’re working on adding all the catchup content too, so it’ll be a one stop location for all your free tv! You can find TVPlayer here.
Geektown’s Gadget of the Show
I love it when you come across an idea that’s so brilliant, obvious and simple, you think – “Why hasn’t this been done already?..”And that’s what I love about this next product.
When you’re wearing a rucksack… why are the zips on the outside? “So they’re accessible” you might say… But accessible to who? Not you. Unless you have double jointed arms and can spin your head like an owl to see whay you’re doing, you aren’t getting anything out of there without taking it off. This was the thought that struck Sarah Giblin as she was standing in a tight, squashed up, queue one day, with most people wearing backpacks, and the guy in front of her was getting annoyed she was so close behind him… Then someone stands close behind her and she thinks “did he touch my bag, is my stuff still there?..” And it hits her… The only person that has access to my pack is everyone else BUT me… So she thinks “what if the pack is the other way around, with the zips on the inside?”… And so the idea for the RIUTBag was born!
Moving all the zips to the inside of the pack which is against your back means there are no pockets on the outside that can be left open or pilfered through by come nefarious bystander. It’s totally secure against your back. It’s such a stupidly simple idea, but 95% of backpacks are still made with the zips on the outside where anyone can get at them. Sarah wanted to change that, so she started a Kickstarter which got double it’s funding, allowing her to make the first run of the backpacks.
The RIUTBag backpack isn’t only secure, it’s nicely designed and put together, and can easily hold a 15 inch laptop securely. You still have easy access to drink bottles from the outer slots, but all the important stuff is safe and secure against your back. A simple idea, extremely well executed. You can find out more about RIUTBag here.
In recent times, a new trend has emerged for budget smartphones. This is thanks to technological advancement and innovation, which has revolutionised the nature of traditional feature phones and led to the development of affordable products with 3G connectivity. One of the most prominent devices in the current market is the OnePlus One, which has taken consumers by storm and offered a viable alternative to high end Android and iOS devices.
OnePlus, the brand behind this phone, has developed an unusual business model to support its aims. Instead of developing brand new devices to create a range, the firm has focused on launching innovative accessories to supplement the OnePlus One and create a more comprehensive user experience.
According to recent rumours, the OnePlus One brand is expected to unveil a new accessory for its smartphone in the coming months. With an official announcement not expected until April, however, customers have been left to speculate with regards to the nature of this accessory and its purpose. The snippets of text and imagery used as teasers suggest that the new product is likely to be a gaming accessory, and one that will enable owners to enjoy a more immersive experience when playing everything from freecasinogames.co to console-inspired titles such as Battlefield.
One image in particular reveals a pair of hands holding an invisible object beside the OnePlus One, mirroring the grip used on a traditional gaming controller. This suggests that the new accessory will replicate a classic console controller, most likely with wireless capabilities and the cross-platform compatibility. Things may not be entirely as they seem, however, with same image revealing the OnePlus logo that appears to have been drawn using some type of stylus. This would hint at an altogether different type of accessory, and one that fuses classic console controls with contemporary, touchscreen triggers.
This speculation aside, OnePlus has to be applauded for its level of bravery, innovation and individuality when it comes to steering a course in the market. Rather than follow the tried and trusted method of steadily building a product range, the brand have instead strived to develop accessories that embellish an existing model. Just like the recently launched and affordable Power Bank, the upcoming gaming accessory will look to provide functionality and innovation within a single package.
These days, almost everyone is attached to their phone, and a phone can do just about anything. People already use their phone for watching movies, but with apps, film fans can go a little deeper and connect with their favourite films even more. For film lovers, there’s nothing better than an app that allows them to interact with the movies they love and get more information about them. People no longer have to be content with just sitting and watching a film; there are so many ways to make the movie-going experience more interactive. There are some great apps out there for looking up movie times, getting reviews, and finding out more about a film.
One of the top free movie apps is the IMDB app. IMDB is one of the largest movie databases and the app can be used to find movie ratings, watch trailers, and find out information about upcoming movies. The IMDB app also allows users to look at photos, keep up their must-see lists, rate the films and TV shows they watch, and look up the actors and actresses. The app is available for iPhone, iPad, and Android.
The RunPee app allows users to look up the film they are seeing and find out when it’s safe to take a bathroom break. It tells them their cue to leave and how long they have so that they don’t have to worry about missing the best part of the movie. The app finds three to five-minute scenes that don’t have plot twists, funny moments, or any major action. It also lets users know if there is anything in the credits worth staying around for. Download it here.
This great little app (sadly only on iOS), allows you to enjoy a large array of public domain movies, as well as import your own, and make notes on the film whilst it’s playing. You can also tag sections of the film making it easy to search, and when you finish, email your notes to yourself, and it’ll send along screenshots with it. Really handy little app for those studying film!
Turner Classic Movies
For the classic film buff, the Turner Classic Movies app is a must-have. This app has on-demand classic films available and it allows users to access the network live. It’s available on all platforms, and has photos, movie history, trivia, and scheduling. It also has a feature that allows users to take a virtual tour of classic Hollywood. The TCM app is available for phones and tablets.
Disney Creativity Studio
For children, there is the Disney Creativity Studio app designed by Worry Free Labs. This app is designed to promote creativity in children and allow them to make art. They can learn how to draw the Disney characters that they love. The app features advanced software and an extensive colour palate that allows for lifelike drawing. Drawings can be saved and shared. The app is compatible with iPad Retina display.
There are a lot of great apps out there for film lovers. These apps make it easier to connect to the world of movies. Not only that but they also allow users to learn more about films and to interact with them.
The name may not be familiar to many but in recent years Mitashi has not only been offering us a range of budget handheld gaming consoles. But it has always been edging closer to bringing us something a little different. And now it has introduced the Mitashi Play Thunderbolt has this latest gaming smartphone got what it takes to compete with its high spec peers?
The layout of the new phone includes a 5-inch display screen, with 1280×720 resolution, centered between 6 function buttons down one side and a frictionless thumbstick along the other. This sturdy little device also features green plastic beveled highlights around the edges of the gadget giving it a cool slick look which just further enhances its appeal.
The Thunderbolt unfortunately does weigh in at a not so impressive 300 grams, which isn’t exactly lightweight when you consider other smartphones out there on the market. But we’re not just here to reflect on the aesthetical aspects of the new gaming device, we need to know how it handles itself as the next handheld gaming experience.
Powered by Android Jellybean, with a KitKat version also currently in the works, and kitted out with a 1.2Ghz MediaTek quad core MT6589 processor with a PowerVR SGX 554Mhz GPU it certainly has just about enough under the hood to appease gamers out there. However, being packed with only 1GB of RAM there’s bound to be some frustrating moments when it comes to the loading up and ongoing advanced play of the many more memory heavy games out there that may prove a little too much for the handset to handle.
With the mobile gaming market set to explode this year there’s no better time than now to bring a fresh-faced gaming smartphone to the table. There’s already a predicted $25 billion in sales for both smartphone and tablet gaming during this year which is huge 42% increase from that of 2013. A boost that’s influenced greatly by the increase of online mobile operators and the likes of popular sites and services such as freebets casino going mobile and bringing their games to the mobile market.
It’s an exciting time for the industry and this is definitely another positive step for Mitashi. It might not be quite on par at the moment with its rivals out there but the Mitashi Play Thunderbolt certainly has a lot going for it and there’s some clear and exciting potential from the newbies.