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Shadow Trak hides your big screen behind a motorised painting

February 15, 2006 As sales of plasma and LCD screens continue to skyrocket (up 40% in Q3 2005), innovative ways to cut the clutter in the living room are booming, at least according to Gizmag’s statistics. Each time we run something like Reversica’s big screen concealment solution, or Sonance ‘s invisible' loudspeaker technology or even Onkyo’s combined speakers and television stand they get lots of traffic and lots of referrals (via the “send this article to a friend’ facility at the bottom of each page), which we presume is Partner A telling Partner B they have found an elegant way of combining technology into the living environment. Might we be so bold as to suggest to all those manufacturers of megascreens, that people don’t necessarily want to look at them ALL the time. Anyway, here’s another hide-the-screen solution. The Shadow Trak System hides the screen behind the painting of your choice, so it can be appropriately integrated into any decor. For those who just love motorized systems, Auton’s range of hide-the-screen solutions includes some ripper implementations, with special mention for their hide-the-wine-cellar, hide-the-safe, hide-the-cocktail-cabinet and hide-the-projector solutions.  Read More

The X-arm robotic display mounting solution

February 6, 2006 When assessing the size of a potential market, it’s easy to get it all wrong, even with detailed analysis. Take for example, the Xerox photocopier. Invented by Chester Carlson in 1938, the invention was rejected by more than 20 companies before backers could be found. Some quite prestigious consulting firms advised against investment in the project on the basis that the machines were complex and costly and based on analysis of carbon copy paper sales, the market was simply not valuable enough. The rest, they say, is history and Xerox Corporation is today a US$15.7 billion technology and services enterprise with world leadership in the critical and still emerging document management industry. Think you’d have assessed it differently? Then riddle us this one – does this new X-arm motorized wall mount for flat panel TVs offer a significant advantage and will it be able to capture a sufficiently large niche to prosper? The X-arm allows a viewer to adjust the viewing angle of the TV with a remote control. The market for wall mounting brackets is naturally experiencing massive growth at present due to the popularity of flat panel LCD and plasma TVs. Research estimates on the number that will be sold in the U.S. in the next three years vary between 6 million and 8 million units. What percentage of those would be motorized if they retailed for less than US$2000?  Read More

Honda’s new lawnmower with SMART Drive System

February 5, 2006 Honda Power Equipment is introducing a new lawnmower line and apart from the mandatory higher performance and superior fuel efficiency which consumers expect with every new series, the new HRR line is a better mousetrap because it focuses on the user experience. We’re not sure why lawnmowers seem to have escaped the user-friendly evolution of most other household contraptions, but figure it’s worthwhile lauding Honda for its advancements in the hope the other lawnmower manufacturers will do likewise. Specifically, the new HRR line is equipped with a SMART Drive transmission system and new ErgoActive easy-folding handlebars, which combine to offer what Honda claims to be “an infinitely easier lawnmowing experience.” The heart of the SMART Drive transmission system is a Variable Speed Transmission (VST) which allows the user to easily control the mower's speed simply by resting his or her hands on the ErgoActive handlebars which place the mower's primary controls within easy reach, increasing comfort during operation.  Read More

BioKnob fingerprint-activated lock interchangeable with a standard door knob

February 1, 2006 Here’s a big chance for technophiles to be the first in their apartment building to have a BioKnob – the first doorknob with fingerprint recognition. The BioKnob replaces your existing doorknob, and registered users just brush their fingerprint across the knob to unlock the door. Accordingly, there’s no longer a need to carry keys or hide one under the potplant and for people who have lots of friends, it’ll store up to 100 sets of fingerprints. Now the BioKnob also records the last 1000 accesses with who opened it and the date and time of entry, so you’ll know what time your teenager/spouse came home. Short term visitors can be programmed for the duration of their stay then deleted and entry is also possible by an individually assigned passcode.  Read More

Reclaiming all that space in the attic - EZ Attic

January 29, 2006 Yet more proof that you don’t need an MBA from Harvard and backing from Kleiner Perkins to have a good idea and bring it to market is the EZ Attic, an idea spawned when Illinois resident Mark Dzwonkiewicz was trying to create some usable storage space in his attic one day. The amount of effort and the cost of creating flooring made him believe there had to be a better way and he started work on a solution. Two years later he brought the EZ Attic Storage Flooring mat to market, enabling people to turn wasted attic space into valuable storage. Each matt measures 50 inches by 72 inches, and offers 24 square feet of storage space for US$50.  Read More

Godzilla PVR records 4 high definition and 7 standard definition TV shows simultaneously

January 20, 2006 SnapStream Media develops digital entertainment products that leverage PC technology and there's logically no end to what can be achieved given the rate of development of the multi-splendorous thing that is the PC, but sometimes we just shake our head when it comes to trying to look into what might be possible in the distant future, let alone the near future. SnapStream's Beyond TV DVR software received PC Magazine's Product of the Year Award in December 2004, was referred to as "an idea whose time has come" by the Associated Press and declared "better than TiVo" by Maximum PC. In 2005, the company produced the Hydra PVR which records TEN shows at the same time, bettering the company’s previous top-of-the-range Medusa, which records five shows consecutively. Now it has gone one better again with the creation of the Godzilla PVR. Godzilla is an ultra high end HTPC designed to showcase what can be done with a sick mind and a copy of Beyond TV 4 - it is capable of recording 11 shows, (4 high definition and 7 standard definition), all at the same time. With Beyond TV 4’s HDTV support and with its unlimited tuners, you can create your own monster system. Indeed, if anyone can create one bigger than this, please let us know.  Read More

Field Tested: Logitech Updates Their Flagship Harmony Remote Control

January 19, 2006 If you're like us, you probably have a bunch of home theater gear that comes from a bunch of different vendors, and somewhere between three and fifteen remote controls sitting on your coffee table to control them all. Thankfully, Logitech has a line of programmable remote controls that is intended to solve that problem in style. Jeff Marsh took some time to take a look at the Logitech Harmony 880 Advanced Universal Remote and to talk to them about their upcoming Logitech Harmony 890 Advanced Universal Remote (which adds Z-wave technology from Zensys communications instead of IR).  Read More

The AeroPress Coffee Machine: a new concept in an ancient art

January 16, 2006 There’s always a better way – ALWAYS! Humans have been consuming coffee for 1200 years, the first coffee shops opened 500 years ago and coffee is the world’s second largest traded commodity, behind only oil. More than 1.5 billion cups of coffee are consumed every day with the US market for coffee machines at 20 million a year and growing. You’d think we would have already perfected the best way to produce a cup of coffee from coffee beans, but several years of research by Stanford University mechanical engineering lecturer Alan Adler (the inventor of the Aerobie flying disk which holds the world throwing record of more than a quarter mile) appear to have found a better coffee machine. Independent reviews suggest the new Aerobie AeroPress delivers the smoothest, richest, purest and fastest cup of coffee (under 30 seconds) you’re likely to find and the bonus is that the AeroPress costs just US$30. And while it might look like a French Press because both use immersion and pressure, it works quite differently.  Read More

Monogram Walk-In Wine Vault

January 14, 2006 If you’re considering the fit-out for your next luxury home and you’re one of those wine enthusiasts who anxiously awaits each November for the Beaujolais Nouveau to arrive, then feast your eyes on General Electric’s latest - a complete, turnkey walk-in wine vault. The US$35,000 GE Monogram Walk-In Wine Vault combines advanced cooling technology, an electronic inventory-management system, insulation, racking, and lighting - all in one spacious, self-contained unit that can be installed in as little as a day. The Monogram Wine Vault offers the ideal location for storing or displaying wines.  Read More

Refrigerator with the lot - Maytag Ice2O

January 13, 2006 There’s not much more you can expect of a refrigerator than this. It’s Maytag’s newest and top-of-the-range refrigerator, the Ice2O French Door Bottom-Freezer with an external ice and water dispenser. The Ice2O combines the best features of a side-by-side and bottom-freezer refrigerator in one design, along with the largest-available fresh food capacity.  Read More

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