Shopping? Check out our latest product comparisons

Around The Home

The handheld vacuum cleaner that never clogs and never loses suction

October 19, 2006 Gone forever are the days of frustrating, ineffective handheld cleaners. Loss of suction, poor pick-up and useless clogged filters may have once been standard fare, but will no longer interfere with your cleaning if you buy a Dyson Root 6 Cyclone, or at least that’s what Dyson is claiming. The Root 6 uses a lithium ion battery and comes with a specially designed combination brush/stair tool for versatile cleaning. Given that the company’s other products always do the business as claimed, we figure that makes the Root Cyclone a likely winner when it goes on sale next week at US$150.  Read More

Bespoke apartments created in 24 hours

October 16, 2006 From any tall building in almost any major city, dozens, possibly hundreds of roofs can be seen which carry free space which is not being employed the owner’s benefit. The free space on top of buildings has never been ascribed much value, and rarely gets any consideration on a balance sheet, but offers a major opportunity because in some locations, it represents very valuable virgin real estate indeed. Last week we wrote about the pre-fabricated Loftcube which can be made-to-order and helicoptered into position, commisiioned and fully functional in 24 hours, with prices starting at US$138,000. The Loftcube is a modern construction and doesn’t suite everybody, as in most such instances, additional construction must be in sympathy with existing, important buildings. St. John's Wood Court is a century-old double winged mansion block directly opposite the W. C. Grace Gates, the main entrance to Lords Cricket Ground, the home of the sport of cricket. One of several major Central London apartment projects by specialist rooftop developer First Penthouse, the project added seven ultra-exclusive apartments to the building. First Penthouse uses a modular construction system not dissimilar to that used in custom automobile construction – all components are handcrafted, assembled and tested in a controlled factory environment. By finishing the apartments off-site, then loading them into position with cranes, one-day installation is also possible. Instant-use residential and commercial property is hence viable, without noise, dust and disruption and with the units constructed in the style and values of the original, traditionally-constructed buildings. First Penthouse is actively seeking new developments and can prepare portfolio surveys for property owners which will identify short, medium and long term opportunities.  Read More

The kitchen timer/clock for serious multi-taskers

October 12, 2006 Like it or not, no matter how much you try to avoid it, there are some things that run to a very strict schedule. It might be the personal trainer every Tuesday morning at 6am when on all other days you can sleep to 7.30am, or it might be that the exquisite meal you wish to prepare needs military precision in coinciding the readiness of the hollandaise sauce with the Chateaubriand. American Innovative is a company which specialises in creating “products that make sense” – interestingly it’s key successes so far have been related to solving timing issues. The company's first offering, the Neverlate 7-day Alarm Clock is a bedside clock radio designed with a variable schedule in mind and the company’s latest product is a kitchen timer for the serious home chef, the avid entertainer and the modern multi-tasker. The Chef's Quad-Timer provides four countdown timers with indicators arranged to look like a 4-burner cooktop -- what's on the stove and what's being timed are intuitively linked - green lamps indicate which burners are still cooking, red lamps are done. Though both products are available in some countries other than the U.S., the company is seeking international distributors.  Read More

The Vocal Smoke Alarm

October 9, 2006 The SignalONE Safety vocal smoke alarm is the only smoke alarm on the market that allows the appropriate caregiver to record a personalized "wake up and escape" message for their child. We wouldn’t have picked that this was such an important feature off the bat, but apparently there’s a growing body of evidence showing that children do not awaken reliably to the tones found in conventional smoke alarms and the key aspect of the vocal smoke alarm is the use of a familiar voice to awaken a child by name and urge the child to escape a burning home safely. A new study, released last week by the American Academy of Pediatrics, showed that 96 percent of children woke up to the recorded sound of their mothers voice in a median time of 20 seconds, compared to only 58 percent who woke up to conventional smoke alarm tones. We’ve seen a few good ideas in smoke alarms over the years, such as the wireless smoke alarm and the ingenious snap alarm – interestingly, none of their compelling features are mutually exclusive.  Read More

The maintenance-free indoor waterwall

October 5, 2006 There’s something about running water that has a calming effect, though having a water feature inside your home or office can be problematic for obvious reasons. Creating your ideal environment for living and integrating a water feature just got much easier because Rock'N Crab Aquatics (RnC) has released the AQUAframe, the world's first maintenance-free waterwall. Unlike traditional waterwalls, the AQUAframe eliminates the need for service, damage from potential splashing and the requirement for complex filtration to control water health risks making it ideal for hospitals, restaurants, museums and home installation.  Read More

Turn a bedroom into an office in 60 seconds

September 26, 2006 With more of the workforce working from home every day, there’s now another room required in a lot of homes – an office. As houses and apartments don’t just grow another room when you want it, using rooms for multiple purposes is becoming big business and if you’re in the market for a few ideas on turning an office or living room into a bedroom inside 60 seconds, check this out. Clei UK specialises in designing for compact living and though our prize for the most ingenious mechanism they’ve created goes to this sofa (centre pics on main photo) which transforms into a bunk bed with integrated supporting ladder and protection guard, the company has two desks (here and here) which transform into beds, and an entire range of thought-provoking solutions for getting twice as much usage from any room. The company is currently seeking retailers in Scotland and Ireland, and international distributors. Our image gallery is chock full of great ideas and implementations.  Read More

How far below sea level will your home be if …

September 26, 2006 Last week we reported on the rapid and dramatic melting of the arctic icecap, and joked that the upside was perhaps that the property you bought with ocean views might soon become beachfront. Now some people might think it’s a good thing to plan for rising sea levels given that people have long been predicting that global warming will result in thermal expansion of the ocean and melting glaciers and ice sheets. In 1995 a report from the International Panel on Climate Change estimated that the sea will rise 50 centimeters (20 inches) with lowest range at 15 centimeters (6 inches) and high range at 95 centimeters (37 inches) by 2100, and NASA's take is supported with lots of evidence the warming is accelerating (temperature trends, sea level trends ) might come at us in a rush. If you go here, you can dial in the rise in water levels and see which properties will be waterfront if that occurs.  Read More

Magnetic tiles enable the spontaneous room makeover

September 22, 2006 “We change our clothing, handbags and shoes with the season, why not our tile?” posits Nancy Epstein, CEO of Artistic Tile, and head of new product development. “Rather than old-fashioned summer slipcovers, why not change the look of the entire room by switching the floor or wall from the warmth of naturally fur-covered cowhide tile to a smooth Natura leather tile for the warmer months. Or you can simply add a new look by applying a border of saddle stitched tile, or changing the configuration of the accent tile from a border to an inset. It’s not so different from changing your outfit, and takes very little time to achieve,” she adds. Unfortunately, the mix and match Pampa Leather tile collection is offered in six styles including the black and white cowhide shown but there’s no facility for some of the other collections on offer just yet. But it’s a great idea. Designed by Epstein, the tile adheres by means of a clever system of magnets, requires no mortar, adhesives or grout and is an easy care alternative to carpet. A layer of galvanized sheet metal between the substrate and the tile means tiles may be changed whenever the mood strikes.  Read More

The Fraunhofer Multimedia Dome

September 6, 2006 Making its first public appearance at the IFA international consumer electronics fair in Berlin, the Multimedia Dome is the first digital dome theatre to feature natural spatial sound: it envelops visitors in fascinating universe of video pictures and sound. The Multimedia Dome was developed at the Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Architecture and Software Technology FIRST and the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology IDMT, the inventors of the MP3 format which has taken over the world in the last decade.  Read More

Panasonic’s 160GB audio player dock

September 4, 2006 Japanese giant Panasonic (AKA Matsushita) has come up with yet another variation on the theme of seamlessly connecting the home stereo system with the portable audio player, specifically, it’s own D-snap. The SX850D-dock minicomponent audio system combines an SD card slot, 160GB hard drive, and a CD drive, so it’s possible to copy audio CDs to SDHC cards, record them direct to the hard drive, or connect it to your home network and load files from your PC. As it contains an on-board Gracenote database with auto recognition and track, artist and album info, users will never have to enter album information manually. Available later this week in Japan, the 160 GB SX850D-dock will cost JPY80,000 (US$690), while a lesser 80GB SX450 model will sell for JPY39,000 (US$340).  Read More

Looking for something? Search our 28,145 articles