Remember the mysterious Dried On Paper invite? Turns out it was all about the launch party of the new INQ1 phone. Dried On Paper == Ink == INQ. Get it? (It was only after two days, reading blog posts of other people that I actually “got” that)

Thanks to the guys at 3mobilebuzz, I also got an invite to the official launch event that Thursday morning, getting a first look at the device and the chance to ask some questions to the brains behind it. I was twittering during the main presentation itself and got really excited about the possibilities of this device. After a hands-on session with it though and some more info on what it can (and can’t) do, I’m not exactly jumping with burning desire to buy one myself. It is, however, a step in the right direction and I’m curious to see what other devices will follow after this.

Integrated Social Apps

The main feature of the INQ1 is that it has several integrated Social apps on it: Facebook, Skype, Windows Messenger and Last.fm. After logging in once, these apps will stay synced and updated, running continuously in the background. They also work without having to be online; for instance, say you’re in the tube. Before going underground, the INQ1 would have updated the Facebook app, giving you access to all the latest Wall messages etc. You can go and do your usual Facebook stuff, and the app will sync everything later once you’re online again. 

Address Book 2.0

Another cool feature of the INQ1 is it’s address book. Instead of maintaing your contacts manually, you can access your social network address books. After logging in the first time, the phone will import your Facebook, Skype, Windows Messenger contacts all into your address book. This means when your friend Bob phones you, you’ll see Bob’s Facebook avatar appear on the screen, without you having to do any extra effort.

Message Inbox

Because all these social apps are so fully integrated into the device itself, there’s also one main inbox where you can find an overview of all the different types of unread messages. So emails, Facebook messages, MSN and Skype chats and text messages, all together in one overview. 

 

Price

The phone is available for only £79 with a Pay-As-You-Go plan, or for free with £15 per month plan, which includes unlimited web access, unlimited texts, and unlimited free 3-to-3 calls. Now this is what truly puts it apart from all other phones on the market. While the features may seem to be competing with the iPhone and other Smart phones out there, those are not it’s true competitors. People with enough money will buy an iPhone or a Blackberry or a high-end Nokia. No, this phone is aimed at those people who don’t want something as elaborate as that, but do want access to their social networks. And for this price plan I am tempted a little to get one myself.

What’s Missing?

So why won’t I buy one myself yet? There are a couple of things missing to make me want to replace the phone I currently use. For starters, it depends solely on the manufacturers which “social networks” make it into the phone. They’ve chosen now for Facebook, Windows Messenger, Skype and Last.fm, but what about other more newer networks? I’m sorely missing Twitter on this phone and I would have loved all this integration applied to that app. Besides that it doesn’t have a full keyboard and/or a touch screen, relying rather on the standard 12-button keypad. It’s sufficient, but you’d kind of expect a “social networking” phone to have a smarter way of inputting text.

Dan plays with the INQ-1 (aka the FacebookPhone)

While the INQ1 for me personally is not the “next big thing”, as I said above I am very curious to see what other devices will come after this. It is the first lower budget phone to focus more on the internet capabilities instead of the type of camera in it or the prettiness of a phone. I don’t use my phone that much for calling or texting or taking pictures; I use it for checking my emails and Twitters and browsing teh internetz. The next step of mobile communication should be social network communication and this is the first phone to focus on just that.

The INQ1 should be available in December on 3, right on time for Christmas. 

In my blog post the other day about my week of madness, I mentioned the launch from 3 of the Sony Ericsson W595. And this is my write-up about that evening; an actual review of the W595 will follow some time later (once I’ve actually sat down with it and tried all the features out).

I wasn’t planning on going to it first, because it was arranged the same day as the London Blogger’s Meetup (and the Girl Geek Dinner Superstruct event, which I also had to miss). Luckily for me it was rescheduled to one week later: the same day though as the Mini GeekDinner and the day my parents arrived in town. Anyhow, I managed to get to the launch nicely on time, despite all the other events happening too.

I was invited by the PR guys from 3mobilebuzz, whom I had previously met during some other events. Besides me, there were 3 other bloggers (2 of which I also had met before): Anthony from Fresh Plastic, Abul from adonismobile and Ben from Mobile Industry Review. The rest of the guests were (to be honest I’m guessing here, cause I didn’t actually talk to any of them) all actual, traditional press. That’s a first for me; I mean, I’ve been previously invited to special bloggers events, but nothing along side normal media. 

The whole event revolved around the W595’s ability to upload videos directly to YouTube. To make it a bit more ‘special’, it was all about creating scary videos, giving the event a Halloween type of atmosphere. It helped that it was held at the Holy Trinity church at No 1 Marylebone (opposite Great Portland Street tube station); inside (even without the extra props) it’s pretty creepy. Next to that, there were some scary characters walking around: a vampire, a ghost/white lady, and some paranormal investigators. Ooh, and we were served The Dark Side cocktails with blueberry and vodka. Yumm!

 

It all was pretty elaborate, in a cheesy, but likable sort of way. The event was split into two bits: First each guest got a personal hands-on demonstration from one of the paranormal investigators in how to make a ghost video with the W595. Because we were guests of guests though, we weren’t on the list and weren’t allowed to try out the W595 (because of time constraints). 

The second part consisted of The Darkside Pod, an abandoned, rusty lift shaft. In groups of 2 or 3, you had to go sit in it and scary things would happen to you. What I didn’t know at the time though (must have missed it during the explanation) was that we were being recorded. Oops. We were giggling through out it, talking about how non-scary it was (I think one of us might have called it ‘lame’ at one point). Some of the funniest reactions are now on YouTube, like this one:

Last but not least, we all got a very cool goody bag. The main coolness goody: the W595. Sweet! It was bit weird though, cause during the whole evening we hadn’t even been able to see it, and then we’re allowed to bring one home. I’ll be doing a review some time next week (thinking of a video review, what say you, dear readers?), but I’m really loving this phone at the moment. Then again the one that I was using (also a Sony Ericsson) was already 2.5 years old, so anything new compared to that one looks good.

All in all, it was a fun event and an interesting way to launch a product. Thanks to 3, Sony Ericsson and the guys at 3mobilebuzz for inviting me!

Tokyoflash Watch Tibida

July 29th, 2008

A couple of weeks ago I won a Tokyoflash watch via a contest on Geeks Are Sexy (btw those geeks rock!). It arrived last week, so I thought I’d do a small review of it.

Tokyoflash Watch

The watch I got is of the red Tibida design and it looks great. It has a polished stainless steel case with a red face and a polyurethane wrist band. The cool geeky thing about Tokyoflash watches is that they all have a unique way of displaying the time to you. In Tibida’s case there are four different display options: hour-centric, minute-centric, binary and date.

In the hour-centric mode, the bottom half of the display (the two 5×3 LED grids) is used to show the hour, The minutes are showed in the top half (the 2×6 grid) with each LED representing 5 minutes (so 8 LEDs on is 40 min). WIth the minute-centric mode, it’s the other way around. The bottom half is used for the minutes, the top half for the hours. Here are examples of both of them:

 

The binary option is (of course) the geekiest of the bunch. It doesn’t use the bottom half at all, only using the top 12 LEDs to show the time in binary. Very cool, but not that handy if you quickly want to know the time (at least not yet for me, still have to train myself a bit better). The last option, date, simply shows the date today, with the month in the top half and the day in the bottom half.

So far I’ve just been listing facts, not really giving my opinion on it. To be honest, I’m not completely convinced by it. It’s a very cool watch, but I’m not sure it’s the best fit for me. For starters, the wrist band isn’t that comfortable. The problem is with the area where the face connects with the band; instead of forming a smooth round band around the wrist, the top part is on a slightly weird angle (as if the band doesn’t want to bend that way). Now it could be that my wrists are just too skinny or the plastic is still too stiff, but at the moment it won’t fit comfortably around my wrist. Weirdly enough it does fit around my wrist; normally, I have to puncture an extra hole in the band. I think though the Tibida will fit fine if you have a bit more wider wrist than me and maybe given some time it will fit me better too.

Another thing you must realize with this watch is that the LEDs only go on when you press the button. So that means every single time you want to look at the watch for the time, you’ll have to press that button. Besides that you can’t look at it from an angle, cause otherwise the LEDs don’t make much sense. You really have to look straight at it. They’re not really problems or “end-of-the-world” bad, but it’s a new type of flow you have to get into. 

Tokyoflash Watch

On a personal note, I discovered I don’t use my watch to know the exact time, I use it to know how much time has passed or will pass. For this, I’m so stuck in my ways with an analogue clock, my brain is so used to processing the angles and quarters of a clock face. For instance, when I know something will take 15 minutes to do, but don’t know what time to start it, my mind will be constantly updating the image I have of a clockface and moving the quarter around.

Anyhow, the Tokyoflash watch doesn’t completely suit me… as a watch. I don’t see this replacing my standard (but boring) analog watch. But as a geek accessory though it’s fantastic. Plus it’s almost the right shade of Miss Geeky red, fitting perfectly with some of my clothes. While not completely what I expected I do love it, so expect seeing it on me at a future geek event!

Pssst, there are even more watches on the Tokyoflash site. Some of them are way crazier…

I like my pretty gadgets to remain pretty. Preferably I’d stick them in a big plastic cocoon, where nothing nasty can happen to them, but that’s not very feasible. I hate scratches and smudges on my laptop (and phone and camera and well, any gadget), so I want some way to protect them. But at the same time I want them to remain shiny and pretty.

I haven’t tried these Gelaskins yet myself, but I’ve heard a lot of good things about them. It’s a very thin protective cover for your gadget and it uses micro channels to allow for a bubble free adhesion. It also doesn’t leave a residue behind once you want to remove it, so there’s no damage to your precious gadgets.

So far they’ve got Gelaskins for a whole bunch of different gadgets: iPods, phones, laptops (Mac and PC), even Nintendo DS and PSP. Not every design is available for every gadget, but even then you’ve got a huge selection to choose from.

The only problem I have is with the shipping costs. If you order an iPod or phone skin (anything but a laptop skin), it’s fine: depending where you are, the shipping is only between $4 and $6. If you want a laptop skin and you live in the US or Canada, you’re also fine: shipping’s only $7/8. But if you want a laptop skin and you live elsewhere, it’s suddenly $20. Eek! That almost doubles the price and that’s just a tad too much for something like this.

I’d like to get one of these for my laptop, but I’d have to order more than just the one for me. Anybody maybe interested in doing an order together?

Tags: Gadgets

Episode 57: *click*

I’m somebody who always has to fiddle with something when listening to a lecture or when I’m in a meeting. Just need to keep my hands occupied (do you know how many pens I’ve broken because I was unconsciously messing around with them?). Anyhow this seems like the perfect toy gadget:

I so want one of these!

I mentioned earlier that I always have problems with finding shoes, because one foot is larger (or is it longer?) than the other. At the time I discovered that Nike has a cool service, which let’s you customize your shoes (and other products): Nike iD. The idea is that you can specify the colors of your shoes yourself and with some designs this gives you a lot of choice. What is great though is that with some designs you can even specify different shoe sizes for each foot: perfect!

 

For woman they’ve got 33 different designs which you can choose from, for men 67 different types. This also includes though multiple type of football shoes and basketball shoes for the men, while woman for instance only have one choice of football shoe. I’m not complaining though, I don’t like football.

NikeID Choices

The coolest part of the customization choices is that you can put your iD on them. For the shoes, this means you can let them stitch your name or a short phrase on the tongues of the shoes (or if you’re boring something like “Left” and “Right” or “Sinister” and “Dexter”). Beside the shoes, you can also customize bags and watches. Guys can also customize clothing, but they only have a couple of tight running T-shirts. I would like to see some “normal” girly sport clothes that I can customize myself, but I guess we’ll have to wait for that.

NikeID Customizing Bags

Next to the regular NikeID shoes, you can also get Nike+ID. These are shoes that have a secret compartment in the left sole, where you can place the Nike+ iPod sensor. While working out, the sensor sends all types of information to your iPod. I got a pair of Air Zoom Moira+ iD for my birthday, together with the iPod sensor. I had gone to the Nike Store at Oxford Circus (London), where they have a special section for Nike iD orders. The guys there are quite helpful and you can try out and see the different designs and colors they have. What I found a bit weird though was that they didn’t have the model I wanted in my size to try out.

 

I’ve got sizes 5.5 and 6, which isn’t too small, I think. I had to fit on shoes from another model to try and guess my size. I ordered them, hoping that I guessed right. I was told though that if after receiving them they didn’t fit or even if I didn’t like the colors, I could get my money back or order them again in another design and size. It took about a month to actually create and ship the shoes to the Nike store and I got a nice email telling me when they were ready. I picked them up without too much hassle. What I adore about these shoes, is that I’ve actually got Miss Geeky on them:

Nike Shoes 2

After running with these a couple of weeks, I have to say I love how comfortable they are. I might even wear them besides my running, although they might be a bit too shiny for that. I haven’t mastered the iPod sensor yet (it doesn’t do completely what I want), but more about that another time. If you are looking for new running shoes, these are pretty good, but they might be a bit expensive for some (80 pounds). Add the iPod sensor to that and that’s quite an investment into some sports gear. For me, it was absolutely worth it and if you’re willing to put a bit of money into it, this is by far the way to go.

Ever since Cristiano got his Crumpler bag (Warm Shower) a couple of months ago, I’ve wanted one of these handy bags for myself. Besides normal messenger bags, Crumpler has a great line of cleverly designed laptop bags. Perfect for a geeky girl with a lot of gadgets, right? Well, at that time almost all the designs were more focused on guys. I tried a couple of them out, but none of them ever really felt right.

Now though, Crumpler has released a couple of bags, clearly aimed for the geeky girls out there. The Cheesy Chick is a laptop bag, perfectly sized for a 13″ laptop with a padded laptop compartment and a separate removable laptop sleeve. It comes in four different colours: roadkill red, espresso, seeded mustard and dull black.

Crumpler - The Cheesy Chick

Crumpler - The Cheesy Chick

The Cheesytina is of a similiar design, but has space for a 15″ laptop. The pouch on the front is also bigger, but for the rest the bag is pretty much the same as the Cheesy Chick (what’s up with the Cheese names by the way? Girls like cheese?). It also comes in four different colours: black, oatmeal, washed dark grey and bordeaux red. If you’ve got a laptop bigger than 13″, this is the way to go.

Crumpler - The Cheesytina

Another 13″ laptop bag is the Fuzzy Runway. Just like the Cheesy Chick, it’s got a removable laptop pouch. The main compartment though has a zipper closing and there’s a zipped pocket on the front. This bas also comes in four colours: oatmeal, black olive, dirty brown and black.

Crumpler - The Fuzzy Runway

Crumpler - The Fuzzy Runway

I fell in love with these bags the first time I saw them and they’re exactly what I want. With each of them, even when your laptop is in it, there’s still enough space for all your gadgets and other girly stuff. And they’re not too bulky to lug around with you. Besides that, if you don’t want to carry your laptop with you, the laptop sleeve can be removed and you’ve got more space for other stuff. Handy, right?

Although it’s not a laptop bag, another Crumpler I like is the Boiler. It’s a small glamma bag, as Crumpler likes to call it, perfect for your basic carry alongs and gadgets. Besides the larger compartment in the middle, it’s got two zipped pockets on the sides. The Boiler comes in five colours: black olive, dark olive, silver, red and dark purple.

Crumpler - The Boiler

There are more bags on the Crumpler site, but these ones are my favourites. I’m still trying to decide whether I should get the Cheesy Chick or the Fuzzy Runway; they both look great and meet all my requirements, although I find the colours of the Cheesy Chick better.

By the way, there’s finally a Crumpler Store in central London (in New Oxford Street). It’s smaller than I expected, but then you don’t really need that much space to showcase those bags, do you? If you want to see some real life Crumplers, it’s definitely worth checking out. For buying these bags though, you’re better off at Amazon or other online shops; most of the time you can get them a whole lot cheaper.

Be Very Afraid IV

October 26th, 2007

One of the London Games Festival events is Be Very Afraid, an annual event held at BAFTA displaying how schools and universities integrate new technologies into their curriculum. It’s meant to show policy makers what the possibilities are when children get in touch with new gadgets, ideas and creative resources. I was able to get a guest ticket, so last Monday I found myself being very afraid…

I got to speak to a couple of the kids and I found it really refreshing. A couple of weeks ago at BarCamp Brighton there was a discussion of how difficult it was to get kids more interested into technology. What I discovered was that these kids were so passionate and creative without needing any real motivation. Just the opportunity to let them play/work on/mess around with PDAs, Nintendo DSs and iPod Touchs (!!) is enough to make them realise what they can do with it.

Be Very Afraid

I’ll try to describe what a couple of the schools were doing. One interesting thing I noticed though was that it was mainly the primary schools and the first years of secondary schools that were doing the really cool stuff. It seemed as if the older you got, the less appropriate it was to use gadgets and computers in a fun (but useful) way; everything turns so serious. In my eyes, you learn the best if you’re having fun with the subject, so why not try to motivate the students in a better way? Anyhow, here’s what I found out:

Dhoon School, Isle of Man

I talked to a sweet 9-10 year old girl who showed me on a iPod Touch (!!) the website her class created. It was an online learning game, where you could pick a place on the map, watch a video about the place and answer a question about the place. They also had simulated a part of it in a KeyNote (!!) presentation, putting all my KeyNote skills to shame. All the children in her class had an iBook or a MacBook, which they used on a daily basis.

Be Very Afraid

St Columba’s Primary School

At this school the Brain Training game on the Nintendo DS was used to coach kids in logic and math. For ten weeks every morning every child had to “play” 10 minutes with the game. The teacher tested their grades prior to the 10 weeks and after the 10 weeks and discovered a significant increase. The boy (10 years old) I talked to was jumping up and down the whole time, desperately wanting to show how quick and precise he could solve all the math problems.

Be Very Afraid

Whitmore Junior School, Essex

This school offered an afterschool club for children to create podcasts and comics. It started out with the podcasting, with the kids going through the complete process of creating regular episodes, writing the script, recording it and editing it all together. Eventually they also began making a weekly comic with several recurring characters. One of the girls loved it so much that even though she is now moved to another school (high school, secondary school? not sure what you call it here in the UK) she’s coming back every week for the podcasting club.

Be Very Afraid

Capel-le-Ferne Primary School, Kent

There were several interesting things this school did. For starters, they had a special project week, where all the kids brought their robots and gadgets along with them to school. Based on the items they brought with them, they created a movie with some kids filming it, some acting in it, and others editing it and adding sound effects to it. Next to that, they built and programmed Spike (see image), a robot that could “see” the edge of tables (and not fall off) and would try to grab your hand. Finally, every child had an own PDA with camera and internet access. There was one project where 6 of the children went on an excursion to a mill, with the rest of the class staying behind at the school, but staying in constant contact because of the PDAs. The idea was that they had to write a story about the mill: the stay-behinders had help from a children’s book author, giving tips on what type of information was useful. They played this info through to the mill-kids giving them instructions on what to look for. The mill-kids in turn investigated everything and emailed the data and photos of the place back to them.

Be Very Afraid

Final Note

These weren’t the only schools that were at the event, just the ones that really popped out to me. I loved the enthusiasm and creativity of the all the participating kids and definitely do feel intimidated by what these kids are learning to do. Most of them aren’t even 10 yet and they can do stuff better than I can. Just imagine what they’ll be doing in 10 years time! Be Very Afraid, indeed…

I’ve never understood those people that like dressing up their pets. I mean, having matching outfits with your dog just seems to weird to me. Now this post from Shiny Shiny, however, shows a new even more disturbing horror:

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You can now turn your cat into an actual Hello Kitty cat with the Hello Kitty cat transformation set! Who could ever put their cat through such a thing? And what kind of cat docilely accepts wearing such an outfit?

Tags: Gadgets