NEWS: The ideal hi-fi speaker for apartments arrives

Spendor D1 002

The Spendor D1 speakers are born from a UK company which has refined a design originally conceived in a BBC engineering department during the sixties. The retro look and feel is part of the appeal but the audio technology underneath the wood is next-generation in terms of speaker size versus sheer scale and, in this case, unexpected bass. At £1795 from Audiolounge.co.uk, the Spendor D1s are an ideal match for capable yet micro sized hi-fi from brands such as Bel Canto or Naim who both produce an impressive line of CD and streaming hi-fi small enough to fit on a home office desk or within the smallest of lounges. Available in dark ebony or white, they sit well within a traditional lounge, modern home office or even a sun-kissed LA garden pod.

Designed to offer balanced sound on a bookshelf or tight against a wall, there’s clear thought in the design around the potential buyer. Dedicated audiophile stands are available (£595) but it’s the freedom to place these speakers anywhere and enjoy great sound that makes them a winner. If you thought the last word in apartment audio was Sonos, prepare to be told otherwise.

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Nikon Coolpix A test gallery: Brixham, Torquay

These images are unprocessed, compressed jpeg photos from the Nikon Coolpix A, snapped on a recent trip to Devon. The Nikon Coopix A is smaller than many compact cameras yet hides DSLR tech inside. There’s no big zoom options unlike ‘bulkier’ compact system cameras but for the pocket size, it manages good landscape shots…

The Nikon Coolpix A retails for £999.

 

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NEWS: McLaren reveal technology centre online

 

McLaren has taken the budget usually reserved for TV commercials and created some slick videos and photography detailing their technology centre.

Covering design, production and vintage cars, it’s an awe-inspiring glimpse of one office that car fans dream of. At McLaren, Monday mornings probably aren’t a struggle.

Alan Foster, Operations Director at McLaren describes the McLaren Production Centre – “The design of the MPC is dictated by the function it has to perform. There are no conveyors or robots. It is clean, spacious, calm and quality-oriented”. Pencil sketches on the site give way to storyboard style car designs and clay models alongside factory images, rarely seen by the public.

If you want to see a wind tunnel of epic proportions and a working space that looks part Star Wars, part Bond villain hide-out, visit cars.mclaren.com.

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REVIEW: AOC debut 21:9 cinema style monitor for work and play

The AOC Q2963PM ‘multi play’ monitor from is designed for your PC or Mac but, as you can see, looks extra wide and eye-catching at the same time, considering this is a monitor we’re talking about. The draw is that 21:9 ratio is the correct cinema format – ie, you can enjoy films without those black bars when you watch a film in native format on your normal TV.

Philips released a ’21:9’  TV a few years ago without much success outside of film buffs who opted for home projectors instead. In the world of desktop monitors, the format has seen more success, perhaps because the 29” screen does away with the need for a two screen set-up for office workers who need to look at two panes of activity at once. A webpage and a Word doc, for example.

The AOC Q2963PM is slim and comes mounted on a stand which arcs forward, so the monitor appears to float. There’s speakers at the back and decent inputs – VGA, HDMI and the ability to flick between multiple sources and display them on the same screen.

Hooked up to a Mac and PlayStation 3, first impressions were based around the impressive colour and detail in games like Gran Turismo 5. There’s a game setting and output over HDMI challenges most modern TVs, especially given that the actual footprint of the monitor suits most desks. Using the screen for work, we needed to spend a few minutes with the easy settings on the monitor and briefly used the set-up disc. Selecting the automatic ‘browsing’ or ‘gaming’ modes gives instant results but for photo and video work, you can tweak away to a deep level of geeky satisfaction. The resolution can be cranked up to 2560 x 1080 pixels. The AOC Q2963PM even works with compatible tablets and smartphones and can charge them too.

 VERDICT

For gamers with the need for a decent screen in the spare room or home office, it’s a large and affordable display with genuinely great results for PC and console games. For the money, it’s sleek enough to be your main screen in the lounge should you become addicted to the glorious 21:9 ratio. The AOC Q2963PM costs £356 and is available now. Find at more at www.aoc-europe.com.

 

 

 

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NEWS: Luxury laptop bag hits Apple store

PC World is full of laptop bags, cases and neoprene sleeves – the office equivalent of a rugged, well-worn fleece. It is IT manager heaven but not really the kind of stuff that’s going to stop you looking like an IT manager or rural sales slave when seeing a new client or starting that new job.

Enter Jill E designs and the Bennett bag, available from Apple, such is the quality of laptop bag luxury. It’s an ideal bag for the commute, from your daily train journey to Terminal 5 at Heathrow. Padded internal pockets show a little embroidered icon for laptop, phone and tablet. There’s even a leather business card holder so you can be sure that your name and details are always inside if you lose your bag.

Helpfully the satchel style design straps on the front are magnetic and lock in reverse, so you can easily and securely loop them around the metal clasp when holding the bag on your shoulder. Spending a week with the bag, we found it durable, comfortable and great value against rivals who may boast the quality but can’t match the well thought out internal pockets and rugged materials.

Big enough to hold a 15 inch laptop, it’s also big enough for a fresh shirt and a few overnight bits and pieces for your single night European work jaunt.

Bennett by Jill E designs is £269 and is on sale now.

Find out more at www.jill-e.com.

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Spielberg’s chef reveals secret of Cannes kitchen tech

 

Nearing 100 years in the business, Electrolux invited Gadget Luxe to the Cannes Film Festival to see what the main festival sponsor was doing for the event. Tasked with cooking for the 2013 jury which is headed up by Steven Spielberg, as well as the opening gala dinner, chef Bruno Oger seemed calm and happy to be part of the festival. “For me, it’s the biggest dinner of the year in France” admits Oger, who has two Michelin stars and has previously won the Best French Chef Of The Year Award. The opening gala dinner was created by Oger and Anne-Sophie Pic who holds three Michelin stars and was also named the Best Female Chef by the World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2011. “I’m looking forward to the food and not getting wet” joked Spielberg as he entered the Electrolux Agora pavilion for the opening gala dinner, fighting the changeable weather in Cannes.

The Agora pavilion played host to press and stars alike and overlooked the beach on one side and clamoring media and star spotters on the other, situated opposite the Majestic hotel, the celebrity HQ of the festival. A smaller glass house beside the Agora pavilion housed the chef’s table with 14 seats for the jury and visiting hungry stars from Jade Jagger to Justin Timberlake.

THE CHEFS AND THE STARS

Inside the main Agora pavilion chef Paulo Petternuzzo (above) from London’s Hibiscus restaurant cooked for Gadget Luxe using the Electrolux Grand Cusine system, designed for professional home chefs or amateurs want to take steps to create food worthy of a Michelin star. At around £55,000 for the entire system including installation and an introduction from a professional chef, it’s not for the cast of Come Dine With Me but rather an investment in your hobby. The chef is on call for the duration of your ownership and they’ll also cook an introductory meal for you and your friends, setting the high water mark for your future dinner parties.

The oven includes a conventional heat and a steam cooking system and can divide both methods inside the single oven. A USB socket allows future chef recipe timings to be downloaded too. Pettternuzzo cooked a risotto using the Gran Cusine system using the Surround Induction Zone and a wok. The water reached boiling point in 45 seconds but the heat is transferred via a ring that holds the wok, ensuring an even heat and, amazingly, a cool underside as soon as the wok or pan is removed. Above the oven, the Blast Chiller can chill a bottle of wine or sealed food in just 3 seconds which Petternuzzo says takes 30 minutes using a conventional fridge.

VACUUM SEALER

The Precision Vacuum Sealer seals food and liquids in seconds, aiding sous-vide cooking and preserves colour, taste and food life. The system is used in the Hibiscus test kitchen and Petternuzzo explained that it saves time when dealing with complex meals and allows him to prepare elements of a meal in the morning for the evening.

STAND MIXER

This mixer is able to cope with mixing ice cream, kneading dough and the attachments allow you to create exclusive pasta shapes. Perhaps most impressively, the mixer is almost silent.

SEAR HOB

 

The key benefit of the sear hob is even heat across the surface and the hob allows flavours to stay separate. Fish, meat and vegetables can be placed directly onto the easy clean chrome surface. You’ll need less oil when cooking and the hob can even cook meats frozen via the Blast Chiller.

The Grand Cusine system is on sale now and delivery time is currently six to eight weeks – you can find out at more at www.grandcusine.com. Thanks to Nikon for providing a Nikon Coolpix A camera for the gallery below.

 

 

 

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NEWS: Samsung S9 4K TV on sale at Selfridges

Just as a recent statement from Samsung shows a 42% rise in income for the first few months of 2013, the Korean electronics giant has launched a flagship TV in the UK this week, the first ‘ultra high definition’ Samsung TV with 4K resolution.

The Samsung UHD 4K S9 TV costs £34,999 in Selfridges London and is an 85 inch model with a supporting frame. The arrival follows a similar launch for Sony’s 4K TV technology last year, while Sony has since introduced a smaller, and more affordable, 4K TV alongside a 4K film download service in the US. You can ready more on that in our report direct from Sony’s UK HQ.

The S9 uses ‘Smart Evolution’ technology which is an effort to future-proof this bleeding edge set for technology fans requiring the ultimate in TV resolution . Richard Jones, Technology Buyer for Selfridges says “the quality and definition breaks new boundaries in the world of HD TV”.

Of course, the big question around 4K technology is whether the general consumer understands the huge increase in definition and whether it’s enough of a jump from standard ‘1080p’ HD. There’s a raft of sonic benefits if you have the right hardware and, as the gap between cinema screens and home entertainment has become closer, 4K is the technology which finally proves that home movies can beat the cinema screen experience via TV or projector, as long as you have the money to spend on achieving cinematic nirvana. 4K content is huge in terms of data and while Sky is trialling 4K filming at Wimbledon this year but, there’s an interesting debate about how 4K content reaches people. 4K can be delivered on large Blu Ray discs but in an age of iTunes and Netflix, the future of Blu Ray players looks uncertain. 4K movie content is huge and you’ll need a super fat broadband connection to even think about downloading films and, even then, in the UK at least, you’ll probably need to do it overnight…

You can take a look at the S9 in Selfridges from today…

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NEWS: Canon reveal 100D and 700D cameras on location

Canon took Gadget Luxe to an unusual underground location yesterday, all in the name of testing a new range of cameras. London’s disused Aldwych tube station was the venue which, although closed since 1994, has more recently been used as a film set for Creep, V for Vendetta and 28 Weeks Later. The event was designed to promote a new range of cameras, specifically an entry level DSLR in the shape of the 100D and the new 700D, PowerShot N, PowerShot SX280 and PowerShot GX 1 cameras. Read our thoughts below and note that each camera is accompanied by a shot taken by that camera as well as an image of the camera itself. If you want more detail, check out the full size gallery of untouched images from each camera here.

Canon EOS 100D: review

The ultra lightweight 100D is designed for the casual snapper turning to a DSLR camera for the first time. Speaking at Kings College campus before the event, Canon claimed that the 100D was the ‘smallest and lightest’ DSLR camera on the market and, at the time of writing, that’s the truth. The 100D boasts an 18 megapixel sensor and training guides so you can easily get to grips with the basic features before exploring the high-end settings. At 407g with a touchscreen, it’s a decent stab at getting novice photographers interested in DSLR and the performance per pound ratio is very good indeed, given the £699 price tag which includes a 18-55mm lens. It’s the natural (and easier) alternative to stepping into hobbyist photography compared the 500D. Pros will instantly look for the battery as the lightweight body genuinely feels like it’s missing something…

Canon EOS 700D: review

The only downside of the 100D is that it’s joined by the impressive 700D at £749 with a 18-55mm lens, though you’ll need DSLR skills to get the most from it of course. Boasting 5 frames per second for sports style shooting, the autofocus system offers 9 focus points across a frame and decent low light shots with a 100-12,800 ISO range. The LCD II Touch screen is clear and it’s absorbed the rugged finish of Canon cameras further up the price bracket.

PowerShot N: review

Canon call this 12 megapixel cube camera a ‘concept camera’ and, admittedly, it looks odd. With a diagram showing you how to capture pet shots listed in the manual, it’s designed as a simple family camera. There’s even six instagram style creative effects on a single shot if you hit a single button. The 8 x digital zoom is used by rotating the lens and shooting requires you to push the top of the lens, rather than a traditional button on the top right of the camera. In keeping with the mini profile, the PowerShot N uses MicroSD cards instead of standard SD cards. At £269, it’s beyond the price of an entry level point and shoot camera but with a good HD video mode and sturdy build, we like the PowerShot N and can see the practical use at home, on holiday or at a gig when viewed against rival smartphones, especially where video is concerned. The small, square frame is great for close-ups on a solid surface, without the faff of a tripod too.

PowerShot SX280HS: review

Billed as a ‘super compact’, the SX280HS uses Canon’s DIGIC 6 processor and a 20 x zoom mode, alongside 60fps HD video.  The 12 megapixel sensor produced clean shots in the disused Aldwych station but it’s the zoom which didn’t fail under shaky shots and offered decent stabilization. The panorama mode worked well but, size wise, the new G15 offers a step change in what you can achieve with a similar size frame…

PowerShot GX 1: review

The GX 1 actually arrived last year but the £479 compact is still something very special. Designed as a smaller snapper, designed to back up your DSLR, it’s the first Canon compact to boast a 4:3 aspect, 14 megapixel sensor. The rotating screen allows for extreme angles and the low level track shots from Aldwych station deal with light and the lack of it brilliantly. Rugged, practical and packed with features, it’s solid shooter and great with video. You can see untouched shots from each camera below and full size versions here.

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NEWS: Astell & Kern 100 music player beats iPhone 5

The small black shell of the AK100 houses hi-fi quality tech that now fits in the palm of your hands. Stripping the best chips from full-size budget hi-fi separates, including the DAC hardware that converts digital sounds to analogue, the AK100 can cope with studio quality sound – master recordings by the original artist before any CD or MP3 compression starts.

What does that mean? It means the AK100 can play 24 bit digital flac files. A flac album is roughly ten times the size of an iTunes download, which shows how much data you’re missing via normal music downloads on an iPhone 5. You can rip your CDs and vinyl as flac files but there’s also high definition download services from Linn, B&W and Naim audio. Naturally, the AK100 will play other files including Apple Lossless, the highest quality CD rip option from Apple – it doesn’t support flac as a format.

In terms of spec, the retro volume dial is accompanied by a touchscreen and 32GB of internal memory. There’s space for two 64GB MicroSD cards too, so you can get a potential 160GB of storage to house around 160 albums as full, 24 bit, 96 Mhz quality files. There’s no wireless sync, adding to the old-fashioned feel of the AK100 but there is a concession to wireless music in the shape of a Bluetooth mode. To get the very best from the AK100, you’ll need decent headphones – typically the detail-packed Sennheiser HD 25 II studio headphones work well but aren’t the only solution. You’ll hear the benefit right up to the £1000 price bracket in terms of headphones.

For the traveler after luxury audio on the go, this is the gadget to beat. The AK100 is on sale now for £569.

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NEWS: B&O hit headphone market with H3, H6 cans

The UK headphone market hit £226 Miliion last year and has seen explosive growth, particularly in the high-end sector and B&O (like hi-fi rivals B&W, KEF and Onkyo) has seen the opportunity and launched two new models.

Both the H3 in-ear headphones and full-size cowhide leather H6 headphones are produced by Danish designer Jakob Wagner. Henrik Taudorf Lorensen, VP of B&O PLAY says: “We wanted someone who understood the importance of craftsmanship and our heritage. Together, we have created two different, unique headphone designs that in each separate way are perfect for music experiences on the go and have chosen high quality materials that are durable and long-lasting”.

The H3s are £199 and the H6s are £329 with inline controls on the cable. Both models are on sale next month…

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