Dear Santa - A techy little Christmas
The iTimes team are planning on having a techy little Christmas. Here are our picks with one piece of tech for each of the 12 days of Christmas.
CHRIS GARDNER, TECHNOLOGY EDITOR, WAIKATO TIMES
Lego Technic Helicopter 9396 ($169)
The new Hobbit Lego and, even better, Star Wars Lego are on my Christmas wish list but I'm too old! But the Lego Technic Helicopter 9396 probably has wider appeal. Nothing promotes teamwork more than a Lego kit. The kids love helping to look for specific pieces and watching where they go as, Rolf Harris like, you create something that only becomes recognisable in the last moments of the build. This intricate kit is aimed at 10 to 16-year-olds but it will keep a bright 6-year-old busy for hours if he or she has help.
A Windows Phone 8 smartphone ($999)
Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 was launched in New Zealand last month with the Nokia Lumia 920. The flagship Nokia hardware is absolutely gorgeous and it's running the most user-friendly mobile operating system, yet. It's been called people centric, as its live tiles keep you in the loop with the latest email and social media updates, and its integration with Microsoft Office 2013 makes it a no-brainer. Nokia's likely to launch the smaller Lumia 820 and both HTC and Samsung have some pretty funky Windows Phone 8 hardware on the way, too. Awesome!
HP Envy x2 personal computer
The release of Microsoft's touch centric Windows 8 operating system in October saw a bevy of hot new personal computers on the market. Since Microsoft hasn't launched its Surface tablet, yet, top of my list would be the HP Envy x2. It looks like a notebook computer, but the screen detaches from the keyboard to become a tablet computer. It's a case of getting the best of both worlds with a traditional PC and a new-look touch screen tablet which can do anything a Windows PC can do. I want one of these more than anything.
Working replica of Star Trek’s USS Enterprise
My inner - or is that outer - geek would love to see the world's greatest minds work together to build a space-worthy replica of Star Trek's USS Enterprise starship proposed at buildtheenterprise.org. We apparently have the technology so it would be great to see humanity get beyond its petty bickering to work on a project like this. But it would also be darn cool to see a ship with this now iconic silhouette launched into space with the mission of boldly going where no-one has gone before. Second star to the right and then straight on till morning.
DAVID HALLETT, CHIEF NERD, NEED A NERD WAIKATO
32GB Key-shaped USB Flash Drive ($39.95)
They've been called USB keys for years, and now there's finally a USB flash drive which is actually shaped like a key. It's probably one of the most innovative products at this price point. Made from highly polished stainless steel, the key can be laser engraved with logos and messages in precise detail. Use of the latest integrated circuitry ensures the dimensions are similar to those of a regular door key so that it fits snugly on your key ring. Also good to note is that even though it has a capless design, the flash drive is manufactured to be waterproof, ensuring suitability for actually keeping it on your key ring. Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 Quadricopter ($499)
Parrot, the French company better known for the design and manufacture of Bluetooth hands-free car kits, has released the second generation of their AR.Drone. The AR.Drone 2.0 is a ground-breaking device which features a number of sensors, including a front camera, a vertical camera and an ultrasound altimeter. It combines the best of many worlds, including modelling, video gaming and augmented reality. The AR.Drone is a quadricopter which is remote controlled by a smartphone or tablet - by tilting your device, you control the direction of the AR.Drone - all while a high definition live video is streaming to your smartphone as you're flying, just as if you were in the pilot's seat.
Victorinox 1TB Swiss Army Knife ($3668)
We know that Swiss Army knives should be everything you need in a nice and neat package. With the advent of the digital revolution, many manufacturers started to include a flash drive in them. The new feature of the Victorinox 1TB Swiss Army Knife lifts the bar much higher. Yes, that's one terabyte of data storage in a little bundle in the comforts of your pocket. For practical purposes, the drive can be detached from the Swiss Army knife so that there won't be a dangling hazard each time you have to transfer files. That's definitely a comfort, considering the replacement cost.
Perceptive Pixel 82-inch multitouchscreen ($97,500)
Perceptive Pixel is a maker of large touchscreen monitors that can be used simultaneously by several people. It was recently acquired by Microsoft and I had the chance to have a play with the 82-inch model at the recent TechEd conference in Auckland. I loved the screen and enjoyed zooming in and around Earth imagery with simple pinch and swipe gestures. "You can say it's just a very big Windows 8 tablet, but people ooh and ah at it," said Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer. "Our challenge is to make that technology more affordable."
Apple TV ($159)
If you're looking to make a new tech purchase towards the lower end of the scale, one product worthy of consideration is Apple TV. While it may be one of the cheapest products from Apple at $159, it's possibly one of the best. So what exactly is the Apple TV? To put it simply, it connects your TV to the Apple world. Once you've connected the Apple TV you can stream music or share photos from your iPhone, iPad or iPod to your TV screen. After fun family days during the holidays it can be great to sit down and share them with everyone on your TV. Other benefits include mirroring the screen of your Apple Mac or iOS device on to your TV and the ability to watch YouTube videos on your giant TV screen.
Samsung Galaxy Camera (Under $1000)
Expected to be launched before Christmas is Samsung's new Galaxy Camera. This really is something unique from Samsung and a product I'm hoping to make lots of use of during summer. The Samsung Galaxy Camera is in some ways just a standard digital point and shoot camera but is has three very special features: A 3G mobile data connection built in, the Android smartphone operating system software, and a huge 4.8-inch touch screen. It also has the typical camera features such as 16 megapixel resolution and a 21 X zoom lens. The 3G mobile connection and the Android software gives the Samsung Galaxy Camera a unique benefit - great photos uploaded directly to Facebook or anywhere else online, such Dropbox. Expected to be priced under $1000.
Panasonic PT-AE8000 3D HD projector ($4699)
When it comes to watching a great movie, I believe there are only two ways to experience it as the director intended. The first is to watch it in the greatness of an top movie theatre such as the Embassy Theatre in Wellington, and the second is at home on a top-of-the-line projector with surround sound. Panasonic's new PT-AE8000 fits the bill for both - it's for movie watching at home and for professionals in the film and TV industry who need accurate colour representation. This projector has the benefit of handling 3-D movies in addition to regular movies in Full HD resolution. It is also much brighter than the previous generation of Full HD projectors - something that is particularly helpful for 3-D content but also useful if you want to use the projector during the day in a space that is not dark.
Ford 2013 Focus Sport
Ford's new 2013 Focus Sport has super cool Microsoft Sync technology to provide voice control of the climate control system, picking music and dialling phone numbers. Add to that a Gibbs amphibious conversion and a space travel upgrade, courtesy of Elon Musk's SpaceX. Inside would be a massive sound system extension from the folks at New Zealand's own Fusion Audio and an Xbox 360 to keep passengers entertained on long journeys through the galaxies!