Do you ever have that moment of "I wish I could afford..." when you spot a piece of quality hardware that you need to have but can't quite break the budget for? In a perfect world we would have an endless supply of cash: and here is how a geek can spend it perfectly.
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Floating in the MacBook Air
This might not be the highest-spec notebook computer currently available but it is certainly one of the most impressive, not just for the unibody construction but for its sheer dimensions. Frankly if you don’t already own a MacBook Air and it doesn’t appear on gadget your wish list then you’re definitely missing a trick.
Sure there is no real justification for being able to slot one of these in an envelope – let’s face it, the way letters and parcels get bounced around would do a slimline computer no good. And it’s not as if you can easily repair them either; the unibody chassis puts paid to any ambitions in that area, while the high standard of the SSD storage means that expansion is also tricky.
Yet these are marvellous computers for working around town or on vacations, and despite the device being first introduced in 2008 (with new versions in 2010 and 2011) none of Apple’s competitors has been able to compete. The 2011 MacBook Air can be purchased from around $1599 for the most advanced model.
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It shames me to say it, but I don’t actually own a Kinect, despite being a Xbox 360 user since the console was first released. So what’s my excuse?
Well, it’s one of scale, really. The family console is a Wii, so my Xbox sits in my den; squashed alongside my PC, guitar, tablet, a bevy of DVDs, games and CDs… you get the picture. There isn’t much room in there, certainly not enough start getting physical! Come to think of it, a bigger den to play in should be on every Geek's wish list.
However, this doesn’t mean that I don’t intend on purchasing a Kinect. With the great new games that are available for Xbox 360 that take advantage of the console, it is only a matter of time before the Wii is consigned to the great silicon graveyard in the attic… You should be able to pickup a Kinect for around $150 new, or up to $500 if packaged with a new Xbox.
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A HP TouchPad? Are You Serious?!
Why on earth would anyone want a tablet computer that no one bought and whose manufacturer has discarded it? Well, naturally, it is the spec – and the urge to take advantage of the amazing homebrew development work going on which has resulted in some excellent Android Honeycomb ROMs being developed for the TouchPad.
It is hugely disappointing that HP discarded WebOS so ceremoniously, doubly so that the TouchPad – a promising piece of hardware – was curbed alongside it.
But this doesn’t mean that the TouchPad isn’t a good device. It’s a great piece of kit, and with an Android ROM that will fully take advantage of its quality this tablet can easily challenge the Motorola Xoom.
Prices on the TouchPad vary - the 32 GB model is around $250.
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Look, I'm Typing Datahand-ed!
You might think that the keyboard is pretty much unchangeable as it is, having been declared a design classic. With modern design techniques and an eye on being as comfortable as possible, however, this is no longer the case. The Datahand is a new finger-based input device which can be adjusted for use with any sized hand and delivers a whole new dimension to typing.
Ok, whether or not the device is any good for typing doesn't matter - it looks damn cool, and at the very least should consign RSI to the waste bin of history!
In truth, the design was released a few years ago, and no one seems to know much about the device. As a prototype, this places it in the must-have-but-priceless category...
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Gibson Firebird X
Yes it’s a guitar, but not just any six string, hard-bodied axe.
The Gibson Firebird X probably represents the pinnacle of guitar cybernetics, equipped not only with the expected pickups and volume controls but with various ground-breaking on-board technologies that bring many of the special effects found in digital studios into the body of the guitar itself!
(A quick word about that body too: it’s the stuff of legends, first introduced as a "non-reverse" body of an alternate line of Gibson Explorers back in the 1960s. It’s unusual and the perfect shape to add to any large guitar collection.)
The Firebird X boasts automatic tuning (seriously!), Bluetooth connectivity for wireless effects pedals and there’s basically a small computer in there, managing several effects normally found in pedals. Brilliant!
You might think that $3000 for a guitar is excessive, but let's face it, it must have a good thousand dollars of electronics inside it. For looks, engineering and all round functionality, the Gibson Firebird X is genuinely a work of art.
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Make the Audio Yours!
For some reason surround sound systems always seem to be targeted at home cinema junkies rather than where they make a real difference - on a PC or console!
The best solution you can probably find for Dolby 7.1 surround will no doubt blow down buildings thoughout the neighborhood in the middle of Call of Duty, though. Short of soundproofing the aforementioned den upgrade, the next best choice is a headset, namely the Ear Force X41 which can be used on Xbox 360, Windows PC and PlayStation 3. The results are fantastic and the device runs wirelessly - what more could you want for $199?
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What's Your Storage?
Whichever operating system you use, installing it on a solid state drive is going to improve your computer's performance considerably. While a 20 GB drive will be enough for Windows or Mac OS X, you might prefer to have all of you data stored on an SSD device for instant access.
I reckon a 256 GB Crucial M4 (priced around $420) is just about the right size and speed for delivering fast page file swapping and storing all of my favorite PC games.
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Where's Your Nintendo 3DS?
Sales figures suggest that the Nintendo 3DS isn’t doing as well as expected, with some commentators suggesting that the original DS line is outselling its high-tech successor. Whether this is accurate or not doesn’t change the fact that this particular game device is absolutely great, delivering the portable Nintendo gaming wonder that you would expect in amazing three-dimensional graphics.
You don’t need any silly glasses to see the depth of field on these consoles; this device - available for a reasonable $184 - is a great feat of digital engineering and as such should be on everyone’s gadget wish list!
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A Bigger Monitor?
There is always a case to be made for a larger monitor to better enjoy the web, and the BenQ EW2420HD is certainly on my list for combining two HDMI ports, full HD (I have no time for HD-ready devices), an attractive bezel, and a price on the right side of $300. Heck lets get three of them for some wrap-around gaming goodness.
At 24 inches this LCD display is perfect for desktop use with Windows 7 and the vast majority of current games. With the 2 ms response and 1920x1080 resolution, however, it might just get disconnected from my PC and used for watching movies on Blu-ray...
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A Mobile Must-Have: Nokia Lumia 800 Windows Phone
Any big fan of the Windows Phone platform (and to be fair it has gotten much better of late) should be fascinated by what Nokia will be bringing to the table when the Lumia 800 device is launched in November 2011. Offering the usual polished Metro UI experience combined with superior photographic technology via a 12 MP camera with a Carl Zeiss lens, all in a lighter handset, the Finnish mobile phone manufacturer’s support of Windows Phone in favor of its own (failed) MeeGo platform is seen by many as a last throw of the dice.
Failure is not an option, which is why Nokia need to make sure that their Windows Phone devices are at least better than those currently on offer from HTC, and they did indeed make a great phone.
Currently unavailable in the USA, I'll be purchasing my Lumia in Europe, where it retails at around £450, a little under $800.
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Computer Mice Are a Girl's Best Friend
While I have no particular love for diamonds, I think we can all appreciate what happens when someone gets too distracted by their cool phones and headsets and their partner becomes slightly disgruntled. As such, I've added this to my wish list to keep my other half distracted...
If you think that this is just a white mouse with some diamante pieces embedded, think again - you're looking at a genuine 18 carat white gold mouse from Pat Says Now, topped off with 59 diamonds. We're not sure of the significance of 59, or if using 60 diamonds might have been considered excessive by the designer.
Fortunately for such an expensive device, it comes with a PS/2 and USB connector, but how much time you'll spend using the device rather than looking at it is up for debate. Although if you're going to spend 26 thousand dollars on a peripheral, then you should probably use it...
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Couldn't I Just Have DLNA Everything?
Ever since I discovered DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) equipment I’ve been carefully checking the specs of hardware I’m interested in to check that it is compatible with this popular method of sharing media wirelessly between computers, phones, tablets and TVs.
With the recent inclusion of DLNA in my Windows Phone, I’m now ready to start sharing stuff with friends on their TVs – only no one I know seems to have a DLNA-ready TV!
Therefore it is absolutely necessary that everyone I know gets DLNA everything, enabling us to share and share alike!
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Spy Robot Wars!
Since my childhood in the late 1970s and early 1980s I’ve been looking for the perfect robot companion. I had thought it was K9, the robot dog from the time travelling adventure series "Doctor Who". Later I was fixated on R2-D2 until it become clear that you need to speak a strange beeping language to understand a word he says (a considerable design flaw). "Transformers" leader Optimus Prime and "The Terminator" were impractical for obvious reasons. Again, we make the case for a really big den.
Fortunately I no longer have to worry. Meccano’s Spykee is here, a configurable robot that is remote-controlled via your PC's Wi-Fi connection and comes equipped with a web cam, microphone and all-terrain tracks (although I’m not certain how practical these are). It looks brilliant, and for $420 it should be!
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Amazon Kindle is on Fire!
There is room in my den for plenty of cool hardware (just not enough for me to jump around in front of the Kinnect), and while I've got my eye on a HP Touchpad for its customization options, the Kindle Fire has got to be the must-have tablet choice for 2012.
It's compact, lightweight and ridiculously cheap, and thanks to the Kindle app you can enjoy eBooks as well as web browsing and emails, not to mention accessing Android games.
There are different ways of looking at it, but to me it's like Amazon are almost giving the tablet away (it's just $199) so that you can then use the savings to buy books and music from them.
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Electrolux Laptop Stove
I like to cook.
In fact, I’ve got a bit of a reputation at home as a chap who likes to spend a bit of time in the kitchen, experimenting with flavors and producing (I hope) delicious dishes to share with my family and our guests.
Now, while I prefer to develop my own recipes, there are always times when this isn’t appropriate. After all, how do you improve on a classic like Moussaka? You can’t, but you can use the World Wide Web to find the best, most authentic version of the recipe to produce a great meal. The problem is that it’s often tricky referring back to a tablet or laptop for the results and printing the recipe is wasteful.
Which is why I simply need the Electrolux laptop stove – an item that is exactly what the name suggests! Apparently this is still at the prototype stage, but it’s bound to be a must-have in most kitchens! Dorm bound students in particular will love its ability to circumvent rules about hot plates while making sausages and putting the finishing touches on their term papers.
Now, I just need to share this article with all of my family and friends…