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Over at brother site Brandish they have been looking at retro gadgets. For me they are invariably always more naff than cool, but if you love vintage record players, 70s Timex watches and retro cameras then go here.

Other good stuff includes

The smartest iPhone cycle gadget so far? Wahoo's RFLKT

The cheapest half-decent 10inch tablet we have seen

Ten excellent Christmas scarves

The 10 best debut albums of 2012

Plus how to buy a vintage racing cycle

keira-daley.pngreview-line.JPGThe Queen Geek of cabaret, Keira Daley is set to take the Edinburgh Fringe festival by storm this year with her show LadyNerd. An infectious mix of tech anecdotes, wit and belly laughs, LadyNerd sees Keira join forces with musical director and piano geek Mark Chamberlain (Jersey Boys, The Last Five Years, Mornings With Kerri-Anne), in "an unashamedly brainy celebration where jazzy piano bar meets Sega Megadrive". In this exclusive guest post, Keira talks us through the rise of the nerd, and some of the incredible women over the centuries who've made it possible.

review-line.JPGI discovered my nerdy identity - or 'nerdentity', if you will - at a very young age.

I was five years old when my big sister brought home a mangled aquamarine coloured box with the word "Tempest" on it. It was adorned with screenshots of games - the only one I remember clearly is Pong, though it may or may not have been called "Bat 'n' Ball" for copyright reasons.

This is my earliest recollection of a computer.

Somehow, I worked out how to hook it all up, tune the TV to it (an old wooden box CRT - yes, I'm a child of the '80s), and get it running. Thus began my reputation as "person who knows how to make the gadgets work" (which is a somewhat less shiny title than "engineer", "programmer", or "techspert" - I am just a stage performer after all).

The Tempest was already old for its time - this was Atari's heyday - but it was pretty amazing to me. You press a button on a stick attached to a wire, attached to a dusty slab of a console, attached to a behemoth of a TV, and you can make things happen on the screen half a metre away. Incredible!

Fast forward to the early '90s. We had an Amiga 500. I shouldn't really say "we" though because I was the only one who used it (imagine a household now where only the 10-year-old uses the family PC...). Needless to say, it was a beautiful, exotic device at the time. Of course, it involved the somewhat less beautiful task of swapping floppy discs every time you wanted Willie Beamish to "Take backpack". But I loved it all the same.amiga500.jpgNowadays, we expect computers to be there at every turn, doing our bidding. It's hard to imagine life without mobile phones, let alone life without so much as a calculator. Strangely enough, in 1842 Ada Lovelace knew this is how things would go down before the first computer was even built. After learning of Charles Babbage's purely theoretical Analytical Engine, Ada felt mathematically inspired enough by the idea to write it an algorithm - a nerdy kind of love letter to a phenomenon she'd never live to experience.

This is what nerds do best - they embrace ideas.

History's greatest nerds have committed wholeheartedly to theories that others often overlook or dismiss. Had Marie Curie followed the pack, she'd never have discovered the true nature of radioactivity. Okay, so she also mightn't have been poisoned to death by radiation, but sometimes you have to take the bad with the good.

Meanwhile, Florence Nightingale's obsession with hygiene cut the death rate of wounded soldiers almost by half using two powerful tools - meticulous medical records and a little thing we call hygiene. Washing hands saves lives, who knew? I'd quite like a Florence Nightingale hologram next to the sinks in every public toilet, complete with pie charts (which she invented), explaining why a clean hand is better than a gross one. I'd probably go to high-five her every time, but my hand would sweep through and hit my own hand in the mirror.

And, damn it, why shouldn't we high-five ourselves? In an image-obsessed world, rife with inane pop cultural phenomena (not to say it's all bad, of course - there's some amazing TV around) nerds are the people restoring the balance. Nerds are the ones who reflect and redirect. Nerds make discoveries, they cure diseases and solve problems. They investigate, question, and research until the job is done. In other words, nerds do stuff.

"Nerd" is not a dirty word. If you are a nerd, you should wear it as a badge of honour considering your predecessors. And if you're not... isn't it time you joined us?

Keira Daley is a writer, performer, and life-long nerd from Sydney, Australia. Her award-winning cabaret Keira Daley: LadyNerd is appearing at Edinburgh Fringe 2012 every day 5.20pm at George Square Three.

For bookings, visit: http://www.edfringe.com/whats-on/cabaret/keira-daley-ladynerd

2012-05-15 14.30.13.jpgViewQuest have updated their range of retro-styled radios. The Retro Radio Wi-Fi adds, you guessed it, wireless connectivity to the range, while a special edition Union Jack Retro Radio (without the Wi-Fi connectivity) has also been put together in time for this summer's patriotic festivities.

Looking firstly at the Retro Radio Wi-Fi, you get wireless connectivity for accessing web radio stations and local weather and stock news through the backlit LCD display, an iPhone/iPod dock, Aux-in, DAB/FM radio and 10 channel presets. Packing 2x10 watt speakers, it's available in two styles: 'Black with Grey' front and 'Black with Cream' front. It's a penny shy of £149.99.

Next, the Union Jack Retro Radio offers similar connectivity, barring the wireless option. For £129.99 you're getting an iPhone/iPod dock, DAB/FM radio, 10 presets, Aux-in, auto scan tuning, a backlit LCD screen and 15 hours of juice from four C size batteries, all wrapped up in leather Union Jack casing. It two uses 2x10 watt speakers.

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We had the pleasure of a brief hands-on play with the Wi-Fi Retro Radio this week, and came away pleasantly surprised by the quality of its build and solid sound. We particularly liked the nifty pop-out iPod dock, keeping connections safely tucked away when not in use.

We'll be getting the Wi-Fi equipped radio in for a review shortly, so keep your eyes peeled for that when it touches down on Tech Digest in the coming weeks.

For more infor, visit the ViewQuest website.

NES-Guinness-RecordThe Guinness World Record for the largest videogame controller on the planet has been broken! British electrical engineering student Ben Allen along with co-creators Stephen van 't Hof and Michel Verhulst put together a gigantic 12ft x 5ft 3 in x 1ft 8 in, 18 stone NES controller to take the title, a joypad so big it needs two people to operate!

"The idea basically came from a brainstorm," said Allen.

"We were sitting around between lectures having a chat and a coffee, someone came up with the NES idea and we ran with it. From the conception to the completion of the controller took about six months, and after spending a lot of time planning, the actual build took about four weeks. There were lots of late nights, and lots of not sleeping! In fact, I even fell asleep on the controller for about half an hour one night!"

Showcasing the achievement at London's Liverpool Street Station, Tech Digest got some hands-on time with the daddy of all retro controllers. Though it takes some getting used to, the oversize buttons responded really well, pushing back against our hands with a satisfyingly spongy feel. Tech Digest, alongside Shiny Shiny's Becca, managed a respectable 67 lines on the NES version of Tetris, a potential record in itself on the unique controller.
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But construction wasn't simply a matter of scaling up components found in a regular NES joypad. After a few nights spent stress-testing the unit in a rowdy local pub, Allen's team quickly realised the original iconic design couldn't withstand the repeated button presses made when playing scaled up to the new size.

"In the original controller there's just a bit of padding on the back of each button and a mesh on the circuit board," explained Allen.

"When you press the pad there it short circuits the mesh and pulls the signal low. Here we do it slightly differently. The mechanical switches in our prototype broke, so we went with a light-based system with a sensor. When you press a button, the light beam hitting the sensor is broken, the sensor filters that information and pushes it to the same electronics as used in the original NES controller, which then in turn registers your intended inputs."

So, could anyone make a working version similar to the record breaking kit on show? Allen, who studies at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, believes so:

"If you wanted to do it at home I reckon you could. Perhaps using a wooden frame rather than the stress-tested steel frame we've built, without the car wheel ball bearings too. Though it's not a cheap thing to do, if you had three guys, working four full-time weeks, you could probably do this, and some more."
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The event was held in order to promote the release of the Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition 2012, which also features other quirky gaming records like "Longest Gaming Session in Free-Fall" and "Largest Competitive Pokémon Videogame Family". We can't begin to imagine what the conversation around that family dinner table must be like!

"We've been burning the midnight oil like ninjas for the 2012 Gamer's Edition: witnessing record attempts, talking to developers and playing as many videogames as we could handle." said Guinness World Records Gaming Editor, Gaz Deaves.

"Gamers all over the world can finally get their hands on the result of our hard labour, and this year's book packed with all the amazing records, facts and feats that they have a right to expect from Guinness World Records."

Out on Thursday 19th January, the Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition 2012 will be available from all good bookstores. And some rubbish ones too!

CHRISTMAS GIFT GUIDE: Retro presents

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retro-presents-banner.jpgiPad this and 3DTV that! Who said Christmas had to be all about high-tech gadgetry?

Well, us probably! But that doesn't mean we don't have a soft spot for simpler times. So why not jump in the back of Tech Digest's Delorean and take a trip down memory lane, as we pick ten of our favourite retro (and retro inspired) gifts to pop on your Christmas wishlist.

When you're done here, be sure to check out the rest of Tech Digest's 2011 Christmas wishlists too.

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We were all feeling quite nostalgic about reports that the "last typewriter manufacturer in the world", Godrej and Boyce, has shut down its factory in Mumbai, India. This would then meant the humble typewriter would likely go the way of the floppy disc. But it seems we were a little premature with the eulogies - the machinery is still in production, according to reports from Gawker.

Quotes Gawker: "The typewriter is "far from dead," said Ed Michael, general manager of sales at New Jersey-based typewriter manufacturer Swintec. "We have manufacturers making typewriters for us in China, Japan, Indonesia. ... We have contracts with correctional facilities in 43 states to supply clear typewriters for inmates so they can't hide contraband inside them."

While some countries, such as India, still use a fair few typewriters, there is also a significant nostalgia market for the retro gadget. If reports of demise one day were to be true, we would likely see a revival of the gadget - like we did with Polaroid.

The typewriter was first introduced in 1714 by Hentry Mill, before the device was entered into mass production in 1868 in the US. Sales peaked in the 1950s when Smith-Corona sold 12 million of the machines in the last quarter of 1953. By 2009, only 400,000 typewriters were sold annually.

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The much-loved Commodore 64 PC is to rise like a phoenix from the flames this summer, reborn as the souped-up C64x

Housed in the same old-skool casing as the original Commodore 64, the updated C64x will have specs fit for a modern day PC.

A 1.8Ghz dual-core Intel Atom D525 processor, Nvidia graphics chip, HDMI port, up to 1TB hard drive, 2 or 4GB RAM options and an optional Blu-ray player will all fit snugly inside the brown chunky keyboard.

And, for you older gaming geeks hankering for a bit of 8-bit retro playtime, it'll even come with an integrated C64 emulator.

Pre-orders start at around £365 ($595) with the first units set to ship in May.


Okay so I wont be giving up my record player any time soon but I do kind of love this Soundwagon record player. Officially licensed by Volkswagen, this mini hyper-portable record player is modeled after the VW's classic bus.

The wonderfully detailed bus has a built-in needle powered by a nine volt battery, so all you need to do is drop the wagon on a record and let it ride. Check out the wagon in action above.


A joint production with Atari, the Ion iCade tuns your iPad into a eighties style Atari games console complete with those indestructible knobs and buttons. Apparently the whole back catalogue of Atari is now on iTunes so you can play Asteroids and all the others. The iCade has pretty good speaker system too so it doubles as neat audio accessory for your Apple gadget.


How about a record player that you can hang on the wall? Ion Audio's Vertical Vinyl Record Deck is either battery or mains powered, comes with a wall bracket and looks great. Coming in Spring for £49. Check out the other 'Burger style' deck too.


Adding new tech to retro electronic deisgns is normally a recipie for disaster as you can invariably tell that whoever put the products together doesn't have an affinity for the original design.

That is absolutely not the case with Crossley Radio (think a US version of Bush or Roberts Radio) whose new line of up record decks and radios look amazing. Sure they come with USB connectors and other contemporary features, but they really do have the spirit and feel of the 50s/60s products they are aping.

I am very fussy about this type of stuff but I would have no qualms about giving the Crossley record decks house space. They ship to the UK too!

POP

French designer David Turpin has teamed up with Native Union to create the Moshi Moshi 'POP' handset for mobile phones. The fantastic retro style handset, is based on Turpin's interpretation of the classic 1950s Bakelite telephone.

The Moshi Moshi line is designed to offer users the convenience and comfort of a traditional phone, but still give them access to the full range of features on their phones. The POP handset connects to a mobile phone using a 3.5mm jack allowing the user to make a receive calls through the handset. It also comes with a USB adaptor to attach the phone to a computer

In the past few months there has been a lot of discussion about the impact that radiation emitted by mobile devices may be having on our health and its link to an increased risk of cancer. One solution to this problem is to use a handsets to reduce your direct contact with your mobile device. The Moshi Moshi line through independent testing was found to reduce this threat by 99.9%.

The handset is available in pink, yellow, purple, blue and green.

10 Fabulous 80's Boomboxes

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It seems like the BoomBox is about to make a bit of a come back, with even Urban Outfitters carrying an iPhone Boombox. While it has a retro cool look to it, we miss the real thing and began a bit of a hunt to track down the stars of this 80's phenomenon from the JVC R646 to the Grundig RR 1000

The boombox, which reached its prime in the the 1980s, and was the must have item of the decade with 1000's of different models released. So we were super excited to come across this amazing site stereo80s.com completely dedicated to the single piece Boomboxes of the 80's. The site is constantly being updated with the goal of having information on every boombox ever in one place.
Make sure to check it out and see if you can find your old boombox.

Currently there are hundreds of boomboxes in the database so we decided to compile a list of 10 ghetto fabulous boomboxes.

cassettes

From musicians making music on 8 tracks,to photographers rediscovering film, there has undeniably been an interest in returning to analogue technologies in recent years. It seems that hardly anyone I know under the age of 30 does not own at least a few vinyl albums, or a film camera. This might just be my friends, but the fact that you can buy record players and Lomo cameras in shops like Urban Outfitters, suggests its relatively mainstream.

As technology and gadgets become more and more sophisticated there seems to be an increasing desire to hold on to old technologies, if only for nostalgia's sake. Vinyl in many ways has been the poster boy for this trend back to analogue, demonstrated by the fact that as CD sales fell by the way side, vinyl sales have continued to rise over the last two years.

So undeniably we are still invested in analogue tech. So why did Sony put the final nail in the Walkman coffin this week? They cited low consumer interest in the product for their decision to end production after 30 years, but when was the last time they did anything to even make you aware that the product was still around?

Regardless, I believe that Sony has missed the boat by failing to jump on the analogue trend. Especially as the cassette seems to be following in vinyl's shoes and is on the verge of making a come back.

In the last year numerous indie bands have started to release music on cassette, including the likes of "Of Montreal," "Internet Forever," "Sky Larkin," "Seams," and the list goes on. In fact last week it came to my attention that there are tape-only labels starting to emerge, such as new London label "Cool In A Crisis".

So with cassettes set to be the next big trend in analogue tech, did Sony pull the plug on their Walkman a little to soon?

10 great retro gadgets up for grabs on eBay

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retro gadgets header.jpgSmartphones, tablets, 3D TVs; who needs em? Back in my day it wasn't about whether or not your mobile could multi-task, but rather if it would fit in your rucksack without the weight of it snapping your spine in two. 3D TV was but a futuristic dream as we made do with the snow-storms of analogue TV receptions, while tablets were something you took when you had had a particularly heavy night on the town.

With technology progressing so quickly these days it's easy to forget the trailblazing products that paved the way for the iPods and PlayStations we now take for granted, not to mention some of the quirkier tech ideas that were perhaps better off left on the drawing board.

So let's turn back the clock, scour the online boot-sale that is eBay.co.uk and dig out 10 great retro gadget gems.

Click below to get started.

back to the future trainers.jpg
Remember the uber-cool self-lacing trainers that featured in Back to the Future II? If you don't, firstly there's no way we're ever going to be friends. Secondly, hit the video below to check them out.

Remember now? Well today those trainers took one small step towards becoming a reality after news has spread that Nike have filed a patent with an aim towards possibly developing a pair. Lights, recharging batteries as well as the auto-tying could all feature should they ever be fully developed.

While one side of me would kill to have a pair of motorised auto-lacing Nike trainers, the other half of me would always be worried that they'd get wet in the rain and go into meltdown, lopping off my feet in the process. That would not be cool. The below clip of a custom job however is the very definition of cool.

For the record, considering Back to the Future II's 1989 release date and the movie's time-travelling now-near-future setting, figuring out whether to file this story under "Retro Gear" or "Future Gear" nearly caused me to have some sort of minor existential breakdown. That's what you get when you mess with the space/time continuum I suppose.

Via: Engadget

Pure Evoke 1S Marshall.jpgPure and Marshall have joined forces once again to revamp their rocking Evoke Marshall range with the Evoke 1S Marshall radio.

Now complete with an aux-input for MP3 players, it also features an FM radio, an OLED display and support for all Profile 1 digital standards such as DAB, DAB+ and DAB-R, making it travel friendly if you take it on any European trips. While it runs off of mains power, it's also compatible with the Pure ChargePak, allowing you to use it when a plug socket isn't handy.

Made with as many real Marshall amp bits and bobs they could find, the solid wood radio is as sturdy as any full size radio, and, in a cheeky nod to classic mockumentary Spinal Tap, has a volume knob that goes all the way up to "11".

It's one drawback is that it only plays your tunes in mono-output, unless you fork out an extra £34.99 for the mini-Marshall amp auxiliary speaker to go along with it.

Paul Marshall of Marshall Amplification said: "We're excited to bring the Marshall brand back to this fast growing segment of consumer electronics. Working with PURE we've created a digital radio that brings iconic Marshall design to an equally iconic radio that all listeners can embrace as a stylish statement of their love for music."
 
Available from HMV in August, the EVOKE-1S Marshall will cost £119.99.

cfd-a110.jpgThe floppy-disc may have gone the way of the Dodo, but there is one ageing technology that may yet prove to be as resilient as a cockroach; the cassette tape. Maybe it's the sentimentality that we attach to our favourite music, or that Sony are keen to do right by format that filled their coffers back in the 1980's and early 90's. Whatever the reason, Sony are set to launch a new boom box this month, the CFD-A110.

Well, re-branded at least, if not strictly new. The eagle-eyed among you might recognise similarities to 2003's CFD-A100TV, and barring the omission of an analogue TV band, it is indeed very similar. Playing back both CDs and cassettes, it features full range speakers, a microphone port for post-pub karaoke sessions and 14 AM/FM presets.

It'll cost about £145 pounds when converted from Yen when it launches in Japan this June. No UK release planned yet though, so might be best to hit your local car-boot sale if you need a cassette player sharpish.

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Polaroid 300.jpgThere's been lots of movement in Camp Polaroid this year, what with the appointment of Lady Gaga as creative director of the brand. Now we're finally seeing some new kit to go along with the Paparazzi popstar in the shape of the Polaroid 300 Instant Analogue camera.

A modern touch-up of the classic Polaroid idea, the camera allows you to develop pocket-sized snaps as soon as you've taken the picture.

New features include an auto-flash and manual exposure compensation, with the photos themselves printing out onto 2.1 x 3.4-inch film with the iconic white border affect.

However, there's a high-price to pay for what is essentially ancient technology. £79.99 will grab you the camera, while a batch of 10 Polaroid 300 instant film will set you back a difficult-to-justify £12.99.

If you still can't resist the camera's retro charms however, you'll be able to pick one up from Firebox at the beginning of May.

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retro thing joystick.jpgYou can shove your PS3s and Xbox 360s; put yourself in front of a classic Galaxian arcade cabinet and watch as it devourers all the silver in your pockets with old-school gaming joy. Emulators like MAME may keep your piggybank full, but modern controllers don't feel right in the 8 -bit world.

Thankfully, Retro Thing have been quietly working away on their Clear Classic USB Joystick, modelled after controllers familiar to any gamers from the 70's and 80's.

Retro Thing worked closely with Legacy Engineering ( the team behind the Atari Flashback 2 retro console) to get the iconic feel just right, but added their own blue LED light into the mix to give it a Tron-like glow.

The controller, compatible with both PCs and Macs, comes complete with an Atari 2600 emulator and 80 homebrew games to get you started.

The limited edition joystick costs $29.95, and Retro Thing stockists Reflex Audio happily ship to the UK.

Buy one here.

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