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Unless you are a big aficionado of electric bikes, A2B is probably not a brand you've ever heard of. But they actually launched one of the first electric bikes, or e-bikes, nearly four years ago.

Dubbed the A2B Metro it was quite well received at the time but at £2500 was quite pricey as well as fairly bulky, tipping the scales at a hefty 37Kg. Since then the company has gone through a number of changes, including new ownership (it is now owned by Indian scooter firm, Hero-Electric) as well as a complete re-branding.

Still available, the A2B Metro has been renamed the Octave while new models include the retro looking Galvani which I tested out at a launch at London's National Theatre. Also just launched are several new premium e-bikes manufactured in Germany, rather than the Far East where most are currently made. 

There's even a foldable electric bike, the Kuo, which at 19Kg is the lightest in the range. The aim for 2015 is to get the whole range down below 20Kg, making them much nearer the weight of a conventional pedal bike. 

Get on your e-bike

In 2013 it is expected that around 2 million e-bikes will be sold globally with Germany and Japan the largest markets by quite some margin with around 1 million units between them. Though the UK still lags some way behind with e-bike sales of less than 50,000 per year it's expected that initiatives such as e-bike rental for major cities like London will help boost numbers as well as raise awareness. 

Approximately 40 per cent of e-bikes are used for commuting purposes and they are particularly popular with older users (55 per cent of users are over 50) who are keen to cycle to keep fit but don't fancy the challenge of cycling up steep hills!

Whereas early incarnations of e-bikes were little more than conventional pedal bikes with huge batteries strapped on them, later models have - thankfully - focused more on design. Expected to retail for £1400 the Galvani looks like a conventional, if somewhat retro-styled hybrid bike at first glance but differs in one key respect - underneath the rear pannier sits a 36V Lithium Ion Battery. 

Two versions are available (male and female) though the male retro-looking version is by far the more attractive of the two. I tested out the black model but it is also available in white and silver versions.

Weighing in at around 23Kg, the Galvani is a little heavier than a conventional pedal bike, but there is a  Shimano Alivio 8 speed gear box if you want to change gears manually and use it in non-powered mode to give your legs and lungs a work out. As I was cycling on a flat surface I kept it in fourth gear, and switched on the power assist using the backlit display in the centre of the handlebars. 

Feel the power

Three Power Assist modes are provided and they take a little getting used to. However, basically the harder you pedal the more assistance will be provided. The end result is that you can find yourself going quite fast without having to put that much effort in, especially driving along a flat surface.

Maximum speed is limited to 25Km/h (15.5 miles per hour) to comply with legal requirements. Any faster and the bike would be classified as a scooter and you would require a licence. Either you can charge the battery via the mains in situ on the bike or you can remove it and charge it in your house if you prefer. Charging takes around 4 to 6 hours and gives a range of up to 90Km depending on how much you use the Power Assist modes.

So would I buy an electric bike? Probably not but that's because I don't like the idea of cycling in rush hour traffic around London, even with a motor. However, if I wanted to commute  by bike and lived somewhere quite hilly then I certainly would consider it. At £1450 it's not exactly cheap, but it would be a good investment especially when you consider how much public transport prices have gone up. 

See YouTube video of A2B Galvani Electric Bike below: And you can see me riding the bike here:


Specifications:

Model: A2B Galvani 

Price: £1450

Speed: Maximum speed 25km/h (15.5mph)

Range: Up to 90km (56 miles)

Battery: Lithium-Ion, 36v 9ah (recharging 

Motor: 250w brushless DC hub motor

Brakes: Tektro V brakes

Tyres: 28inch x 1.75 Kenda Khan

Weight: 22.8Kg

For more information go to the A2B website.
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mio-cyclo-105.jpgLooking to cash in on the UK's cycling buzz following our impressive Olympic velodrome gold medal tally, MiTAC Europe are expanding their Mio Cyclo "bicycle computer" fitness tracking range, introducing the Mio Cyclo 100 series.

Kicking off with the Mio Cyclo 100, it tracks time, speed, distance and calorie consumption alongside GPS data, all visible through a 1.8-inch anti-glare screen. Tucked into a compact design that clips onto your bike, it's IPX7 certified for water and dust proofing, with an 18 hour battery life. There's also a "workout partner" onboard to push your training regime to the limit, with a desktop companion app for tracking your workout goals and sharing them online.

Moving onto the Mio Cyclo 105 (pictured), it features all of the above, plus a built-in ANT+ sensor, connected to a heart rate monitor, cadence and wheel sensor. The Mio Cyclo 105 H adds in a wireless heart rate monitor to the above, while the top-of-the-line Mio 105 HC has everything listed above, but is designed to withstand the rugged, demanding schedules of competitive mountain bikers.

"After the successful launch of the Mio Cyclo 300 series in May, we are now very proud to announce an extension of our bicycle GPS-portfolio, with a new range of bicycle computers for the sportive cyclist," said iet Deschuymer, Vice-President Sales & Marketing MiTAC Benelux.

"Cyclists in search of the ideal everyday training companion can choose from the Cyclo 100 series; which offers four different packages. The Cyclo 100 series always has the optimal solution to suit the needs of every sportive user."

Prices are put the Mio Cyclo 100 at £99.99, the Mio Cyclo 105 at £129.99, the Mio Cyclo 105 H at £169.99 and the Mio Cyclo 105 HC at £199.99. All will be in stores by the end of September.

ipad-in-pilot.jpgiPads are about to join the mile-high club in the captain's cabin of American Airlines planes, as the FAA has now approved the use of iPads by pilots in the cockpit.

As of Friday 16th December, pilots will be able to replace their bulky flight manuals with one of Apple' sleek touchscreen tablets, letting them more easily browse the reams of information stored within the paper tomes.

Rigorous testing by both American Airlines and Alaskan Airlines was carried out to ensure both the hardware and accompanying software we're reliable enough to work consistently across long-haul flights.

"Pilots will use iPads as electronic chart and digital flight manual readers," the source told ZDNet.

"The airline will begin iPad operations on B-777 aircraft, and then implement across all other fleets. By using electronic charts and manuals, the safety and efficiency on the flight deck is significantly enhanced."

However, the move is sure to miff frequent flyers who are regularly told to refrain from using electronic devices during take off and landing, as well as needing to switch off wireless equipment. Won't the pilots' tablets interfere with equipment too?

Perhaps airlines will relax rules on in-flight electronics following this new allowance.

minikit+.jpgParrot have unveiled the MINIKIT+ in-car handsfree Bluetooth kit, letting drivers manage two Bluetooth enabled mobile phones at once without taking their eyes off the road.

The "Dual Mode" multipoint technology assigns each phone a different ringtone, synchronising as many as 2,000 contacts between the phones and its own phonebook.

Voice recognition lets drivers receive or ignore calls simply by saying "accept" or "reject", while text and emails can be managed vocally using the TextFriendly service too.

It's not just for calls though. A2DP tech lets users listen to their smartphone music directly from the MINIKIT+ speakers too, while a nifty vibration sensor saves battery life by switching off and syncing the Bluetooth kit with your mobile in time with the opening and closing of the driver's side door.

Out in November, the Parrot MINIKIT+ will retail at around £64.99.

Jabra DRIVE in-car speakerphone launched

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jabra-drive.jpgBluetooth headset specialists Jabra today reveal their Jabra Drive in-car speakerphone, an easy to use hands-free kit that lets two devices pair with the unit for safe mobile chats when out on the road.

Weighing just 100 grams and measuring up at 104mm X 56mm X 18mm, the petite Bluetooth speaker phone offers 20 hours of talk time and 30 days of standby time.

Using the Bluetooth 3.0 standard, the rechargeable kit also uses DSP tech to reduce echo and cancel out unwanted noise, and can also be used to pump up the volume of voice-guided GPS applications.

"Our broad line of in-car speakerphones offers something for everyone and at every price point. The introduction of the Jabra DRIVE represents an affordable option for all types of uses", said Anne Raaen Rasmussen, Senior Vice President, Mobile Division, GN Netcom, Inc.

Available "soon", the Jabra drive will be available from Amazon and "all good consumer electronic retailers" for £49.99.

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Letting you cycle and listen to your favourite tunes without fear of getting your headphones caught among the wheels or missing ambient noises crucial to staying safe whilst peddaling away is the new ACOUZTIC bike light and speaker from Xceon.

Popping onto your bike's handlebars, the unit combines an ultra-bright 170 lumens LED flashlight with a 3 watt omni-directional speaker capable of playing back MP3 and WMA files via its built in storage.

A single charge will offer 40 continuous hours of lighting or 70 hours of music playback, while the water resistant light features 5 different flash modes (Hi, Low, Flash, Disorienting Strobe, S.O.S.) also making it the perfect companion for campers or festival-goers this summer.

"As gas prices rise, more cyclists have appeared on the road," reads the Xceon press statement.

"Unfortunately, so have theirheadphones that can endanger their owners' by reducing spatial awareness and ambient road noises. While listening to music on a bicycle ride can be pleasurable, it can also be very dangerous.

"Xceon designed the ACOUZTIC to keep cyclists and outdoor recreationists safe, but sharing music with friends while having fun outdoors is just plain cool."

Available now in 6 different colours for $139.95, click here to find out more.


Augmented realiy features are quickly becoming widespread in smartphone technology, and are now even making their way into games consoles with the launch of the Nintendo 3DS.

It's an exciting area of growth for the tech industry, and even car tech manufacturers are looking to grab a slice of the AR pie. We've already seen a demo product from Pioneer at CES earlier in the year
which projected a HUD onto the inside of your windscreen, and now windscreen repair experts Autoglass are throwing their thoughts into the mix too. They've produced a video of how they expect an AR-capable windscreen in the year 2020 will look.

Dr Chris Davies, head of technical research & innovation at Autoglass® said, "As well as accounting for up to 30% of a vehicle's structural strength, the windscreen has become an interactive tool for sharing information and improving the driver experience. Essentially the car is becoming more like a laptop and the windscreen will evolve into the virtual information screen."

Davies continued, "Augmented reality technology has been widely used in smartphones for more than 18 months. Manufacturers are already working on assistance technologies such as collision avoidance systems, lane departure systems and sign recognition. We believe that within 10 years car manufacturers will have completely revolutionised the function of the car windscreen."

"We're very in tune with technological innovation in the motoring industry, particularly around the role of the windscreen. Both glass and augmented reality technology are nearing a point where the windscreen can work harder to improve road safety, awareness and driving in general. The traditional dashboard will become obsolete," added Davies.

Click the video above to check out the Autoglass concept. We particularly like the plug near the end when the car windscreen is "compromised" and the intelligent motor rings Autoglass automatically!

REVIEW: Zeal Optics Transcend GPS goggles

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Zeal Optics Transcend GPS goggles 6.jpg
review-line.JPGName: Transcend GPS (Zeal Optics)

Type: GPS-enabled snow goggles

Specs: Click here for full specs

Price: £449.99 from Firebox

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Zeal Optics are really upping their game with their latest pair of ski-googles, the Transcend GPS model. With a whole host of location-aware features, these shades are one-part eye protection and one-part fighter-pilot HUD techy-goodness. But is the addition of a screen little more than a novelty, or a full-blown Robocop-on-the-slopes experience?
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As a straightforward pair of ski-goggles, the Transcend GPSs are surprisingly comfortable. Despite the added bulk of the onboard screen tech and battery, they manage to sit snugly on the head without little noticeable neck strain from the extra weight. A fully adjustable elasticated strap means the headset will fit over most helmet and head sizes, with rubberised grips to stop them slipping.

Two lens options are available; a fixed tint SPX set or adaptive SPPX lens which changes depending on conditions. It's not as varied a range as you'd get from regular ski googles, but as we're going to explain, these are no regular ski-shades. Plenty of air gets behind the well ventilated frames, and our sweaty testing session produced little fogging on the inside of the goggles.

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The magic lies with the 320 x 240 resolution display that sits in the bottom right corner of the Transcend GPS goggles. This will pump information including GPS location, temperature, altitude and speed into the goggles, allowing you to keep track of your performance on the snow. At first I was a little disappointed with the placement of the screen. I'd hoped for a wider view of the information directly ahead of me rather than tucked away in the corner, but in all truthfulness, it's probably for the best; lots of information flashing up unavoidably in front of your eyes would likely make you a danger on the slopes. The goggles themselves do however make you lose a tiny bit of peripheral vision.

The bright screen is easy to read despite its small size, helped along by a sensible array of icons visually describing the many features included. Three chunky buttons on the side of the goggles, easily pressed with thick gloves on, let you scroll through and select menu options including a speedometer, current and average speeds, altitude levels, a stopwatch, environmental temperature and coordinates amongst others. It can take a while however for the goggles to catch up with dramatic changes in your movements; slowing down suddenly doesn't always see the corresponding figures appear on screen, and we'd imagine the same would happen were you to (heaven forbid) fall off a cliff with the altitude monitor.

Zeal Optics Transcend GPS goggles 5.jpg

Tracking our movements reasonably well then, the GPS system onboard can be hooked up with a PC software suite called Recon HQ, which is arguably the best part of using the Trancsend GPS headwear. Pulling the GPS data from the goggles via microUSB, it uses Google Earth and a proprietary tracking system to display your runs through the Google mapping service. It's an excellent way of showing pals the details of your trip, including your statistics at specific points along the route, making it a great tool with which to plan your next outings.

You'll get 6 hours worth of use out of the Zeal Optics Transcend GPS goggles from a single 4-and-a-bit hour charge, which should be enough time for a day's worth of play. The goggle's premium price tag also allows for another luxury to be included; a hard travel case that will protect the lenses when not in use or when packed away in a suitcase.

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Verdict:

There is no denying the Zeal Optics Transcend GPS goggles are a niche purchase, not least of all because of the whopping price tag attached to them. Regular skiers may do better to snap up a cheaper pair that allow for a wider range of lenses to be used, as well as being a little lighter on the head. Having said that, the Transcend GPS goggles are comfortable to wear despite the tech inside, and there's an undeniable sci-fi charm to being able to measure your speed and then download your journeys once you get home. Half a grand's worth of charm however takes quite a passion for both the slopes and tech to stomach though, and we're expecting only hardcore geek-skiers to be donning these in Aspen next season.

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3/5
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ford-sync.jpg
Ford SYNC, the hands-free voice activated in-car connectivity kit that allows drivers to control their music and other functions, has had its software development kit let loose to developers, leading many to believe an in-car app revolution is on the horizon thanks to the introduction of AppLink.

With Ford SYNC now installed in 3 million vehicles since being introduced back in 2007, AppLink will allow developers to create voice-activated smartphone apps that will work in tandem with the dashboard kit. AppLink will be initially available in the 2011 Fiesta and will be compatible with Android and BlackBerry handsets. iPhone compatibility is expected to be added to the system later in the year.

"More and more drivers will find a way to use their devices and their apps while in the car," said Derrick Kuzak, Ford Motor Company's Group Vice President of Global Product Development. "They can do it unsafely, or they can do it through safer voice-activated solutions such as Ford SYNC - keeping their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel."

This week, an IBM survey of 2,000 software designers around the world revealed that the design of business apps is expected to dominate all other forms of business software development over the course of the next five years.

"Smartphone 'apps' are making business more mobile and less office bound all the time," said Mark Mason, CEO of app developers Mubaloo. "Ford has released its software development kit today and Mubaloo 'apps' will be compatible with their SYNC voice command system. The other motor manufacturers are bound to be following suit soon."

"Automated voice command compatibility is an impressive feature for an 'app'," said Mr Mason. "Ford claim that their SYNC voice command system has a lexicon of more than 10,000 words."

Despite the SDK only being launched today, Ford have already had 1,000 AppLink submissions from developers of brand new apps, or those looking to modify existing ones to make the most of the SYNC features.

firebox xmas
If there was a tech equivalent of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, it'd probably be the gadget and gizmo heaven that is Firebox.com .Tech Digest recently got to have a play around with all their latest and greatest gear, and made a pretty lengthy Chsitmas list in the process.

Santa, if you're reading, you know what to do.

Click below for the best of Firebox's Christmas collection.

Longreach buoyancy aid.jpg A buoyancy bazooka which could save thousands of lives has won this year's international James Dyson award. Chosen from a final short of 15 by inventor James Dyson, the device from Longreach shoots an emergency buoyancy aid up to 150 metres out to sea.

Made from hydrophobic foam, it rapidly expands upon hitting the water. It's equipped with flares for night-time illumination and allows the victim to remain buoyant for a longer period of time. Says James Dyson: "Longreach is a smart solution to a very real problem. A product's functionality couldn't be more important when it's used to save someone's life."

Samuel Adeloju, 24, an industrial design graduate from Sydney, will receive a £10,000 cash prize. His engineering faculty at the University of New South Wales will also receive £10,000. Samuel will also have the chance to visit Dyson's research, design and development centre and learn more about its design process from Dyson engineers.

Each year around 100 people drown off the UK coast and more than 13,500 incidents occur due to swimmers been swept out by rip rides or currents.


http://www.jamesdysonaward.org/

http://www.jamesdysonaward.org/

Paris Motor Show 2010: Ford Focus experience

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Remember when the nearest thing you got to hi-tech in a car was a cassette desk and cigarette lighter. Not any more. New models, like the latest generation Ford Focus, have voice-activated sat nav and in car entertainment as well as a system that will automatically stop the car if something or someone steps out in front of you or gets too close. Clever eh?

Unlike this multi-media demo model they don't yet use the windscreen as a projection system though maybe that will come in time - as long as the vehicle is stationary, that is.

And you can see images of the new Ford Focus in our gallery below.

(Thanks to Ford for bringing us to the Paris Motor Show 2010)


What do you do when you stop engineering sports cars for McLaren? You turn your hand to revolutionising the humble bicycle, that's what! Anna from Tech Digest sister-site Shiny Shiny had a chat with Richard Thorpe, creator of the electrically powered GoCycle, this week. You can view the interview in the video above.



It's a pretty crazy concept; a battery assisted bike, it features a handlebar that when squeezed can speed up your cycling and turn you into a pedal-powered Evil Knievel, as demonstrated in the second video here. It has to be recharged from a mains supply for 3 hours, but it can then hit a max speed of 15mph and last for up to 20 miles.

It being National Cycling week next week, why not give it a try if you've the cash to spare? Buy it here in instalments of £45 a month, or in one go for £1,495.

CyFi.jpgCycling around may be a refreshing (and healthier) change from driving into work each day, but you cant help but miss the rich tones of your in-car stereo when on your bike. If you're wary that your iPod headphone lead will get caught in your spokes, take a look at the Cy-Fi Wireless Sports Speaker.

Weighing just 4 ounces and measuring in at 12.2 x 10. 2.9 cm, the Cy-Fi sits on your handlebars attached by a robust clip. Compatible with all iPhone, iPod and iPod Touch models (excluding the Mini and Shuffle), it'll wirelessly blast out your tunes at CD-quality as you hurtle down the high-street.

Giving 6 hours of playback from 2 hours of USB charging, the Cy-Fi has a transmission range of 30 feet, and has front-mounted playback buttons meaning that you don't have to fumble with your MP3 player to navigate your tunes.

Available from IWOOT now, click here to grab it, priced £99.99

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TomTom Go Live 1000 launched

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TomTom Go Live 1000.jpgTomTom has launched its latest flagship GPS system, the TomTom Go Live 1000. With a design more in line with a smartphone than an in-car sat-nav, it's a bold move by the company currently battling the influx of mobile applications muscling in on their turf.

The TomTom Go Live 1000 features a capacitive touchscreen, an ARM 11 500Mhz processor, 128 MB RAM, Broadcom GPS, 4GB of storage, and enough battery power for 3 hours of continual use from a single charge.

Perhaps one of the biggest changes introduced in this model is how customisable it is. Based on the webkit platform, users will be able to add features as they see fit from third party developers. There's plenty of potential here - imagine add-ons for the best ways to avoid the traffic queues into music festival sites or football grounds, or adjustable menus tailored to different TomTom users needs.

There is also a greater focus on localisation features, meaning the content most relevant to you is given priority.

The windshield clip also gets a once-over. The unit is now held in place by a strong magnet. Handy for removing it quickly when in a hurry, but I have visions of it flying off and whacking you in the face if your car is involved in an accident.

The model will ship with 12 months worth of LIVE services, which includes IQ routes and TomTom HD Traffic real time jam updates.

Set to be available in 33 countries, no pricing details have been announced yet.

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train tvs.jpgThe worlds first back-of-the-seat screens on a train have been installed today. However, you wont find them in Japan's Bullet Train, but instead on the UK's own First Great Western high-speed trains.

So far 16 carriages have been fitted out with the Volo-built screens, with the service expected to hit all 54 First Great Western high-speed trains by the end of next year. Commuters can access films, TV shows, sport channels and a journey tracker for a fee of £3.95 per journey.

First Great Western's Neil Micklethwaite said: "This exciting scheme has seen a lot of positive feedback from customers so far.''

And Volo TV boss Marcus Noble added that: "It's just great to see a world first in rail in the UK. The quality of viewing is better than that available to air travellers in business class.''

Do you reckon this will over take your iPod as your travelling screen of choice? At a flat rate of £3.95 a journey it's a bit steep for shorter trips, but if they can keep the content away from the realms of TV re-runs and ancient straight-to-video movies, First Great Western could be onto a winner.

Via: The Mirror

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Martin Jetpack.jpgA great story coming in from The Sun today; personal jetpacks are on their way, and will set you back £50,000. That's a fairly reasonable price to pay for some sci-fi wish fulfillment if you ask me.

The Martin Aircraft Company are behind the jetpack, which has now secured enough investment to go into commercial-scale production of the gear.

The packs have been masterminded by inventor Glenn Martin who unveiled his machine for the first time in July 2009. He said to The Sun that "This could be life-saving stuff. For us this is an excellent commercial step. We have somebody who is willing to put £8m on the table because they believe there is a sizeable market in their country."

Capable of travelling 30 miles in 30 minutes on a full tank of fuel, recent tests have seen the latest model reach heights of up to 2,400 metres and top speeds of 60mph.

Plenty of real world uses here, including everything from emergency services support to eye-in-the-sky mobile sports coverage. Best start saving those pennies.

buddy hands free.jpgSuperTooth are launching a brand new in-car hands free set, dubbed the Buddy, presumably as you'll use it to chat with your...er...buddies.

Offering 20 hours talk time and 1000 hours standby time, the Buddy measures just 128x149x13 mm.

If you have a Bluetooth 2.1 handset, the Buddy should be a cinch to set up. Thanks to full auto-pairing, all you have to do is initiate the standard pairing process to get chatting away with the Buddy. If you leave your car and return later on, the Buddy will also automatically reconnect itself without any input needed from you.

The Buddy can connect to two handsets at once, and comes packaged with both USB and in-car chargers.

The Buddy will be available from March and will cost around £49.

solCHAT.gifThough it may seem a long way away yet, the Spring sunshine will soon be creeping around the corner. What better way to ring in the warmer seasons then than with this solar-powered Bluetooth speakerphone?

The Scosche-built solCHAT features an integrated solar panel that will soak up the rays into a Lithium-ion battery, storing the energy ready to use for up to a year. A discrete suction cup means that you can pop the hands-free kit on your dashboard, leaving it to bask in the sunshine through your windscreen and allowing you to legally chat and drive.

Kas Alves, Executive Vice President, Scosche Industries comments: "Motorists who use hand-held mobile phones while driving can face a fixed penalty fine of £60 and three points added to their license. The solCHAT solves this problem and helps users lower their impact on the environment at the same time."

The kit also features voice commands, compatible with many handsets including the iPhone, meaning you can access and call all you contacts hands-free.

The solCHAT costs £59.99, available from www.eoutlet.co.uk .

CES 2010: Final Thoughts

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las vegas sign.jpgThe Consumer Electronics show, the behemoth of tech, the Valhalla of gadgetry, has come and gone for yet another year. But this time, rather than arriving with a bang, it slinked into sight with something more like a whimper.

CES 2010 had really had the wind knocked out of it before it had even got into the ring this year. All eyes were already on Apple and their rumoured Tablet in the run up to the event, despite the fact that Apple are traditionally a no-show at CES, instead planning their own top-secret unveiling at the end of January. Likewise, Google delivered a sucker-punch in the shape of the Nexus One, their flagship handset revealed at their own event on the eve of CES 2010's opening.

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To make matter's worse, Microsoft's opening keynote speech (delivered by walking personality drain Steve Ballmer) was pretty darn dull. First a power cut, then a load of waffle on the 2 month old Windows 7, Ballmer hardly seemed to be trying to keep our attention. Though the Christmas release date for Project Natal was welcome news, it revealed nothing new about the device, whilst the partnership with Hewlett Packard for the new Slate device seemed merely like a case of keeping-up with the Joneses. Or should that be the Jobs-es?

But the Las Vegas event wasn't without its highlights. Far from it in fact. Maybe it's the recession, or the generally pocket-pinching mood in the air these days, but for once the most sought after tech wasn't in the realms of dreamy aspiration, but was actually fairly affordable.

Take for instance the brand new 3D TVs on show, of which the Sony BRAVIA XBR-52HX900 (video above, courtesy of Ashley) was the pick of the litter. Finally shaping up to the standards set by its cinema siblings, company reps promised that the average 3D TV will cost little more than a top-end Full HD set. Skype and video calling in many TV sets too will help turn your living room into somewhere the Jetsons could only dream of.

E-readers are also looking to be both big and affordable in 2010. As a comic book fanatic I'd have liked to have seen more attempts at a colour screened e-reader (I'm not including the MSI offering, which is really just a dual-touch screened PC, super-cool as it is). Plastic Logic's Que Pro e-reader looked great though, with a massive, durable screen, and was far lighter than the hundreds of books you'd be able to store on the tabloid-sized device.

There were, of course, tablets aplenty. The dual-booting Viliv P3 may be an underdog in the category, but seemed way more exciting than Microsoft's offering. The offer of both Windows and Android on the same device showed a respect for user choice not often seen in the back-slapping world of consumer tech.

There was still time for fun too. The Parrot AR Drone Quadricopter was fun and fresh, combining real-world toys with augmented reality controls. A little less high-tech but full of retro-chic was the Lasonic i931 iPhone dock/ghetto blaster mash-up. Odd's on its at the top of Flava Flav's Christmas list. And there was still some time for the weird and the plain old dumb, too.

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Though less prevalent than other years, there were some great examples of brand new tech on show that were genuinely exciting. A real head-turner and my favourite item of the show was the Light Blue Optic Light Touch. Using a pico projection engine and a touch sensitive sensor, it'll turn any flat surface into a touchscreen. It works ridiculously well despite still being in the development stages, and has almost unlimited potential.

Some detractors say that, recession or not, CES looks to be on its last legs. It's sad, but not unlikely, when you consider the audiences that companies like Apple and Google can command for just a single product launch. However, for emerging companies like Light Blue Optics CES is still vital to gain some exposure, not to mention the fact that such a prominent date in the calendar forces the tech giants to have made some significant, competitive advances in their gear, year-on-year.

So here's hoping the old dog's got a bit of life left in it yet. Hopefully next year will kick off the recessionary cobwebs and kick the show back into high-tech gear. It wouldn't take much to tempt us back to the City of Sin once more.

Click here for full CES 2010 pre-show, day one, day two and day three round-ups.

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