The days of “single-minded” devices that only do one thing at a time are numbered. Hybrid devices, smart gizmos that fill in the gaps, will be the new trend. These gadgets can multitask as easily as you can, help make life more efficient, and maybe, more fun. From the obvious to the unexpected, we examine six hybrids that really stand out from the crowd:
Zumreed X2 Headphones
Price: $165 (around Rs 8,610)
Here’s a pair of over-the-ear headphones that can also double up as a set of portable speakers. And how! A little flick of a switch converts them from headphones to built-in amplified stereo speakers. So instead of the sound emanating from the inside of the ear cups, it starts emerging from the drivers placed in the outer shells. You need to charge these amplified speaker cans via USB for an hour to get them to squawk for about 4 hours. If you intend to use the headphones, no charging is required. In terms of audio quality, the 500 MW speakers produce ample volume, but the sound is flat and also lacks bass. The headphones, on the other hand, resonate with excessive bass.
LG LSM-100 Scanner Mouse
Price: Rs 3,500
You’ve always heard of an MFD (multifunction device) in association with a printer that integrates the functionality of a fax and a scanner to save vital desktop real estate in a SOHO (small office/home office) set-up. The LG LSM-100 goes a step further, stuffing a scanner into a computer mouse. The concept may seem odd but if you think about it, it is quite an ingenious device for those who need to scan odds and ends off and on. Space gains aside, it is immensely portable and convenient to tote. To scan, you need to keep a button pressed and swipe the mouse over the image/text that needs to be captured. The output can be saved in several popular image and document formats, or be dragged and dropped directly into the desired application. The gizmo does its job well and comes with OCR (optical character recognition) software that converts scanned text into a Microsoft Word document that can then be edited.
Sony Dev-5 Binoculars
This one smacks of the stuff Bond movies are made of. Dubbed the “world’s first digital binoculars with HD video recordings”, the chunky 1.2kg Dev-5 offers you 1080p high-definition recording at both 60 frames per second (fps) and 24 fps, 7 MP still photos and simulated 20X telephoto magnification. The binoculars are also capable of snapping up 3D still imagery as well as 3D video. And no, you don’t need additional eyewear to shoot (or eyeball) 3D with it either. There’s optical stabilization backed by a pair of illuminated CMOS sensors optimized for low-light situations at the back, an SD/SDHC/SDXC card slot, built-in GPS. Interesting, eh? On the downside, apart from the heft of the oversized gadget, take a look at the weighty price tag.
Price: €249 (around Rs 16,630)
Does the 1.54-inch, 240x240 pixel, capacitive TFT (thin film transistor) touch screen look all too familiar? Yes, it appears to be just an iPod Nano knock-off, right? Wrong! i’m Watch goes much beyond that. It connects to an iPhone or Android handset over Bluetooth to deliver your in-bound calls, caller IDs, text messages, Facebook, Twitter, weather forecasts et al via special apps, right to your wrist. It also offers music streaming from your phone and comes with a separately priced i’m Music service. Inside the lightweight device ticks a Freescale i.MX233 processor. BlackBerry and Windows Phone compatible versions are in the offing. The i’m Watch, though, will run a customized version of Android Donut (Android 1.6) for all smartphones. And oh, if you think it’s white, blue, green, yellow, red, pink, or black avatars are gimmicky toys, maybe you could opt for the titanium (€599) and white-gold-jewel-encrusted (€1,499) versions.
Tefal Toast N Egg Toaster TT550015
Price: £61.27 (around Rs 4,950)
Gluttonous gourmet, greedy Gretchen, fancy foodie, or cutting-edge Cordon Bleu chef, we’re always hungry for high-tech hybrids that can help satiate the belly better. And at times faster. A wide-slot toaster, egg poacher-cum-meat warmer, this contraption can perform each of these functions separately or all at once to give you a 4-minute sandwich meal. The slots can accomodate toasts, muffins, croissants and bagels and the warming tray also works well for heating precooked food. A mid-cycle cancel button allows you to abort cooking midway. The 1,200-watt device also has a convenient crumb removal tray and cord storage compartment.
Lenovo U1 Hybrid
Price: To be announced
First shown at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2010 in Las Vegas, US, this one has been a long time coming, particularly due to all the churn (or lack of it) in the tablet market. Theoretically, the innovative U1 Hybrid is a pretty amazing contraption concept for anyone who doesn’t want to lug along a laptop as well as a tablet everywhere. It comprises a removable multi-touch slate ultramobile computer which can dock right into a notebook to metamorphose into a regular, full-function laptop. As a 1.3 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon-processor tablet it chugs to the steam of an Android operating system while its Intel Core 2 Duo running laptop half boots to Windows 7. You can toggle between tablet and laptop mode at the flick of a switch. Deal-breaker or dud? Only time will tell…
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