June 2008's 9 coolest gadgets

iPhone killers, Wii for Windows and huge TVs

Sony all-glass Sountina speaker

Fashioned entirely from glass, Sony's Sountina cylindrical speakers emit sound in a 'circle' of 360 degrees, allowing listeners to hear in equal fidelity regardless of their location.

Apart from the tweeter, the Sountina, also known as the NSA-PF1, includes a 13cm woofer and a 7cm mid-range speaker.

The speakers pack quite a punch, too, as Sony demonstrated at a launch event, when music travelled at least 100m in the open space around its headquarters building lobby.

In the dark, the Sountina can also contribute to the ambience with illuminations. Under dim lighting, the glass resonates with colours that alternate between blue, amber and purple making it something like a sleeker and more modern version of a lava lamp.

The Sountina is tagged at $9,600, and is set to go on sale on June 20 in Japan. Sony has plans to release it internationally but there is no precise schedule.

Sonyspeaker

Panasonic Strada car navigation system

Panasonic's new Strada F-class car navigation system gives drivers the power and convenience to operate home-based devices from remote location, as long as they have a mobile phone signal.

Commands from the navigation system are sent to the owner's mobile phone over a Bluetooth link and then back to the home via a cellular internet connection. A home unit receives the commands, which are input through the car's navigation system screen, and follows the instructions.

The gadgets at home need to be capable of network control. Additionally the F-class models can also link up with Panasonic home network cameras. While it's only possible to get a still image and not streaming video, it is enough to give owners a clear picture of what's happening at home.

And the system can also be used to program a digital video recorder to catch TV shows, as long as the recorder is from Panasonic. The Strada F-class hard-disk drive car navigation systems will go on sale in Japan this June at retail price of $3,380. There are no plans to sell them overseas.

PanasonicStrada1

Sharp 108in LCD TV

The world's largest LCD monitor can now be yours, if you have a deep wallet. Sharp has finally launched the 108in LCD monitor that was first unveiled in January 2007 at CES in Las Vegas.

Now it's available to customers worldwide, built-to-order, for $102,000 (£51,000). The Full HD (1,920 pixels by 1,080 pixels) monitor comes with a wide array of input sockets. There's analogue RGB and DVI computer inputs, 3 High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) inputs, two composite video inputs, two sets of component video inputs and one S-Video input. The entire set weighs an impressive 195kg and consumes 1.1kW when in use.

Samsung Omnia

Bearing more than a passing resemblance to the iPhone, the Samsung Omnia has a prominent 3.2in display that takes up almost the entire front panel of the phone.

Underneath the otherwise clean front surface are three buttons. The screen has 240 pixel by 400 pixel resolution (Wide QVGA), which makes it lower resolution than the iPhone or other likely competitors such as the HTC Touch Diamond.

The quad-band (850/900/1800/1900MHz) phone will operate on both Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) and Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) and supports 7.2Mbps High-speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) and Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE) data networking.

Great for mobile video fans is the format support: DivX, XviD, H.263, H.264, Windows Media Video and MP4. The camera has 5Mp resolution and other features include GPS, Bluetooth and FM radio. The Samsung Omnia measures 112x57x12.5mm and will go on sale in Asia this month and in Europe in July.

samsungomnia

Toshiba promises Cell-TV, Sony promises bigger OLED

Get ready TV fans! Two cool new sets are coming soon! Toshiba plans to put a TV powered by the Cell processor on sale before the end of 2009.

The Cell TV will use the chip for some heavy-duty graphics processing to allow for real-time upscaling of standard-definition TV to high-def, and to display multiple video streams simultaneously for quick navigation of many TV channels.

Meanwhile Sony said a 27in OLED TV will be here soon. Prototypes of the set have already been shown but CEO Howard Stringer recently confirmed at a US conference that it's heading towards becoming a product. "Within the next 12 months, we haven't given a date," he said when asked to be more specific on timing.

SonyOLED

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Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
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