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Idealog—in the ideas business


Idealog’s pick of design-led delights

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Cut to the chase

P120 Fighter motorcycle, POA

Motorbikes are about speed, about cutting through all the red tape of life, about freedom. The Confederate Motor Company takes that ethos to the limit with a series of handcrafted machines that defy belief.

If only Confederate’s marketing department followed the same simple beauty. Instead, they write things like this: “The Fighter clarifies opaqueness and nullifies hype with straight-forward true to concept certitude.” Uh-huh.

Still, they do make good-looking bikes. The P120 Fighter Combat is a case in point (presumably the marketing department names the machines too). Made out of aircraft grade aluminium, the P120 takes no prisoners and, with only 50 being made, there’s little chance of pulling up at the lights to find anything remotely like it idling nearby. When it comes to looking good, the P120 is completely without peer.

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A Prius on steroids

Lexus 450H, from $115,000

There’s no shortage of options if you’re in the market to buy an environmentally-friendly sedan, but it’s slim pickings if you’re hankering to park an SUV with eco-cred in your garage.

Enter the Lexus RX 450h (‘h’ for hybrid). The new 450 represents the first of Lexus’ second-generation ‘performance hybrid’ models. Although 70 kilograms heavier and with a larger engine than the model it replaces, the new RX450h is 20 percent more economical with fuel consumption and CO2 emission figures in the same league as a 1600cc Peugeot 308 hatchback. Not bad for a large five-door SUV that packs a 3.5-litre V6 petrol motor under the bonnet. It’s the electric motors front and rear and a host of other energy-efficient measures that make the difference.

The RX450h comes in three models, including the 450h Limited, which will set you back $134,000 but boasts a sat-nav system, reversing and side cameras, a high-end Mark Levinson Audio system and a HUD (head-up display) that projects key dashboard info on the windscreen. And with its whisper-quiet performance at low speeds (thanks to those electric motors) you’ll cruise up to traffic lights in a very stealthy—and environmentally-friendly—fashion indeed.

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The camera never lies

GoPro Surf HERO camera, US$160

It’s summer and you know you want to hit the waves. But let’s face it, either you look the part or nobody believes you. Now you can prove that wave was 20 metres high and that you really do know your wax from a hole in your head with a GoPro Surf camera.

Take five-megapixel stills or nearly an hour of video, and best of all it’s automated—one shot every two seconds or just leave the video rolling while you paddle out and ride those waves.

GoPro makes a series of cameras for sporty types. Whether you’re mountain biking, surfing, sailing, skiing or basejumping, there’s a camera (and associated clamps of course) for you.

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Woof woof

Soundcast outdoor speakers, from $1,500

Take your sounds outside and never fear the rain. Or the, er, lightning strikes, fire, killer bees or plagues of frogs. Apparently.

Soundcast makes its speakers tough. See YouTube and watch in awe as speaker after speaker is torched in the name of shock marketing.

With downward- facing subwoofers designed to replicate the T-Rex’s footsteps in Jurassic Park and a shell designed to be fired from an M1 Tank, the Soundcast range can also talk wirelessly to the MP3 player of your choice. So leave the hi-fi indoors and barbecue-boogie to your heart’s content on the patio (or directly on the speaker itself it would seem).

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You like to watch

LG SL90 television, from $4,400

Television. The root of, and solution to, so many of today’s problems. What to have for dinner, how to raise our kids, what to spend our hard earned shekels on.

Look no further. LG has brought science fiction to life with the SL90 flat screen TV. And we really do mean flat—it’s only 29 millimetres thick, yet boasts a 42- or 47-inch viewable area. The screen is ‘borderless’ so it looks like a single, uninterrupted sheet of glass and with 3,000,000:1 contrast ratio on an LED backlit screen, you know it’s a viewing experience so sharp it’ll cut your arm off. And it even comes with Bluetooth as standard. Hang it on the wall, but try to remember: that’s not the real world in there. The real world doesn’t look that good.

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Form over function

Evian Glass Limited Editions

So it’s a water bottle. A bottle. With water in it. Really, outside of a paper bag, there’s not any bad way to store water.

Mind you, Coke only tastes good when it’s out of a glass bottle, not a plastic one. And wine should always be drunk from a glass (not a straw, you know who you are). So maybe there’s something to be said for water bottles as well.

Each year, Evian gets a leading designer to create bottles for its water. Last year, Christian Lacroix produced a snowflake wonder. This year saw Jean- Paul Gaultier deliver his classic chic. In 2010 Evian will taste better thanks to Paul Smith’s minimalist design. Look for them in high-end hotels and restaurants.

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Surround sound

Sonos ZonePlayer S5, $900 (left)
Sonos CR200 Controller, $850 (right)

Music. You want it where you are, not sitting on some non-volatile disk somewhere else. MP3 players have proven the need for portability, but what about sharing your music across lots of people in and around your home?

Easy. The Sonos Multi-Room Music System which lets you play all the music you want, all over your house—from the bedroom to the backyard—and control it all from the palm of your hand. It’ll grow with your lifestyle and you can swap and upgrade individual components to keep your system at the cutting edge.

Getting started is simple. The ZonePlayer S5 just requires power; plug it in and it will connect wirelessly to your iTunes library and stream music from your computer or from Internet radio stations. This isn’t a tinny, compressed sound: the S5’s two tweeters, two midrange speakers and built-in subwoofer will make your toons, er, sing. Want your music collection available in another room? Simple: add another S5 and you’ll be humming along in minutes.

You can control your ZonePlayer using your PC, or use the free Sonos Controller for iPhone that’s available at the iTunes App Store. Alternatively, the dedicated Sonos CR200 controller connects wirelessly to your ZonePlayers and lets you control your music from anywhere in the house. Add extra controllers for more flexibility. It’s bundled with a charging cradle so your controller is always juiced up.

Whether it’s from your own music collection or an online radio station, the Sonos allows you full access and, most importantly, full control.

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Life in a box

XiVA MusicM8, $1,900

If your house were on fire, what’s the first thing you’d save? Get yourself an XiVA Music M8 and it’ll become item number-one in your in-case-of-fire list.

With a terabyte of storage, the XiVA Music M8 allows you to archive your entire music collection, movies, digital photographs—whatever you’ve scanned in and saved. Hook it up to your PC, your TV, your stereo and anything else you can think of and have instant access to all your digital media in one place.

Originally published in Idealog #25, page 29

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