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The Gadget Show Live 2011


Article by: Mike Barrett
Date: 19 Apr 2011

pocketgpsworld.com
Last week was a great week for techno geeks at Birmingham. There were no less than 3 expos taking place covering Gadgets, Electronics and Commercial Vehicles: The Gadget Show Live; The Commercial Vehicle Show 2011; and National Electronics Week 2011.

The most popular show was not surprisingly the Gadget Show Live, which was so packed that it was sold out months ago and they added extra tickets on the press day. The show itself has been growing year on year with this year's event being a third bigger than last year's. The gaming section had moved into its own hall freeing up more space for the technology in the main halls. As in previous years the live show in the Super Theatre was sold out, in fact it was so over subscribed that even us media types could not manage to sneak in.

As far as the GPS/SatNav side of things were concerned things were a little thin on the ground, indeed there were only two stands featuring GPS: TomTom and The SatNav Warehouse.

TomTom were showcasing their range of navigation devices but the star of the show was the TomTom Nike sports watch. The GPS enabled sports watch was officially released in the UK on Friday at the Marathon Show in London, but was on show at the NEC. The GPS Sports watch market has traditionally been led by Garmin with their Forerunner released back in 2004, and has not really had any serious competition until now. The collaboration of TomTom with Nike, one of the biggest names in sports, is guaranteed to be a smash hit.
Gadget Show Live 2011


The Nike+ SportWatch GPS (powered by TomTom) has been designed to integrate with the Nike+ sensor that attaches to the running shoe, and is also compatible with the popular Polar heart rate monitors. Whilst all this data is very useful it is almost impossible to assimilate it whilst running a marathon. The system comes into its own when you get back home and connect it to a computer. Your run data is downloaded onto the computer via a craftily concealed USB connector where it can be analysed and compared to other runs. The software integrates with the existing Nike+ network offering both pre-prepared running routes, and social media capabilities. The Nike+ SportWatch GPS is available now for £179.
Gadget Show Live 2011


Although the only other GPS company at the show was The SatNav Warehouse it was great to see that once again Navigon was back in the running in the UK. The entire stand was dedicated to the full range of Navigon SatNav PND devices. From the entry Navigon 20 Easy through the 40 Plus to the 70 Live Premium all models were represented. The Navigon range is comprehensive and competitive with a nice easy to use interface and, just as important, a good routing engine.
Gadget Show Live 2011

Gadget Show Live 2011


Moving on to the Commercial Vehicle Show the main GPS interest focused on TomTom Work and Garmin. There were plenty of other companies offering fleet management products.

TomTom Work is basically one or more regular SatNavs with Live Services that are connected to the central TomTom Work servers to exchange information. TomTom were showing a new OBDII device which transfers telematic information from the vehicle back to the information management systems. The combination of these inputs allows for a number of diagnostic computations which allow the Boss Man to analyse your driving. The system can report on over revving the engine, accelerating too fast, speeding, breaking too hard etc. This management reporting is purported to lead to better driving, which in turn improves the economy of the fleet thus paying for the system through the savings. The cost of TomTom Work is about £22.00 a month with the OBDII dongle adding about £1.50 a month to the cost.
Gadget Show Live 2011

Gadget Show Live 2011


Garmin were promoting their range of commercial biased devices. These are similar to the regular Nuvi range, but running software that is aware of the weight and width restrictions associated with the different classes of vehicle. As with other vendors Garmin were also showing the OBDII dongle to analyse the engine and driving performance. Heavily featured was the multi-modal dezl 560LT a 5" device which comes pre-loaded with truck specific POIs, speed limits, hazards and service exits. The device also comes with lifetime traffic and is also compatible with the OBDII ecoRoute dongle, and Garmin's Fleet Management Interface.
Gadget Show Live 2011


Returning to the Gadget Show. Despite my disappointment with the lack of GPS related products on show there was still far too much for me to look at than time in the day. To this end I had to whizz around a lot of the stands often gently elbowing my way through the crowds. There was an amazing array of bits and bobs for your SmartPhones. Surprisingly the most popular products were for the iPhone and iPad. I would have expected with the explosion of Android to see more Google based items there.

There were literally hundreds of different cases for the iPhone. The ones that caught my eye were from www.avenir-accessories.co.uk who distribute a number of manufacturers protective devices including www.bling-my-thing.com who make iPhone cases with Swarovski crystals.
Gadget Show Live 2011

Gadget Show Live 2011

Gadget Show Live 2011


Who is on your case was creating personalised cases for your phone with proceeds being donated to charity. I came away with an iPhone 3GS case with an image of the lovely Suzi Perry (in her leathers) on the back. What's not to like?
Gadget Show Live 2011


Battery extenders have always been popular. This year the genre was represented Mi Suny who were selling an iPhone 4 battery pack. With a 2400mAh battery the power of the iPhone is extended to 315 hours of standby, 5.3 hours of talktime or 45 hours of music time. The unique item though is on the back of the unit where there is a solar panel to charge the battery.
Gadget Show Live 2011

Gadget Show Live 2011

Gadget Show Live 2011


There were all sorts of stands for the tablets on show, but two caught my eye. The first from Padprop is priced at £14.99. Created from foam the stand can be used in a number of different ways, from between the legs to free-standing on a table. This makes it very versatile, and being made of foam it is very light. Due to the design of the fitting to the iPad it is not universal so there are 2 versions one for the original iPad and another for the iPad2.
Gadget Show Live 2011

Gadget Show Live 2011


Another one at the other end of the scale is the i360 stand from www.ipadstand.co.uk at £79.95. This is a two part stand having a base and a holder. When conjoined they form a stable viewing and operating platform for the iPad. The reason for having a two part stand is to allow for upgrading. If you have an iPad 1 stand then to use it for the iPad2 all you need is to buy a second holder. The holder grips the iPad by the corners allowing all controls and the docking cable to be easily accessed. One neat feature of this stand is the inclusion of wall mount holes in the base allowing the ipad to be attached to the wall as a living picture.
Gadget Show Live 2011

Gadget Show Live 2011


A real blast from the past was the Brasso stand. I vaguely remember a ditty that started with "Shine your buckles with Brasso, its only 3 hapence a tin…" Being well known for shining metal I was a little surprised to see them at the show. Times have changed now though and Brasso proudly proclaim Gadgetcare as their first new product in 110 years! Basically it is a cleaning product for your devices, including monitors and TV screens that has silicone protection and "anti-static technology".
Gadget Show Live 2011

Gadget Show Live 2011


Other non-GPS related highlights of the show were 3D printing, robotics and of course the RobotWars. there were a number of different methods to produce 3D representations from CAD programs in the real world. These ranged from a small milling "printer" to one that built the representation with plastic wire. Warwick university had the best device constructing a model of a racing car.
Gadget Show Live 2011

Gadget Show Live 2011

Gadget Show Live 2011


A new USB powered microphone was on show from Samsung. It was launched at the show and is capable of providing audio input to the iPad (and maybe the iPhone) via the camera adapter. This is one of the first devices that is not a camera (or other storage device) that can be connected in this manner. The price of the mic is £89.00 which is a bit steep, but if you want a good quality mic to power GarageBand then this is your boy…
Gadget Show Live 2011


From the robotics point of view mBed were showcasing a small robot built with prototyping technology which was driven by a Wii controller. Not a lot of programmed intelligence, but certainly entertaining for the kids. Moving up in both size and weight there was the ever popular robot wars exhibit where radio controlled gargantuan robots attempt to smash each other to bits.
Gadget Show Live 2011


One of the more popular stands was the Parrot stand. Not because of the hands-free adapters for your car, nor the digital picture frames for the front room, not even because of the MP3 audio systems. No the star of the Parrot show is, of course, the AR-Drone which draws crowds whenever it is on display.
Gadget Show Live 2011

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