Speakers made expressly for iPad docking are starting to roll out, and so far the best is the new iD9 portable system from iHome. Running on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, it also serves as a stand and a charger, and its SRS TruBass circuitry (providing extra bass) and Reson8 high-end drivers deliver a full, non-tinny sound. The iD9 also works in tandem with iHome+Sleep (a free app that functions as a clock radio and a weather report) and iHome+Radio, which gives the user access to 10,000 Internet radio stations. Apple devotees can use it with their iPhones and iPods as well. At $100, it's an inexpensive yet sleek little package. ihomeaudio.com.
We love the DSLR Nikon D90, but it’s a little too big—not to mention clunky—for everyday use. Enter the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF1 Micro Four Thirds ($900; Panasonic). Light (just over half a pound) and portable, it's perfect if you're looking to upgrade from a point-and-shoot yet quick enough on auto-focus and shutter speed to satisfy those used to DSLRs. The key—and our favorite—features are the 720p HD video and interchangeable lenses, especially since Leica lenses can be swapped in when a mount adapter is added. Panasonic recently released the GF2 ($700; amazon.com), an updated model that includes 1080p HD video and requires greater reliance on the touch screen—but we prefer physical buttons when it comes to taking pictures, so we're sticking with the original.
With the same smartly curated approach you find in our pages, we’ve created the Ultimate City Guides app, featuring top 10 lists of hotels, shops, lounges, museums and galleries, restaurants and VIP events worth attending. We started with New York and now present Hong Kong. Go to departures.com/apps to download it for free. Once you’ve downloaded and launched the app, enter the code DPNOV11 for full access.
Download It Now: New York, Hong Kong and Miami
Available in 2012: Buenos Aires, Chicago, Las Vegas, London, Los Angeles, Paris and San Francisco
If campiness is the new elegance, the just-launched Martha Stewart CraftStudio app is out to spread the word. Debuted last week, the handiwork of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and production studio Happy is a workshop for cards and pictures that has the potential to reinvigorate the often dull e-mails sent to organize parties that are anything but. If summer is the time for laid-back, sunny indulgence with brightly colored cocktails, why send an invitation for an evening of croquet in Newport without stamping it with beautiful borders? Or send a postcard from Cappadocia without the added thrill of hi-resolution glitter? Best of all, CraftStudio gives us a chance to use our hands without getting hole-punched bits of paper in the carpet. $4.99, free for a limited time. Available for download at the App Store.
The idea behind TheWirecutter.com is simple: Forget the newest release that’s soon to be obsolete. What are the all-time best products? The site, which bills itself as a “Casey Kasem Top 40 if Casey Kasem were a geek,” was founded late last year by Brian Lam, former editor of the popular tech website Gizmodo. While most tech publications cater to nerds, The Wirecutter is the layperson’s resource, having published more than 100 reviews on everything from laptops (the 13-inch MacBook Air) and smartphones (the iPhone) to juicers (the Omega 8003) and vacuums (the Dyson DC28 Animal). Each review, written by established tech journalists for magazines like Popular Mechanics and Wired, is backed by hours of independent research as well as interviews with experts. It’s such a straightforward premise, it’s a wonder it took this long for someone to do it. “Sometimes the best ideas are right in front of our noses,” says Lam.
Part of Greene + Gray’s larger collection of tech accessories, this laptop sleeve ($40), made with a heavy-duty canvas shell and soft microfleece lining, is a must. The tribal-print design and leather details add some style. greeneandgray.com; apple.com.
The Constellation Black Neon collection, the latest from Vertu, is everything a line of luxury phones should be. Each touchscreen model (orange or blue, $8,300; silver, $9,600) is handmade by a single craftsman and features a polished black sapphire-crystal screen, an 8-megapixel camera and 32 gigabytes of user memory. vertu.com.
Vertu is making smartphones exotic again. By using ultra-strong materials in its products and offering exclusive user services, the British company has transformed a now-mundane technology into an object of desire and envy. It also accomplishes that goal with its prices—Vertu’s newest model, the Ti (starting at $9,600 and running as high as $19,900), reaches close to a hundred times the cost of standard phones.
A single craftsman hand-assembles each Ti, which has a 3.7-inch screen made from sapphire crystal that is four times more scratch-resistant than conventional glass displays. Vertu chose titanium for the phone’s casing—another material that makes it far tougher than other models while keeping its weight low.
But the perks of ownership might be the best feature. Vertu customers get admission to private dining and business clubs in cities around the world and can use an app to connect with wine experts for tasting notes and buying advice. Instead of a virtual personal assistant like the iPhone’s Siri, the Ti provides a round-the-clock live concierge for restaurant and hotel reservations anywhere in the world. For an additional cost, the service can arrange exclusive experiences, such as a tennis match with former no. 1 player Martina Hingis. (Try asking Siri to set that up.)
The Ti has an 8-megapixel camera, 64 gigabytes of internal memory and runs on the latest version of Google’s Android operating system. Those specs compare favorably with most other smartphones, though counting megapixels in a phone like this is like choosing a Ferrari for its cup holders. But while the Ti teems with both style and substance, ultimately its biggest selling point is having other people know you bought one. vertu.com.
Burberry, with the help of Google, launched its new Burberry Kisses promotion last week—its latest in a series of digital initiatives—that allows fans to send imprints of their own kisses to loved ones anywhere in the world. Using a smartphone (computer users need to use the Google Chrome browser), kiss bestowers simply log on, press their lips to the touchscreen, include a personalized message and send. There is even an option to add a Burberry lip color to the virtual pout. Google Earth and Street View technologies track the animated message in real time as it travels to its recipient. Now that’s instant gratification. kisses.burberry.com.
The special-edition Leica Digital Rangefinder camera, designed by Jonathan Ive, senior vice president of design at Apple, and industrial designer Marc Newson, is one of those items that is at once exceptional and one of a kind.
Bound for the block at Sotheby’s as part of the (RED) Auction (November 23; 7 P.M.), which will benefit the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria (theglobalfund.org), the one-off camera features a full-format CMOS image sensor, a high-performance processor and Leica’s new super-high-resolution APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH lens. Made from a custom-engineered alloy and featuring a laser-machined aluminum body, it required more than 725 hours to manufacture and nearly 1,000 prototype parts. The piece is expected to fetch between $500,000 and $750,000 at auction, where it will join more than 40 other exclusive items, including a Steinway & Sons grand piano, a rouge calfskin Hermès saddle and a Takashi Murakami¬designed Louis Vuitton trunk. 1334 York Ave.; 212-606-7000; sothebys.com.
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