thinglets: who says the mundane can't be snazzy has just released a list they call Ultra-Minimalism: 19 Cool Products That Are Almost Impossible to Use. Included are toilets, tables, mugs, watches and other assorted basic sundry items that have become stylized to the point of the fanciful to the unrecognizable to the plain unusable.

Judge yourself. I personally think the Malevich-inspired Das Keyboard Ultimate is a bit too minimalist for my tastes.

Das Keyboard Ultimate

thinglets: Panasonic Invents Paperless Fax

Why does this strike me like when my dad first said "I bought a cordless screwdriver" and I replied "Haven't they been cordless for centuries". Panasonic now wants you to buy a fax machine to essentially do email. With smartphones and internet messaging devices of all sizes, it make me wonder why someone would want to buy something the size of a fax machine to receive an email on. Can't people finally get behind the scanner/pdf process yet?

You can read about it here if your Japanese is good or here if it's old reliable English you crave. If not, you can take solace in the fact that if you haven't sent a fax in years, and wonder why people still do, you're really not missing out by shaking free of the early adoption on this one.

paperless fax

thinglets: Crazy Robot Sex Doll

Okay, I wish I could claim this was just a wacky title to gain viewers, but alas, my motives are pure. Maybe not so much for this guy or his brother.

"But underneath her wispy auburn hair and peaches and cream complexion is an anatomically correct silicone fembot, easily modified for any number of uses."

What can I say? When winter comes in Canada, some look for comforts wherever they can find them. Domo Arigato Ms. Roboto.

Ms. Roboto

lovehate: The "i" meets the "mart"

I've never been an Apple fanboy. Sure I kinda liked my Shuffle and I really like my Nano for allowing me to take video podcasts on the go. I do covet the iPod Touch and will probably pick one up within the next couple of weeks. And seeing that it mildly bothers me that iPhones are going to be sold at Walmart, I can only imagine what the Mac fanboys (and girls) must be thinking. Their world of brick-designed polished aluminum and stylized high end merchandise is going to be hocked under the "Have a Nice Day" octogenarian greeters of the uberdiscount leviathan.

Quite simply, Apple has made their continued mark on not only being ahead of the curve in terms of product design, but also on a "cool" factor that created a perceived higher class of gadget and computer buyers. Apple had a group of dedicated apostles willing to pay twice as much for hardware and the same price for music... even while it was held ransom through DRM!

The marriage of the "Holy Grail" product of the "i" prefix with the bargain basement of the "mart" suffix will drive Apple to common highway instead of the toll roads. The first time the acolytes of the Cult of Jobs see an iPhone on sale for 144.44 with the "Always" placard next to it, their hearts will die a little inside.

It's not that I don't understand the marketing angle and the potential cash to be made, but will I ever be able to take the Mac/PC ads in the same vein again? When I think of Justin Long now, will I envision Warren Cheswick in a blue apron making minimum wage?

Okay, look... I know that other Apple products have been available at Walmart for years and the shine hasn't come off the devotees. But along with the Walmart news comes the rumor that iTunes is going DRM-free. After years in the clouds, Apple is coming down to earth. What remains to be seen is if Apple can catch the even larger market of people who would never pay a premium for gadgets. Let's face it, consumers can get cell phones these days for next to nothing and pay as they go. Will bringing the iPhone into suburbia convince the $47.77, no contract buyer to spend $200 with a three year commitment? I'm guessing this is what Apple is banking on.

Maybe the "elite" market is getting tapped out in this economy. Maybe the days of techies paying $3000 for a Macbook that parallels the processing abilities of a $1000 PC laptop. I don't believe Apple is hurting by any means, but I do think they are hedging their bets. My only remaining question is do they have another landmark product on the horizon. We've been seeing a regular pattern over the last few years of Apple rolling out new models of devices that basically do the same thing - kind of like the auto industry... though I don't think an iBailout's in the works.

Is there a future for another portable media device/phone in Apple's future, or is it just model tweaks for the next five years? I have no doubt there is something up the sleeves of the development teams in Cupertino, but the last time there was something completely unknown that was rumored as different and "groundbreaking" Michael Kamen's was pimping It/Ginger - ultimately the Segway. And while the Segway was cool, it certainly wasn't the revolutionary product it was cracked up to be.

The proprietary has met the ordinary. The MOMA has met the dormroom poster sale. The Ferrari's available at Budget Rent-a-car. The "i" has met the "mart"... and the late adopters will carry their new AT&T contract in a plastic basket with a package of Twizzlers, a sweater made in China, and an impulse-buy horoscope scroll.


thinglets: Soundtrack Shirt

You've gotta give it to ThinkGeek, they come up with some of the most cool concepts in gadgets. How many times have you thought it would be great to have a "walking down the street" song or a Barry White song as you moved across to pick up that special someone at a party. This shirt lets you customize your own personal soundtrack with a remote control that allows you to select the song of the moment... maybe Heat of the Moment. Maybe not High Fidelity, but certainly gives one of your lists a practical output. I'm sure the speaker doesn't have the greatest bass response... on second thought, maybe Barry White isn't the best selection... perhaps the White Stripes?

soundtrack shirt