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Paper Furniture, Way Basics Review

No tools or instructions required and it won’t break me into sweat to assemble it? Sign me up! Way Basics is a company that produces these module furniture pieces made from, wait for it… paper! zBoards as they call it, is a revolutionary material that is sustainably made and 100% recyclable. It’s super strong yet weights 62% less than particle board. They sent me their basic cube and in less than 10 minutes, I had a new shelving unit all with the magic of 3M tape. I’m serious!

Tape? Yes TAPE. One of the company’s mottos is ‘no tools, no rule’ and they mean it. All you do is pull the boards out of the packaging, align them to form a box, peel off the 3M tape and stick them together. The instructions say to let things set for about 24 hours but in under 10 minutes, the whole thing was as strong as wood and nails. Color me impressed!

You’re only bound by your imagination. The zBoards are drillable, nailable, and paintable. I think I just made up a few words but I’m going with their ‘no rule’ motto here. You start with a basic cube and can create anything from that simple geometry. It’s great for kids too. I mean how easy is it just to buy a bunch of modular kits, send them to their rooms and let them have at it?

The kits come in various colors and sizes but as I said, you’re only limited by imagination. The basic cube (the one I was sent) retails for $20. If you’re looking to build a full on shelving system, things can get costly. I will attest to the strength and durability. Trust me, I was very skeptical at first but I’m a 165 lb man and the cube didn’t waver at all with me sitting on it.

If you’re into it, go nuts. They’re having a summer sale right now (as of 07/29/09) and some kits are half off. Please let me know if you decide to purchase a kit. Let me know what you think.

Product dimensions
Length 11.34″ | Width 13.39″ | Height 12.60″

What we loved:

  • Easy to assemble, no tools required
  • Paint and decorate them like real wood
  • Half the weight of particle board
  • Durable and strong
  • Mountable too

What could be improved:

  • Drop the retail price by $5

Designer: Way Basics [Buy it here]

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White Shining Light Goes DISCO

How about a light that’s all white and prim when you want it as a spot, but goes psychedelic on a whim? The ELS-magnetic is an acrylic smart LED lamp that conforms to this. Now I did say it was smart; it’s got no visible switches to work it, but instead relies on two special zones on the surface where you can touch it to make the changes.Smartness personified; you can create your own modes with the software that comes along and transfer the new settings to the lamp without hooking it to a PC. Simply play the generated sound file near the lamp with any MP3 player to register the changes.

BTW, it’s got a magnetic base on the back of the lamp; that’s why the ‘Magnetic Lamp’ tag!

Designer: Dmitry Agurkov

ELS Magnetic Acrylic Smart LED Lamp by Dmitry Agurkov

ELS Magnetic Acrylic Smart LED Lamp by Dmitry Agurkov 2

ELS Magnetic Acrylic Smart LED Lamp by Dmitry Agurkov 3

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ELS Magnetic Acrylic Smart LED Lamp by Dmitry Agurkov 4

Lights, Camera…Projector, But In A Kitchen

I wonder what else we will be seeing in futuristic kitchens, but for the moment let’s stick to what Nelly has for us. Since my French is no-good I’m going to do my best to explain what she is trying to convey. Oniris is the kitchen for the future that integrates technology to its advantage. The central working unit doubles up as a dining, washing, cooking and storage area. There is a chandelier on top of the unit that houses LED lights, a motion-sensor camera and a projector as well. You guessed it, the projector displays recipes/images on the countertop.

The graphic visuals can be programmed and pre-set for special occasion like birthdays etc. It can also be used to announce the meal courses in a very animate way.

An induction cooking plate, storage cabinet and sensor-controlled faucet complete the concept.

Now that I have conveyed the basics, my two-cents on this: I’m all for technology in the kitchen, but practical solutions for spills, heavy-duty cooking like we Indians do (read oily fried foods) need more tougher terrains. Overall verdict-Thumbs Up!

Designer: Nelly De Macedo

Oniris Futuristic Kitchen Concept by Nelly De Macedo

Oniris Futuristic Kitchen Concept by Nelly De Macedo 2

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Going Pro on a Budget, Olympus E-3 Review

It’s not the newest kid on the block but the Olympus E-3 still produces amazing pictures. The 2008 flagship model faces stiff competition but fans are loyal because of the amazing Zuiko optics, splash-proof magnesium body, and the world’s fastest autofocus. I took the E-3 and the Zuiko 12-60mm SWD lens to the San Diego Zoo for a test run. The results are impressive.

The E-3 was one of the first SLRs to embrace Live View and tho pros may poo-poo the feature, it’s incredibly useful when shooting at odd angles. The screen flips out and swivels 360º revealing Olympus’ most high contrast LCD screen ever. Compared to the E-volt line, it’s like night and day.

I’m not sure if newer SLRs have taken the title but in 2008 the Zuiko Digital SWD 12-60mm coupled with the E-3 had the world’s faster AF system system. The latest SWD (Supersonic Wave Drive) focuses twice as fast as previous Zuiko lenses and the speed is highly appreciated with shy animals at the zoo.

I’m totally smitten with the high shutter speed too, 1/8000-second! Even the fastest animal was no match. You can even set the camera to shoot at the highest quality setting at 5 frames per second. The 10 megapixel sense delivers some amazing prints. Day or night, noise levels were at a minimum and photos never looked soft. Everything is tack sharp with no chromatic aberration.

Being a pro camera, there are no automatic settings. You can choose between shutter and aperture priority modes or go full manual. Navigating the menus is pretty easy tho a bit awkward since at times you have to press two buttons at once.

As an avid Nikon user, nothing comes close to their VR (vibration reduction) technology but the E-3’s optical stabilization is no slouch either. It compensates for camera movement up to 5 steps EV. In fact, every SWD class Zuiko lens has built-in optical stabilization so even those most action oriented photographers will love it.

The E-3 is priced at $1,399 body only. Olympus’ flagship SLR is a little long in the tooth but advance and pro photographers will find it has more than enough power. Toting around the magnesium body was a little tiresome but that’s what Olympus is known for – durability in conditions other SLRs would fail in. Some of the world’s best nature photographers use Olympus glass and now I understand why. With very little muss and fuss I was able to take some amazing captures. Little benefits like ISO 100 made shooting in bright sunlight a non issue. I won’t give up my Nikon anytime soon but Olympus is quickly becoming my second favorite choice.

What we loved:

  • High-performance 10.1-megapixel Live MOS Sensor
  • RAW capture is exceptional
  • Amazing metering for HDRI
  • The World’s Fastest Auto Focus
  • All controls are easily accessible
  • 1/8000-second high-speed, high-precision shutter
  • Exclusive Supersonic Wave Drive Image Stabilization System
  • Four-Thirds lens mount with Digital Specific Lenses
  • Live View shooting
  • 2.5-inch swivel Live View LCD
  • Supersonic Wave Filter Dust Reduction System
  • 100% accurate optical viewfinder
  • Rugged magnesium-alloy construction
  • Supports CompactFlash Type I/II, Microdrive, xD-Picture Card (Dual-Slot)
  • 11 point full-twin cross AF sensor
  • ISO 100 – 3200
  • 7 Picture modes

What could be improved:

  • Can’t delete photo after you take it. You have to go into preview mode
  • Long lithium ion battery charge time
  • LCD screen is an improvement but still lackluster compared to Nikon
  • No HD movie mode like current flagship competitors

Company: Olympus [Buy it here]

Primal Earbones

From the innately elegant design sensations of fuseproject comes this technologically and aesthetically candy-coated little device. It is a hands-free bluetooth device for your ear. Telephone and etcetera. With colorway names like this, how can one resist? Yello, Drop me a Lime, Lilac You Mean it, and Frankly Scarlett. These are the next level earbone pieces after the one we reviewed last year.

This model Jawbone, titled ‘Jawbone Prime,’ is the third iteration. As you’ll read from Long Tran’s review up there, massive changes had been made from the first to the second, and now on the third, the PRIME that is, comes big improvements again.

I can’t speak for the actual working nature of the device as I don’t have one plugged in my ear, but take a little read for judgement: Size reduced again, plastics, no earhook, and four freshtastic flavors.

EARCANDY is a summer color burst, bringing self-expression and a smile to the Jawbone line-up. We are treating our colors and textures like others are treating fabrics, bringing together material richness and personal expression.

Yummy in my tummy. Er… in my ear.

I want all of you Industrial Designers out there to take note of this project because THIS is what happens when a multidisciplinary design group like fuseproject gets ahold of your design: magic!

Designer: fuseproject

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Recycled Lights

Here are two creative individuals who have decided to DO something instead of offering lip-service to the term RECYCLE. They use their imagination to craft out the most amazing Recycled Plastic PET Bottle Lights. In case you picture sea-creatures in some of their art, then that’s coz Lisa, an architect, fancies them. Landscape designer, Su Sim takes inspiration from natural landforms instead. Hop around Malaysia to catch the duo showcase their eco-artworks. Take a bow designers!

Designers: Lisa Foo & Su Sim

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Recycled Plastic PET Bottle Lights by Lisa Foo & Su Sim

Recycled Plastic PET Bottle Lights by Lisa Foo & Su Sim 2

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