Gadgets

After you've spruced up the living room with the latest in flatscreen technology, why not treat the teenagers in your household to new surfing and audio possibilities?

1. Philips 21:9 Ultra Wide Ambilight 56in

Product differentiation is very difficult in a crowded market. Philips, with its newest ambilight, plans to offer more than immersive edge-lighting with its latest addition to its high-end range of flatscreens. This TV is clearly aimed at serious film buffs with its dedicated 21:9 aspect ratio designed primarily for watching HD movies. However, viewers might find some problems when watching movies with subtitles as these often appear at the bottom bar. Philips point out that its latest Blu-ray players will overcome this problem. However, when watching anything at 16:9 or less, you have merely replaced horizontal bars with vertical ones.

Multizone Audio Visual [new window]

£4,499.99

2. Sharp LE 700

Sharp claims to be the first manufacturer to bring out light-emitting diode (LED) dynamic backlighting on its European TVs. The dynamic part refers to the fact that the LED lights turn off when the area of the screen it corresponds to is black. But whereas the number of pixels on an HD screen will run in millions, the number of LEDs will number in the hundreds. Therefore, one LED will control the light level on several pixels. Thus, Sharp is wise not to quote a dynamic contrast ratio (the difference between the darkest spot and the lightest). Even still, with the side-by-side demonstration we witnessed, Sharp's new TVs provide clearer pictures than Sharp's LCD TVs with CFL backlight technology.

Available August 2009 from Sharp [new window]

Price: tbc

3. Gear 4 CDM-100

Gear 4's latest iPod dock is unremarkable in a crowded market for iPod docks. But it does have a good set of specifications for its price bracket. It features two large speakers which are detachable and can be placed some distance from the dock itself - as well as being permanently attached to the dock if the user wishes. It also features an FM radio and a CD player, therefore serving as a fully-functioning hi-fi unit in itself. However, the sound quality won't suit committed audiophiles; as would the broadcasts on the FM receiver - DAB receivers are finally dropping in price. This is clearly aimed at the budget teenage-bedroom market.

Play.com [new window]

£89.99

4. Medion E600

Perhaps you have stopped shopping at Waitrose and Marks and Spencers for your groceries. But the budget supermarkets are piling PCs high and selling them cheap as well as groceries. This home PC is powered by AMD's Phenom X4 9650 Quad Core processor, an ATI Radeon HD4550 DirectX 10.1 graphics card and 4GB DDR2 SDRAM memory. It also has eight channel high-definition audio and home theatre surround sound output ports for a great home entertainment experience. Alternatively, the HDMI+ DVI output means users can enjoy the latest HD media on their HD-ready flat panel televisions. Featuring Windows Vista Home premium, it also comes with a free upgrade voucher to Windows 7.

Participating Aldi stores nationwide.

£429

5. Nivio Companion

Now here is a budget palm-sized computer that stores and runs everything online. The size of four CD cases, it is used to access nivio - the Windows-based Online Desktop where everything is stored-on and run from the cloud. The Nivio service costs £5 a month and includes a virtual 10GB hard drive and allows you to rent standard Windows applications like Microsoft Word or Powerpoint for a monthly fee. Files are automatically backed-up daily and kept safe and private just like an online vault, protecting users from viruses and spam. If necessary, users can purchase more space.

Nivio companion [new window]

£99

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