We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
79,812 News Articles

News feature: Webpads and clever cases

CeBit this year had some oddities, and that's just the journos who attended

There's always something slightly surreal about attending international technology tradeshows, but this year's CeBit dealt surreal sensations in spades.

Usually, I'm unsure whether the cause of my disorientation is that faux-vacation feeling brought on by being somewhere foreign that isn't the office yet still having to work, or just the overwhelming number of improbable products on show.

The CeBit tradeshow in Hanover removes that ambiguity.

Pretty though Hanover is, with its historic Altstadt, royal palace, opera house and museums, no one would choose to vacation here in mid-March, when an icy wind sweeps across the North German Plain, accompanied by liberal lashings of rain.

No, what made CeBit special this year were the weird, wired devices on display.

The first double-take came when I passed a stand that I mistook as belonging to Samsung, the up-and-coming South Korean mobile phone manufacturer which could soon be challenging Nokia for top spot.

But the Bluetooth-enabled product I initially took to be the world's largest mobile phone turned out, on closer inspection, to be the world's most intelligent suitcase, made by none other than bag firm Samsonite.

Intelligence, for a suitcase, is a relative term. In the case of the 625 Series Hardlite ICT, it means it's wired up with a tiny Bluetooth radio transceiver from RFI Mobile Technologies. This device is said to be capable of storing information such as flight schedules and hotel destinations, and of warning you if it is being stolen — as long as it notices before thieves have carried it more than 10m away, the limit of this Bluetooth device's range.

Samsonite seems to think this innovation will "contribute to a better and more efficient travel environment, focusing on security and user friendliness", but I imagine whoever wrote that hasn't tried getting a suitcase with a suspicious radio transmitter embedded in its lining on to a transatlantic flight since 11 September.

Luggage manufacturers didn't have the monopoly on strange wireless devices; Microsoft was at it too. To promote the Mira, a concept device somewhere between a webpad and a flat-panel monitor, Microsoft screened a video showing all the ways in which it could be used.

On the futility scale, there's not much to choose between using it to gaze fondly at pictures of loved ones who are in the next room, and checking the weather forecast to see if it's dry enough to walk up the street. There are other kinds of windows much better adapted to that.

Best of all, though, was the closing shot: the Mira owner, looking for some reading material to take into the bathroom with him, faces a difficult choice between an old-fashioned newspaper and his favourite news website on the Mira.

Of course he chooses the Mira. And he's probably right — while a television can never replace a newspaper's capacity to deal with unexpected shortages of the other kind of paper, Mira might. Just log on to your favourite online grocer, and order some more.


IDG UK Sites

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Samsung Galaxy S5 comparison review: Samsung's best ever smartphones...

IDG UK Sites

Nostalgia time: Top 10 best selling mobile phones in history

IDG UK Sites

How Ford designs next-generation cars at its Melbourne Design Centre

IDG UK Sites

Apple 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina review and the mystery of the processor benchmarks