Mark Harris
10 BEST DESIGNED GADGETS 2004 - Metro, 22 December 2004

Whether it's a mobile, DVD player or satellite TV box, all of the gadgets collected here have one thing in common - they're just so darned pleasingly and attractively designed...

iPod U2 Special Edition £250
You may not like U2. You may even think they did their best work 20 years ago and have been coasting on the stadium circuit ever since. But there’s no denying that this limited edition 20Gb iPod, with its jet black casing and bright red click wheel, is as cool as they ever were. Fans will appreciate the band’s signatures etched on the back and the £40 discount off a mighty 445-track U2 digital box set, available to download only from Apple’s iTunes Store.
Apple 0800 039 1010

Panasonic DV-LX8EBS £400
Hands up who remembers when plain old DVD players cost £400? For the same money, you can now get this self-contained home cinema system, complete with 9-inch LCD widescreen display, stereo speakers and remote control. Its slimline silver looks will be the envy of the rest of the train carriage but don’t get too cocky when serious delays kick in – you only get 2.5 hours playback from the rechargeable battery.
Panasonic 0870 300 1515

Leica D-Lux £600
In a fast-paced world where today’s digital camera is tomorrow’s paperweight, Leica has produced a timeless classic. The three megapixel chip and sharp 3x zoom lens are perfect for day-to-day photography and ease of use is simply effortless. To emphasize its longevity, Leica will engrave a name or dedication on the elegant all-metal body free of charge. One to hand down to your grandkids.
Leica 01908 256400

Monolith II MP3 player £160
Small, tough and home to a generous 1Gb of memory, this could be the perfect MP3 player. Its fused aluminium case can withstand bumps, drops and even being run over (according to the manufacturers) without even skipping a note. The new OLED display is brighter and uses less power than conventional LCD screens, giving you up to 19 hours of playback time from a single charge. It can also play or record FM radio, and doubles as an alarm clock.
Advanced MP3 Players 0131 273 4388

Motorola Razr V3 from £100 with contract; £450 SIM-free
This super-thin (14mm) handset looks sharp enough to shave with, thanks to an anodised aluminium casing and huge 242,000-colour screen. Flipping it open reveals a touch-sensitive precision-cut metal keyboard and all the high-tech features you could wish for, from a VGA camera and quad-band reception to voice-operated dialling and Bluetooth connectivity. You can even frame self-portraits on its tiny external colour screen.
Motorola 08000 151151

Harman/Kardon SoundSticks II £140
Who said computer speakers had to be ugly grey boxes? It doesn’t really matter if you don’t understand their ‘computer-optimised multi-band parametric equalization’, the advantages of these speakers are clear. The two transparent 10W satellite speakers and jellyfish-like 20W subwoofer simply sound as good as they look. Note that they can be used with PCs, Macs or even direct with iPods.
Harman Multimedia 0208 731 4670

Pure Digital Bug £130
Subtle, restrained, distinguished: just three words that don’t apply to this bizarre Wayne Hemingway-designed digital radio. That flexible neck holds a blue backlit display and the stereo speakers sound terrific. As well as delivering dozens of crystal-clear digital stations, the Bug lets you pause, rewind and even record live radio to MP3, using a built-in Secure Digital memory card slot. The Bug is available in white or graphite finishes.
Pure Digital 01923 260511

Designer Sky+ boxes £200 plus £60 installation
Liven up your living room with one of these exclusive designer Sky+ boxes. Combining a satellite receiver and hard disc recorder, Sky+ lets you pause and rewind live TV, or record shows in advance using the superb graphical programme guide. There are seven different designs from some of the country’s most creative talents, including Wale Adeyemi, Matthew Williamson and Neisha Crosland.
Selfridges 0207 318 3688

Sony Vaio X505 £1800
If small is beautiful, the X505 laptop is positively gorgeous. Tipping the scales at under 850 grams, this miniature marvel nevertheless packs quite a punch, with a 1.1GHz Centrino chip, 512Mb RAM and wireless web-surfing built-in. It has a full-size keyboard, a 10.1-inch screen and even a DVD rewriter for watching movies and storing data. A radical new silent cooling system ensures that your all-metal Vaio will be seen and not heard.
Sony 08705 111 999

Archos AV420 £350
Think of this as an iPod that plays video and you won’t be far off. Sporting a gorgeous 3.5-inch colour screen, its 20Gb hard drive can store up to 80 hours of DVDs and TV shows, or thousands of MP3 tunes and photos. It can download images from digital camera memory cards, record speech and even control your video or set-top box to record shows while you’re out. Best of all, it’s pocket-sized and weighs just 280 grams.
Archos 01264 366 022

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