Tuesday, 9 April 2013

The Everyday Linux User review of Gadget Show Live 2013

Posted by Gary Newell  |  at  23:46 No comments

Introduction

For those of you who live outside the UK "The Gadget Show" is a television program that is shown on one of our terrestrial television channels called "Channel 5".

"Channel 5" is mainly known for naff television but "The Gadget Show" is a jewel in a crown. It really is top viewing for any tech fan.

"The Gadget Show" has had many hosts during the years but for the past year or so has been hosted by Jason Bradbury and Pollyanna Woodward.

In the current guise the two of them have been touring the world testing out the best gadgets available, from Tablets to Juice Makers.

The way the technology is tested is what makes the show a huge success. 

The pair often embark on crazy missions in order to test the latest camera, electric car or jet powered skateboards.

"The Gadget Show" live is like a trade show in some ways but in other ways it is a technology festival. No, that is not enough. The "Gadget Show Live" is an extravaganza of technology, a lollapalooza of technology. It is every geek's dream.

The technology


The exhibition is basically split into two rooms. The first room has every gadget you can possibly think of from paper made of stone to solar powered cars.

There were stalls by all the major computer and tablet makers. Apart from the wide array of tablets that supported Android there was no Linux on offer anywhere. (I wonder if this was because the event was sponsored by Microsoft).

I spent a lot of time trying out various tablets from various manufacturers and it meant I had my first real go with Windows 8. I have to say that it isn't as bad as some people would have you believe.

I can see why traditional Windows users may have issues. There is a new layer aimed for the tablet market using the tiles that we have all seen on Windows phones and on the XBOX. From a tablet perspective Windows 8 is actually very good. I have a Nokia Windows phone and the apps available are every bit as good as the Android equivalents. Windows 8 works really well on a touch screen.

I think it is easy to knock Microsoft for what they are doing and what they have done in the past but from a useability perspective I found Windows 8 quite good. Of course underneath the tiles there is the original operating system. All you have to do to get the original interface is to hover over the hotspot in the corner of the screen and switch to the other view. This really isn't much different to switching between activities within KDE.

Obviously Microsoft is targetting Windows 8 at the ultrabook style interfaces where keyboard meets tablet. 

I tried a dozen or so different devices for Windows 8. The product I was most impressed with though was the Acer Ultrabook. 



This is not a sales pitch for Windows though and I have no intention of going out and buying a Windows 8 device. At the same time I am not here to knock Microsoft just for the sake of it. The XBOX is undeniably a great gaming device.

The other devices that really caught the eye were 3D printers. At the moment they are fairly pricey at well over £1000 but they are amazing.

Samsung showed off their range of 3D, ultra high defiinition and SMART tvs. I wasn't that impressed with the SMART television. The idea is that you can use gestures to change settings such as screen size, the program you are watching and selecting movies.

The SMART television can recommend programs based on your previous selections but the thing that lets it down are the controls. You control the SMART TV in the same way you control Kinect.  I think that I would end up having a coronary trying to change the channel. There is no way that this is better than using a remote control. My son tried out the television and kept apologising for not being able to do as the person giving the demonstration was asking. A television shouldn't be that hard to control.


The show had some novel ideas as well including bouncy shoes and water activated batteries. For the kids there were a range of radio controlled helicopters, the latest NERF guns and toys.

Nintendo were demonstrating the power of the WII U and I predict that this Christmas the WII U will be the number one toy. The games on offer were standard fair with a new version of Mario and the impressive Lego City.

Just going through the first room took 4 hours and I barely scratched the surface. At that point in time I had no idea that room 2 was tech heaven.



The second room had banks and banks of computer games including a whole wall showing the history of computers including the Atari 2600, Sinclair 48k Spectrum, the Commodore Amiga 1200 and Sega Saturn.

EA Sports had a games truck with the FIFA challenge where I managed to come 2nd three times in a row missing out on the goodie bag each and every time. On the 4th time I gave up after a 10 year old managed to beat the record for the whole week.

Outside the EA Sports truck there were some people more serious about their work. Banks of computers all set up to play Alienware. The general public weren't playing though. Teams of gamers with shirts, sponsors and nicknames battled it out in a keyboard and joystick frenzy.

Next to the gaming area another competition was taking place. Teams of Robot Engineers showed off their latest robots in a Robot Wars competition.

For the laser quest fans out there a large area of the second room was set aside for laser quest with small rooms, barriers and all the usual equipment required for a good old shoot em up.

The highlight of the experience however is the live stage show. Pollyanna and Jason were joined on stage by a previous presenter called Jon Bentley.

The show was presented in the format of "Tour of the gadget world" and each segment was designed to highlight gadgets from different parts of the world. In reality the show was pure entertainment with a few gadgets thrown in and a lot of prize giveaways and throwaway entertainment.

The show started with the audience taking part in an interactive computer game where the audience as a whole controlled a computer character running through the luggage lounge trying to avoid obstacles in order to get to the gate. To direct the character the audience had to lean left or right and say jump to jump.

Impressive parts of the show included mind controlled skateboards and the folding bike powered by an electric rocket pack.


So what has this article got to do with Linux? Absolutely nothing. The only thing you will have learned is that maybe Windows 8 isn't as bad as first feared and that if you want a really good tech experience visit "The Gadget Show Live" in Birmingham, England next year.

"The Gadget Show" is back on air in June 2013 and there will be 4 hosts this time. Along with Jason and Pollyanna there will be the return of Jon Bentley and new girl, Rachel Riley who up until recently has been on Channel 4's Countdown.

Thankyou for reading

About the Author

Gary Newell started the Everyday Linux User blog in 2010 and has written reviews on dozens of different Linux based operating systems. He has also written a number of tutorials.

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