• National Solar Technologies(NST), announces the release of its new commercial grade Portable Solar Powered LED Floodlighting system. The unit is 100% solar powered using a high efficiency solar module that captures the suns energy to recharge the system during the day, and power the lighting system all night long. The product is engineered to operate the LED floodlight fixture dusk to dawn, even after days of overcast weather. The system incorporates sealed, non-spillable maintenance free batteries for power storage.

    The LED floodlight fixture is designed for up to 150,000 hours of operation. The main unit frame and power unit enclosure is welded aluminum, powder coated in a variey of color choices. For portability/mobility, the system light mast folds down to a height of ~5.5 ft(fully extended mast is ~9.5 ft). Never flat wheels make it easy for anyone to wheel the unit to the location that needs to be illuminated.

    “The benefit of using solar energy for power production is that it allows for cost savings since there is not a need for the use of fossil fuel”, says Paul Vargovich, Director of Business Development at National Solar Technologies. “We ensure that the best components are utilized in the system so there is longevity with system reliability and zero routine maintenance required. Our goal is to provide superior solutions that will help build long lasting relationships with our customers.”

    National Solar Technologies Portable Solar Powered Floodlighting system is ideal for site lighting or general temporary lighting requirements. The US Military has deployed numerous NST Portable Solar Powered Floodlight systems supplied for use in remote and austere environments in both Afghanistan and Iraq. According to a US Military supply officer in Afghanistan, “You have a great product and we want to buy more.” There is currenty a push to expand the use of these systems throughout US Military Forward Operating Bases and Patrol Bases in Afghanistan.

    The Portable Solar Powered LED Floodlight system is the best choice for temporary lighting or site lighting needs. Utilizing green solar energy and long life LEDs for illumination, NST’s Portable Solar Powered LED Floodlighting solution is the environmentally clean alternative to generator powered lights. Whether its a small construction site, temporary parking lot, or remote location, National Solar Technologies offers a solution that will pay for itself in a short amount of time.

    FoxFury Lighting Solutions has modified the model names of its Nomad LED Area-Spot lights. The original Nomad design (previously referred to as the Nomad 3600 and Nomad 4000) is now known as the Nomad Prime while the newest addition to the Nomad family is called the Nomad 360. This name change places the look and function of the light at the forefront rather than the number of lumens.

    The Nomad, a dual action LED area light and spotlight, was originally released in November 2010 following two years of R&D. The original names of this portable, rechargeable area light (Nomad 3600 and Nomad 4000) reflected the number of torch lumens generated by the light. Rather than changing model names every time brighter LED technology becomes available, FoxFury has chosen to rename this original design the “Prime.”

    FoxFury released the innovative and versatile new Nomad 360 in July 2012. It is believed to be the first portable LED scene light that offers 360 degree scene lighting with the option to use it as a (12 degree) spotlight. This 7000 torch lumen model is brighter than the Nomad Prime and has a higher price point. The 360 degree ability of this light stands out right away, which is why the product name was chosen.

    Tags:

  • Luger Research / LED professional revealed that their membership application has been accepted by the International SSL Alliance (ISA) making them the first publishing house to join this not-for-profit NGO.  They join members from industry, academic institutions, professional societies and associations allowing them to work even closer with companies such as Cree, Philips, GE, Nichia, Everlight, Frauenhofer, Osram and many more.

    ISA is an international alliance of regional alliances and associations, renowned universities and institutions and leading companies in the SSL field. It is an independent legal entity which aims to enhance public-private partnership and intensify global cooperation to accelerate and foster the sustainable development of SSL.

    Siegfried Luger publisher of LED professional and director of the LED professional Symposium +Expo commented: “We are absolutely delighted to be given the opportunity to work with ISA and their members to assist the development of LED technologies, influence growth in the Solid State Lighting industry (SSL) and take part in shaping a sustainable society. We already work with many of the ISA members through our publications and the LED Symposium and Exhibition and we look forward to forming even closer relationships with them. We see our main role in bringing together all technological aspects of LED and OLED including legislation, standardization, research & development, manufacturing and supply & distribution. ”

    Lighting is the essential pre-condition for the existence of nearly all living beings on earth. SSL has unlimited innovation potentials to enhance people’s lives and to create a green & sustainable society. It is becoming a strategic industry and the technology of choice for both conventional and emerging lighting applications, with huge industrial, economic, scientific and social impact.

    Both ISA and LED professional are already part of international co-operations and are looking to extend global initiatives to accelerate and foster the development of the international SSL industry and applications.

    ISA’s scope covers the complete spectrum of SSL technologies and applications. Technologies include materials and equipment, LED-based light sources, modules, lamps, luminaires, electronics for lighting, systems, lighting design and architecture, testing and qualification, recycling, SSL related regulations, etc. Applications include all segments of general lighting, backlighting, transport and mobility, horticulture, healthcare, safety, communications, and other societal needs.

    LED professional has been working in this field for more than 10 years, establishing itself as a major voice with regard to LED and OLED related issues. The LED professional publications and especially the LED professional Symposium and Expo bring together industry, academia and organizations in the area of LED and OLED adding specialist knowledge and networks to ISA and its members. The LED professional Symposium and Expo is regarded as Europe’s foremost LED lighting event, a platform to interact, exchange and foster new relationships.

    The general opinion in the industry is that SSL related challenges can be solved when all the participants work together and form a strong partnership.

    Tags:

  • The report begins with an introduction about the different broad dimensions of the lighting market. A brief description of the evolution of LED technology has also been included in this section. It is followed by a brief overview of the global lighting market and the global LED market. Description of the Indian lighting industry highlights its major segments. Overview of the Indian LED industry provides details on the industry size and the growth in demand.

    The next section provides a brief overview of the value chain present in the LED industry.

    The report provides detailed information about the exports and imports of LED under specific HS codes in terms of value and volume. It provides country-wise import and export data for the year 2010-11, mentioning the major countries exporting and importing from India.

    Factors driving the growth of the LED market in India are also explained in detail. Growing population and rise in income provides an impetus to the growth of the LED market in India. Demand from consumer electronics is expected to emerge as a major growth driver for the Indian LED market. Increasing usage in street lighting and growing indoor lighting applications is expected to boost the growth prospects of the LED market in India. Better lamp life and energy efficiency and environment friendly technology is expected to contribute significantly towards market development. A Global ban on the usage of incandescent lights also has a favorable impact on the growth of the LED market.

    The players operating in the market also face challenges which are impeding their development and growth. High initial cost barrier has emerged as a major challenge hindering the market growth. Lack of consumer awareness and high import dependency are also expected to have an unfavorable impact on the growth of the LED market in India.

    The next section incorporates some of the initiatives that are needed to enhance the growth prospects of the Indian LED industry.

    Brief description of the published LED standards in India has been included in the report. The support provided by the government to promote the LED market and the key initiatives undertaken by the regulatory stakeholders in order to develop the LED industry in India have also been highlighted in the report.

    Emerging trends in the LED market include growing usage in automotive lighting, digital signage, solar LED lights and technology development.

    The competition section outlays the competitive landscape of the LED market in India briefing about the public and private players existing in the market. The report features brief profiles of major players in the market and a snapshot of their corporation, financial performance along with the key financial ratios, business highlights and their product portfolio providing an insight into the existing competitive scenario.

    Some of the key statistics or factors impacting the LED market in India covered in the report include market size & growth, rise in population, rise in income, LED Television - Sales Share, LED Monitor Sales and Digital Signage Market Growth.

    The report concludes with a section on strategic recommendations which comprises an analysis of the growth strategies of the LED market in India.

    Tags:

  • The exhibit celebrates craft’s reblooming and also the museum’s 40-year milestone. Each of the 40 artists chosen by curator Nicholas R. Bell was born after 1972, when the museum opened in its home down the street from the White House. The charmingly stodgy Renwick is known for its displays of traditional 19th- and 20th-century crafts and furniture, but the museum is taking this opportunity to look toward the future, showing, for example, one-name artist Olek’s room filled with objects encased in crocheted yarn and Joshua DeMonte’s architecturally inspired, digitally formed wearable sculpture.

    An eager optimism forms the heart of the exhibition, where “craft is about making a better world,” as the introductory text reads, and American traditions find new breath. The Renwick seeks to categorize this new generation of craft-based artists by running threads through possible common experiences, including the ubiquitous growth of the Internet and globalization, as well as the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the effect of continual warfare on the American identity. The show remarks on craft’s rise following industrialism and the separation of consumers from the objects they consume, which eventually fueled the DIY movement and websites like Etsy. But such attempts by the Renwick to frame this group of artists on such broad terms often feels forced.

    The exhibition, in reality, can’t speak for a generation or for craft’s future. The works instead revel more in new materials, new technologies, new histories, new experiences and, in one case, enlightenment.

    Illumination comes from Nick Dong’s “Enlightenment Room” installation, a sealed chamber filled with the aroma of incense and covered with convex white tiles on the walls and mirrors on the floor and ceiling. One at a time, visitors are invited to enter the space and sit on a cushioned seat, activating a series of sonorous Tibetan chants while more than 600 LED bulbs fill the room with bright light. The program ends immediately when the occupant stands, as if an enlightened moment has come and gone, contingent on the patience of the visitor.

    So how is this craft? Dong’s room challenges the viewer to forget about traditional categories and revel in the handcrafted: The 10,000 porcelain tiles in the room were made and signed by the artist’s own hands. Other works’ handicraft renew the everyday, such as Stacey Lee Webber’s pair of shovels made from soldered-together square cuttings of pennies and Sergey Jivetin’s necklace made of egg shells that collect in delicate clusters.

    It’s enough to make one look more carefully at surroundings. Olek simply brought her environment to Washington, installing a replica of her Brooklyn apartment in the galleries and covering everything from the bathtub to the bed with brightly colored crocheted yarn. Her installation will “go live” at points during the show, with performers wearing crocheted bodysuits. Olek also made her presence known in Washington days before the exhibition opened by “yarn-bombing” the Albert Einstein Memorial, covering the statue with a camouflage-pattern pink and purple jumpsuit.

    Such unexpected uses of materials reverberate throughout the show, such as in Sabrina Gschwandtner’s quilts, made with vintage 16mm films from the Fashion Institute of Technology stitched together with her own reels, and Melanie Bilenker’s resin brooches and lockets, showing images of her daily life — pouring milk or stepping into shoes — carefully “drawn” with her own hair. Sebastian Martorana’s exquisitely carved marble sculpture of a pillow indented by a resting head creates a permanent memorial to a fleeting moment: The object captures the instant when the artist lifted his father-in-law from his deathbed.

    Tags:

  • NXP Semiconductors N.V. — the world’s largest supplier of in-vehicle networking semiconductors — today introduces the UJA1018, a compact integrated solution that supports cost-efficient and flexible LED ambient lighting applications in vehicles. The UJA1018 is designed for LIN networks (Local Interconnect Networks) and is the first ASSP (Application Specific Standard Product) for ambient lighting with Node Position Detection.

    This enables LIN addresses of LED modules to be individually programmed after being installed in the car, rather than during module manufacturing. Ambient LED lighting is increasingly popular in the automotive industry. Car manufacturers are using it as a differentiator to enhance the driving experience. It also enables OEMs to emphasize their car brand via the color and styling of the interior lighting, while car dealers can offer consumers the option of customizing the lighting settings.

    Whereas interior LED modules are currently programmed during the module manufacturing process, with NXP’s new Node Position Detection method, based on an integrated LIN switch, all LED modules can be individually configured even after being mounted in the car. This offers new levels of flexibility while drastically reducing manufacturing logistics and costs.

    The UJA1018 integrates all analog functions to create a compact ambient lighting solution, including LIN transceiver, LIN switch for Node Position Detection, voltage regulator for microcontroller and drivers for 3-color LED. In addition, the compact HVSON package enables the creation of small form factor modules. The UJA1018 fulfills the robustness requirements from the OEMs and also meets the SAE J2602 and LIN conformance.

    “With the UJA1018 and its unique Node Position Detection technology based on LIN switch, NXP enables car OEMs to offer personalized ambient lighting solutions to end consumers. At the same time it saves system costs and simplifies logistics for both OEMs and Tier1 suppliers,” says Toni Versluijs, general manager of In-Vehicle Networking, NXP Semiconductors. “This underpins our leadership position as the de-facto In-Vehicle Network solution provider and our commitment to connect the car in present and in future.”

    Dr. Herbert Wambsganb, head of development at HELLA Interior Lighting Systems commented: “The UJA1018 enables HELLA to introduce a very compact LED ambient lighting solution that fits every interior location. The Node Position Detection by means of the integrated LIN switch allows configuration of each ambient lighting module once mounted in the car. Thus, all modules in the car can be kept the same which allows a high level of reuse and greatly simplifies the logistics.”

    LED lighting is well accepted by the broadcast TV, motion pictures and videography industry sectors for lighting effects and set lighting, mainly because of its flexibility. A single light source can generate a great variety of colors. Additionally, continuous cost/performance improvements driven by technological advancements are driving the LED lighting fixture market from a niche-only solution to a general use solution.

    Another benefit, directly related to the use of lighting in studios and sets, is the consumption of less electrical power consumption for not only because LEDs use less energy, but also less air conditioning is required since heat generated by an LED bulb is negligible. Also, television broadcasters and film studios are proud to publicize that they are good corporate citizens by incorporating LEDs in their operations and thereby embracing “Green Technology.”

    Tags:

  • Much of your home’s energy is wasted through the windows simply because single pane windows are terrible at keeping the outside temperature separate from the inside temperature and window sills often have cracks that allow air seepage.

    Replacing your old windows with energy efficient windows can drastically cut back your energy bill. You can also repair your windows to reduce energy loss and use thick window coverings during the hottest parts of the day to reduce the amount of heat coming in. Strategically placed screens can provide an effective air flow through warm rooms, reducing your need for air conditioning.

    The kitchen is easily the most energy intensive room in the house, but it’s also the one that can help you save the most energy. First, take stock of your energy uses and habits in your kitchen: do you tend to leave things on and running, or leave appliances you rarely use plugged in? If replacing your major kitchen appliances just isn’t in the stars try to make them as energy efficient as possible. Turn off the heated dry setting on your dishwasher and only wash full loads. Keep your freezer and refrigerator stocked and set the temperature dial to medium; you can significantly reduce the energy consumed and even save food at the same time.

    Stop pre-heating your oven and leaving pans boiling on the stove. Also, washing dishes by hand with super hot water is not only bad for your skin, it requires a lot of energy to heat all that water. Get your dishes just as clean with concentrated soap and mildly warm water, and don’t forget to turn the water off while you’re scrubbing!

    A hot shower might be a wonderful way to relax at night or ease into morning, but heating water requires an immense amount of energy. The occasional hot shower isn’t terrible, but for daily use try a slightly cooler shower. If a full bathroom remodel isn’t possible, instead install water efficient shower heads, faucets and toilets that will save a good amount of energy. Unplug hair dryers and electric toothbrushes after using them and air out the bathroom by opening the door or a window instead of running the vent. Obviously, turn off the water while brushing your teeth!

    There are energy saving recommendations that have been around for a long time, like turn off lights after you leave a room, only wash laundry with a full load, put in energy efficient light bulbs and so on, but there are slightly more advanced ways to save energy at home and reduce your utility bill.

    Laundry: Wash on a cold setting and use a low heat drying option or air-dry your clothes outside. If you have a high efficiency washer use high efficiency detergent.

    Lighting: If you don’t need to turn on a light, don’t. Set exterior lighting on a timer or motion sensor. Also, replacing bulbs that give off heat with low-heat LED lighting can help you save on cooling costs in addition to energy.

    Air conditioning: Have your vents cleaned and maintain your AC unit. Clean vents mean your AC doesn’t have to work as hard or use as much energy to get the same temperature, and clean air filters help, too.

    Electricity: Don’t leave electronics plugged in when at all possible. Items like cell phones, laptops, and floor fans can be plugged in only when needed. Get an energy efficient surge protector (there are models that automatically shut off electricity when the item is charged) to plug in your electronics. Turn off your cable box when it’s not in use.

    Water heater: If you can’t replace your water heater with an energy efficient model, add a jacket to the heater and sleeves to the pipes to conserve energy.

  • The second generation of the rear-drive giant, which was called the 300C first time around, arrives in Australia at a time when Ford’s and Holden’s large cars are on the ropes. Chrysler reckons it will draw people back to the big sedans that once ruled our roads. The heavily revised car will be available with a strong petrol V6, an efficient diesel V6 and a monstrous SRT V8.

    VALUE

    Chrysler has sharpened the pricing by as much as $10,000 on certain models and the base petrol V6 300 Limited now kicks off at $43,000, while the base diesel is $5000 more.

    There’s a choice between a better-specified V6 petrol 300C for $46,500, a fully loaded 300C Luxury at $51,000 or diesel equivalents for $5000 extra. The red-hot V8 SRT is great value at $66,000.

    The base 300 has a goodly amount of standard gear such as cruise control, an 21cm touch screen, Bluetooth phone connectivity, and 18-inch wheels, but misses out on leather seats (which used to be standard). The other models come loaded with more features than you would expect for the price.

    TECHNOLOGY

    There’s something old and something new in every 300. It sits on a base that originates from a Mercedes E-Class introduced in the mid-1990s, but Chrysler has changed large sections of the body, fiddled with the suspension and replaced all engines. There is a potent 3.6-litre petrol V6 with 210kW and 340Nm linked up to a brand spanking eight-speed ZF automatic.

    The diesel is a premium 3.0-litre V6 from VM Motori with 176kW and 550Nm, while the rip-snorting V8 manages 347kW and 631Nm. Both of these engines make do with a five-speed automatic. Average fuel economy runs from a miserly 7.1L/100km for the diesel to 9.4L/100km for the V6 petrol and hits 13L/100km for the SRT V8.

    DESIGN

    The last 300 looked so cool that rapper Snoop Dogg rang Chrysler and asked to drive one. Its brash and brutal design polarised people, but it had enough admirers to keep sales going. Then the fad faded.

    Now Chrysler has the difficult task of making an equally cool sequel. The new 300 doesn’t have the same impact as the first car, but its unique LED running lights, bold grille and tough, squat proportions give it presence. It looks grand, but won’t cause as much of a stir as the last one.

    It comes with a full load of safety kit, including front and side airbags for the driver and passenger, side curtain airbags for the front and rear passengers and a driver’s knee airbag.

    Electronic stability control is also standard, as are parking sensors and a rear-view camera. Optional safety gear includes a blind-spot detection system, adaptive cruise control and a collision warning system.

    DRIVING

    The 300 is a big American sedan with lots of presence and performance. It’s a better car all round than the last model, as it should be. The interior is not quite at the level of Audi or BMW, but is vastly improved. We were impressed by the petrol V6, which is a sweet engine. The diesel is generally good, but lumpy at low speeds, and not worth the $5000 premium despite superior efficiency.

    The SRT V8 is a sledgehammer, an absolute cracker. We want one, but could never afford the fuel or the rear tyres.

    Tags:

  • She creates “Pampshades”–lighting fixtures made from real French baguettes. The name is a play on the Japanese word for bread–“pan.”

    “I think loaves are really cute,” Morita explained. “I love their round curves. I wanted a bread display in my room so I could admire it all the time. That’s how I came up with this shape.”

    She had the inspiration when she was a junior majoring in prints at the Kyoto City University of Arts.

    One day, Morita was in the studio at her school mulling over an art project. She was pulling out and nibbling on the soft parts of a baguette that she had brought with her from the bakery where she worked part time.

    Morita loved bread so much that she would take home all the leftover bread from the shop and didn’t mind eating it for her daily three meals. When she had eaten her baguette down to a hollow “shell,” on a whim, she held it up toward the sunlight that was streaming in.

    Instantly, her loaf was transformed into a beaming planet. The baguette caught the light and became an image that might have been captured with a high-powered astrophotography camera.

    “Wow! It’s so beautiful.” She tried placing an incandescent light bulb inside the bread. The effect was “Nice!”

    But it did not last long, as the bread became scorched by the heat. But Morita now knew what she wanted. She continued to work on her unfinished work of art, off and on, during her free time. It was a long process of trial and error.

    Working on some 300 prototypes, Morita perfected her Pampshade. First she hollowed out a baguette made from flour, water and salt. The shell was thoroughly dried out, and she applied a resin coating to prevent mildew. She managed to eliminate the scorching problem by switching to LED bulbs. She completed the baguette-cum-lampshade in January.

    It started as a hobby, but people began noticing her work at a crafts fair. Now there are some shops in Kyoto that carry Morita’s unique lighting fixtures, and she has quite a few fans.

    “I hope to keep on doing this and keep on having fun,” said Morita. Her motto is to never waste her material. She eats up all the bread that she hollows out. She uses the bread to make crunchy croutons, which she sprinkles on soup and lines a baking pan with to make pizza. As long as her life is filled with bread, Morita is in heaven.

    Codarus, a manufacturer’s rep group in the fine home furnishings, lighting and linens categories, has added Barbara Cosgrove, Dash & Albert, Pine Cone Hill, and Tara Shaw Maison to its Southeast territory.

    “We are excited to represent such inspiring designers as Annie Selke, Barbara Cosgrove, and Tara Shaw in the southeast,” said Cody Hutcheson, co-principal of Codarus. “These three women have exquisite taste which is reflected in the products they produce.”

    Barbara Cosgrove Lamps is a lighting manufacturer specializing in nouveau-traditional lamps. Cosgrove draws inspiration from her love of the arts and background in fashion illustration and sculpture.

    Annie Selke brings a modern look to distinctly American decorative style with Dash & Albert Rug Company, Pine Cone Hill and Annie Selke Home.

    Recognizing a demand for one-of-a-kind European furnishings, Tara Shaw founded began a reproduction line titled Tara Shaw Maison. The Tara Shaw Maison line features authentic finishes and hand-carving and is adding new categories including textiles, lighting, accessories, tabletop, bath and bed, wall art and flooring.

    Tags:

  • I’ve never been the type who is into animals like bats, frogs and spiders, no matter how often people tell me that they are beautiful. So I was fairly unenthusiastic about the prospect of a night trip to Shanghai Botanical Garden. How wrong I was. The two-hour trip turned out to be much more fun than I could have imagined.

    Every summer holiday, the garden, together with the Shanghai Wild Bird Society, organizes weekend night trips for children aged between six and 12. Accompanied by their parents and armed with flashlights, young nature lovers observe animal and plant life under the instruction of volunteers from universities and non-governmental organizations.

    My trip started on a hot, muggy Saturday evening - a thunderstorm was predicted that night - as volunteers were receiving their final training before sunset.

    Night at a botanical garden feels a lot like the Ben Stiller movie “Night at the Museum” - nothing really sleeps there either. Bats swoop over your head, frogs come bouncing out of the water, weasels run through the woods and night-blooming plants open their petals.

    My first experience of the trip was listening for bird calls. “Twilight is the best time to listen for birds, and the sound stops after sunset,” said Zheng Wenqin, an official with the society.

    “Herons are the most frequently heard birds in the garden, though they’re secretive and we don’t actually see them very often.”

    Meanwhile, as dusk falls insects and arthropods are stepping out.

    Observing them, I saw commonplace things which I’d never bothered to consider before.

    I learned that a young mantis is a deep-brown color to camouflage it on the bark of a tree from predators.

    And I learned how spiders breed. In a small cave on a rockery, a spider was carrying eggs on her abdomen. Under the flashlight, I could see several translucent eggs gathered together, which was interesting, though also a little creepy for someone who’s not a huge fan of arachnids.

    “This is not something visitors would notice in daytime, when the garden is crowded with people,” said Zheng. “At night, people have more opportunity to closely observe the creatures using flashlights.”

    The frogs were fun. When darkness fell, numerous cricket frogs began hopping on to the muddy ground around the lakes. We needed to be careful not to stomp on them in the darkness, which was fairly difficult because they’re small and you never know in which direction they’re leaping.

    “Different breeds of frogs give out different croaks. Some have a variety of tones, while others just a single one,” explained Zheng. “We get the children to distinguish between species according to their croaks.”

    Many of the volunteers seemed absolutely obsessed with the little creatures. And although many volunteers are young women, they seemed totally unafraid of the frogs, or the creepy crawlies, for that matter. They caught several frogs and let them compete with other to see which one jumped higher and farther.

    I’ll admit that I was a wuss, so although I was interested in the amphibian athletics under the spotlights formed by torches, I stood well back to ensure the frogs didn’t jump onto my legs.

    Continuing on, we struggled through a construction area - where some of us almost got stuck in wet cement - and presently reached a small wood in the middle of the garden. There I witnessed an amazing sight that I had long hoped to see. Fireflies.

    We turned off the flashlights and couldn’t help but gasp. Like shining green spots, more than a dozen fireflies dotted the dark woods, drifting, swirling and trailing light. It was not as I had imagined - I thought there would be of hundreds lighting up the wood - but the scene was still amazing. Fireflies don’t seem scared of people. They hovered above outstretched palms, bathing them in brightness, like a small ball of positive energy.

    Tags:

  • Unboxing the Q, I couldn’t help feeling that Google is trying to out-Apple Apple in its packaging and presentation. You get the same minimalist approach, only in black instead of white. Here’s the box, once you remove the sleeve.

    After you open the black seals (a second one is on the back of the box), you see the flat bottom of a Magic 8 Ball-sized black sphere–and nothing else.

    As with Apple’s products, the rest of the box’s contents are concealed until you lift a cardboard tab. But there isn’t much more to find–just a charging cable and a quick-start guide on a single cardboard square.

    The guide explains your cabling options (the Q connects to analog or digital audio systems, or to a TV via a Mini HDMI cable), directs you to download the Nexus Q app from the Google Play store, and provides a URL to visit for additional help. Honestly, it makes Apple’s printed manuals look like War and Peace–but I’m not sure less is more in this case. I wound up seeking guidance by clicking through much of the FAQs on the Nexus website.

    Anyway, I also snapped a photo showing the ports on the back of the Nexus Q.

    Note, by the way, that the Nexus Q doesn’t come with AV or ethernet cables (the ethernet hookup is for those users who prefer a wired network to Wi-Fi for media streaming). You must bring your own. That’s pretty cheesy for a gizmo that Google expects to sell for $299–and don’t forget, it doesn’t come with a remote control, either.

    I’m also disappointed that the Nexus Q doesn’t support 5GHz Wi-Fi–at this point, I believe that a streaming-media product should support dual-band 802.11n wireless, because in neighborhoods with multiple 2.4GHz networks, you really need the additional bandwidth of the 5GHz spectrum.

    At a full 2 pounds, the Nexus Q is surprisingly heavy for its 4-inch diameter. And when you lift it from the box, you realize that it’s not a one-piece sphere: The top half or so is a swiveling dome. The Nexus Q site says that swiveling lets you raise or lower the audio volume on whatever the Q is streaming without having to use the phone or tablet app; tapping the dome can mute audio (this is something I’ll test).

    I connected the Nexus Q to my HDTV using a Mini HDMI cable, to a HomePlug AV powerline switch using an ethernet cable, and to a power strip with the one cable that did come in the package. Immediately, the edge of the Q’s swiveling section lit up in blue–the specs say that the device has 32 perimeter RGB LEDs, and apparently they can change colors and pulsate based on the music you play (looking forward to seeing that!).

    A single LED in the middle of the dome also lit up, looking like a blue dot (it’s a mute indicator). My TV, meanwhile, displayed a black screen; at the top, “welcome” in several languages cycled through, and the URL of the support site appeared in smaller letters at the bottom.

    When I positioned the Nexus Q right in front of the display, a blue outline similar to the shape defined by the Q’s LED lighting appeared in the middle of the display. Here’s what it looked like.

    Although I found the blue lights interesting as a design statement, I also found them somewhat distracting, even without a TV show on the big screen. I’m going to look into whether users can turn off the lights, among other things. Stay tuned.

    Tags: