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Goldstuck on Gadgets

Ban these gadgets!

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Plato once said that new kinds of music are dangerous to the State. How much more threatening, then, would he have considered 21st century gadgets for making and breaking music? ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK highlights two devices and a couple of web-based services that have liberated his music collection.

If only 21st Century politicianswould take the ancient Greek philosopher Platomore seriously. He once declared that ‚the introduction of a new kind of music must be shunned as imperilling the whole state‚ . Wisely, he believed that ‚styles of music are never disturbed without affecting the most important political institutions‚ .

That may well explain why the world is in such political turmoil these days. Back in your grandfather’s day, new forms of music and new ways of listening to it only came by a few times in a century. There were95 years between the invention of the gramophone in 1887 and the compact disc in 1982.

Today, the state is daily imperilled by new styles, new instruments, and new gadgets for making and breaking music. In the last few months alone, I have challenged authority with any number of new devices. These fall under three categories: Change Your Life gadgets, Best For The Job gadgets, and About Time Dammit gadgets.

The biggest revolution for me has been a gadget that is so obvious, I’ve been hunting for it for almost a decade. All I wanted was a turntable with a USB port, which would allow me to record my old vinyl records onto computer. All that came along were absurdly expensive devices or complex contraptions. That is, until this past December, when a device that had been available for a while in more democratic climes was finally voted into South Africa.

Heading up the About Time Dammit category of music gadgets, then, is the Ion Profile Pro USB Turntable. It looks sleek and elegant the way every gadget should, costs just under a R1000, and comes with software that works on Windows and Mac computers ‚ as well as USB connectors.

Musical oppression comes in many forms, of course, and the worst is the tyranny of the motor vehicle. Some vehicle manufacturers now include an iPod dock as an optional extra but,for most iPod owners, turning the car into a concert hall means multiple devices, from headphones to FM transmitters, with diplomatic overtures to the car lighter.

Which makes the BlueBirdCarNect the obvious choice for the Change Your Life category. It’s a small box you can buy off the shelf for around R1950, including installation voucher. The installer hardwires it to the back of your radio, and extends an iPod dock to wherever it suits you. Plug in the iPod, and you can control it from the car radio or steering wheel controls. It integrates with Bluetooth, so it also acts as a hands-free phone kit(more info at www.blue-bird.co.za). No, it doesn’t make cappuccino but, even with all this newfound freedom, you really shouldn’t want that in a car.

Now that you have all the music you’ve ever had, wherever you go, you need insurance against losing it. Good news: you no longer need a visa to enter the promised land of mass online storage.The major services of this kind offer file back-ups, synchronising files as you change them, and folder sharing with friends.

Here, in the category Best For The Job, we have a tie between Dropbox (www.dropbox.com), which gives you 2GB free online storage, or 50GB for around R70 a month: and Windows Live SkyDrive (www.skydrive.com), which gives you 25GB free storage. At that price, try both!

– The Ion Profile Pro USB Turntable and BlueBirdCarNect are available from Incredible Connection (http://www.incredible.co.za/) outlets. Phone them to check stock.

· Arthur Goldstuck is managing director of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget. This column also appears in print every Saturday in the Weekend Citizen. You can follow Arthur on Twitter on @art2gee

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