Holiday Gift Guide 2014: A Few Fun Things From the UK…

For me, there’s something really cool about a lot of products made in the UK that makes them quite desirable. No, it’s not got anything to do with my current Doctor Who fascination, folks. I think it’s the fact that you can look at them and right away see exactly what they’re used for. I call it a form and functionality sense of design and in the case of well-made gear, it’s always fun to look at items and have that “click” thing happen in your head and a smile appear on your face.

Bayan Soundbook GO Blue

Bayan Soundbook GO

Bayan Soundbook BlackOrange

Bayan Soundbook

        Bayan Soundbook X3 White

Bayan Soundbook X3

Meeting Bayan Audio’s Cameron Wilson and Taylor Whittamore at the #getgeeked show a few weeks back was one of the highlights of my trip downtown. As soon as I saw their Soundbook line of wireless speakers, I smiled because they nailed the form/functionality thing perfectly right down to the name. Each model (Soundbook, Soundbook GO and Soundbook X3) features a simple open to play design and all are portable and ready to get your favorite music just about wherever you want it.

While each unit sounded fine up close and personal, it was a bit tough to hear how they performed at range thanks to the cacophony of noise from attendees and other exhibits (including a few competing speakers blasting away nearby). Still, what I did hear made me grin because I could only imagine how they sounded in a quieter room or outdoors on a fine day where they could be played at the perfect volume…

Bayan StreamportWhile it wasn’t at the event, Bayan also makes the Streamport Universal, a nice and compact device that allows users to turn any audio system with a 3.5mm or RCA audio input into a wireless audio system. I’ll just let you consider the possibilities there for a minute…

My finding out about this little wonder while poking around the Bayan Audio site really made me want to give one a try at some point. But we’ll see what the review deities say in a bit, I suppose…

And now, a little something for you bikers, hikers and night-walkers (or daytime strollers) that needs to come to the US sooner than later…
Visijax PairYou’d think a simple rain jacket for bikers should be primarily utilitarian, but the folks at Visijax have taken the rain jacket to the next level with their line of LED lighted jackets and safety belts. These popped up on my radar at CES Unveiled this past week and I smiled because it’s a product that explains and sells itself. Of course, you may need more of a visual presentation before you whip out your own wallet, so here you go:

Visijax_dsc2066-commuter Visijax_commuter-jacket-yellow-cutout

Now, you may be chuckling a bit at my enthusiasm, but as a New Yorker who has to deal with everything from cars, bikes, baby strollers, dogs and other road and sidewalk hazards, Visijax had me at Yellow. As in I’d actually wear their fluorescent yellow model Commuter Jacket ($160) because it jumps out even more at night than the black one. With 23 LED lights including working turn signals on the sleeves and a lighted lower back area, this will certainly make you bikers out there feel a lot safer.

Of course, that bright yellow, reflective striping and all those LED’s doing their thing would be so striking that I’d probably attract more attention to myself than I’d like. People will most likely come up to me and and ask where I got the jacket from from or perhaps think I could help them out because I looked “official” or something and they’re lost in the big city and require directions. Hey, I’ll take that kind of attention if only it got more people to wear one of these jackets. Given the rather huge and growing Citibike program we’re doing here, it only makes sense that people who hop onto those rent-a-bikes are safe for that 45-minute trip they’ll be taking.

Visijax_dsc2131-highlight-red Visijax_dsc2043-highlight_yellow

If you don’t need the turn signals and still want to be the brightest guy or gal on the block, Visijax also makes a Highlight Jacket ($110) in red or yellow that will get the job done for less money. You can also buy one of their cool LED Belts ($40) which comes in four color variants if you’re just looking for non-rainy day protection. The belts can be set to flash on and off or just stay lit for as long as you’re outside. If you’re followed home by a UFO, well… I don’t think that’s covered under the product warranty at all.

Visijax outrageous-orange-box 

Right now, Visijax only sells their products directly from their site and it looks like Amazon UK has the LED Belts. Some smart US distributor should jump on these and get them out here, as I can see these being quite useful in some circles (and outside of those as well). Heck, I’d go out in the rain more often, that’s for sure.

Of course,

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