Philips Digital Media Event 2009 Review:

Days of Hairstyling, Wireless Audio and Erotic Devices

Apartment Therapy/Unplggd was recently invited by home electronics and lifestyle company, Philips, to attend their annual Philips Digital Media Event. Normally limited to the European contingency, Philips reached out to the likes of Apartment Therapy, GeekSugar, Cool Hunting, Gizmodo and TechCrunch to learn about Philips' design philosophy, preview several of their product lines (many of which are disappointingly not bound for U.S. shores) and engage in dialog with a company whose market presence spans greater than most electronics manufacturers. Below are several of the home electronics and appliance items we got to test and preview, some in quite amusing and engaging fashion...
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One of the most unique moments of the event was a hairstyling products presentation headed up by Andy Uffels, Philips Haircare Artistic Director. Attendees were given a chance to "style" (and we use that term extremely loosely here considering our inexperience) a model's hair using an array of Philips hairstyling products, including their new SimplySalon Straight Iron and a typhoon-powerful SalonDry Power Protect hair dryer (we made the mistake of accidentally blowing it into our eyes and almost lost a contact lens in the process). As this was our first time using a curling iron, we mostly allowed our partner in the matter take control of our hairstyle creation; our duties were mostly limited to sweating profusely from the lights and occasionally curling a hair or two using the Philips curling iron. We didn't win, but Heather of GeekSugar racked up a co-win for Team USA with her creation.

The Philips Sonicare toothbrush booth was more to our liking, where each attendee received an opportunity to polish our not-so-pearly whites with the newest Sonicare FlexCare system. Excellent, considering the amount of snacks and coffee consumed through the whole event (note: brushing in front of strangers and colleagues was not exactly comfortable). But the proof was in the pudding, as our teeth were noticeably smoother in finish compared to our "other brand" electric toothbrush we currently use (we did ask about enamel wear, and the representative remarked that their studies show minimal wear when used 2-3 a day). The Philips team did give us grief when we admitted to switching over to the "other brand" after 4+ years of using a Sonicare toothbrush, but we can admit the newest models has us wondering if we should return to the device that kept us cavity free for the life of the product.

The last presentation comprised of a walk-thru of Philips home electronics audio products, most notably Philips Tapster, a Bluetooth stereo headset which incorporates an innovate tactile UI system that should come natural to the iPhone generation. The user simply “taps" Bluetooth device to pick up a call or stroke across it to adjust the volume. When removed, it automatically turns off or transfers phone calls to a cell phone, then can resume music playing once inserted back in, with up to 7 hours of wireless music listening or calls. The device works well, though some of the gestures made us laugh, as using the device gave people the appearance of brushing away a bug or fiddling with their hairdo...it seemed more charming amongst our European-locked colleagues.

The Streamium Wireless series was in full display, with a great deal of the presentation showing integration of different home audio devices linking wireless with computers, remote controls, mp3/iPhone docking, and small space audio solutions. The big push being made by Philips is to converge all their devices to be able to communicate seamlessly with one another in a "digital hub" layout where media can easily be transferred and enjoyed via different output devices.

Attendees were also presented with a Philips Prestigo remote control to review. Perfect timing, as our own Logitech Harmony 880 remote is becoming as stubborn as grandma when it comes to recognizing our input requests (the volume control is driving us mad). The 2.8” touch sensitive full colour screen Prestigo is slimmer, more modern in form, offers a graphical channel icon interface, and can control up to 20 devices. We just cracked the package open and had it up and running in just a few minutes with nary a look at the instructions, so keep your eyes out on a review of the Prestigo STR9320 remote in the coming days.

Sadly, the one category of device we're most obsessed with, vacuums, was not discussed with our American team of media. Philips handsome line of canister vacuums are Europe only appliances, leaving us to wonder when the domestic Auotbots-style cleaning devices will be put to pasture and replace by the minimal and utilitarian forms showcased during Philips media event. Hopefully next year!

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[In Steve Jobs voice] Oh, and one last thing: apparently Philips is delving into the couples "pleasure" category in Europe. You read that right...they're developing and planning to release devices whose primary goal is for mutual "sensual" interaction. The form of the devices themselves don't seem to communicate their erotic function, but we were assured that they "felt nice" by some of the French journalists who were given a separate amorous moment with the devices. We had to take their word for it, as Team USA of bloggers weren't given this...ahem...hands-on preview. Can we repeat: hopefully next year!

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