9 Dec 2008
Reliable Contacts(HKTDC Electronics, Vol 04,2008)
The latest USB products showcase truly universal applications of the popular digital interface
Today's computer interface of choice - USB - is no longer used only for IT purposes, but also in a whole range of lifestyle products from eye-catching radios to unusual clocks.
Showing the way is Profit Charm (FE) Ltd, a household and gift items producer, with its audio line ranging from USB-enabled Mr. and Miss Radios to versions with MP3 speakers, all housed in lovable figures with optional vests in a variety of colours.f
"Our strength in quickly prototyping creative products to meet the shortening product life cycles of the household and gift sectors is demonstrated in this new product line, which is also a new market sector for us," says Merchandiser Eva Chan.
The electronic components, AS and ABS plastics for the radios and MP3 speakers are sourced from the Chinese mainland.
King of mice
Taking a different tack is KYE Systems (HK) Corp Ltd, which offers mainly IT products under its renowned Genius brand. Manufacturing a range of USB products including webcams and keyboards, the company is probably best-known for its mice, which have been honoured as the Editor's Choice of PC Net magazine.
"One popular model is the Scroll Too 200 USB mouse, which continues our long tradition in pioneering scrolling mice and features a high-precision 1200 dpi optical sensor," says Sales Manager Kenny Kwong. "Its people-focused design and patented 'Magic Roller' facilitates efficient browsing."
Another hot seller for KYE Systems is a USB 2.0 webcam equipped with a VGA CMOS, which requires no drivers. It comes with standard CrazyTalk software that provides colour video with 640x480 resolution at up to 30 frames per second.
The blending of computer-related applications with day-to-day life is epitomised by Chows Industrial (China) Ltd's USB flameless rechargeable cigarette lighter with flash disk storage, and a USB card reader with hub.
The lighter-cum-storage device comes in a stylish and slimline design measuring 8x3.8x1.2cm, belying its rugged performance of more than 150 rechargings with storage options from 64MB-16GB.
Sporting three ports, the USB card reader with hub can read up to 21 types of cards in T-flash, SD, MMC, CF, XD, MS and micro SD media.
The electronic components in Chows Industrial's products are sourced from Taiwan, while the ABS and stainless steel used in the cases come from the Chinese mainland.
"Our attractive, innovative multifunctional products offer firms a cost-effective way to cope with price pressures that might result from the changing economic climate," says Assistant Marketing Manager Elaine Chuen.
Excellence in form and function is also found in Podera Ltd's USB 2.0 four-port hub (model PH-L1) and USB 2.0 memory card reader (model PR-L3), which emphasise the integration of an attractive casing with IT-related functions. Both items have earned the prestigious German i.F. design award, while the hub has further garnered Japan's G-Mark Good Design Award.
"Design is a key differentiator for us. Today's consumer wants computer peripherals to be more fashionable and wants a more comfortable user experience even while inserting cards and devices," says Managing Director Eric Ying, noting that even the firm's USB connectors are custom-designed.
"Podera employs SMT manufacturing processes, unique for products with such a small form factor," Mr Ying claims. Both ABS cases and electronic components are sourced from the mainland.
More squarely in the lifestyle realm is Simon Trading Co Ltd, with such products as Wi-Fi digital picture frames, portable DVD players and USB clocks.
One of them is the Cuby Clock, a music- and photo-alarm clock, which features a TFT display in a cube and accepts both memory sticks and memory cards. The clock has a resolution of 320RGB(W)x240(H), and two built-in stereo speakers for radio, music, photo and movie playback. The alarm is silenced by turning the clock upside down, but the display remains upright.
"Our Hong Kong design team continues to work with our professionals from around the world to further enhance these user-friendly features that differentiate the Cuby Clock," says Marketing Manager Leona Lam. The ABS casing is sourced from Korea while the electronic components and TFT display come from Taiwan.
Microdia Ltd, on the other hand, is at the forefront of functionality for IT-related applications in both its USB storage devices and flash memory cards made in Taiwan using flash chips from Samsung.
"More people are storing more information on disks, with separate disks for work, for travel, for school and even for special presentations and confidential business information," remarks Business Development Manager Jorge Ramiro.
To meet more demanding requirements, including security concerns, Microdia provides storage capacity of up to 16GB in its USB storage devices and a biometric storage device activated by a thumbprint.
These and other innovative USB gadgets are extending the power of the digital revolution not only for information but also for enjoyment, and those seeking reliable contacts in this business should look no further than Hong Kong.