TURN UP THE TUNES
When it comes to iPod docks, most offerings miss the bar. Some offer excellent sound and striking looks, but only Apple's own Hi-Fi system -- and now the Geneva Sound Systems Model XL -- can really fill a room with digital music.
The Model XL, like the Apple Hi-Fi system, was made for audiophiles, and costs a hefty US$1,075 at www.genevalab.com. It comes in three colors -- black, red and white -- and has an array of speakers rivaled only by a surround-sound system. The 600-watt system has two 1-inch tweeters, two 5-1/4-inch woofers and two 8-inch subwoofers. The XL includes an internal amplifier.
A dock on top of the 38kg system can accommodate almost any iPod, including the nano. Owners of the iPod Shuffle and other MP3 players can use the audio-in jack; an RCA jack connects game systems and other devices.
In addition to playing external music, the XL has a built-in CD player that can play standard CDs and disks containing MP3 music files. It also has a digital FM tuner with six presets. Finished in lacquered wood and made to stand on the floor or on an optional aluminum stand, the XL may make your other iPod docks jealous.
E-MAIL IN HAND
Research in Motion and its popular BlackBerry are out of dire legal straits, but that's no reason to ignore the range of other hand-held devices for sending and receiving e-mail. Consider the Motorola Q, a Windows Mobile cell phone with a full keyboard and a bright 2.4-inch color screen.
The Q will be one of the thinnest smartphones on the market when it comes out. The Q takes a cue from the Motorola Razr with its half-inch profile and smart silver case. It supports Microsoft Outlook as well as other e-mail services that deliver new mail to the phone automatically.
The phone has Bluetooth wireless networking ability and can play music files in various formats. Its 1.3-megapixel camera takes snapshots with a flash and can play back and record video.
The Q comes with 64 megabytes of memory and accepts MiniSD cards for more storage. The battery lasts about three hours in use and has 200 hours standby time. It also has a central navigation button and a side thumbwheel.
KEEP STATS ON A SINGLE MONITOR
For those with multiple sports interests, like triathletes, keeping track of training can be tricky. Conventional wristwatch-style heart-rate monitors cannot display or record vital bicycle statistics like speed and distance. And while some bicycle computers double as heart-rate monitors, they cannot come along on a swim or a run.
The Polar CS300 reverses the usual combination by putting a bicycle computer into a wristwatch-style heart-rate monitor to create a device that can play along with any sport.
To capture data from the bicycle, the CS300 relies on a wireless transmitter that monitors the front wheel. A second transmitter, a US$30 option, tracks the rider's pedaling rate. While users are expected to wear it on a wrist rather than mount it on a handlebar, the CS300 has all the features of most advanced bicycle computers. Its display has a small pointer indicating if the rider is improving average speed or falling behind.
The CS300 even performs a running calculation of how long it will take the rider to get back home.
WE ALREADY SHOWED YOU HAWAII?
Conventional slide projectors had a reputation as dinner-party killers. A seemingly endless series of fuzzy images thrown up on a white screen quickly grows dull, no matter what you are looking at.