Thu, Sep 14, 2006 - Page 14 News List

Technology Review


Above: Ultra Vision, part of Logitech's QuickCam series of Webcams. Below: The Sony GPS-CS1



The English playwright William Congreve wrote that music can soothe the savage breast. But what about a teething baby?

The iCrib Sound System from Munchkin is a set of speakers that lets you put an iPod or any other pocket-size music player into your baby's crib.

The iCrib runs on four AA batteries. You use Velcro straps to hang it on a rail, and then slip your iPod into a plastic holder that hangs outside the crib, theoretically out of reach of exploring hands.

A night-light option gently cycles through mellow colors, perhaps hypnotizing the little one into silence if the music doesn't work. A sleep timer makes it easy to choose 15, 30 or 60 minutes of music. Keep in mind that when the speakers turn off, your player doesn't, potentially draining its batteries. There is no volume control — you use your player for that.

Of course there are some who feel that babies already get too much stimulation, but really, what harm can a few gigabytes' worth of music do?


Even the most basic digital camera stores the date and time a photo was taken. Now the Sony GPS-CS1 gives photographers a way to record where they took their snapshots as well. Unlike some other devices that help with geotagging, as the process is known, Sony's device is independent of the camera and has a clip for hanging it on a backpack or belt loop.

When switched on, the device automatically saves the GPS coordinates of the photographer's wanderings for up to 14 hours. Back at a computer, software supplied with the unit matches up the GPS data with downloaded photos by using their date and time data. (Obviously, the system needs the user's camera to be set to the correct date and time.) A separate piece of software can then plot the location of a photo shoot using Google Maps. Both programs work only on Windows PCs.

In theory, the US$150 device will work with any Sony camera and, although Sony has not tested them, other makes of cameras as well. The mapping software, however, is being packaged with only a small number of Sony camera models. The company expects to include the software with the GPS-CS1 itself by the end of the year.


Audiophiles have been feeling left out when it comes to wireless digital music systems. Many systems transfer music with some fidelity, but few well enough to please a connoisseur's delicate ear. Now there is the Transporter from Slim Devices, a high-end digital music player with enough pedigree to walk at Westminster.

The US$2,000 device, which is due out this month and can be preordered at, has an Ethernet port and built-in WiFi card for streaming over any home network. The device can also stream audio from Pandora, a customizable Internet radio station, and Rhapsody, a music download service.

Track information appears on the Transporter's cool blue display, and dual level meters flutter and flap in a throwback to analog stereo days. The device also comes with a backlighted remote. Many of the specific features of the Transporter are a bit more than the average audio fan needs, but they include a clock synchronization system and an AK4396 audio processor that filters and improves the audio before it is sent to the speakers.

The Transporter is expensive, but has enough bells and whistles to warrant a place on any serious music lover's wish list.

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