Thu, Oct 26, 2006 - Page 14 News List

Technology Review

NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE

TECHNOLOGICAL BEAUTY IS MORE THAN CASE-DEEP

Most point-and-shoot digital cameras still look simple on the outside, but what's inside is getting more and more sophisticated. Sony's new Cyber-shot DSC-T50 is a prime example.

For those of the film camera generation, the lack of a viewfinder on the T50 might take some getting used to, but the 3-inch touch screen should help.

The screen has frame points to help locate the center of the picture and make sure the shot is level.

The T-50 has built-in image stabilization to compensate for camera shake, while the touch screen makes it simple to change settings on the camera, including red-eye reduction, flash, macro mode for close-ups and sensitivity for low light levels when flash might not be appropriate.

The camera has a Carl Zeiss lens with a 3x zoom and produces pictures at 7.2 megapixels. It comes in black, silver and red.

A built-in slide show program lets you display all your photos in a variety of ways, including a mode that provides transition effects with supplied music.

WIRELESS HEADPHONES THAT AREN'T JUST FOR IPODS

The iPod may be the market leader in portable music players, but it has plenty of competitors. In recognition of that, some companies are delivering products that work with both iPods and other MP3 players.

Among them is Logitech's new FreePulse Wireless Bluetooth headphones, which also eliminate the headphone cord. Because few music players have built-in Bluetooth, the FreePulse comes with a Bluetooth transmitter that fits into a standard headphone jack.

The headset, made of very light carbon spring steel, fits behind the head rather than over it. Logitech says that you can hear music up to 10m away from the player, but in informal tests the range was much farther. Unfortunately you can't control your music from the headphones, just the volume.

As with all devices with rechargeable batteries, the headphones require yet another power plug, but a dual-headed cable lets you charge both the headset and the transmitter simultaneously.

THIS MOUSE KILLS VIRUSES THAT INFECT YOU, NOT YOUR COMPUTER

With cold and flu season looming, you might start wondering if that innocent-looking computer mouse on the desk is actually a petri dish with buttons — especially if it is connected to a public computer at a school or library. At least one mouse is fighting back: the Germ Free Wireless Laser Mouse from Iogear has a special coating that its maker says will neutralize 99 percent of the microbes on its surface.

The outer shell of the mouse is coated with tiny particles of titanium oxide and silver, and it uses a chemical reaction to battle bacteria and viruses. The titanium oxide attracts oxygen and water molecules, and when those are combined with light and the titanium oxide's electrons, they give off free oxygen ion bases. Iogear says these ions reduce or eliminate germs — and also create more carbon, oxygen and water particles to start the process all over again, making the mouse self-cleaning.

BRB. THE PASTA IS BOILING OVER.

There is an elusive beast in home electronics called the kitchen computer, a device meant to sit on the counter and serve up online recipes, Internet radio and e-mail to people too busy whipping up brownies to sit down at the PC. The Pepper Pad 3 just might fit that bill.

The US$699 Pepper Pad 3 isn't a tablet or a laptop, and it's far too underpowered to run heavy-duty software. But it has a Web browser and it supports most e-mail systems along with AIM instant messaging. It has better video playback and a faster processor than previous Pepper Pad models and is a bit cheaper. The Pepper Pad 3, the joint creation of Pepper Computer and HanBit Electronics, and will begin shipping next month.

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