Thu, Nov 09, 2006 - Page 14 News List

Technology Review

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IN A MOBILE SOCIETY, IT'S GOOD TO HAVE PORTABLE POWER, TOO

The Proporta USB mobile device charger is devilishly simple, not to mention useful. It is a 119g smart battery that can power and charge almost anything on the go.

The charger has both large and small USB ports on the front and a small hook for a lanyard, although it is unclear why anyone would choose to wear it. The small USB port connects to a PC or Mac and recharges the Proporta charger's internal battery. The large port connects to lots of battery-operated devices, including iPods and, using special adapters available from Proporta, mobile phones and other five-volt gadgets.

Once your device is hooked up, you press the button on the top of the Proporta charger. A light comes on and then goes off when everything is fully charged. The Proporta charger is good for about 25 extra hours of use with common devices like iPods, and can also power devices while it charges them.

The charger is available at www.proporta.com. Anyone who has suffered an iPod battery failure on a 12-hour flight to distant shores will definitely appreciate the extra juice the Proporta charger has to offer.

AMAZING TALES OF SUPERHEROES, STARRING YOU

As digital technologies stretch the boundaries of the publishing industry, a software package is making it easy for mere mortals to go to their computers and — Ka-Pow! — create their own comic books.

With Comic Book Creator by Planetwide Games, users can populate their comic books with practically any digital image, including their own digital photos, stock and Internet images as well as screenshots from DVD movies and video games. The latest version of the program, Marvel Heroes Comic Book Creator, includes licensed images from Marvel's Spider-Man, X-Men and Elektra franchises.

The program offers more than 300 page templates and scores of fonts, colors, effects and features, including the ability to incorporate audio and animation. Another feature lets users turn their creations into virtual clip books, giving the action a sense of, well, action. The results can be printed out or posted to Web sites and blogs.

PROJECT A MOVIE ON YOUR GARAGE DOOR

While the Dell 1800MP is powerful enough for sales presentations, it also plays games and movies. In other words, this video projector is built for a conference room, but it's also just right for the living room.

The 1.8kg 1800MP can be mounted on the ceiling or placed on a table. There are three basic picture modes — PC, Movie and Game — and you can switch between the video-in ports to watch inputs from different devices, including DVRs and game consoles. Some devices may need extra adapter cables, which, like the projector itself, are available from the company's Web site (www.dell.com). A unique ventilation system helps reduce noise.

The 1800MP projects video at a resolution of 1,024 by 768 pixels — not quite high definition. It accepts most standard video resolutions and can take high-definition signals from 1080i HD devices, although it will not display at that resolution. Under the right conditions, it can show images and video at up to 772cm diagonally. Most family rooms don't have that kind of space, but it's nice to know that a far wall can double as a drive-in screen in a pinch.

THE TV AS FURNITURE, LOVELY TO LOOK AT AS WELL AS TO WATCH

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