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Technology Review

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SHARPER DIGITAL IMAGES

Dynamic range is the ability to capture details even in a scene's darkest shadows and its brightest highlights, and it has always been an issue in photography.

Digital photography, in general, suffers from a more limited dynamic range than many types of film. The Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro is the second camera from Fuji that tries to improve on that record.

Like the S3 model it replaces (Fuji skipped over the S4), the S5 employs an unusual image-sensing chip. Each of its 6.17 million pixels has a secondary, smaller pixel to expand its light-gathering abilities. As a result, S5 users can expand the camera's dynamic range up to 400 percent in five increments. Alternatively, the camera's image processor can automatically choose the best level of expansion. With the earlier model, the feature was either just on or off.

The S5, which will be available next month, is otherwise very much like the Nikon D200 on which it is based. Fuji does include one novelty the Nikon lacks: software that analyzes images during playback to find faces and then enlarge them on the camera's rear monitor so you can see if someone blinked.

A COCKPIT SEAT FOR GAMES

There's nothing like being in the middle of the action in a good video game. Serious fans of flight-simulator programs can now grab their force-feedback joysticks and practically climb right into the cockpit. The HotSeat Flight Sim gaming chassis, available in three models, brings both a Dolby 5.1 six-speaker surround sound system and a comfy chair to the stimulating experience of simulated flight.

Made of welded steel with an adjustable seat and flat-panel monitor stand, the HotSeat Flight Sim stows the subwoofer under the seat and offers plenty of table space for a keyboard, joystick and game controllers. The chassis is compatible with PC-based games and most major gaming systems, including the Nintendo Wii, Microsoft Xbox and Sony PlayStation.

All models can be seen and ordered at hotseatinc.com. Prices for the Flight Sim chassis start around US$1,000 for an entry-level rig and move up to US$4,000 for a deluxe model that adds a 23-inch widescreen monitor, souped-up gaming PC, game controllers and a copy of Microsoft Flight Simulator X. Dramamine not included.

LOSE THE HEADSET FOR SKYPE CALLS

Netgear's Dual-Mode Cordless Phone with Skype — or the SPH200D for short — mixes plain old landline communications with cutting-edge Internet calling.

The SPH200D connects to your standard phone line and allows traditional calls. It also hooks into your Internet router and works with Skype, the popular online calling service owned by eBay that allows free calls to other Skype users, who typically talk using headsets at their computers. You can talk to anyone on your Skype buddy list or make inexpensive national and international calls over Skype's network without having to use your own computer.

The phone includes a cordless handset that uses DECT (digital enhanced cordless telecommunications) technology to reduce interference from other wireless networks and improve call quality. It also has a small color screen that shows a list of Skype contacts or caller ID information, depending on the network being used.

Additional handsets are extra and will be available later this year.

TAKE AN INTERNET CALL OR JUST DOODLE

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