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[TECHNOLOGY REVIEW]

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TV’S FUTURE TECHNOLOGY AVAILABLE NOW IN TINY SIZE

OLED TVs are the promise of the future, offering a startlingly vivid picture while consuming little energy (but at the moment a lot of money). You can, however, have the same kind of technology (organic light-emitting diodes) in a pocket-size picture viewer right now without taking out a second mortgage. Digital Foci has produced a 2.8-inch OLED-screen photo viewer. The player uses modest power, playing for up to five hours from its built-in lithium-polymer battery, the company says.

The player holds about 4,000 pictures on its 128-megabyte memory. Pictures are resized by the included software. That software isn’t the smoothest — downloading required a few tries — but the device eventually displayed bright, colorful photos that can be set to play in a customized slide show. The OLED screen is viewable from oblique angles, so a few friends can see the show at the same time. The company says the player will be available online from Digital Foci, B&H, Amazon and Wal-Mart by the end of this month Affordable OLED TVs will take a little longer.

A REALLY BIG NOTEBOOK TO REPLACE THE DESKTOP (IT’S ALMOST TOO BIG FOR YOUR LAP)

A number of notebooks on the market style themselves as desktop replacements, but the Sony Vaio AW series is being positioned to replace the home theater — sort of.

The new Vaio starts with a mammoth 18.4-inch widescreen display, pumped up with display technology to rival many flat-panel TVs. Its resolution is 1080 dots per inch (dpi) — one of the higher high-definition standards. It is also the resolution of Sony’s Blu-ray DVD technology, and a Blu-ray drive is included. (One could ask how much resolution one really needs at 18.4 inches, but why spoil the display arms race?)

Though the emphasis is on the display, the Vaio AW is also a high-end computer aimed at those who want to edit photos and videos in HD. It has an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, up to a terabyte of storage and 4 gigabytes of RAM memory.

The AW comes in three models. The Vaio AW can also be connected to your TV via an HDMI connection, which supports not only HD, but also 5.1 surround sound.

And at nearly 4kg, it may spend more time tethered to something at home than out on the road.

A SPARE, MORE RUGGED DESIGN FOR THE LATEST VERSION OF THE ORBIT-MP3 SPEAKER

Altec Lansing’s new Orbit-MP3 is different from many external speaker systems for portable music players: It looks as if there’s just one speaker in there, not two. But sitting next to one, you get the full stereo experience.

For a product that costs about US$40, the Orbit’s sound quality is quite good. And it runs on three AAA batteries, which the company claims will last for 24 hours of continuous play). This is important because that means the Orbit has no AC adapter, a device that adds weight when you toss the unit in a briefcase or backpack.

This second version of the Orbit comes with two big improvements: an on/off switch and a battery life indicator.

The earlier version had a clever power switch — you rotated the top of the unit to turn it on and off. While it was an interesting idea, it was easy to forget that the unit was on, meaning that the old Orbit went through batteries the way gas goes through a Hummer. Sacrificing a little form for function’s sake is a marked improvement.

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