Saturday, December 29, 2007

Goodbye Netscape

You might as well tack this sign to New York's Time Warner building:

Netscape Navigator,
the browser that made the World Wide Web famous,
won't be brewed here anymore

(A rewrite of the lead from a 1981 Milwaukee Journal story the day The Jos. Schlitz Brewing Company announced that Schlitz, "the beer that made Milwaukee famous," would no longer be brewed there.)

Friday's announcement that America Online, a division of Time Warner, would end development of the Netscape Navigator Web browser on Feb. 1, 2008, comes as a punch in the stomach to those who grew up on it. Yes, most of us, including this writer, abandoned it long ago for Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer, the Mozilla Foundation's Firefox or even Opera Software's Opera browser.

However it was Netscape's valiant David-vs.-Goliath court battles with Microsoft that endeared us to the sometimes-troublesome Web browser. Netscape staggered, but didn't slay the software giant, but the court battles gave us all a lesson in not giving up even when the odds were against us.

I've always had a soft spot for also-rans. I was a New York Mets fan when finishing above last place was considered a major achievement. In the end, AOL's decision was a simple one, made like a baseball team owner gazing at a stadium full of empty seats.

According to the official Netscape blog:

"AOL's focus on transitioning to an ad-supported web business leaves little room for the size of investment needed to get the Netscape browser to a point many of its fans expect it to be. Given AOL's current business focus and the success the Mozilla Foundation has had in developing critically-acclaimed products, we feel it's the right time to end development of Netscape branded browsers, hand the reins fully to Mozilla and encourage Netscape users to adopt Firefox."

For more information, zip over to the Netscape blog (

Thursday, December 27, 2007

World's oldest e-mail address? Nah!

Happy Birthday 72407,3343!

(Note: Mailing address on card is obsolete.)
Today my CompuServe e-mail address turns 22 years old. Think of how many online services, Web portals, e-mail services and other Internet-borne businesses have come and gone in that time.

I still remember that magic moment in 1985 when I dialed in and signed on and waited -- and waited -- and waited -- for that first CompuServe welcome message to crawl across the monochrome screen of my cutting-edge Tandy 100 laptop.

And I do mean crawled -- at 300 bits per second. That's 300 bits per second -- not kilobits or megabits! Yes, in 1985 most of us could type faster than our computers could transmit data.

At that time CompuServe was by far the top name in online services, offering more useful content and more access to important databases than any other service.

The fact that you could also use it to send e-mail to was almost an afterthought since at that time you could only send messages to other CompuServe members. Other online services of the time had the same limitation. That explains the many e-mail address at the bottom of my old business card (see above).

Of course things changed over time as CompuServe initially opened special gateways to MCI Mail and other select online services and later opened the gates wide open so that members could contact any e-mail address.

CompuServe, born in 1969, is still alive today, although it's hard to tell from its rather lame home page ( America Online, which acquired CompuServe in 1998, barely markets the service and seems intent on letting the venerable old name peter out through membership attrition.

Who would have thought in 1985, when cell phones were the size of milk cartons, that we would be checking e-mail on shirt-pocket-size handsets today.

No, my CompuServe address isn't the the oldest e-mail address in the world by a long shot, but... Do you have an older one?

This curious mind would like to know.

Text and image Copyright 2007 Stadium Circle Features

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Smartphones for gift-giving

Looking for a new smartphone? Take a look at my latest piece in the New York Daily News for some guidance. And let me know what you think!

Monday, November 19, 2007

New Alienware Area-51 notebooks: The mother of all systems?

The most powerful 17-inch notebook ever?

The most powerful 15.4 notebook that's ever been thought of?

It was with that kind of unbridled enthusiasm that Alienware Corp., makers of musclebound gamers' notebook and desktop computers, rolled out its latest high-powered efforts at a New York press conference on Monday (Nov. 19).

According to Alienware, a subsidiary of PC giant Dell Corp., in addition to powerful processors and fast hard drives, the new Area-51 m17x 17-inch notebook (above) and Area-51 m15x 15.4-inch notebook (below) offer graphics performance far above that offered by any other current notebook.

"This is really the mother of all systems when you're talking about performance," said Bryan de Zayas, Alienware's associate director of product marketing, after he uncovered the m17x at the press conference.

He went on to describe the m17x as "the most powerful 17-inch notebook that has ever been created" and noted somewhat modestly that the m15x was the most powerful 15.4-inch notebook "that's ever been thought of and brought to market."

The specifications for the sleekly designed Area-51 units seem to bear out some of his enthusiasm. Both come with Intel Corp.'s Core 2 Extreme processors, Blu-Ray optical disk burners and up to to 4 gigabytes of system memory.

The Area-51 m17x offers a 17-inch, 1,080p widescreen display and can be had with dual nVidia GeoForce 8800M GTX or dual GeoForce 8700M GT graphics processors and up a gigabyte of dedicated graphics memory--an astounding amount video muscle for a notebook. The Area-51 m15x has a 15.4-inch, a 1,080p widescreen display, a single nVidia GeoForce 8800M GTX graphics processor and up to half a gigabyte (512 megabytes) of graphics memory.

De Zayas noted that the just-released nVidia 8800M GTX graphics chipset used in the new notebooks is two performance levels above the nVidia chipsets now in use by other notebook makers. This means, he said, that the Area-51 units can easily digest the most demanding PC games, including the recently released Crysis from Electronic Arts Inc.

However, nVidia noted that the 8800M series graphics chipset will soon be available in machines from other notebook makers, including Canada-based Eurocom, Gateway Inc., and Sager.

While the Area-51 units are obviously designed for the best possible games performance, they offer amenities that make them useful as high-end business units. For example, with the touch of a button above the keyboard, you can tune the units down to a low-power "stealth" mode, which reduces processing muscle, but extends battery life long enough time to perform mundane non-gaming tasks during a long flight. You can also tune down the graphics muscle in order to extend battery life a little further.

The units come with backlit keyboards which can change color and a touchpad that's invisible save for an lit outline that lets you know where it is on the palmrest area.

Both units will be available next year and pricing has not been set yet, according to Alienware representatives.

Photos courtesy of Alienware.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Lenovo's new ThinkStation: Slam dunk or technical foul?

It's not often that a press conference takes technology journalists to a sporting goods store, but that's exactly what happened Nov. 6 as Lenovo staged a televised press event at the NBA Store on New York's Fifth Ave. to announce its entry into a workstation market now dominated by Dell and Hewlett-Packard.

According to Lenovo, the new ThinkStation line of workstations marks the first new workstation brand to be trotted out by a major PC maker in ten years and marks Lenovo's first addition to its Think-branded products in five years.

By definition, a workstation is a musclebound PC with extra processing and graphics power for high-octane applications such as computer-aided design and digital content creation -- such the nifty graphics and videos you see during televised National Basketball Association games.

Lenovo is already the official computer of the NBA; which explains the reason for the press conference site. Its units are at courtside at all 29 arenas of the 30 NBA teams (the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers share the Staples Center). Company executives said the China-based company aimed to get a modest slice of the U.S. workstation market but sought to succeed in emerging markets overseas as well.

The single-processor ThinkStation S10 (starting at $1,199) will come with an Intel Corp. Core 2 processor while the dual-processor ThinkStation D10 (pictured at top, starting at $1,739) will use Intel's Quad-Core Xeon processors. Both models will come with nVidia graphics adapters and will feature second-generation PCI Express expansion slots, which allow for far faster graphics-data speeds than the original PCI Express standard.

Inside the easy-to-service ThinkStations you'll find room for an array of hard disks and lots of RAM as well as extra fans and huge heat sinks to keep things cool.

While the ThinkStations will come in black, their interiors will be quite green, according to the company. More than 50 per cent of the plastics used will be recycled plastics, Lenovo said. Despite the additional hardware, the units will be no noisier than far less powerful PCs, according to Lenovo.

On hand for the press conference was former NBA star and Basketball Hall of Fame member Bill Walton (at right in photo), who seemed to genuinely appreciate the extra processing power of workstations and said he couldn't wait to get his own hands on a ThinkStation.

"Intel doesn't have the out-front name, but they're the ones that make it work from the inside," said the almost 7-foot-tall Walton, who was joined by executives from Lenovo, Intel and the NBA as well as sportscaster Ian Eagle.

ThinkStation D10 photo courtesy of Lenovo.
Press conference photo copyright 2007, Stadium Circle Features.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Congrats! You have a new PC! Now pay up!

So how much does it really cost to upgrade an office with new PCs?

Find out by reading my piece in today's (Nov. 5, 2007) edition of the New York Daily News.

Enjoy and let me know what you think!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Meridian Audio's F80: The million-dollar baby ... almost

Don't let the simple appearance of Meridian Audio Ltd.'s new F80 table radio fool you.

It looks like something you might run into at Target or WalMart, but turn it on and it leaves no doubt that it was designed for audiophiles, not bargain hunters.

Close your eyes and the rich, distortion-free bass and crisp high notes might impress you, but open your eyes and gaze at the price tag and then you'll really feel the air leave your lungs: $2,995.

Almost three grand for a table radio? Yes indeed.

"Yes it's expensive, but it's incredibly high quality," said company co-founder Bob Stuart at a recent Meridian Audio press conference in New York. Such stratospheric pricing is par for the course for Meridian Audio, which specializes in sophisticated, precisely engineered high-end audio products.

The F80 incorporates much of the company's home-grown digital-signal-processing technologies and makes an impressive statement in terms of internal and external engineering. The unit was designed in collaboration with automaker Ferrari SpA, another company known for top-notch performance at any price.

In addition to an AM/FM tuner and an alarm clock, the F80 has a trayless CD/DVD player and offers video outputs as well as audio and antenna connectors.

"It's very well-endowed in terms of connectivity," said Stuart.

Lift the F80 and you realize how much technology is packed inside. Thanks to a rather hefty shell, the 16-by-8-by-7-inch (H-W-D) radio comes in at more than 14 pounds. Stuart noted that the F80's mineral-injected composite casing was intentionally designed to be heavy and dense to eliminate rattle and to enhance the output from the speakers.

"The speakers have to have something against which to operate," he explained. "We couldn't make this out of wood. The shape wouldn't allow it.

"We've always been innovators, but innovators at the extreme end," he said.

He noted that while a conventional table radio offers about five watts of power, the F80 provides 80 watts of 2.1-channel, audiophile-quality output, a claim the unit backed up during a short demonstration. A single F80 filled the hotel conference room with clear, robust sound without the snapping one might expect from cheaper speakers.

Stuart said the "transportable home entertainment system" will not be sold directly by Meridian but through high-end audio dealers.

"We would encourage you to buy more than one ... but it's not necessary," he said to a burst of laughter.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

See it, scan it, save it: The HP Compaq 2710p

A webcam embedded above a notebook screen is nothing new. We've seen it in numerous portables, including the popular Macbooks from Apple Computer. A notebook that converts to a touch-screen tablet is not a new concept either.

But a light, travel-friendly, convertible notebook with solid-state data storage and an optional webcam that can scan a business card, recognize the text and import the data into your contact-management software? Now that's different!

The HP Compaq 2710p notebook was among the many new products highlighted by Hewlett-Packard Wednesday night at a well-attended press event in New York City.

The svelte HP Compaq 2710p has a 12.1-inch display, is 1.1 inches thick and weighs 3.6 pounds. Next to the webcam, which of course is also good for videoconferencing, is a pop-out night light which illuminates the keyboard. It's a small, but welcome feature if you spend long nights in darkened airliners. Rotate the screen and close it down on top of the keyboard and you have a touch-screen Tablet PC with all of the electronic-ink features you would expect, including handwriting recognition.

The unit, introduced earlier this year, can now be had with a new feature: A 64-gigabyte solid-state storage drive instead of a conventional spinning hard disk. The drive uses flash memory, which can store and retrieve data far faster than a standard hard disk. Since it has no moving parts, it's less susceptible to hard knocks. It's also quieter. Flash memory doesn't require power to keep data. Thus your information is safe when you turn the notebook off.

The unit uses an Intel Corp. Core Duo Ultra Low Voltage processor and a Mobile Intel GMA X3100 graphics chipset. It also comes with encryption software so you can protect your data from snoops as well as body hardware designed to be durable.

The HP event, entitled, "Your Life is the Show," was notable for the celebrities who stopped by, including tennis ace Serena Williams who made a premature exit from the U.S. Open tennis tournament across town just a day earlier, and the strong-armed, tough-talking Teutul men (Paul Sr., pictured at left; Paul Jr. and Mikey) from the popular "American Chopper" cable TV show.

Also shown at the event was the ultra slim HP Compaq dc7800 Business Desktop PC, which is small enough to hide behind a flat-panel monitor. When used with optional hardware, the unit can be mounted behind a 17- or 19-inch HP monitor where it ends up off of your desk, thus freeing up some valuable tabletop real estate.

"It's a petite, powerful computer," said Kevin Frost, HP's vice president and general manager for business desktops.

Also introduced was a raft of other new home and business products, including the Blackbird 002, a new musclebound gaming machine born out of HP's acquisition of Voodoo PC last year. The liquid-cooled Blackbird 002 offers a tool-free internal design which makes it easy to upgrade components such as the hard disks without reaching for your tool box. Also shown off was a new lineup of iPaq handheld computers, some with built in GPS navigation.

© Text and photo of Paul Teutul Sr. Copyright 2007 Stadium Circle Features.
Product photos courtesy of Hewlett-Packard.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Panasonic jazzes up Lumix camera line

It isn't often that technology converges with high heels and leotards, but such was the case last week at a New York press conference as Panasonic gave the media an early peek at three new digital cameras that are being announced to the public today.

The new 8.1-megapixel Lumix models include two slim units, the DMC-FX55 (suggested price $349.95) and DMC-FX33 ($299.95, at right); and the larger, prosumer-grade DMC-FZ18 ($399.95, below right).

The key difference between the DMC-FX55 and the DMC-FX33, which share the same external dimensions, is the rear LCD panel. The former comes with a 3-inch LCD while the latter's screen size is 2.5 inches. Both come with a Leica 28mm wide-angle lens with 3.6X optical zoom and both offer 4X digital zoom, 27 megabytes of internal memory and a slot for Secure Digital (SD) or Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) removable memory cards. The units are available in a variety of colors.

The SLR-size Lumix DMC-FZ18 comes with an impressive 18X optical zoom, a 28mm wide-angle Leica lens and 4X of digital zoom. An "extra optical zoom" feature extends the zoom to up to 28.7X at the 3-megapixel setting, thus increasing the camera's maximum combined zoom to almost 115X. The unit is available in black (DMC-FZ18K) and silver (DMC-FZ18S). Despite its size, it has relatively little heft at just over three quarters of a pound. It includes a 2.5-inch rear LCD display as well as a 0.44-inch viewfinder display.

All of the new cameras feature face-recognition technology that can pick out as many as 15 faces in a scene. Once identified, the cameras adjust exposure so that the faces aren't washed out or too dark.

Also included in all three is an intelligent scene selection feature which adjusts the camera's mode setting automatically based on what it detects. For example, if a subject is close by, the camera can automatically switch to macro mode.

During the press event, held at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York's Time Warner building, members of the press were allowed to give the new cameras a spin as a steady stream of jazz performers sang and danced across the large stage.

During my few minutes with a Lumix DMC-FZ18 and a DMC-FX55, the image stabilization circuitry in the cameras seemed to work well. With the DMC-FZ18, I was able to take fairly sharp snaps of the performances, even at maximum optical zoom, from a few levels above the stage (see above). Even from afar, the face-recognition technology was able to select and follow the faces of the performers as they moved.

The LCD display on the diminutive DMC-FX55 was bright and responsive but it was hard to be satisfied with the ample 3.6X optical zoom after playing with the 18X zoom on the DMC-Z18. As with the larger camera, the image-stabilization technology did seem to help keep the long-distance shots sharp (see below).

All of the new Lumix cameras will reach stores in September.

© Text and Photos Copyright 2007 Stadium Circle Features

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Keeping It Simple: Tivoli Audio's NetWorks Internet Radios

Tom DeVesto clearly enjoys his time at the drawing board. Just look over Tivoli Audio LLC's lineup of table and portable radios and you'll understand just how much the company's founder and CEO enjoys fiddling with the designs of his radios' knobs, cases, dials and displays. When it comes to fashion and technology trends, DeVesto doesn't like to be left behind.

His latest target is Internet radio. Sure, you can listen to an Internet radio station by using your PC and a Web browser, but wouldn't it be nice if you could listen to it by using something that actually looks and works like a radio? That's the impetus behind Tivoli Audio's new NetWorks and NetWorksGo Internet radios, both introduced at a June 22 press event at New York's Helmsley Palace Hotel.

The hard part was making it easy," said DeVesto as he showed off the radios to a crowded press conference. "And I think we've come up with it."

Rather than a computer-like design, the NetWorks radios, available this fall, don't look that much different from Tivoli's existing Model Satellite and SongBook products.

You tune in Internet radio stations by selecting them by call letter or by location from the hundreds of stations preloaded into the radio's memory. The list is updated regularly by Tivoli while you're online. If your favorite station isn't listed, simply write to Tivoli and it will be added, said DeVesto. You can store your favorite stations as presets. During the press conference DeVesto was able to look up and tune in a number of overseas Internet radio stations.

The NetWorks radios can connect to the Web wirelessly via a Wi-Fi connection or you can plug them into to a broadband connection with Ethernet cable. The NetWorksGo portable comes with an AC power adapter or can run on six C-cell batteries. Built in is a battery charger, thus allowing you to recharge nickel hydride (NiMH) and nickel cadmium (NiCad) batteries while the AC adapter is plugged in. The NetWorks table radio will come in a number of finishes.

Both units include conventional FM radio tuners and dual alarm clocks and can also decode MP3, Real Audio and WMA digital music. Lacking, however, is support for HD Radio. Why? DeVesto said that while radio stations benefit greatly from HD Radio technology since it allows them to broadcast more content over the same radio spectrum, the benefits to listeners aren't as clear.

"It's because I still have had a hard time finding what's in it for the customer," said DeVesto.

DeVesto said that pricing on the NetWorks units has not been announced, "...but it's not going to be the cheapest thing on the market."

At a reception before the press conference I asked DeVesto if he enjoyed his role as CEO and chief design tweaker. The answer was a quick "Yes."

"I can do what I want," he said with a wide grin.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Gone With the Wind: My $600 Check

"Had my hand on the dollar bill
And the dollar bill blew away"

I Just Want to Celebrate - Rare Earth

The life of a freelance writer is a tough one: You write. You invoice. You wait. But sometimes Nature itself can make things even tougher.

On Monday I received a long-awaited $600 check for a story I completed months ago. Happy at the prospect of being able to pay some bills I decided to drive to my bank--with a scheduled stop to pick up some coffee and a bagel.

As I got out of my car at Fifth Ave. and 4th St. in Brooklyn in front of Junior High School 51, I momentarily placed my mail, including the envelope with the $600 check in it, on the roof. And then it happened...

A sudden gust of wind blew everything off the roof and high up into the air. The mail swirled and danced wildly 20 feet in the air before falling back to earth and jumping up again. I jumped, grabbed, stomped and did whatever else I could do to corral all the envelopes. When all was said and done I had recovered all my mail--except, of course, the envelope with the $600 check in it.

Curses! Son--of--a--bi...!

As I fumed, a passerby who had witnessed the entire comedy walked up with a smile and told me that I wasn't going to believe where the last envelope had landed. And then he pointed. He was right--I didn't believe it.

The envelope was wedged in the frame of a metal window gate on the second floor of the school, far, far out of reach. I took a photo with my cell phone (see above) because I knew no one would believe such a story without some evidence. What are the chances?

However, as bad as my luck was at that moment was as good as it got a few moments later.

I looked to the left and noticed that working outside the school were two maintenance men who just happened to be installing a fire alarm buzzer on the outside of the school--just below the second floor window. And they were using a long ladder! Now what are the chances of that?

After explaining my plight, one of them moved the ladder and retrieved the fugitive envelope. And he wouldn't even let me buy him a cup of coffee for his efforts.

Of course after all of that, I couldn't get the check to the bank fast enough.

So what's the moral of this wind-blown tale? Hang onto your wits and your money. You'll need both to survive as a freelancer.

Copyright 2007 Stadium Circle Features

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Westinghouse HDTVs: Safe at Home

Where is the best place in the home for an LCD HDTV, a digital photo frame or a flat-panel computer monitor?

Anywhere you darn well please, according to the folks at Westinghouse Digital Electronics.

On Wednesday the company invited the media to a large Manhattan loft where it set up HDTVs and other consumer LCD devices in various home settings, including a bedroom, a kitchen and yes, even a bathroom—for those who can’t leave their favorite dramas behind while bathing.

The event was to show how high tech and home life can coexist without getting each other's way, explained Sherry Chapman, Westinghouse Digital Electronics marketing communications manager. She said the products being showcased were meant to be functional and easy to use while blending in with the home environment. Dark and muted colors were evident as opposed to shiny white or bright silvery cases.

For example, the TV set up in the kitchen was a 26-inch Westinghouse SK-26H590D HDTV (see photo), which has a built-in, front-loading DVD player that automatically turns on the TV once a disc is inserted. The idea here is that you don’t want to meddle with the TV too much when you’re cooking, Chapman explained. The $699 unit offers a 1366-by-768 pixel resolution which supports 720p and 1080i HDTV standards.

A highlight was the unveiling of the company’s new TX series of large LCD HDTVs. All support a top resolution of 1920-by-1080 pixels (1080p) and all offer six high-definition inputs, including four HDMI connectors.

At the top of the line, the 52-inch TX-52F480S LCD HDTV (available in September, price not yet determined) offers a high-gloss black bezel and Westinghouse’s patent-pending SpineDesign connector setup, which allows users to plug in cables from the sides without having to move the unit away from the wall. The 42-inch TX-42F430S ($1,599) and the 47-inch TX-47F430S ($1,799), both available in May, feature a matte black finish. The HDTVs also offer Autosource, a feature which senses when an attached device like a DVD player is turned on and automatically switches the TV to that device.

Also shown at the event was the company’s line of computer monitors and digital picture frames.

Westinghouse Digital Electronics is the fourth-largest seller of LCD televisions in the US behind Sony Corp. of America, Samsung and Sharp Electronics Corp. (

© Text and Photos Copyright 2007 Stadium Circle Features

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Don Imus and Rutgers: My Comments

I was quoted Tuesday in the Rutgers University-Newark student paper in connection with the controversial statement made by radio personality Don Imus about the Rutgers women's basketball team.

As you've probably heard by now, Imus referred to the mostly African American team, which went all the way to the NCAA finals, as "nappy-headed hos."

The story is here: Imus: R-U team 'nappy hos' - Sports

Saturday, March 17, 2007

WirelessInfo Debuts, a new web site covering the ever-changing wireless industry, launches today. I'll be one of the bloggers there bringing you the latest news on new cell phones and accessories, new mobile technologies and other useful information.

No, The Paper PC isn't going anywhere. I'll continue to bring the latest in consumer electronics and personal computing to this blog. I'll just be spreading myself a little thinner.

See you there...and here!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

AAA TripTik: One for the Road

When you think of the American Automobile Association, you might think of senior citizens, big recreational vehicles, road service and old-style printed maps. Starting now, the AAA want you to think of it as a prime travel destination on the Web.

At a recent press event at New York's Columbus Circle, the AAA announced the relaunching of its Web site featuring its TripTik automobile trip-planning service. What's new is the new open-door policy for TripTik. Instead of being a members-only service, all Web surfers can now access the service and use AAA's exclusive data such as its hotel- and restaurant-rating services.

Billed as the first online travel agency exclusively designed for motorists, TripTik's maps offer data not available elsewhere, such as the AAA's diamond rating system for hotels and access to its database of AAA member discounts. For example, if you mapped the immediate area around New York's Yankee Stadium, you'd find the closest AAA-rated hotel is the Howard Johnson's on Sedgwick Ave. in The Bronx while the closest AAA-rated restaurant is Londels on Frederick Douglass Blvd. in Manhattan.

By opening up the TripTik service to all Web surfers, AAA hopes to attract new members by showcasing the discounts that are only available to members, said AAA CEO Robert L. Darbelnet. "We decided to remove the barrier," he said.

The site offers a fuel cost calculator that can generate a figure based on the route and the make and model of the automobile used, said Darblenet, who noted that the Web site, "leverages over 100 years in AAA experience."

Many of the hotels listed on the online map have a direct Web link for reservations. Travelers can then compare the best generally available rates to what they could get if they were AAA members.

For more information, see the AAA Web site, insert your ZIP code and look for the TripTiks link on the left side of the screen.

Monday, January 15, 2007

CES 2007: Simple Pleasures

The Consumer Electronics Show is over for 2007 but the buzz--and the jet lag for many of the 140,000 who attended--continues.

While there were more sophisticated high-tech gizmos than you could shake a stick at in Las Vegas last week, there were many interesting low-tech products that promised to make life simpler without emptying your pockets. For example:

The Power Docking Station from Digital Innovations LLC is simply a nice-looking stand for holding handheld devices like cell phones and MP3 players while they're charging. Rather than have a spaghetti tangle of AC adapters and wires under your desk, you can hide up to four AC adapters within the docking station, which has an internal power strip. The metal holders adjust to the width of the devices. For $29.99 the Power Docking Station helps you project the image that you're organized and know what you're doing--which isn't a bad thing.

MusicMarker is another handy low-tech gadget that fills a niche. The scenario is simple: You hear a song but you just can't think of the title or the artist. Click the button on the tiny MusicMarker key fob and its built-in microphone records a few seconds of whatever you're listening to. The next time you get to a PC with Internet access, you can upload the sound clip to the MusicMarker music-recognition service, which searches its database and reports back with the name of the song and the artist as well as information on where you can go to purchase the song or the album it came from.

The $14.90 unit from MusicMarker Ltd. of Oxford, England, was a CES Innovations Design and Engineering Awards honoree, a nice kudo for such a simple device and for a company that wasn't even exhibiting at CES.

Watch this space for more Simple Pleasures selections from CES.

Photos courtesy of Digital Innovations LLC and MusicMarker Ltd.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Fuji, Universal Remote Control hope to boost sales through electronics show

See my article from the 2007 International Consumer Electronics Show in the Jan. 9 edition of The Journal News.