Sidebar: More Cool Stuff

Here are a few more gadgets that were too good to ignore:

Media Center m300 Photosmart

Manufacturer: Hewlett-Packard Co.

Price: Starts at less than $1,000

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The HP Media Center m300 Photosmart PC series combines a TV, a personal video recorder (a la TiVo), an FM radio, and DVD, CD and MP3 players into a single entertainment machine. The m300 series also features camera dock storage in the top of the unit (camera and dock not included, however), front analog video and audio capture ports for downloading videos from camcorders and VCRs, a media reader that reads seven different types of removable media from digital cameras, handhelds, MP3 players and the like, and a remote control. Oh, and it's also a computer, with a Pentium 4 processor (2.6- to 3.2-GHz), 512MB to 1.5GB of RAM, fast 80GB to 250GB hard drives, and video cards with 64MB to 128MB of video RAM.

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The Internet Refrigerator

Manufacturer: LG Electronics Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J.

Price: $8,000

Remember the '90s jokes about Web-enabled refrigerators? Here's the real thing. The Internet Refrigerator is a 26-cubic-foot multimedia refrigerator that has a titanium-surfaced door with a 15.1-in. LCD screen for watching TV, surfing the Internet or looking at digital pictures, plus four high-fidelity speakers. It can also store recipes and messages from family members, and its operating manual is built in. The LG model can also let you know if a part isn't working properly. This is one appliance you won't find everywhere.

ScanJet 4670

Manufacturer: Hewlett Packard Co.

Price: $199

Scanners are useful, but they take up a lot of real estate on a crowded desk or worktable. HP's new $199 ScanJet 4670 turns itself on edge with a vertical format and an innovative see-through scanning capability. It's less than an inch thick and comes with decent software for image editing and manipulation.

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Tek Panel 300

Manufacturer: Hy-Tek Manufacturing Co., Sugar Grove, Ill.

Price: $6,495

The Tek Panel 300 is a 30-in. wide-screen, multimedia PC just 5 in. thick. With 512MB of RAM feeding a 2.4-GHz Pentium 4 processor and 120GB hard drive, onboard digital video recorder, television tuner, DVD and CD player, Bose multimedia sound and wireless keyboard, this will replace a whole roomful of other gear. It will also accept video input in the British PAL format as well as the U.S. NTSC standard. The device can be mounted on a wall if you wish. It runs Windows XP Professional.

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Photoshop Album 2.0

Manufacturer: Adobe Systems inc., San Jose

Price: $50

Keeping digital photos organized can be a real chore, since they are born with abstract file names that don't mean much to users. Software to help has been around for a while, but a new $50 package from Adobe, PhotoShop Album 2.0, makes it easier than ever. You set up tags and categories and then simply drag and drop icons onto specific pictures and groups of photos. It's fast, slick and simple. And you can download a free starter edition.

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INport

Manufacturer: Xitel Pty., Australia

Price: $69

I've winnowed my collection down, but I still have hundreds of LP records and tapes I haven't played in years but can't bear to part with. Using the INport, I can now transfer those recordings into my computer and then burn them onto CDs or download them to an MP3 player. INport is a small hardware device into which you plug your turntable or tape deck (using the included studio-grade cable), then connect directly to your computer's USB port. The INport uses professional recording technology to produce crystal-clear digital audio. Software that comes with the unit helps set recording levels automatically and produces excellent results.

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Binary Clock

Provider: ThinkGeek.com, Fairfax, Va.

Price: $20

Keep the time to yourself with the BinaryClock from ThinkGeek.com. Any geek should be able to read the blue or red LEDs on this device, but you can virtually guarantee that no one else will know what time it says.

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Slooh
Provider:
Telescope Time Inc.
Price: $50 to $100 annual fee

It's got a goofy name, but Slooh is a fascinating concept. Starting on Christmas Day, you get the chance to use your PC to see what the high-powered telescopes at the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands are focused on—in real time. Subscribers can participate in group or solo "missions," zooming from a wide-angle to close-up views of astronomical objects, accompanied by storytellers who will explain the history, mythology, science and beauty of the subject. You can capture photographs during the mission and save them on your PC.


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