DIGITAL GEAR - Sending ultra-wideband home

Car signs were the rage in the 1980s, with signs like "Baby on Board" reminding drivers to avoid tailgating. The trend is back with Roadmaster USA Corp.'s Scrolling Digital License Plate Frame, which displays scrolling messages on a car's license plate or back window. While those signs can be an eyesore, Tzero Technologies Inc. delivers high-definition entertainment through its chipset that wirelessly transfers HD (high-definition) video images from one high-definition device to another. Also enhancing the entertainment world is Shure Inc., with its new, albeit expensive, line of earphones, which offer improved sound and bass.

Roadmaster's car message

With warnings like "your lights aren't working," Roadmaster's LED message bar may save drivers from potential police busts. The Scrolling Digital License Plate Frame is an LED (light-emitting diode) bar that attaches to the license plate to deliver 99 preset messages including "Help me," "Slow down," or the "Baby on board." Users can customize messages, like a car's sale price and display it in non-scrolling mode if a car's on sale. It comes with a wireless remote to adjust an LED's speed and brightness. However, state and local regulations need to be checked before using the scrolling system when the car is in motion, according to the company. A similar system is available for a car's rear deck. The US$59 system is available at retailers and car dealerships.

Shure's upgraded SE series of headphones

Shure's SE line of sound-isolating earphones is an upgrade over the company's famous E series brand, with new features, looks and more technology packed into it.

The $150 SE210 delivers deep audio through its built-in "hi-definition microspeaker" technology, which can also be found in the $250 SE310 model. The SE310 also has a "Tuned BassPort" technology that provides enhanced bass. The advanced $350 SE420 (with a tweeter and woofer) and the $450 SE530 (with a tweeter and dual woofers) have dedicated drivers for lower and higher sound frequencies to better define and deliver low-range, mid-range and high-end sound.

The company poured years of research and testing into these earphones, said Matt Engstrom, product manager of personal audio at Shure. Though the earphones resemble the E series earphones, the slightly smaller size of the SE210 and SE310 headsets also contribute to the better sound it delivers.

The company includes multiple fit options for the earphones. Optional accessories include longer cables and the Push-to-Hear module, from which users can hear external sound without removing the earphones. The SE210 is already available on Shure's Web site; the other models will ship soon, according to the company.

T-zero delivers HD, wirelessly

In the future, wireless HDTVs will be able to receive HD video wirelessly from other devices at home, if we believe Tzero Technologies Inc. founder and CEO Rajeev Krishnamoorthy. The company has developed a chipset that wirelessly transmits and receives video among HD devices in a 10- to 20-meter range using UWB (Ultra Wideband) wireless technology.

In a demonstration, an HDTV with a Tzero transmitter seamlessly received HD images and sound from a DVD player with a Tzero transmitter. UWB provides 10 times the bandwidth and 20 times the throughput compared to standard 802.11a/g wireless networks, making it ideal to transfer high-bandwidth HD video, Krishnamoorthy said.

Audiovox Corp., Gefen Inc. and Asustek Computer Inc. are developing products with the chipset that can be externally attached to a HDTV or other high-definition devices with HDMI inputs, said Matt Keowen, senior director of corporate marketing at Tzero. The chipsets will also be embedded by display vendors in monitors and wireless TVs, Keowen said.

Pricing for the external devices will depend on the vendor, but it could be in range of $299 to $399, perhaps cheaper, Keowen said. Those devices are expected to hit the market in the third quarter of this year. The somewhat hefty expense could be worth it for users who constantly move HD devices around home.

The chilling Tinchilla

With its ability to cool a soda can in 60 seconds, the Tinchilla is a common-sense gadget. Put a soda can into it, turn it on and the spinning soda can is exposed to ice cubes and cold water surrounding it. In 60 seconds, you have a chilled soda can that doesn't spray or froth, according to the retail Web site. It chills a soda can up to 240 times faster than a refrigerator, according to the site. Based on the science of thermal conditioning, spinning exposes every ounce of liquid to a chilled can surface, cooling it quicker. The £4.99 (US$10) operates on two AA batteries and requires ice cubes. It is available in the U.K. on CyberCandy.co.uk.

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Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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