PORTABLE MEDIA CENTRES: Running Microsoft’s Media Center software, these multimedia players let you carry movies, tunes and photos on a device the size of a paperback. Record a show on a PC, transfer it to the portable and watch it on the bus to work. Creative and iRiver models are expected in stores next month, priced around $600.
WIFI PHONES: These hybrids will combine three technologies—WiFi wireless, Internet telephony and broadband. It’s convenient:
you could start a call on your home wireless network, switch to a cellphone as you drive to work, then end the call over the office WiFi network—with no interruptions. You’ll also save by being able to shift call minutes from the cellphone plan onto the flat-fee Internet bill. Available: late this year, from Motorola, Hewlett-Packard and others. BLU-RAY DVD PLAYERS: Just as you finish switching your videotape collection to DVDs, another format is here. Blu-ray discs will store more than five times as much material as regular DVDs, and can be made largely from paper. The format (it uses blue lasers rather than DVDs’ red, hence the name) is spearheaded by a Sony-led consortium. Players are expected on the market by the end of next year, and they won’t be cheap. MP3 JACKET: That’s right, an MP3 player sewn right into a sports coat. The MP3blue
BE WARY OF LIQUIDATIONS You may find amazing deals on discontinued products, but choose brand-name stuff. Make sure the warranty is valid in Canada. Liquidators will sometimes buy from one country and sell in another where the warranty is void.
men’s jacket from Rosner, a German clothing company, and electronics maker Infineon, has control buttons on a sleeve and headphones inside the collar. There’s more— a phone mike in the coat’s collar, allowing you to talk on a cellphone hands-free (make sure you take the player and battery module out before you clean the jacket). Available: February 2005, at US$725, from www.rosner.de. Also coming from Infineon: an MP3-equipped snowboarding jacket.
Money’s Worth | Home theatre | In search of the big picture
The mission: go undercover at four national chains to test the sales staff’s expertise and customer service. We asked for advice about buying a home theatre package with a TV, DVD player and surround-sound speakers-for a room measuring 11 by 14 feet. JOHN INTINI
Future Shop: best service and range of options-with complete explanations-at different price points.
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