New year, new tech gear

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Saturday, March 01, 2008

The new year heralds the arrival of new gadgets. Two early-year trade shows — the Consumer Electronics Show and MacWorld — bring new product announcements galore from consumer electronics companies large and small. We’ve weeded through the avalanche to bring you some of the best new gear out there.

BY NINO MARCHETTI

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Samsung BD-UP5500

Been keeping track of the Blu-ray Disc/HD DVD debate? Want to jump in but afraid you’ll buy a player that later is useless? Samsung has revealed the BD-UP5500 ($599), a player that lets you enjoy both types of next-generation discs in addition to all your old DVDs and CDs. What we also like about this Samsung player is its slim 2.3-inch profile and Internet connectivity to help you enjoy movie extras.

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Altec Lansing T612

If you like to listen to music off of your iPhone, you’ll like the new Altec Lansing T612 speaker system ($199.95). It sits atop your desktop and has an iPod/iPhone dock built in. You can be enjoying your music with this system’s bass enhancement until a call comes in, at which time the T612 pauses the music so you can chat with your caller. You can redock the iPhone to continue with your tunes once the call ends.

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Magellan Maestro Elite 5340+GPRS

If the future of GPS in your car involves Internet searching for addresses, the new Magellan Maestro Elite 5340+GPRS ($1,299) is right in the thick of things. This upscale GPS device uses wireless GPRS to let you look up local information from Google, get real-time traffic information and much more. The generous 5-inch display shows 3D rendered landmarks and buildings, which is useful for easily finding your way around town

AppleMacBookAir.jpg Apple MacBook Air

You say you love MacBooks but you also want a really thin laptop. Worry no more. Hot out of the Apple labs is the MacBook Air ($1,799). This laptop is 0.16 inches thin at its thinnest point and 0.76 inches at its maximum height. It weighs a blow-away-in-the-wind 3 pounds but still manages to pack in a beautiful 13.3-inch screen, full-size keyboard and 80GB of hard-drive storage. Anorexic it may be, but the MacBook Air has the muscle where it counts.

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ClickFree HD700

Say you want a really simple way to back up your most important files. Storage Appliance is offering the ClickFree HD700 ($169), a 120GB external hard drive. You simply plug it into your computer through USB, and it does the rest. It scans your PC hard drive automatically for important files and media, backing up all of that afterward. You can use it to support up to five computers without needing to install any software.

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La Crosse Weather Direct

You could just look out the window in the morning to guess the weather or you could instead glance at your new Weather Direct device from La Crosse Technology ($49.99-$129.99). These  Internet-enabled weather stations bring you multi-day forecasts at your office or home. They come in a variety of shapes and one even gives you audio alerts. This would be a great item, we think, to help you keep track of weather at your favorite golf course.

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Sony Click Microvault

You’re probably thinking: What’s so exciting about a USB flash drive? We found we really liked the Sony Click Microvault (price to be announced) for several reasons. It offers up to 16GB of storage — plenty of room for music and PowerPoint presentations. You “click” the drive like a retractable pen to extend the USB connector. The coolest reason, though, is the glowing color LED section to let you know when it’s in use.



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