Talking to someone on the phone anywhere in the world has never cost less since connections were rerouted over the Internet. The technology, called Voice over Internet Protocol or VoIP calling, no longer requires a computer. Moreover, voice-only calling is being usurped by video. Leading the switchover is the Skype Videophone Touch from Asus, a model that comes with a $43 instant rebate through July 15.
Giving cell phones to your kids just to be able to stay in touch with them locally seems like a waste of money, considering the alternative—no-fee two-way radios. What used to be called walkie-talkies are now smaller, lighter and more reliable than ever. Transmission distances range from about two to 18 miles or more. Commercial-class models carried by employees in a sprawling enterprise can help a business watch its pennies, too.
Projecting a 40- to 300-inch picture from a computer or video source has never been as easy or affordable than with Sony's VPL-EW 3LCD Portable Projector. Producing WXGA (1280 x 800) resolution with 2000 ANSI lumens of brightness and a 1000:1 contrast ratio, the VPL-EW7 is about 200 times brighter than a pico projector. It's like holding a floodlight to a candle. Incredibly, the VPL-EW weighs only 6.1 lb and occupies a square-foot footprint.
When it comes to framed photos, families are prone to show off printed images under glass sooner than digital versions on LCDs. That could be changing, though, as prices of digital picture frames sink to new lows. Take the versatile DPF-A72N/B Digital Photo Frame from Sony. The 7-inch screen used to be priced at $99.95. Now, with a $45 instant rebate, you pay only $54.95. The offer ends on June 20.
The incessant buzzing of plastic horns, called vuvuzelas, at the World Cup has driven some soccer fans to mute the sound on their TVs. I thought there was something wrong with the audio when I tuned in to ESPN on my mobile Flo TV. I figured I could read the play-by-play while watching the action in silence, but closed-captioning isn't available on Flo TV. So, I tested a set of noise-canceling headphones.
Western Digital has added a new model to its line of media players called the WD TV Live Plus HD Media Player, that does something its other models don't do: it supports Netflix movie streaming. With the Live Plus, B&H now offers a dozen products including media receivers, Blu-ray Disc players, DVRs and HDTV sets that stream Netflix movies and TV shows directly to your home theater instead of a computer.
I remember, years ago, reading about a 40-inch CRT television set. It had a 4:3 aspect ratio, weighed several hundred pounds, and cost around $100,000. I think it was a Sony. It was completely impractical, but it got me to thinking that some day I wanted to own a TV set with a screen that size. Today I own a 46-inch flat panel, but I saw something this week that got me thinking again. Panasonic just announced its new 152-inch plasma display that should be available early next year.
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