It's becoming easier than ever to break loose from power lines and wall outlets. Net-heads, for example, can surf 100 feet from their phone jacks with Panasonic's new Cordless Data Link. Developed with IBM, this $200 wireless 28.8-kbps-capable connector plugs into your computer's modem jack and operates via 900-megahertz radio frequencies, technology used in high-end cordless phones and wireless sound systems. Infrared technology, in which data are beamed invisibly from one IR-equipped device to the next, is another wireless option. Citizen America's PN60i portable printer with an infrared interface ($500) marries with an IR notebook PC, PDA or palmtop computer for speedy printing. Want to replay your camcorder footage from a comfy spot? New Handycams from Sony ($1000 to $1500) have an optional infrared receiver ($80) that plugs into your TV or VCR and lets you beam pictures and sound across the room. And wireless control of the home environment (by way of IR and radio-frequency technologies) is a cool advantage to RCA's latest DSS receivers ($449 to $600). While you're tuning in a movie, other buttons on the remote can dim room lights and kick on the popcorn popper.
Faroudja is the Man
What Ray Dolby is to audio, Yves Faroudja is to video--a Silicon Valley engineer superb at tweaking entertainment technology. In fact, Faroudja is so clever that even Japanese and European tech wizards license his patents. (His picture-enhancing circuitry is found in 8mm. Hi-8mm, S-VHS and VHS-HQ VCRs and camcorders and is also being used in the newest digital camcorders.) State-of-the-art home theaters likewise rely on Faroudja's line-doubling and line-quadrupling components ($10,000 to $24,000) to enhance video images, with the results having the smoothness and clarity of movie theater presentations. On a more affordable front, Faroudja's VP100 Video Processor ($800) is designed to enhance the pictures of rear-projection TVs, direct-view TVs and LCD projectors equipped with S-video inputs. Feed in any composite video source, and the device smartly combs, enhances and aligns the signal to sharpen picture detail and edges and improve color accuracy. By year's end, Faroudja circuitry also will bring "cinema quality" video to computer monitors, thanks to a new alliance with S3, the world's largest supplier of multimedia accelerator boards. Coinciding with the arrival of the first DVD-ROM computer drives, the first S3/Faroudja line-doublers for PCs will sell for about $600.
Give Us Some Space
If your gigabytes are gagging on computer documents loaded with photos, audio and video, consider freeing some space with a removable hard drive. We tested several models and were especially impressed with Syquest's new Sparq drive. This $200 model uses one-gigabyte cartridges small enough to fit in a coat pocket and priced similarly to high-capacity floppies. Sparq is great for archiving digital photos--thousands can be stored on a single cartridge. You can also play video games right off a cartridge without sacrificing speed. If you want to swap large files with friends and colleagues more readily, opt for a CD-Rewritable drive. Available from Ricoh and Philips, CD-RW units store data on 650-meg blank discs that can be reused up to 1000 times. Although the $25 discs aren't compatible with older CD-ROM drives, they can be accessed by other CD-RW machines and new DVD-ROM and CD-ROM drives.