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More cool gadgets from CES

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Three or four days aren’t really enough to visit every nook and cranny at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. Heck, there were 60 to 70 places on my “must-see” list, and I’ve also found some great stuff to tell you about at some of the other booths.

InsertArt(1752049)THERE SEEMED TO BE a slew of new digital cameras at this year’s CES. One which caught my eye early on is Canon’s monster EOS-1 Ds. What we’re talking about here is an 11.1-megapixel single-lens-reflex camera. Let me put this to you in another way. This camera is capable of taking images that are 4067 by 2704 pixels which, depending on the settings can range from 1.4 MB to 11.4 MB in size.

This is some camera! You know that because the interface provided to your computer is the super-fast (for a digital camera) IEEE 1394/FireWire. If I listed all the amazing specifications, it would take forever. Suffice it to say that this nearly 3-pound monster is probably capable of digital snapshots of supernatural quality, which some are compared to a film camera which takes 4-by-5 inch film.

Unfortunately, professional cameras come with professional price tags and Canon’s Ds is no exception. It has a suggested retail price of $8,999; a quick search on the Internet shows it being offered as low as $7,399.99.

Then there’s the Argus DC-3810, one of a new breed of 5-megapixel cameras at the show. The 3810 is actually 5.2-megapixels to be exact and it comes with a 3X optical zoom, a 1.8-in. LCD screen, flash, 32MB compact flash card and both a TV video out and USB interface. All this in a compact package for a suggested retail price of $499.95.

Motorola was showing an interesting item on the CES show floor: a wireless digital audio system. In short, it’s a box that connects to your computer via 802.11b/WiFi wireless Ethernet and to your home entertainment system via standard RCA jacks.

This “simplefi” allows you to listen to MP3s, streaming audio and Internet radio on your stereo system. Motorola is selling it for $379 on its Web site. Coming later this year is an improved remote control, with a LCD readout of song titles and other information right on the remote.

When it comes to music and video, the new Archos AV140 looks hard to beat. The 140 is a handheld personal entertainment center that combines a MP4 video player, a MP3 player and recorder, and a data storage device and photo viewer. Plus, it fits in the palm of your hand.

The AV140 connects to your PC or Mac and not only allows you to transfer music, but any MP4 videos you might have on your computer. You can watch those videos on the tiny little screen, or connect the 140 to your TV and watch it there. The 140 has a 140 GB USB 2.0 hard disk inside; Archos claims that means you can store up to 80 hours of video on this device.

There are many plug-in modules available, including a digital camera, a digital video recorder interface, memory readers and even a FireWire connector, making this a very versatile device. I wouldn’t want to carry everything with me everywhere though. I’ve been testing the previous version, the Jukebox Multimedia 20, but with an improved video processor inside and a better LCD screen, I’ll wait until I can play with a 140 to write-up my findings.

The latest thing in cordless phones for your home is 5.8. Both VTech/AT&T and Uniden are showing new cordless models that operate in the 5.8 GHz frequency band. Over the years, cordless phones went from the 54 MHz range to the 900 MHz band to the current 2.4 GHz band, but with 802.11b/WiFi becoming popular in the same frequency band it’s only natural to look for more wide open spaces. One warning though, 802.11a networking also operates at 5.8 GHz.

Speaking of WiFi, yesterday I told you that I was awaiting word of an 802.11b card that fits on an SD slot. Later that day, SanDisk answered my prayers. Actually, they did one better. Not only are they manufacturing a SD/WiFi card, but it will also contain 128 MB if memory, so that the card will really be two cards in one. Expect to see them on the market this spring. Prices to be announced.

Finally, Swanson’s, as in TV dinners, spent a lot of money at CES touting the fact that they’ve been around before HDTV, Cable TV or even color TV. They even had Heather Locklear come to the show to cut a cake! In a press release she adds: “I’m thrilled to join in the celebration of a true American icon, a brand that’s part of the fabric of our childhood, and one that remains so relevant to the way we live today.”

And Bell South had some celebs of their own: Don Adams and Barbara Feldon. Yes, Maxwell Smart and Agent 99 were at CES. I’m not quite sure why. I hope Bell South isn’t thinking of marketing a new “shoe phone”.