Gadgets & gizmos: 24/7 movies


Monday, October 23rd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


The Samsung DVD-C600 is a couch potato's dream. With its handy five-disc carousel tray, you can enjoy an entire day of movie watching without ever stirring from the sofa. And because this is DVD, you don't even have to wait for the rewind between flicks. The C600 can also play video and audio CDs.

The C600 lives up to DVD standards with crisp pictures and high-quality sound. It features standard functions such frame-by-frame, slow-motion playback; progressive speed, fast-forward and reverse; language and subtitle selection (depending on the disc itself); parental controls; and "chapter" searches that allow you to jump from one scene to the beginning of the next.

The full-motion zoom function is also fun to play with. It lets you choose any part of the screen to focus in on while in play mode or on a frozen frame.

The remote control features a toggling joystick that makes navigating menus intuitive, although mashing down the joystick to make a selection was sometimes uncertain. The layout of the remote is also easy to understand, although there are a couple of hazards. Most notably, the oft-used main menu button is positioned perilously close to the "Disk Skip" button. Pressing the wrong one will definitely break your movie mood.

At $329, the C600 is a good value, comparing favorably with the prices of other players with its range of features. Call 1-800-726-7864 or visit www.samsungelectronics.com.

– Ellen Henderson / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News

No sticks in the mud

Combine the sound genius of Harman/Kardon and the head-turning industrial design of Apple Computer and you get SoundSticks, a fantastic new speaker system optimized specifically for Macintosh computers.

These speakers got a lot of attention in my office. Everyone wanted to know about the paint-can-size subwoofer sitting in front of my desk. "What's that?" was the question more than once a day. Once I explained them, I also had to demonstrate them.

I apologize now to my office neighbors. SoundSticks rock.

They connect to any Mac with a USB port. Speakers usually connect through a sound card on a PC or headphones/external speakers port on a Mac. Not so with these transparent beauties.

Just plug the two satellite speakers into the subwoofer and the subwoofer into its power supply. A USB cable from the subwoofer is the only connection to the computer. I had mine connected through the keyboard's extra USB port.

Each satellite unit has four tiny speakers called Odyssey Transducers. They produce remarkably crisp mid- and high-range tones. The subwoofer, with its own volume knob, more than handles the bass.

Forget that joke of a built-in speaker on your PowerMac G4 and get some SoundSticks. For more information, call 877-266-6202 or see www.harman-multimedia.com.

– Jim Rossman / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News

Nice ... and slow

Simplicity has its price.

The Hewlett-Packard 8230e will tempt people intrigued by the idea of a CD-rewritable device but not inclined to pry open a computer case to install components.

It's also a good contender for computers that don't have space for more internal components but do have a USB port. Just plug in this external CD-RW, put in the software and the peripheral is ready to burn.

Make that a slow burn, however. The 8230e may install as fast as a new mouse, but when it's time to create music or data CDs, the pace can be glacial. It wasn't unusual for this Hewlett-Packard model to take about 11/2 hours to finish a disc. Anyone planning to copy a music CD might be able to head to the store and buy a new one before the device finishes making a copy.

The 8230e nevertheless could be handy in an office that needs extremely large file storage more than it needs expedience. The unit's portability also makes it easy to move from workstation to workstation for multiple users.

The price is $249. Go to www.hp.com for details or call 1-800-752-0900.

– John Hanan / The Dallas Morning News

Conversation piece

Nokia's 8260 phone will elicit comments every time you take it out, even from the most jaded cell phone junkies. It's flashy – standard colors are electric blue, carbon gray and our favorite, red pepper. And it's tiny – 4 inches by 13/4 inches by 3/4 inch. The antenna is hidden inside the case, making it not much larger than a pager.

More important, it is very well-designed. The Nokia 8260 weighs only about 3.4 ounces including the battery, which provides as much as 31/2 hours of digital talk time. Ours ran all week in standby mode on a single charge.

The phone has an internal vibrating alert so you can leave it in standby when you go to the movies or a meeting. The five-line liquid crystal display is very readable and well-lit for night calls. An onboard phone book with caller groups and an appointment calendar can be used for e-mail and text messaging. It supports seven languages. There's also a nice range of optional accessories, including a belt holster, headset kit, car kits and adapters for hearing aids and hands-free operation.

All in all, the dual band/tri-mode Nokia 8260 is a little gem. It's sold by Ameritech, Cellular One, SNET Wireless and Southwestern Bell Wireless, now known as Cingular. Price varies by vendor and connection plan. Call your wireless service provider or see more at www.nokiausa.com.

– Kate Seago / The Dallas Morning News

Internet made simple

The world of personal computers remains intimidating to newcomers. Even longtime PC users joke about how an Internet-enabled microwave oven might regularly experience system crashes or error messages.

Recognizing the challenge, Compaq and Microsoft have teamed up to produce a little white box that easily fits on the kitchen counter and offers practically foolproof access to electronic mail and the World Wide Web – though little else.

Setting up the Compaq iPAQ Home Internet Appliance is a breeze. You just plug in electrical and telephone cords. One push of the on button fires it up, another shuts it off. The device has a wireless keyboard, though you can't stray too far because the flat screen, at 10 inches, is small. Instead of a mouse, there's a pointing device built into the keyboard.

The iPAQ runs on Microsoft software. It connects to the Internet exclusively through Microsoft's MSN dial-up Internet service.

The iPAQ should attract people who want to tap the Internet but find PCs complicated or expensive. Though it's priced at $599, Microsoft offers a rebate with its MSN service. With a three-year contract at $21.95 per month, the price drops to $199.

My quibbles are small, all reminders that the iPAQ Home Internet Appliance isn't a full-blown PC. It's not for people who want to create documents or run their own software. Also, audio and video from some Web sites won't work on it.

The flip side is that there are no software conflicts to worry about. Call 1-800-345-1518 or visit www.compaq.com.

– Alan Goldstein / The Dallas Morning News