The next new thing

Published: Tuesday, January 7, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 6, 2003 at 10:22 p.m.

Flat screens go down in price

The price of flat-panel monitors has been in free fall for the last year, and that's good news for consumers who like these sleek space-savers.

This is particularly true for 17-inch models, the optimum size for general use. A year ago, you could expect to pay $1,000 for one of these screens; now they're available for half that much.

Dell's E171FP is a good example. This $499 liquid crystal display delivers a sharp, crisp image with excellent contrast. With a thin, charcoal bezel and swivel base, it's only 14.5 inches wide and 7.5 inches deep. That makes it a good bet for a crowded dorm room or cramped apartment.

Like most LCD screens, the E171FP looks best at its optimal resolution of 1,280-by-1,024 pixels.

But like many inexpensive LCDs, the Dell E171FP suffers from a lack of subtlety in brighter areas. For example, it has trouble defining a light-tan area against a white background. And like similar models, the E171FP loses brightness when viewed from an angle of 35 degrees or more.

Strips test for date-rape drugs

The nightclub scene is always rife with peril, what with the unwanted come-ons, goofy dance partners and the very serious threat of date-rape drugs ending up in your drink.

But Florida-based Drink Safe Technology Inc. is doing something about that last concern by introducing new date-rape drug test strips. The test strips, created by Francisco Guerra after a friend was a victim of a date-rape drug, can detect gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), Rohypnol (''roofies'') and ketamine.

The test strips, which were recently named one of the ''coolest inventions'' by Time magazine, are easy to use - simply use a drink straw to drip a few drops of your drink on the test strip. If the liquid turns blue, toss the drink (one drawback is the strips don't work with beverages containing milk or creme products, so beware White Russian fans).

The strips are available online at for 40 cents each.

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