Phone has no snap or crackle

Published: Monday, May 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, April 30, 2006 at 11:14 p.m.
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The DECT 221 and the DECT 225 (with a built-in answering system) will improve call quality and security.

The New York Times
When it comes to standard telephone service, nothing exceeds the quality of corded handsets. Unlike popular wireless models, corded phones, which cost as little as $20, are free of the crackles and whooshes endemic to cordless models as their users move around the house.
But a new cordless technology promises to change all that. Next month, Philips will introduce its first phones in the United States, and they will use new standard Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT), to improve call quality and security.
DECT operates at 1.9 gigahertz, outside the 2.4-gigahertz frequency used for many wireless devices, making it immune to interference from modems and other wireless phones. The new models - the DECT 221 ($110) and the DECT 225 ($130, with a built-in answering system) - offer double the battery life of standard wireless phones. The DECT 220, an add-on phone that connects wirelessly to the base station, is $100. DECT technology also lets compatible phones from other manufacturers connect to the main Philips units.
  • ADDING A BIT OF FLASH TO IPODS: At night, an iPod makes good company. With the Blinkit from Intuitive Devices, it becomes a low-wattage guardian angel, too.
    The Blinkit, which plugs into any iPod with a dock connector, can be used as a flashlight to throw light on the trail ahead or as a safety flasher with beams that can be split and directed forward and back, or left and right.
    Pressing its power button cycles it through five different programmed flash patterns, as well as a mode that makes it flash to the beat of the music being played. A set of transparent caps for changing the beam color is included in the $30 price. Blinkit is available from Apple stores or at
    Using a pair of light-emitting diodes as its light source, the Blinkit draws only 100 milliwatts of power in flashlight mode and about 12 milliwatts while flashing. (It wouldn't be a guardian angel if it drained your batteries.)
  • FOR SERIOUS DISK COLLECTORS, A WAY TO KEEP THINGS TIDY: For heavy users of DVDs and CDs - or those looking for a way to clear the clutter - Sony offers the Vaio VGP-XL1B2 changer/recorder, which allows users to store, organize and manage up to 200 CDs and DVDs.
    The $799 unit, available now, works with PCs using the Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 operating system, which is designed to manage all-in-one PC-powered home entertainment systems.
    The device features the ability to burn DVDs with recorded movies and television programs and it allows users to copy CDs to a hard drive.
    Another feature automatically retrieves related information online, including jewel-case cover art, song lists, CD credits, movie credits and plot synopses.
    Controllable through the computer's FireWire port, the device can be "daisy-chained" with up to four more units for a maximum capacity of 1,000 discs - if you're willing to invest nearly $4,000 in such a setup.
  • A BATTERY-POWERED BOOK: In a world filled with complicated MP3 players and online audio stores, it's a wonder that anyone gets any listening done at all. Playaway hopes to change all that by making an audio book purchase as easy as plopping down a credit card at the airport gift shop.
    Playaway's MP3 players, about the size of a pack of cigarettes, each contain one unabridged audio book. Titles include "The Da Vinci Code" and "Anansi Boys," with more on the way. The devices come with headphones and a triple-A battery. When you're ready to listen, simply pull a protective tab to get the battery going.
    The Playaway cannot be loaded with a different book, but you can add it your library and listen to it again and again.
    A small screen shows the elapsed time, and the device has buttons for fast-forwarding, rewinding, adding bookmarks and skipping chapters. There's even a Voice Speed button, which compresses the audio slightly, reducing the total playing time without sacrificing audio quality. The devices are available at bookshops, retail stores and online for $35 to $50.
    Owners of iPods may smirk at a one-book-only device, but Playaway may be the simplest and quickest way to get from the store to Chapter 1.
  • PIONEER'S NEW INNO: Pioneer is best known for in-car stereos and speakers, but that doesn't mean it can't step out a bit.
    The Pioneer Inno is a portable XM satellite radio and MP3 player that lets you listen to and even record XM content on the go.
    The huge antenna can pick all of XM's 170 channels, and the gigabyte of built-in storage space allows you to record up to 50 minutes of programming at any time.
    The Inno has a full color 180-by-180-pixel display and weighs about 4.5 ounces.
    The Inno also has an FM transmitter for playback on any radio, including a car stereo. Finally, there are sports and stock tickers for keeping abreast of the latest news while out and about.
    Available in May at many retailers, the $399 Inno will require a monthly subscription to XM for $12.95. The Inno can also act as a stand-alone MP3 or Windows Media file player and is compatible with the Napster music service.
    With satellite radio in your pocket, it might be time to turn in the portable FM radio.
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