Pump Up The PDA
It's hard to say who the perfect recipient would be for Sony's Clié PEG-N760C Personal Entertainment Organizer ($500). Any yuppie would relish the opportunity to check out some MP3 songs while updating his appointment calendar. But the family techno freak would want it just to have a PDA that can show color video clips and stills. You use a stylus to enter appointments or write memos via the Graffiti handwriting-recognition system - which is actually pretty accurate once you learn the correct character strokes. Using the built-in Palm 4.1 operating system and a supplied CD-ROM for my PC, I had no trouble downloading my appointment calendar and memos to the Clié through its docking station's USB port. A detachable remote contol plugs in between the earphones (not shown) and the audio jack. Supplied software lets you use your PC to rip music in the MP3 and ATRAC-3 formats. The Clié comes with an 8-megabyte (MB) Memory Stick, which is adequate for text and compressed images but will hold only a couple of MP3 tunes (so you might want to spring for a bigger Stick.)
Sony - www.sony.com/clie, 888-222-7669
Listening With Style
With its glowing blue lights and ultra-high-tech design, JVC's FS-SD1000 minisystem ($550) would look good on an executive's desk, an antique table in the bedroom, the oak bookshelves in the study - or even the family summer cottage or the desk in Junior's dorm room. Two slender 121/2-inch-tall aluminum speakers flank an 11 3/4-inch-wide CD player/ receiver with a 19-watts-per-channel amplifier, presets for 30 FM and 15 AM stations, and an alarm clock. Also included are a 60-watt powered bass module about a cubic foot in size and a remote control. Press CD Open or Door Slide on the remote, and blue lights flash while the CD/receiver's Plexiglas top slides forward to receive a disc - lots more fun than playing with the garage-door opener. And the mute button doesn't just mute - it fade mutes! The best news about the FS-SD1000, though, is that it sounds as good as it looks. The NPR news came across crisp and clear. Switching to a jazz station, I boosted the bass a bit, and I pulled out all the stops for a classic rock station. In each case the sound filled the room, and it was very satisfying with the CDs I tried as well.
JVC - www.jvc.com, 800-526-5308
Yepp, They're Cool
Portable MP3 players aren't just music devices - they're style statements, too. And Samsung's Mini-Yepp YP-20T (bottom at left, $99) and Techno Yepp YP-NDU-32 ($190) stand out for both fashion and functionality. The players attach to the USB port on a PC or Mac so you can download music, and both come with 32 MB of memory. While the memory on the Mini Yepp is built in, limiting you to 32 minutes of music at 128 kbps, the Techno Yepp has a SmartMedia card slot for upping its song capacity. The Techno's medallion-like remote control (far left) includes an FM tuner. The Mini-Yepp is smaller than an egg and weighs only about 2 ounces with a AAA battery. Its readout gives you the date, time, or the song title. The Techno Yepp's readouts tell you a song title or the station's frequency.
Samsung - www.samsungusa.com, 800-726-7864
It's not that unusual anymore for somebody to get a computer for Christmas. But it is unusual to get a decent set of speakers along with it. With more and more people using their computers to watch movies, play games, listen to music, and check out audio-savvy Web sites, good speakers ought to come standard - but they don't. The ProMedia 2.1 Computer/ Personal Audio System from Klipsch ($179) more than fills that void. Not only does it produce excellent sound, but it carries the THX seal of approval as well - which is all but unheard of with multimedia speakers. The solidly built three-piece system includes a pair of 9-inch-high satellite speakers, each with a 3/4-inch MicroTractrix horn tweeter and a 3-inch midrange driver, and a 9 1/2 x 9 7/8 x 101/4-inch subwoofer whose 200-watt (total) amplifier drives the whole system. All the necessary cables are included, and setup takes only a few minutes (assuming you can locate the correct jack on your computer's sound card). There's a headphone jack and a minijack for hooking up game consoles and portable music players. You'll find the volume controls for both the satellite speakers and the subwoofer conveniently located along the bottom edge of the right speaker. The satellites come on removable desk stands, but wall brackets are also available.
Klipsch - www.klipsch.com, 800-554-7724
Copyright © 2013 Bonnier Corp. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.