Philips gets phunky with its peripheral habit

CD-RW gizmo, flat panels, sound cards

Philips announced a profusion of new products at its pre CeBit press briefing: Sound cards, flat panel monitors, speakers and new recording technology for your CD writer.

Not to mention the projectors, which we won't.

Probably the most interesting announcement was the Thermo Balance Writing technology for CD writers and re-writers. All PCRW804 8x drives produced since October last year already have this technology, and it is also in the new 12x CD-RW drive.

Thermal errors when burning a disc at high speed are a big problem, according to Pierre Lamsweerde, a marketing manager at Philips, but one he reckons Thermo Balance writing can solve.

It responds to the temperature of the disc and varies the length of the laser pulses accordingly. It does a test burn each time, and stores the data so that next time it is faced with a same-brand disc it already knows how strong its pulses need to be. Nifty, if it works like it is supposed to.

The company announced a couple of new monitors, including a 17-inch flat panel, which can handle TV input, video and Teletext. It is expected to arrive in the real world by September this year.

It also announced three new sound cards based on the QSound technology. The entry level, RhythmicEdge card, can handle four channels, while the mid-range and high end cards, the SeismicEdge and AcousticEdge respectively, support six speakers, for proper 5.1 playback, or if you only have two speakers, will simulate it, even from a stereo source.

Philips says that the AcousticEdge can handle data from any digital source, so music from a CD, routed through a PC, will be surround sound.

Which leaves us with the speakers. There are two new product lines: Compact Surround Power (A 2.600 and A2.500) and Acoustic Surround power (A3.500). These were rigged up at the press conference and produced a really decent sound, much as we hate to admit it. Pricing and availability are not yet public. ®

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