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Another day, another gadget buffet

Cool VoIP and PSP apps and gadgets galore

CES Certified gadget obsessives Tech Digest and Shiny Shiny scour Gizmoville for the oddest digital goodies

TV to go on your PSP coming to UK

Sony’s CES presentation might have been high on gloss and short on content, but it did deliver some wonderful news for British PSP owners. Location Free TV – a very cool application for the handheld – is coming to the UK later in the year. Launched in the US in late 2005, Location Free TV enables PSP owners to watch remotely via Wi-Fi regardless of what is showing on their home TV. The system consists of a decoder box – which sells in the US for $350 – that plugs into any video device and a broadband connection.

The box then takes the video output and streams it over the web to the PSP. So, you can hook it up to your Sky box and wirelessly stream a live football game across continents, if you wish. Sounds like another very cool reason to invest in a PSP.

VoIP from any phone any time

eBay may have shelled out a an awful lot of money for Skype, but if CES is anything to go by it was cash very well invested. VoIP is everywhere, and Skype is making deals with everyone. One really cool new gadget which may help to edge VoIP even closer to the mainstream is the VoSKY Call Center from Actiontec. Its big advantage over traditional Skype systems is that you don’t have to be anywhere near a PC to use it. In fact, you can use it to make free Skype calls remotely from any phone, including your mobile.

The system revolves around a small device, the Call Center, which you connect to your PC and your phone jack. You can then use any phone anywhere (you don’t need Wi-Fi) to access the Call Center and make free Skype calls. It also has a facility to forward Skype calls to any number. So, in theory, you could receive Skype calls on your mobile. It sounds like a real innovation to us and we are further cheered by its cheapo price of just $69.95. Given that Actiontec has a reasonable presence in the UK, here’s hoping we get it soon.

Media management for kids

In the good old days, once Top Of The Pops was over your mum simply switched off the TV and sent you to bed. Now, however, kids need a Media Time Management System to ensure they don’t go all square eyed. The brainchild of a US start-up called Hopscotch Technology, the system revolves around a small box called B.O.B that is designed to limit the amount of time kids spend watching TV or playing computer games.

The box allows parents to set a certain amount of time per week and, once their kids have reached that limit, it switches the set off. It works with a PIN system and parents can limit the viewing time by the day or the week. Anyway, the company is rolling the device out in the spring in the US. No news on a UK launch yet.

JVC adds new hard disk cams

As expected, JVC is adding to its line-up of Everio hard disk-based camcorders. At CES it has announced four new models: a pair of 20 Gigabyte cams, the GZ-MG21 and GZ-MG27, and two 30 Gigabyte models, the GZ-MG37 and GZ-MG77. The big innovation for this year is that all the camcorders can be teamed up with a DVD burner for direct footage transfer, even if the owner doesn’t have a PC. JVC has also upped the transfer speed.

The top-end GZ-MG77 has a 1.9inch 2.3 mega pixel CDD, a 10x optical zoom lens and a 2.7inch monitor. The other three models have lower resolution 680k CCDs, but offer a more powerful 32x optical zoom. The 30 gig models can house between seven-37 hours of video storage with the 20 Giggers having 4.5-25 hours. All four models will be available in the US in February/March. There is, however, no sign of the promised HD-compatible Everio. Maybe that’ll follow later in the year. Sony also announced its first hard-disk cam at the show.

802.11g Wi-fi phone

Wi-fi is a pretty standard feature on smartphones these days, but the HyFi-110G from WNC has a couple of key advantages over its rivals. Firstly, the clamshell-design handset is pretty small for a Wi-Fi-endowed phone – think Sharp/Toshiba-style mobiles. Secondly, it is the first mobile we are aware of to feature the faster version of Wi-Fi, 802.11g. This makes it particularly nifty for video streaming or transferring files over a home network. It could also find a niche in streaming IPTV (TV via the web). The phone – which is due in the first half of 2006 – also features email, voice recording and a USB charger. Talk time is three hours while the battery lasts 70 hours on standby.

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