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Sony's ambitious HD PC

Plus bionic ears

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It is a real sign of the times that you get a press release about a new PC and its first sentence bangs on about HD. But then again, this is Sony, a company that is staking an awful lot on HD, so perhaps it shouldn't be too surprising. The PC in question is the latest in its series of high-end desktops, the £1300 VGC-R202. Sony is grooming it to be a HD-compatible video server and HD-friendly video editing suite. Ambitious stuff.

Sony RC200 PC

The basic HD story is that the PC supports full 1980 x 1080 HD resolution, which it can output to any HD Ready display device. On the server front, it comes with a Sony Network Media Receiver 200 (VGP-MR200E), which the company claims is capable of streaming HD content to HD TVs elsewhere in the home. Of course, there's not a great deal of HD stuff on the web at the moment - try here - but you can bet there will be an explosion in movie trailers and more this year. As for its video editing capabilities, the PC apparently supports both the DSD Audio and HD Video standards and naturally is a good fit for Sony's HD camcorder, the HDR-HC1.

The VGC-RC202 uses the 2.8GHz Pentium D 920 processor, has a 256MB Nvidia GeForce 6600 graphics chip and features an on-board Super Audio CD (SACD) player. Even though it has twin hard disks offering up to 600GB of storage, it only has a DVD drive. The obvious omission is a Blu-ray recorder, though Sony will remedy this by offering it on a PC that will debut in April.

Scientists create Bionic Ear

I might be wrong, but the Bionic Man didn't have a bionic ear, that was saved for tennis pro turned Bionic Woman Jaime Sommers, who had amplified hearing from a real-looking ear. Well, 30 years on, the bionic ear is reality, and while it may not give you super hearing, it will certainly improve it. Developers Phonak have studied the way the brain and ear interact and how the inner ear processes sounds, then replicated the process using a tiny chip as powerful as a Pentium processor, packing everything into a 25mm device known as the microSavia, that is effectively invisible when worn, especially if you pick a colour that matches your hair! With research showing that most people who need a hearing aid refuse one due to the stigma of the device, the bionic ear should be welcome relief for many. Let's hope the other bionic bits follow soon!

AIBO goes walkies on eBay

There comes a sad time in every dog owner's life when they have to take their pet pooch on a one-way trip to the vet. Yes, when your dog has had its day, it's time for the little fella to be put to sleep in as humane a way as possible. Which, in a sense, is what Sony has done for its AIBO robot dog. Yes, the company has scrapped the four-legged bot in order to concentrate on, well, products that will actually make a profit. Funny, that. Needless to say, the AIBO-owning community aren't too happy - although we wonder whether that'll change when they realise how much they can make from flogging their best robo-friend on eBay. At the time of writing, there's just 46 AIBO auctions on the site, but bidding is fierce enough to make us think this'll change in the near future. God bless AIBO - he came, he conquered, and he never pooed on the floor...

Certified gadget obsessives Tech Digest and Shiny Shiny scour Gizmoville for the oddest digital goodies, TV Scoop features all that's cool in British telly, Propellerhead answers your PC queries, and Scrumbag will keep Rugby Union fan happy for hours.

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