Digital Gear: So Portable, It's Disposable

The watchword is portability for this month's parade of digital gadgets. New are a slim TV, a headset that makes a mobile phone audible in even the noisiest crowd, disposable digital cameras for shutterbugs on the go, and a versatile flash card burner that handles functions that previously required several devices.

Ah, yes, and a personal hygiene product for the most fastidious travelers...but read on.

Disposable Digital Cameras

A pair of new disposal digicams are now available from retail chain CVS.

The CVS Digital One-Time-Use Camera With Picture Preview, developed by San Francisco-based Pure Digital Technologies, has a flash and a 1.4-inch LCD screen. The screen has three buttons: On/Off; Display, which shows the most recent picture; and Delete, which erases the displayed picture (you can delete only the picture most recently taken). This $20 camera can store 25 pictures.

CVS Digital One-Time-Use Camera

The second disposable digital camera, the $10 CVS Digital One-Time-Use Camera, lets you delete the latest picture, but it lacks an LCD screen for previews--so you'll have to go on your instincts in deciding what to delete.

To get your pictures, you return the camera to CVS for processing; the photos come back as 4-by-6-inch prints and on a photo CD.

CVS follows rival Ritz Camera into the disposable digicam business, but early disposables did not have a screen to view shots.

CVS's new digital cameras are very basic; they are not intended for people who care about aperture, shutter speed, or digital zoom. Nevertheless, either model could be great to take places you don't want to take an expensive digicam, such as when going rafting. If the prices come down a bit, disposable digital cameras could become as popular as their film-based counterparts.

Shred That Disc

DS360 Disc Shredder

Are the copyright cops pounding on your door? Quick, put that pirated CD or DVD into Primera Technology's DS360 Disc Shredder, which shreds optical media into thousands of small pieces so it can never be read. (This device might be for use on the run, rather than on the go).

Disc Shredder's developer says the product's creation was inspired by the fact that identity theft is becoming rampant. The product's top-feeding slot can shred up to 12 discs per minute; and it can shred credit cards and paper as well. It shreds up to seven sheets of folded paper in a single pass. The shredder costs $130 and can be purchased online directly from Primera.

Versatile Media Player

Kanguru Slim FC-RW

The Kanguru Solutions Slim FC-RW is a handy device, performing jobs that usually require a slew of products.

The Slim FC-RW's primary function is to copy content from a media card directly to a CD without requiring a computer. When connected to a TV via the S-Video output, it becomes a stand-alone DVD player and slide show player for images or movies stored on media cards. When connected to a computer through a USB 2.0 port, it can be a 24X CD-RW drive, an 8X DVD-ROM drive, or a media card reader. At 2 pounds in weight, it is relatively portable. Its media card reader handles eight different media types.

For high-capacity flash cards, which can hold more than 1GB of data, the device's disc-spanning capability lets you spread that data across multiple CDs (CDs top out at 700MB). Alternately, it can burn content of multiple lower-capacity flash cards to one CD.

The $200 battery-powered device comes with a remote control and is compatible with Windows and Mac OS X. It is available directly from Kanguru. Future versions of the Slim FC-RW may include a DVD-RW drive as well, according to a company spokesperson.

Jawbone: Cell-Phone Helper

Aliph Jawbone headset

People who talk on cell phones in noisy spots might want to take a look at Aliph's Jawbone headset, which cancels background noise.

In a simulated demonstration, it eliminated heavy background noises from a call made in an airport. The before-and-after difference was remarkable: The background noise of the airport public-announcement system and people talking was gone. The only sound that remained was the voice of the speaker on the mobile phone.

The Jawbone includes cheek-hugging voice activity sensors and two microphones to identify when and what a person is saying. The software eliminates any unwanted outgoing and incoming background noises. The technology in the headset was originally developed for the U.S. military and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, says Patrick McVeigh, Aliph chair and CEO. The headset works with most phones from Nokia, Motorola, and Sony Ericsson, McVeigh says.

An adapter connects the cell phone to the headset, which rests on your ear and your face. Because of this, its style, design, and comfort matter a great deal, McVeigh says.

With a steel finish, Jawbone is "aesthetically pleasing," says Hosain Rahman, founder of Aliph, adding that it has won design awards and was on display at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The $150 headset began shipping in September directly from Aliph, which plans to make it available at stores in the future.

Tune in to the Food Network

ViewSonic N1300

With its deep colors and excellent audio capabilities, the 13-inch ViewSonic N1300 LCD TV ($399) may be a welcome addition to the kitchen counter.

This sleek TV--which is compact enough to be mounted on a wall or tucked into a small space--allows viewing from different angles, and its image is sharp and clear. Although it's slightly bulky, the small size makes it very portable.

Strictly a TV, the N1300 does not have PC display inputs. However, it does have S-Video, composite, and cable inputs for DVDs, games, or camcorders. The TV has 5-watt speakers, and its display provides a 500:1 contrast ratio. It can be purchased from retailers or directly from ViewSonic.

Sterilize That Toothbrush

We all know that dirty toothbrushes can breed bacteria and viruses--and now there's a high-tech solution. For the quirky product of the month, check out the Discovery UV & Ozone Toothbrush Purifier, a toothbrush holder with a lamp that sterilizes toothbrushes.

The device generates and streams ozone and ultraviolet rays to destroy viruses and bacteria. Dentists would smile at this cool $20 device, available directly from Discovery Communications.

Agam Shah is an editor with the IDG News Service, based in San Francisco. Questions or comments? Write to Agam Shah.

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