Gear: Tune In, Tune Out
Crave escapism? Try curling up with a miniature library. About the size of a small paperback, Sony's (NYSE:SNE) Portable Reader holds roughly 80 books, which you can download from a catalog of more than 11,000 titles online. The prices for new books are typically the same as for their hardcover counterparts, but you can find deep discounts on older titles. The six-inch display uses a technology called E Ink, which looks uncannily like real paper. The device is easily readable in sunlight and doesn't employ a backlight (back-lighting can cause eyestrain). There are also handy zoom controls to magnify the text. Thanks to the low-power screen, the battery can last through 7,500 continuous page turns.
Videos Ready to Go
Don't feel like squinting at a 2.5-inch screen for that marathon of The Office? Dock your video iPod (NASDAQ:AAPL) in the DCP850 portable DVD player from Philips (NYSE:PHG). Its crisp 8.5-inch display offers excellent color saturation and contrast, and the screen swivels to help you find the best viewing angle. The DCP850 can play your Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) rentals as well as homemade movies that you've burned onto a DVD. And it has an SD memory card slot for viewing photos and DivX movies that you've downloaded from the Web. The device also comes with a remote control and cranks out Dolby Digital sound. One drawback for those who take long trips: You get only two and a half hours of playback on a charge.
The most powerful active noise-canceling headphones yet, Sennheiser's PXC 450 will make sure those droning jet engines and crying babies don't find their way onto your soundtrack. Sennheiser claims the PXC 450 can block up to 90 percent of ambient noise using its NoiseGard 2.0 technology, originally developed for pilots. At the same time, the headphones deliver natural, vibrant audio quality. Use the built-in TalkThrough function to order a drink from the flight attendant without having to scream above your tunes (or--heaven forbid--take off your headphones). The PXC 450 one-ups Bose by building in volume controls and letting you listen to your movies and music even after the two AAA batteries, which power the noise cancellation, run down.
I'm Watching Heroes, Call Back Later
Until now, watching TV on a cell phone has been pretty lame, with the experience largely limited to viewing short clips that take a long time to start streaming. The LG VX9400, one of the first phones designed to work with the new Verizon (NYSE:VZ) Wireless V CAST television network, is a leap forward. Press the dedicated TV button and broadcast-quality video starts playing in seconds. Channel changing is even faster. Watch full-length programs from Comedy Central, Fox, MTV, NBC, ESPN, and others on the 2.2-inch screen, which rotates 90 degrees for widescreen mode. The service streams video at the same time it's being broadcast on television, so if you take a call, you can't pick up where you left off. Best to wait for a commercial.
Between $150 and $300; verizonwireless.com
Now Hear This
Motorola's (NYSE:MOT) S9 headphones weigh less than an ounce--they're lighter than a pair of sunglasses. They rest behind your neck and connect wirelessly to cell phones like the LG VX9400 via stereo Bluetooth, so you can listen to TV shows, tunes, and conversations without being tethered. You can change music tracks as well as adjust the volume and make calls using the built-in controls and microphone. Expect up to eight hours of talk time on a charge. And, if you wind up using these headphones on a jog--or watching an especially stressful episode of 24--you'll be glad to know they're sweat resistant.
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