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Watch that phone!

Watch that phone!
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First Published: Tue, Aug 04 2009. 08 21 PM IST

Updated: Tue, Aug 04 2009. 08 21 PM IST
The problem with a hand-held mobile phone is that in most situations, you require your hand to hold the phone while you stare at its screen to check for a call or message. Sounds simple enough until the phone rings in your pocket as your two hands tenaciously grip large shopping bags and you’re wondering how to reach for your wallet in the other pocket. Or, maybe your hands are on the steering wheel and all you wish to know is who’s calling. Maybe your hands are free, but your eyes and ears aren’t. You’re in an important meeting with your boss or a client, who may consider it rather rude of you to stop in mid-sentence to answer the phone.
Indeed, mobile phones often cause an unwelcome interruption and intrusion at, say, a fancy restaurant or a solemn occasion. My new favourite pastime is to spot a bride, a groom, one of their parents or even the holy priest yanking out a cellphone right in the middle of a wedding ritual.
The device wears Prada
The solution is a Bluetooth wristwatch. You don’t start talking to the timepiece that adorns your wrist, you just discreetly glance at the caller id or the SMS transmitted over Bluetooth from the mobile phone in your pocket to your wristwatch that responds with a vibration alert. Very, very stylish. Answering the call, though, is still old fashioned: You have to pull the phone out of your pocket.
But here comes the next fashion statement: The device wears Prada. Well, actually, the watch is designed by Prada, and the accompanying mobile phone is designed by LG for Prada. The phone model is thus called the Prada LG KF900. The stainless steel watch serves as an optional accessory to the KF900 and is called the Prada Link.
The watch displays world time, sports a stylish leather strap and has a sleek organic LED display on its dial. It can emit a sound as well to indicate a call or even an alarm on your mobile phone, but does not handle voice communication. The battery is slated to last about 48 hours. An attachment to the charger of the mobile phone helps recharge the wristwatch. Discover more about the phone and the watch at www.pradaphonebylg.com .
Singing away the blues
What if you wanted some more technology and features in a Bluetooth wristwatch? Head over to Sony Ericsson, which is also spearheading this new lifestyle of making a loud fashion statement by staying digitally discreet. The manufacturer offers five variations over two models of wristwatches: the MBW-150 and the MBW-200. The watches are compatible with a range of Sony Ericsson mobile phones and other brands of phones based on the Symbian OS. However, do check for exact compatibilities and supported features for each phone model.
The most reassuring feature of the Sony Ericsson wristwatch is that it vibrates to indicate you’ve stepped at least 10m away from your paired mobile phone. That’s just perfect for folks who tend to lose or misplace their phones. The watch can also display music track info, as well as control the playback of music on your phone. If you’re wearing wired headphones, or even better, a stereo Bluetooth headset, the watch controls music playback so you can safely keep your phone tucked away. With the headset, that’s three devices working in sync over Bluetooth for your personal pleasure. Just the analogue watch can run on the battery for 14 days. As expected, constant Bluetooth use may require a recharge within seven days.
An entry-level watch that only displays the caller id and an SMS alert is made by a third manufacturer called Abacus watches ( www.abacuswatches.com ). Check the website for online stores and pricing. You may also find many Chinese-branded watches through a search on the Web.
Wide blue yonder
If you’re a geek or a computer hacker, you can go far beyond the shipped features. Nothing stops you then from using the Prada Link with almost any other phone brand and model you’ve got, which is pretty neat. Ditto for all the other watch models. Even more impressively, you can hack the watch to display incoming e-mails and instant messages from chat software. One plug-in also allows you to stream your stocks and investments live, and hackers are experimenting with providing GPS data on the watch. All this thanks to a software called smartWatchM. For more details, visit http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=362218 .
So far, smartWatchM only works with Windows Media phones, while Sony Ericsson’s software offers some limited compatibility with other Symbian phones.
I am sure some of you might want to know whether complete mobile phones-on-a-watch exist? Yes, they do. In fact, many of them, but pairing a watch with a mobile phone over Bluetooth creates a unique and personal paradigm in today’s digital lifestyle.
Control your computer with a Bluetooth watch
The Bluetooth watch started life as an accessory to the mobile phone, but a new software called OpenWatch may just change the rules of the game. This software installs on either Windows XP or Vista, and adds support for Sony Ericsson watches. Your watch can then control a host of features, including PowerPoint slide presentations, as well as WinAmp or other media players, to name a few. OpenWatch is currently under beta, and version 0.1 just got released, so expect a lot of bugs and limitations while it develops. Best of all, it’s free.
CONNECT
‘Intelligent’ CCTVs
Industrial scientists in the US are in the final stages of plans to market a new generation of “intelligent” CCTVs, which can spot violent gestures or suspicious movements. “Active awareness” systems can detect any kind of unusual activity, including someone raising their hand suddenly, running along a street or taking an unusual route around a car park. According to David Brown, a scientist at Portsmouth University involved in the “smart” project, future versions will be able to recognize sounds such as screaming or glass breaking and could integrate face-recognition software to pick known criminals out of crowds.
©2009/THE NEW YORK TIMES
Blu-ray Disc MegaChanger
Blame (or thank) Sony for continuing to evolve the “movie jukebox”, a concept with its roots in the 45-rpm single, which moved on in miniature to devices such as the iPod classic and is now arriving as the Blu-ray Disc MegaChanger. The two models, with prices starting at $800 for the base BDP-CX960 model, store and play up to 400 Blu-rays (or a combination of Blu-ray discs, conventional DVDs and CDs). The BDP-CX960 can be cabled via Ethernet to download movie mega-data for most titles from Gracenote and display it through the players’ menus.
©2009/THE NEW YORK TIMES
New-age digital cameras
Panasonic has unwrapped three new digital cameras that feature fast auto-focus and speedy power-on times, improved optical image stabilization and new lenses from Panasonic’s photography partner, Leica. The $400 Lumix DMC-FZ35, the $280 Lumix DMC-ZR1, and the $300 Lumix DMC-FP8 all offer 12-megapixel resolution and new Power OIS optical image stabilization that Panasonic says is twice as effective as existing Panasonic technology. All can auto-focus in 0.3 seconds. Power-on capabilities are equally snappy, says Panasonic.
©2009/THE NEW YORK TIMES
Preserving your photographs
If you are printing pictures as long-term keepsakes, make sure you are using inks and papers designated as “archival quality” by the manufacturer. Although archival quality printer supplies may be more expensive, they use special coatings and chemicals designed to resist fading. There are other steps you can take to help preserve them better. If possible, keep framed photos out of direct sunlight or put them behind glass that blocks ultraviolet light. If you are storing photos in albums, look for album pages that use lignin- and acid-free paper.
©2009/THE NEW YORK TIMES
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First Published: Tue, Aug 04 2009. 08 21 PM IST