CES 2006: Picks and Pans

Two Times Two: You have to hand it to NVidia in upping the ante on its SLI dual graphics card technology. Its new Quad SLI solution, as seen in Dell's snazzy XPS 600 Renegade PC, uses two 1GB graphics boards, each with two graphics processors. Cheekily, each card actually consists of two circuit boards that are connected with a video bridge and some screws. Quad SLI should become available more widely this spring and will allow gamers to play supported titles with smooth frame rates at high definition resolutions up to 2560 by 1600. --Danny Allen

Cutting the Cord: ViewSonic's super compact VJ106D projector may not see the light of day until later this year, but its size, battery operation, and widescreen aspect ratio support size drew quite a bit of attention during CES. No wall shall go unprojected, no matter where you are! --Danny Allen

Why Bother With Wireless?: Marantz' ZR6001SP is a great take on a networking idea that's been around awhile: using a home's existing wiring to distribute music around the house. The system consists of two parts: the ZR6001 Audio/Video receiver, and the ZC4001 Client, a self-powered all-in-one box that includes two stereo speakers. Great idea, and no flaky wireless streaming issues to deal with. The system will be out in the spring and cost about $1300. --Ramon G. McLeod

Paperback Ridder?:Sony's Reader, while pricey, certainly represents a quantum leap in electronic book design. I especially like it for its enlargeable fonts (a boon for my mom) and for getting rid of glare (a boon for me, when I read in bed and my husband's asleep). But I'm not sure I'm as excited about the iTunes-esque distribution model. Will Sony Connect really carry all my favorite trashy romances and whodunnits? --Yardena Arar

But Seriously, Can It Do Cartwheels?: M-Audio, recently acquired by AVID, packs two studio condenser microphones, a two-channel mic preamp, all cables, and podcasting software into a box and calls it Podcast Factory Deluxe. The software can also record voice over IP (VoIP) phone interviews and do cartwheels (kidding on that last part). It costs $300 and will be available in February. --Narasu Rebbapragada

Why Do It Yourself When Someone Else Will Do It For You?: The "Do it For Me" award goes to RipDigital's conversion service. Send them 50 CDs and for about a buck each, they'll convert them into MP3s burned onto a DVD. --Steve Bass

It's a Monitor! It's a Tablet!: The Samsung SyncMaster 720TD tablet monitor comes with a pen-size stylus in a separate stand. To activate tablet mode, you press buttons on the stylus and the bezel. Then you can draw right on the screen. --Laura Blackwell

Wipeout: I'm tired of seeing inkjet printable media smudge. Imation's announcement of its forthcoming waterproof inkjet printable media is a welcome one. --Melissa J. Perenson

Stable, but Flexible: Ergotron's LX-Dual monitor stand can securely hold any two monitors that have the VESA FPMI mounting interface. It saves desktop space and feels sturdy. The fingertip-sensitive height adjustment responds readily--but once the adjustment is set, it stays put. --Laura Blackwell

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