Digital picture frame allows variety of art, personal...

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April 03, 2000|By Knight Ridder/Tribune

Digital picture frame allows variety of art, personal touches

When Bill Gates was building his multi-gazillion-dollar high-tech dream house (for a guy who allegedly doesn't know how to program his VCR), one feature that got a lot of media attention was the proliferation of digital picture frames. Giant LCD screens throughout the house display art that can change to suit the mood of the rooms' occupants.

You can have a modest slice of this technology with the Ceiva digital picture frame ($249, plus $3 a month for a dial-up connection).

The device looks like a traditional 5-by-7-inch wooden picture frame, but appearances are deceiving. This frame has a built-in microprocessor, a power supply, a modem and a 640-by-480-pixel liquid crystal display. Set it on your desk, plug in the power cord and phone cable. With the touch of a single button, your frame logs onto the Internet to download images you've posted on Ceiva's Web site.

To load pictures into the frame, you can upload them to Ceiva's Web site with your computer or give your password to family and friends so they can send their photos. The frame stores up to 10 images; your online albums can contain 250 photos.

With full-blown PCs available for less than $500 and Internet "appliances" for under $100, the Ceiva may seem pricey. But it would make a fantastic gift for a newbie relative who wants to get in on some of the Internet action (but not too much). Executives might like it as a prestige item, and I can imagine a long-distance romance being enlivened by a little inspirational photography.

Part of the fun of the Ceiva is not knowing what family and friends might load into it. You can get creative, too, sending your artwork, digital greeting cards, and even messages saved as graphic imagess ("Hey Mom, Dad. How are you? Please send money.")

Information: 310-887-6799 or www.ceiva.com.

- Gareth Branwyn

I2Go's eGo MP3 player is designed to go with you

I2Go takes a different road with its eGo, an MP3 player designed to tag along.

Looking like a radar detector, the $349 eGo comes with visor and windshield mounting brackets, a car power adapter and a cassette player adapter. Motorists with cassette players can pop in the adapter and enjoy music recorded in the MP3 format through their vehicle speakers.

Pedestrians, and drivers wiithout cassette players, can listen to the eGo through the included earphones or the built-in speaker.

The sizable control buttons are on the top of the player, making volume and track selection convenient. Song and setting information scrolls across a bright red LCD along an edge.

The eGo has a Universal Serial Bus port for connecting to a PC running Windows 98. Connection to a PC with Windows 95 or NT is possible with an optional $29.95 Compact Flash card reader.

Once connected, included management software provides the interface for organizing and downloading digital audio files to the 96-megabyte Compact Flash II memory card, which holds about two hours of music. Another feature that sets the eGo apart is a port for a second memory card.

As an earnest attempt to expand eGo's usefulness, the company includes text-to-speech software for converting e-mail and other text files into audio that can be downloaded to the player. Audio can be recorded into the eGo and uploaded to a PC as well.

The eGo's unique mix of capabilities and expandability make it worth more than a look.

Information, www.i2go.com or 888-388-4246.

- Jeremy Van Zee,

For information on and reviews of the latest gadgets and software, visit www.streettech.com.

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