ISSUE 600: Currentz- Apr 24 2001

by Alan Zisman 
April 24, 2001
Gear Guide 

Technology that keeps pace 

Lyra and Eurocom, where portable and power meet 

It seems with today's fast-paced lifestyle, technology that comes with a 'you-can-take-it-with-you' style, is going to go places. 

Music while you jog 

RCA-Thompson's Lyra 2 is a second-generation portable MP3 player. Sleekly styled and very pocket-sized, it comes with a 64-MB Compact Flash memory card, allowing it to store about an hour's worth of MP3 or Windows Media Audio (WMA) files in near CD quality. Also in the package is a Compact Flash drive; this connects to a (PC or Mac) computer's USB port, for faster file downloads. (It took me about 10 minutes to shoot an hour's worth of music to the CF card.) 

The Lyra 2 also includes an FM radio tuner and comes with a car kit with power and cassette adapters. Like other products in its category, its skipless music playback makes it beloved by joggers and bike riders. And because it stores its music on a replaceable memory card rather than internally, in theory, users could own multiple memory cards. But with 64-MB CF cards selling locally for $170 each, how many will you buy? Similarly, priced at $429, the full-featured Lyra 2 isn't on my shopping list. 

Taking it with you 

While sales of standard, desktop-styled computers are stagnant, sales of notebook computers continue to grow. Canadian company Eurocom ( sells notebooks designed as "desktop replacements." While heavier than some other models, these offer the performance of a desktop model, along with the features that some other notebooks skimp on. 

While their Eurocom 2700-C models start at $2,299, the price of my loaner was pushed up to $3,614 by its 1-GHz processor, 128-MB memory, DVD drive and more. It included an ample 14" TFT screen. The company's higher-priced 8500-V models feature a luxurious 15" screen. Both models include dual-USB ports, a Firewire port and built-in modem and Ethernet networking. I was surprised, however, that this otherwise full-featured notebook left out an old-fashioned serial port. Palm users or users of older digital cameras would have to get a USB-serial adapter to work with this notebook. 

But it sure was fast! For comparison, on my current workhorse, a 300-MHz Pentium notebook, Adobe Photoshop 6 takes 60 seconds to load. On the Eurocom, Photoshop flashed onto the screen, ready to work, in 10 seconds. 

Oh-so-nice stereo sound along with the DVD drive, makes it a fine, portable entertainment unit for movie disks or MP3 music files. Or get the CD-R drive and use it with the built-in Firewire input for digital video production.

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Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan