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Technology reviews

By DAVE GUSSOW and JULES ALLEN

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 14, 2001


SonicLink

SYSTEM: Windows

MAKER: Voyetra Turtle Beach

PRICE: $99.95

Under the right conditions, SonicLink is a good wireless way to pipe music from your PC to your stereo elsewhere in the house.

But having too many wireless gadgets connected to your PC, as I do with a wireless network, keyboard and mouse, creates a problem: too much interference. It sounds more like a bad AM radio signal than crisp digital-quality music.

It's an easy system to set up in minutes: Connect a small base station to the serial port and the sending transmitter to the sound card on the PC, then connect the receiver to the stereo and install the software. Because the transmitter and the receiver look identical, you have to look closely to make sure you connect them correctly.

The AudioStation jukebox software installed easily and didn't take much time to learn. It can be programmed with up to 20 customized playlists, and it can be opened with a remote control included in the package.

After failing to get a clean signal on my system, I took SonicLink to a neighbor's house. This time, with no competing wireless devices other than cordless phones, the system worked flawlessly with the PC in a back room and the stereo about 30 feet away in the living room.

If you have an extensive MP3 collection, or simply want to create a playlist for a party or special occasion, this system can come in handy.

- DAVE GUSSOW, Times personal technology editor

Super Mini Optical Mouse

MAKER: Atek

PRICE: $49.95

There are two types of people in the world: those who can use the touchpads built into laptops and those who can't. Ditto for IBM ThinkPad-style pencil eraser pointers.

The Atek Super Mini Optical Mouse is designed with laptop users in mind, and it hits the mark for the most part. Being optical and true to its name, it has no moving parts and the pointer will move when it is used on just about any surface. It had some slight problems with the bald spot on my head, but it really does work on other odd surfaces.

Size is its greatest appeal: It's a mere 1-inch wide by 2.5 inches long. It weighs almost nothing. I tested it with a Windows 2000 laptop, and after briefly contemplating what I'd stuffed into the USB port, it started working like a charm without requesting additional drivers. The only downside I could find is that its size makes it a little bit too easy to move when trying to click a button. That goes away with practice.

If your computing environment includes airline tray tables or otherwise cramped environments, it has your name all over it.

- JULES ALLEN, Times correspondent

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