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Skullcandy links iPod to phone to ears

Uninterrupted listening; a revolutionary notebook dock; and new HP consumer systems

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Bizarrely named Skullcandy has launched Link, a headphone set with a standard 2.5mm jack - handy for your iPod or Discman - and a cellphone connector so you can listen to music, and make and take calls all at the same time. Skullcandy supports Nokia, Samsung and Ericsson connector formats, plus a standard 2.5mm jack, for the phone connection. The rig contains a microphone/phone control/music volume control pod, and is available with over-the-ear clip-on phones, or earbuds. Both versions cost $29.95.

LINK is available in the US now. Skullcandy is in the process of signing a UK distributor and expects shipments to start in around a month's time. In the meantime it is halving the price of shipment to the UK to $22.50, the company tells us.

Sherpaq Mobile Products will begin shipping its

Oyster notebook dock



next week. Oyster is designed to allow notebook owners to use their machines as comfortably as using a desktop PC.

Open your notebook out flat, then slot the keyboard end into Oyster. The computer is held securely and its display is positioned at eye-level rather than chest level - a boon for spinal columns everywhere.

The slot into which the notebook fits is 1.5in wide, enough to accommodate most modern laptops. Though Sherpaq notes that Apple's current iBook design, and the 12in and 17in PowerBook G4s are not fully compatible with Oyster.

Oyster features a built-in USB hub through which you can easily hook up peripherals and a full-size keyboard and mouse. It will be available in grey, black and white, and costs $199, though Amazon is currently charging $179. Oyster is not yet available outside North America, and for some odd reason Amazon won't ship it overseas.

HP has announced a series of digital lifestyle notebooks, the Pavilion ze5300 family, all equipped with rewriteable DVD+R/+RW drives. Each supports direct recording on DVD from a digital camera source.

The notebooks are build-to-order products, offering a range of desktop Pentium 4 and Celeron processors, memory, hard drive (up to 80GB) and screen size options. All models come with three USB 2.0 ports, but buyers can choose a 1394 port too. The family uses ATI's Mobility Radeon graphics chip. Integrated 802.11b is a further option.

Prices vary according to configuration, but a ze5300 with a 2.66GHz P4, 512MB RAM, 40GB hard drive, 802.11b integrated wireless, DVD+R/+RW optical drive, 15in SXGA+ display but no floppy drive is $1825.


HP is offering desktop equivalents of the ze5300 notebook series (see above): the Pavilion 505n, 515n, 725n and 735n. All feature CD-RW drives, with the 515 and 725 adding DVD-ROM, and the 735 sporting a DVD+RW/CD-RW combo drive.

Base RAM increases as you go through the range, from 256MB to 512MB. Hard drive capacities start at 60GB for the 505; all the other machines have 80GB drives. The 5x5 PCs have Celeron CPUs, 2.2 and 2.3GHz, respectively. The 7x5s are powered by Athlon XPs with performance ratings of 2400+ and 2600+, respectively. The 725 and 735 ship with Nvidia GeForce 4 MX graphics cards, each with 64MB of video RAM. The 505 and 515 offer integrated Intel Extreme graphics.

Each machine contains a 56Kbps modem, 10/100 Ethernet port, and front and rear-facing USB 2.0 ports. The 735 also features a six-in-one media card reader, and front and rear-access 1394 ports.

HP is asking around $519 for the 505, $599 for the 515, $699 for the 725 and $899 for the 735. The 5x5 boxes will become available in the US on 6 April; the 7x5 Pavilions on 13 April. ®

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