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Technology abounds in Auburn

New items offer ways to condense life
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Do you have techies in your family? Are you at a loss for what to get them this year? Auburn stores are selling a variety of the hottest new high-technology items for the gadget lover in your life. The iPad is one of Apple’s newest inventions, and it’s the perfect gift for someone looking to condense his or her life into a 1.6-pound, 9.7-diagonal-inch piece of equipment. “It’s like a computer, digital picture frame and iPod all in one,” said Sam Chiaratti, an Auburn Best Buy sales representative. Joana Brush, a Best Buy customer relations manager, said with a variety of applications purchased through an application store, those who own an iPad can even control things in their homes, such as heating, air conditioning and a home entertainment center. Brush said the iPad has a ten-hour battery life and ranges in price from $499 to $830. Chiaratti said she loves having Internet wherever she goes, because she can get work done no matter where she is. “I love being able to take, for instance, homework on the road with me,” she said. Brush said the iPad can also be used to access e-mail, play games and watch movies, and one-touch buttons bring different programs to life immediately on the screen. Reading books and other materials is also a possibility. “A lot of people actually have liked that they can get the newspaper on there,” Chiaratti said. For those who don’t want to type using the keys on the screen, Chiaratti said users could purchase a separate keyboard, a stand and various other accessories. Nevada City resident Helene Hall, who was looking at the iPad Friday, said it looks like the perfect thing for her. “I really want something that I can do some computer work (on), (see) photos and (read) books (on),” Hall said. “When we traveled recently I really missed not having my computer with me. Plus, it’s something my husband and I can use together.” The Vizio 55-inch LED 1080P TV is akin to a mini movie theater that also lets you access the Internet. Kevin Berni, a sales representative at the Auburn Target, said LED technology allows for a much more colorful screen than standard televisions. “The LED makes it so the colors are a lot brighter,” Berni said. The TV also makes a home entertainment sound system unnecessary, Berni said. “This one is really cool, because it’s got two sound bars on the side and a subwoofer on the back … so you don’t have to buy a sound system,” he said. The TV also has wireless Internet capabilities, and users can check Facebook, e-mail, the weather and more, Berni said. The TV’s remote includes a slide-out keyboard to be used when browsing the Internet. The TV is 91 pounds with its stand, costs $1,449 at Target and should last for 25 years, Berni said. Berni said the TV screen also has a picture-in-picture feature, and the screen can be divided into four mini screens, so someone surfing the Internet can watch their favorite shows at the same time. Berni said this TV is really an attempt to combine several different pieces of technology into one. “It works a lot like a mobile phone would,” he said. “It’s the center for everything in your house.” The size of the screen is definitely a benefit, Berni said. “That big of an LED screen is really good quality for watching sports or playing video games,” he said. The Samsung Fascinate cell phone is another wildly popular item this year, according to Michelle Abbott, store manager for Verizon Wireless on Elm Avenue. The phone has a four-inch LED touch-screen, and 18 gigabytes of memory, Abbott said. The phone allows you to do almost anything you could on a computer, and includes an application store with 80,000 applications, 90 percent of which are free, Abbott said. The variety of applications include baking guides, trail guides, a map of constellations and even a barcode scanner that instantly tells you the price of any items you scan. “It’s great for holiday shopping,” Abbott said. Abbott said customers seem to be very happy with the phone so far. “Everybody wants that phone,” she said. “It’s a mini computer in your hand. It even has a speech-to-text (feature), so you can tell it what to type.” The phone costs $199 with a two-year Verizon contract and a rebate. Skype lovers can also use the program on the phone, but it doesn’t allow for live Skype video. Abbott said with the way technology is going, she expects Skype video to be a standard feature in the near future. “I’m pretty sure it will be coming soon,” she said. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com