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Technology from other planets

According to urban legend, aliens crash-landed in the desert outside Roswell, N.M., and their remains are hidden in the Air Force’s Hangar 18. Inside Alienware’s Hangar 18, however, you will find only high-end PC components and high-definition video playback systems.

It supports video playback at up to 1080p resolution, and in its least expensive configuration, which costs $1,999, the PC has a 250-gigabyte hard drive.

The standard version comes with two video tuners, one for digital HD content and one for analog broadcast. The Hangar 18 can handle up to four tuners and record up to four channels at once.

— John Biggs/New York Times

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Updating maps on the spot

Out-of-date maps can throw a wrench into your driving plans, but TomTom’s new Map Share software combines cartography with community to allow users to update maps on the go — and later share the results with others.

For example, a driver who comes across a closed road or detour can enter changes to the route on the TomTom navigation device’s screen right there.

The new TomTom GO 720 GPS receiver, shown here, will be available by the end of next month.

— J.D Biersdorfer/New York Times

Looks can be deceiving

Apple rarely makes sweeping changes to its product line, which is why its new MacBook Pro laptops look identical to older models. But the innards offer improved wireless networking and processing speed.

The 17-inch model, shown here, now includes a 2.4-gigahertz Intel Core 2 Duo processor along with up to 4 gigabytes of RAM.

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The standard 17-inch model with 160-gigabyte hard drive and DVD burner costs $2,799 at Apple’s online store.

— John Biggs/New York Times

A phone for the sly

The Ipevo Free.2 phone is slim, sleek and potentially sneaky. The phone, which makes calls over the Internet, can record your calls and save them on the hard drive of your computer.

The phone, $45 at www.ipevo.com, has other features that are equally neat, though less sly. Recordings made with the phone can be saved in MP3 and other formats, although the record feature currently works only with a PC using Windows XP or higher. The phone features work with PC or Macintosh, provided your Mac has OS X 10.4 or higher.

Of course, secretly recording calls is illegal in many states, which the Free.2 addresses by posting a warning on the screen of the other person’s computer.

— Roy Furchgott/New York Times

An economical, versatile Canon

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Canon’s 8-megapixel S5 IS, which just went on sale, is considered a bridge camera — crossing the gap between a pocket point-and-shoot and heftier single-lens reflex models, known as DSLRs. Those high-end cameras have interchangeable lenses, which can be costly and hard to change without dirt finding its way to the charged image sensor. The resulting spots on images can be a real problem.

The S5 IS’s all-purpose lens has a big zoom range — 12X optical, allowing it to go from a wide 36 millimeters to an extremely long telephoto length, 432 millimeters, and with image stabilization to minimize shake. The camera, available from major retailers for $499, uses AA batteries that can be throwaways or rechargeable, making it attractive for on-the-road use.

— Marty Katz/New York Times

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