Your Technology Dec. 28, 1998

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A Boob Tube with Brains

Many tech companies would have you believe that heaven is a TV set-top box that lets you surf the Web and send e-mail from the couch. The TiVo box knows better. The new service, available in the next year from some cable operators, lets you pause, rewind or watch regular TV in slow motion--handy during a ball game or when the phone interrupts ER. TiVo will also store up to 20 hours of programming based on your viewing habits. One thing it won't do is skip commercials.

One Stop for Auction Buffs

Why waste time trolling all the online auction houses for a chance to acquire your next Beanie Baby, when a website will notify you via e-mail that the next pink bear is about to go on the block? In addition to this service, will simultaneously search listings at several auction sites to find sales of items you want and then link you right to them. Every major auction site, including OnSale and eBay, is covered. Now all you have to worry about is overbidding.

A Reading Pen

With 40 million americans suffering from some form of dyslexia, there's probably a market for a device that reads words aloud from a typewritten page. The Quicktionary Reading Pen from Seiko Instruments reads both words and their definitions and fits in your pocket, but it can handle only one word at a time and demands a deft hand for precise scanning. Experts applaud the concept but caution that, like other technologies that counter dyslexia, it's no cure. At $275, it's no bargain either.

--By M.M. Buechner