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Published: Friday, 8/13/2004

Fusion: Draw on the TV; slow go

DRAW ON THE TV: The Etch A Sketch is staking a claim on the television screen. Ohio Art, which has produced the simple yet mysterious drawing toy for 44 years, calls its new ETO toy an all-in-one TV hook-up creativity system. The ETO ($35) works more like a video game controller without the console. The toy lets children draw on a TV screen the way they would with a conventional Etch A Sketch, but it also has features similar to those of a computer drawing or image-editing program. The ETO controller, which plugs into an A/V jack on the set, has three modes: a traditional drawing screen, an art assembly area with sounds and animation, and a maze game. Powered by four AA batteries, the ETO also has a card slot for add-on programs.

SLOW GO

Technology watchers expect big things from a low-power, low-speed wireless standard known as Zigbee, which is designed to relay simple bits of information. Think of municipal light posts telling city computers when it s time to change bulbs, or tiny sensors passing along word to soldiers about approaching enemies. A new report from ABI Research predicts that only 1 million Zigbee devices will be sold next year, but by 2006 that figure will jump to 80 million. With Zigbee, data moves at speeds as low as 20 kilobits per second, but that s good enough for devices that have simple things to relay. Another analyst firm, In-Stat/MDR, said last year that worldwide sales of Zigbee chipsets could reach 160 million by 2008.

CHEAP CHIPS

This week, America Online will begin selling the AOL Optimized PC for $300 to people who sign up for its dial-up service for at least one year. AOL s deal does not involve rebates and includes a full setup. The computer is based around a 2-gigahertz Intel Celeron processor and Windows XP Home Edition. A modified version of Sun Microsystems StarOffice software is loaded onto the 40-gigabyte hard drive. A 17-inch cathode-ray-tube monitor, speakers and a Lexmark inkjet printer are part of the package. The PC will be available at Office Depot stores and directly from AOL by telephone (866-692-6572). The year s worth of dial-up Internet service that buyers must agree to purchase has a monthly rate of $23.90.

SEND VIDEO

The new LG VX7000 ($250) wireless phone is among the new breed of video-enabled handsets that can take 15-second movies as well as still photos and send them by e-mail. The folding phone features color screens on the inside and outside of the handset and can send and receive multimedia messages containing text, photos and sound. It works with the Verizon Wireless service and includes a personal organizer, room for 500 contacts in the address book and four megabytes of space for games, ring tones and other programs. The VX7000 is compatible with Verizon s optional Mobile Web 2.0 service, which delivers software updates and other information directly to the phone.

www.verizonwireless.com.

TECH JOB NUMBERS

The Bureau of Labor Statistics is pessimistic about information technology jobs. The latest version of its Occupational Outlook Handbook, which estimates how many jobs will open due to industry growth and retirements each year between 2002 and 2012, ranks the replacement needs for each job title in IT as low or very low. 45,000 computer and information systems managers will be needed each year during the period. (19,000 database administrators, 4,000 computer and information scientists and 45,000 software engineers). The Bureau makes its estimates by comparing five-year averages of people leaving a profession versus those entering the profession.

NET NUMBERS

According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project s latest study:

• 71 percent of people who get news online and offline will get it offline most often, from places like newspapers, radio and TV.

• 55 percent of Internet users check scores online. Of Internet-using sports fans, 45 percent get all their scores from traditional media.

• 27 percent of Internet users buy tickets to movies or events both online or offline, but the majority, 57 percent, buy them most often by phone, mail or in person.

• 16 percent of Internet users watch videos, previews or cartoons online; 84 percent watch them offline exclusively.

• 76 percent of Internet users still look offline, exclusively, for people to meet or date.

TOLEDOBLADE.COM

Web editor Kevin Cesarz (Wednesday) and country music writer Brian Dugger (Friday) will produce columns this week only on toledoblade.com.

www.toledoblade.com/cesarz

www.toledoblade.com/dugger

FROM THE BLADE S WIRE SERVICES AND STAFF.

CONTACT FUSION AT kcesarz@theblade.com



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