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Quiet please: Audio-Technica has come out with a pair of lightweight, folding headphones featuring noise-canceling technology. The company claims its newly released ATH-ANC1 QuietPoint can cut out background noise by 85 percent when its noise-canceling abilities are enacted. The extraneous-noise killer can operate for up to 40 hours off an AAA-size alkaline battery. When users are not listening to music, the headphones can work solely to block out ambient sounds and the company claims the ATH-ANC1 can reduce noise by 18dB. The battery is kept in a small control box that looks like the kind of remote control sometimes attached to regular headphone cords.

The headphones fold flat into a tight little bundle and weigh just 100 grams, without the cable and battery. When not used to cut out background noise they function as ordinary stereo headphones. The ATH-ANC1 drivers are 3.5 cm in diameter and can deliver up to 105dB in a frequency-response range of 10Hz-20kHz. They come with both an airline and a stereo adapter, and a 1.2-meter cable.

Noise-canceling might be the trend in headphones but you would need to have a serious aversion to ambient noise to fork over the extra money for this kind of technology. At least the price of the ATH-ANC1, ¥9,800, is not too steep for such noise killers. www.audio-technica.co.jp/products/

No hawkers: Panasonic’s latest home intercom, the VL-SW500KL, is out to render the peephole obsolete. The new gadget on the apartment block features a 5.2-inch touchscreen LCD monitor. Users can touch the screen and zoom into just part of an image to get a better look at what is going on outside. The device can also snap up to four photos in response to the pushing of your front door bell. The practicality of this feature is not entirely clear, but it is still a nice trick. The VL-SW500KL also has an LED light for lighting up whoever is loitering outside your door. The external camera has a left-to-right viewing angle of 170 degrees and about 130 degrees up and down.

Fully aware of the couch potatoes out there, Panasonic has included a remote control for the VL-SW500KL that has its own 2.5-inch LCD screen. This way you can scope out your visitors from the comfort of your sofa. The whole lot is enclosed in a slim white plastic body that measures 165 × 21 × 190 mm. Panasonic puts the VL-SW500KL on the market on Jan. 22 with its pricetag expected to be around ¥46,000. panasonic.jp/door/sw500/index.html

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