Dock ‘n’ lock: Innovation and iPods go hand in hand, but the creativity rarely extends to iPod docks. Buffalo bucks that trend in the form of its unusual HDD Dualie. In essence, this is a standard docking station paired with a 500-gigabyte hard disk. Unlike run-of- the-mill iPod docks, the Dualie does not come with speakers to provide a better listening experience for your iPod. Instead, when the Dualie is connected to a computer via USB 2.0, FireWire 400 or 800 cables it allows the user to recharge their iPod and to sync it with the computer. The secondary purpose for this is to serve as a backup hard drive for the computer. Interestingly, the hard disk is formatted to work with Apple Mac computers out of the box and requires some work to pair with a PC. The hard disk is primed to work with Apple’s Time Machine backup program.

The dock has all the necessary adapters enabling it to be used with the iPhones, iPod touch, iPod Classic and the fifth-generation Nano. A smart-looking device, it comes in a brushed aluminum and black soft touch, two-tone finish. The dock measures 6.9 × 10 × 9.7 cm and weighs 410 grams with the hard drive’s dimensions being 13.2 × 8.4 × 2 cm with a weight of 230 grams. Despite Buffalo’s credentials as a Japanese company, the Dualie will go on sale in the United States first (late this month, at a price of around $250) and will be sold solely through the Apple store. It hits the European market next month. Buffalo expects to announce a release date and pricing for Japan soon.

Shoppers looking primarily to augment the audio abilities of their iPod aren’t going to give the Dualie a first perusal, there are plenty of options for them. But somebody looking for a convenient means of backing up their iPod, and boosting the storage of their computer, should keep an eye out for the Dualie’s move into Japan, which Buffalo lauds as the only combination iPod docking/storage device. Hopefully it will arrive here at a price south of ¥30,000. www.buffalotech.com/products/external-storage/dualie/dualie/

Compact camcorder: High-definition camcorders are stepping on the heels of their TV counterparts in the rush to market. Panasonic is aiming for high sales with a set of new HD camcorders that combine ease of use with technical features. The prime member of the group is the HDC-HS60, which combines 160 gigabytes of internal memory with the ability to use SDXC, SDHC or SD memory cards for additional storage. Apart from recording in full HD, the other key selling points are an improved image- stabilization system, intelligent automatic zoom, face-recognition system, touch-screen operation, eco-friendly low-power mode and wind- noise canceler. The idea of the intelligent zoom is to extend the camcorder’s 25× optical zoom out to 35× by automatically correcting the picture as it goes beyond the 25× limit. The face recognition can focus on up to six faces at once and the trendy 2.7-inch touch screen is intended to make using the camcorder an easy experience. The eco-mode powers down the device if it isn’t used for five minutes, saving the battery. The wind-noise trick seems to be just that, removing the effects of wind noise. While this might be useful in a gale, just how effective and necessary it might be is debatable.

In what used to be the center of an optical device, the lens, Panasonic has set it up nicely with a wide-angle lens that operates in the prodigious range of 36-893 mm, with a good-for-low-light F1.8 at the wide end to F3.3 at the tele end. The lens is paired with a 3.3-megapixel sensor. One final inducement for the gadget is its svelte dimensions, tipping the scales at 330 grams, sans battery. It also measures a hand-held-suitable 54.5 × 65.5 × 112 mm. The HDC-HS60 will cost a reasonable ¥99,800 when it comes on the market next month.

Whether the benefits of HD over standard justify the greater expense compared to other camcorders is a personal choice. Those who still favor an optical viewfinder will also not admire the Panasonic product, although it is an attractively small package. panasonic.jp/dvc/

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