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Blu-ray recording: If you can’t beat them, don’t join them — just copy their ideas and improve them. Toshiba is endeavoring to do just that having abandoned its HD-DVD format and instead opted to craft versions of Sony’s brainchild, Blu-ray. Nobody can accuse Toshiba of not doing a wholehearted about face, what with three new Vardia- branded Blu-ray recorders to hit the market next month. The best of the bunch is the D-B1005K, which sports a prodigious 1-terabyte hard disk for recording up to 500 hours of high- definition TV footage. The smaller D-B305K comes with a still spacious 320-gigabyte hard disk, while the bulky D-BW1005K is in essence a D-B1005K with a VHS video recorder mixed in for good measure. All three of them are intended to make it easy to record from DVDs to Blu-ray discs, using the hard disk as temporary storage while the footage is moved from one type of disc to the other. They also come with the AVCREC format for recording high-definition content on regular DVDs. No doubt this is useful, but if the device already has Blu-ray why use such a compression format to keep using an inferior recording method? Unless it is to save cash on the pricey Blu-ray discs?

Interestingly, the new Vardias come with a remarkable seven TV tuners (a pair of terrestrial digital tuners, a pair of BS tuners, a pair of CS tuners and one analog TV tuner). The trio of paired tuners allow users to record one program in that format while watching a second. The three recorders also each have an HDMI interface, a USB port, LAN connectivity and an SD memory-card slot for playing video off a memory card. All three cope with the full variety of DVD and Blu-ray discs. The two straight Blu-ray recorders measure 430 × 61 × 318 mm, with the VHS credentials pushing the lines out to 435 × 100 × 399 mm. The D-B305K is the lightweight of the bunch, in more than just capacity, as it weighs 4.3 kg, with the D-B1005K coming in at 4.5 kg. Again, the D-BW1005K bulks up, to 7.2 kg. Despite their different sizes, all three have the same dark look, which shows that digital-recorder makers put as much thought into appearances as most PC makers do.

Toshiba’s products are heavy on the features, a fact reflected in their price tags. The D-B305K quite naturally is cheapest at ¥99,800, with its big brother costing ¥129,800. The D-BW1005K carries the highest price tag of ¥139,800. If you want devices with less credential there are plenty of cheaper choices, although Toshiba has certainly not lost out by being late to the market. The D-BW1005K is good for those of us who are still clinging to our VHS collections. www.toshiba.co.jp/about/press/2010_01/pr_j1401.htm

Go anywhere: Air passengers could find relief from having to lug around all those rechargers for their electronic devices, something that will be welcomed at airport luggage scales.

Innovative electronics-maker Innergie has teamed up with tech firm Green Plug to develop the new mCube90, a stylish gadget that fits in your palm and serves as both a universal power adapter (for laptops and USB-powered devices) and surge protector. The mCube90 is connected to mains power, or by using the included adapter and cables it becomes a power source in a car or aircraft. The device to be recharged is then connected via USB allowing it to be recharged on the go.

Just about any device that can be recharged via USB can be used with the mCube90. The adapter works on 100-240 volts, measures 128.8 × 70 × 23.6 mm and weighs 263 grams without the cables. It also has four types of surge protection built into it. The mCube90 costs $99.99 (¥9,000) from the Innergie Web site. If you travel with a lot of devices then the mCube90 makes sense. But first check out the Innergie Web site as to whether your gadgets will work with the mCube90. www.myinnergie.com/Mcube/default.aspx

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