Change of view: The 3-D steamroller is far from flattening the opposition, but it is picking up pace. Sony is giving it a nudge by paying some attention to the sound that goes with it. It has just unleashed a pair of 3.1 channel sound bars, the HT-CT350 and HT-CT150 3.1. The big innovation is HDMI 1.4. This latest version of the must-have digital video connection is something of a leap forward from the previous 1.3 version. The newest flavor of HDMI includes an Ethernet connection, allowing the three new Sony products to share the broadband connection of another broadband-capable device, such as a high-grade TV. Of greater interest to TV fans is that 1.4 does a much better job of supporting 3-D television image resolution and sound. In using this connection, the trio can fulfill the audio potential of 3-D and also serve as a communication bridge between different 3-D devices, so a DVD player can pass its image through one of the HTs and get a maximum image quality on a 3-D TV. It brings 3-D gaming and home-theater systems closer to reality.

The HT-CT150 comes with 340W of power (three 85W channels and an 85W subwoofer) and is designed to match Sony’s 2010-model 32-inch BRAVIA HDTVs and their black minimalist styling. The HT-CT350 operates with 400W (a trio of 100W speakers and a similarly powered subwoofer). It includes a bracket that attaches via a wall mount with a table stand for 2010 BRAVIA sets of 40 inches or above. The CT150 costs ¥39,800, with its larger sibling adding ¥10,000 to the price tag.

Shelling out big bucks for a 3-D TV would seem to be sufficient, but if you have made that large an investment then you may want to complete the picture (so to speak) by cranking up the sound production to match. One concern may be if your apartment is small and the neighbors can hear. Then the increased sound of the CT350 might be wasted. Moreover, these two are intended to match up with a Sony TV and while crossing breeds might work with canines, the results in AV electronics are more problematic. www.sony.jp/CorporateCruise/Press/201003/10-0309C

Competition for the iPad: Hardcore e-book lovers are inclined to disdain Apple’s iPad as an iPhone or iPod touch with pretensions it can’t fulfill. “It certainly is not a reading platform,” they sniff. Regardless of such attitudes, U.S. consumers are rushing to buy them. It’s something that rivals have picked up on and are now trying to match, with the likes of HP and Dell preparing their own tablet computers. Each one is trying to beat the Apple gadget in a unique way. While the iPad looks like it was designed in heaven, the typical Apple bid to control its users has opened the door for smart devices to take on the iPad on the battleground of operating system. The company’s new SmartQ V7 tablet is smaller than an iPad with a 7-inch screen, but comes with three different operating systems. These are Windows CE, Microsoft’s older mobile platform, Ubuntu Linux and Google’s Android 1.6. Linux and Android offer not only variety, but the ability for users, at least the truly tech-inclined, to customize the operating systems to fit their own needs. The less savvy can just download the resulting programs.

The V7 has a plastic body that is not going to take any awards from the iPad but does have USB connectivity, a notable absence from the Apple device, and of course the 800 × 480 resolution screen does touch. Moreover, it has 1080p video support and HDMI output to fulfill the tablet need to go multimedia. Like the iPad, the V7 has wireless connectivity and can’t work with Adobe’s Flash, the darling of many Web sites and thus a real handicap. However, with a price tag of $264, which is around half that of the iPad, it can afford to do without. The V7 uses a 600MHz ARM processor, has 256 megabytes of RAM, 2 gigabytes of flash storage and has an SDHC card reader. It runs on a 4,500mAh battery, measures 208 × 120 × 21 mm and weighs less than an iPad at 486 grams. It can be bought from the online store dealextreme at www.dealextreme.com

The V7 is no iPad but it competes well on price and software versatility. en.smartdevices.com.cn/Products/V7/

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