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Tops in Tech

Highlights from the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show

Phone home

Motorola Atrix 4G
As cell phones keep getting smarter, Motorola has taken it to the next level with the Atrix 4G, a smartphone that can actually serve as a computer substitute. In your pocket, the Atrix 4G provides super-fast response thanks to the high-powered Tegra 2 processor and speedy 4G network connection, providing wireless Internet speeds roughly equal to a cable modem. When it's time for tasks that are tiresome using a phone screen alone, there's a laptop dock: just slip the phone into the cradle and you have a big screen and full-size keyboard at your disposal.

Free Phone Calls for All
Clarity, a leading amplified phone manufacturer, and Ooma, a service provider offering free local and long-distance calling with the purchase of their Internet telephone equipment, announced a bundled system, due during the first half of the year. The combination makes sense. Clarity uses sophisticated digital signal processing to minimize background noise while amplifying the frequencies most important to understanding speech. Ooma upgraded its system recently to support what's known as "high-def voice," an enhanced digital standard previously offered only on expensive corporate Internet phone systems. And, as part of the partnership, Ooma will support the valuable ClarityLogic feature, allowing users to push one button and reach a customer service representative who can read the phone's status, make adjustments remotely and even program speed dial numbers.

In-car tech

Toyota Entune
Toyota will roll out the new in-dash Entune system in selected models this year, providing Internet-connected entertainment and information on the road. Entune uses your existing cell phone to provide the Web connection and, no, it doesn't have to be an iPhone. Toyota promises to support a wide range of smartphones and even less powerful feature phones. You pair the phone wirelessly with the Entune system via Bluetooth, and online options pop up on the car's LCD screen. So far there are six features, including online music and news, movie ticket purchase, restaurant reservations and voice-enabled Bing Internet search, with more planned for the future.

Audiovox Driver Distraction Alert System
Between cell phones and car audio systems and tasty snacks and a dozen other in-car activities, distracted driving has reached epidemic proportions. While Audiovox hasn't come up with a way to create better drivers, it can offer real help: a virtual second set of eyes that keeps its computerized attention on the road at all times and alerts you when you're headed for trouble. The system consists of a front-facing camera and an onboard computer that analyzes the moving image, keeps track of the lane markers and the side of the road, and emits an audible alert if you drift out of your lane, or approach another

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