Would you believe me if I told you that you will be able to interact with the latest and greatest music, computer and gaming technology this fall without ever leaving your college campus? You will even have an opportunity to win a $10,000 "ultimate dorm room" which includes an Xbox 360 and Sirius portable satellite radio. All of this excitement comes from the Consumer Electronics Association and their TechKnowOverload, otherwise known as the TKO Tour.
I caught up with the spring tour at the University of North Texas in Denton and saw some technologies that were just announced at the biggest industry trade gathering, the Consumer Electronics Show, just weeks before. This tour is definitely the place to catch up on your latest "wants" for the holiday season and gives you the ability to touch and interact with the gear demonstrated. These gadgets aren’t under wraps or glass, it’s a hands-on experience!
At the tour, under dozens of tents setup in a commons area on campus, I caught up with Amanda Younger, a tour "Guru." Amanda showed me the new Pulsar 590A high fidelity headset with microphone from Plantronics. This Bluetooth wireless device operates for up to 12 hours and sounds just as good playing back your collection of MP3s as it does making calls on Skype (skype.com) or talking trash to your friends while playing "Call of Duty 2."
Speaking of Skype, a PC was setup to let you chat or call your friends around the world using the popular Voice over IP or VoIP service. If you are calling another continent, just remember which time zone your friends are in if you want them to remain friends with you!
Laptops from Asus and over-clockable PC’s were on hand with a handful set up for video game play through NVIDIA graphics cards with SLI technology. This innovation allows multiple video cards to dynamically share the graphics processing load during intense game play for some unbelievable frame rates. Another benefit is that you can connect up to four Digital Visual Interface capable monitors, the latest digital standard, to this pair of video cards for an experience of virtual immersion. This setup will nearly put you inside of the game and while for those times when you are actually working, let you keep your email open while you write a paper and research on the Web; all in separate displays.
Musicians in the mix could play Gibson SG guitars outfitted with the Line 6 processing technology to give those new guitars that old character and sound of the 60’s. Their "Pod xt" was able to bring the "inner Hendrix" out of students not yet born before his passing. Those listening could tune into 67 channels of commercial-free Sirius satellite radio featuring not one, but two channels for the now even-more shocking Howard Stern show. More so because of broadcast limits no longer enforced by the FCC now that he is on "pay radio."
My favorite receiver was the S50, about the size of a couple iPod Nanos, but with the ability to store 50 hours of satellite radio or a gigabyte of your own MP3s. Instead of downloading music, a "My Sirius" channel can automatically receive and record your own play lists when it learns your listening patterns. Now that is high-tech working the way it should!
Speaking of iPods, XtremeMac had some killer accessories for yours including "blinged out" sparkling covers that harness your "inner design" as well as NBA and MLB licensed cases to show your team spirit. Car adapters and speaker docks make sure that your music is loud and clear whether you are on the go, or in your home.
The highlight of the tour is an ultimate dorm room drawing that students could enter to win – which would guarantee to drop your GPA for at least one semester. Packed inside are all of the latest gear including a huge 62-inch Mitsubishi High Definition Television (HDTV) and matching modern speakers from Klipsch. The current ultimate gaming system and living-room digital media convergence device, the Xbox 360 rounded out the big ticket items under this tent. But this story only gives you a sample of the gear shown, just to wet your whistle. So check out tkotour.com and find out when the tour is coming to or near your school. If you are gadget crazy, this is a lineup of products that you will not want to miss!
"Gadget Guy" Dave Mathews still feels like a student when he learns about the latest technologies coming down the product pipeline. More stories and video clips can be found on his website at davemathews.com.
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