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Intel touting faster wireless technology

Intel, the world's largest maker of computer chips, is pushing forward with a new wireless technology that it thinks can bring ultra high-speed Internet access to American homes as efficiently as fiber-optic networks.

Sean Maloney, general manager of Intel's wireless division, said Intel sees enormous promise in a new technology known as WiMAX and will produce chips that use that technology. At a speech sponsored by the Wireless Communications Association, a trade organization of equipmentmakers, Maloney said growth in wireless communications would be as fast as the Internet expansion of the mid 1990s.

"It looks like the Internet in 1994," he said. "The next 10 years will be defined by broadband wireless."

Intel is hoping that broad deployment of the WiMAX standard will allow it to repeat the success it has had selling its Centrino wireless chip that uses Wi-Fi, or 802.11 technology. Intel has spent $300-million in the past year advertising its Centrino technology for portable computers, and its venture capital arm, Intel Capital, has invested more than $4-billion in a range of wireless data ventures.

While Wi-Fi is now the international standard for home and office wireless networking, Intel executives think WiMAX, or 802.16 technology, can have an equal or greater impact on the future of data transmission.

Gadgets we need but hate

Americans are ambivalent about their cell phones, TV sets and the like. The rely on such everyday technology, but it drives them nuts.

At the top of the list? The cell phone.

An annual Massachusetts Institute of Technology survey, known as the Lemelson-MIT Invention Index, found that among adults asked what invention they hate most but can't live without, 30 percent said the cell phone.

Alarm clocks were a close second, with 25 percent, followed by the television with 23 percent and razors with 14 percent. Microwave ovens, computers and answering machines also earned spots as detested technology.

The survey has been conducted for the past eight years to gauge public opinion toward inventions, inventors and technology.

"The interconnectedness you get from the cell phone is a very positive thing, and I think that's one of the most important things, the bringing together of people. The downside of that is that you sometimes want to be alone," Lemelson Center director Merton Flemings said.

The random telephone survey of 1,023 adults and 500 teenagers was conducted Nov. 12-19 by Taylor Nelson Sofres Intersearch of Princeton, N.J.

Ninety-five percent of the adults surveyed felt that inventions had improved the quality of their lives.

DocuPen can scan up to 100 pages

Here's a tool to surreptitiously copy a document. The DocuPen DPEN-BW from Planon System Solutions looks like a pen and can scan an entire page in just four seconds. You just put it at the top of a page and roll it to the bottom. It can capture 100 pages and can upload the images to your computer via a USB cable.

Doug Planon, company president and founder, says it's ideal for real estate agents, lawyers, mortgage brokers, students and anyone else who would rather not make a trip to the copier. It sells for $199 and is available this month at retailers such as CompUSA.

AOL offers broadband users movie downloads

A buck gets you more than a song on the Internet these days. Time Warner's America Online is offering broadband users downloaded movies for 99 cents each.

AOL is partnering with MovieLink, a movie download rental service and a joint venture of the five major movie studios, to bring this promotional offering to its 2.6-million broadband members. These members have high-speed connections through other vendors and pay $14.95 a month to get AOL.

The move is part of AOL's effort to sweeten its high-speed offering, as more people get hooked on broadband. It's also a MovieLink effort to introduce legitimate movie downloads on the Internet as an alternative to file swapping.

Internet piracy has beset the music industry, and, as broadband becomes ubiquitous, the movie industry is hoping to avoid the same challenges and losses.

During the five-week promotion, AOL broadband members will be able to begin watching a movie as soon as they've downloaded it, which can take 30 to 45 minutes, said Steven Yee, vice president of AOL Movies. Movies now available range from Finding Nemo to The Matrix.

Nintendo handheld will sport two screens

Nintendo Co.'s next portable game gadget will sport two screens but still fit in the palm of your hand.

Nintendo said players will be able to view action simultaneously from two perspectives, avoiding disruptions in game play. A soccer game, for instance, could display the entire field in one screen and an individual player's view in another.

Nintendo, which makes the popular Game Boy Advance portable, expects to launch the machine, code-named Nintendo DS, by year-end.

The Nintendo DS will face stiff competition from Sony Corp., which plans to launch a portable device, dubbed the PSP. Sony, maker of the leading PlayStation console, says its gadget will play games, music and video.

Nintendo said it will market the DS machine separately from its Game Boys and GameCube consoles. Though Nintendo sells the leading portable, the GameCube has been losing ground to the PlayStation and Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox console.

The Nintendo DS will feature two, 3-inch liquid crystal display screens, each controlled by a separate processor. The system will come with 1 gigabit of memory, the company said.

Nintendo and Sony plan to release more details at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, scheduled for Los Angeles in May.

Ringing in the dollars

A new study by the Arc Group found that the world spent more than $3.5-billion last year on ring tones _ that's right, billions of dollars spent on snippets of songs to alert you that you're getting a cell phone call. To put that in perspective, Reuters reported that that amount represented 10 percent of the $32.2-billion global music market.

_ Compiled from staff and wire reports

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