Lg electronics' new wireless LCD television took me places I've never been with cable TV. The following reality sequence begins in my bedroom...

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LG Electronics’ new wireless LCD television took me places I’ve never been with cable TV.

The following reality sequence begins in my bedroom, where I was sorting some laundry while getting a first look at Pittsburgh Penguins hockey phenom Sidney Crosby on LG’s 15-inch 15LW1R.

Although I was watching cable programming, the TV wasn’t connected to the cable box. The box sat on a shelf in another room down the hall, about 40 feet away. When the laundry session ended but the game didn’t, I reached down, unplugged the set from the electrical outlet and carried it downstairs — still watching the game.

I then placed the TV on the kitchen table, still unplugged, where I resumed watching Crosby’s Penguins while eating a bowl of cereal.

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Yes, it’s almost too exciting. Here’s how it happened technologically:

The 15LW1R ($1,199) has a separate transmitter — it looks like a baby PC tower — with a built-in television tuner and connections for home-theater equipment like a cable box or DVD player. The transmitter, which plugs into an electrical outlet, connects to your cable box or satellite receiver for TV programming. It then sends the signal to a tiny receiver embedded in the LCD monitor, up to 50 feet away.

That’s why I could relocate the monitor almost anywhere in the house. And when I really wanted to go mobile, a lithium-ion battery pack provided power after I unplugged the monitor. It’s a tremendous convenience.

Not that you’d tuck the monitor under your arm, set the TV on the bathroom counter and check in with Katie Couric during a morning shave — though, hmm, that might work. But it could reside on a kitchen counter for much of the week for viewing during breakfast and dinner preparation, then unplugged and moved to the sunroom or deck on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

The 15LW1R, with its silver facade and black bezel, looks like a test-tube baby TV mating equal parts computer monitor and television. The push-button controls on top resemble a TV. Turn on the TV, however, and you’ll get a prompt (“Loading application”) with an obvious computer heritage. The 15LW1R, in fact, can play movies, videos and music stored on your computer, wirelessly.

It’s more complicated than watching TV wirelessly — you’ll need a PC with a wireless network, either a LAN (local area network) card or a wireless router. Neither is included; figure about $50. LG provides media browser software for your computer. (LG suggests a PC with Windows XP, a Pentium 4 processor and a USB 2.0 connection.)

The monitor’s 1024×768 resolution is the same as a 42-inch HDTV plasma. Unfortunately, the hi-def credentials are wasted because the 15LW1R offers a non-HD (analog) tuner and non-HD video connections (composite and S-video). Still, it produces a crystalline, if smallish, picture that diminishes only slightly in battery-power mode.

Its best feature is what it doesn’t need: additional wiring by the cable or satellite company. And a four-hour charge of the battery pack (or, if the TV is on, a six-hour charge) provides up to three hours of power.

Setting up the 15LW1R for TV viewing takes less than five minutes. Plug in the wireless transmitter, then connect the cable TV feed. Now plug in the monitor.

That gets you instant TV, but LG’s easy-setup guide fails to point out that this configuration provides only basic cable, through channel 100. If you want to get the rest of your channels, including HBO, simply connect an S-video cable from your cable box to the transmitter.

The monitor attaches to a base, like a computer monitor, but releases from the pedestal for mobile TV viewing. It then becomes even lighter — less than 9 pounds, including the pivoting stand that makes the monitor look like a futuristic picture frame.

It’s easy to marvel at LG’s 15LW1R and other wireless monitors, like Sharp’s LC-15L1U-S. But are they worth it? A basic 15-inch, plug-in-the-wall LCD television costs as little as $300. A high-end Aquos model from Sharp costs about $500.

At $1,199, though, the free-range 15LW1R is a different animal. You’ll love to let it roam all over the house.

Talking Pedometer & FM Radio

Oregon Scientific



The Talking Pedometer & FM Radio keeps track of how far — or little — you’ve walked, how many steps you taken and how long you’ve been walking whenever you press its “`Talk” button.

It also can track your progress toward specific goals, beep to keep you on pace during your walks, and display seven days of data, including the number of calories burned.

On days when you’d rather not know how well your fitness routine is going, you can tune into the gadget’s built-in FM radio.

The Oregon Scientific device costs $40 and ships with a pair of ear-bud headphones.

— Deborah Porterfield

Gannett News Service