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Virtual CES 2001 Report
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2001 International CES Report


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The folks at Refac could never be criticized for thinking "inside the box". Indeed, this is the same company that brought you such electronic wonders as the MTV Beach Radio with "Logo Sand Stamp", the aerodynamic Scooter Radio, the New Beetle Clock Radio, the Golf Bag Lamp and the Funatik Radioball, which looks suspiciously like a cat jingle toy with tuning and volume knobs.

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This year, however, Refac has set their inventive sights on the world of remote controls. But of course they couldn't just go and make a simple point-and-click remote... no siree, they wanted to create something truly unique. It can be a little hard to picture exactly what this product can do, so let's start off by imagining a regular remote control that can handle TV, VCR, Cable/DSS and DVD devices. Now, add code learning, macros, plus a clock. Wait a minute, clocks have already been done - but not a snazzy analog clock! Now add voice activation from 4 users along with voice prompts to simply programming. Starting to sound pretty good? Well, let's include a reading and night light. How about an auto finder? Digital voice recorder? Full backlighting? Now it's getting noteworthy. But the real kicker is that they've made it a double-sided remote with buttons on two faces - it's impossible to pick it up backwards!

Sound hard to believe? The new Refac Sonica does indeed exist, and will be released this May. The 8.4" by 2.7" by 1.4" remote is one of those products that makes you do a double-take. It's so interesting to look at, one hopes it will be equally as much fun to use. But the question remains: is there too much gadget packed in there to make it a good remote? Well, priced at only $35.95, I'll bet that a lot of folks give it a shot!

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