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Hot Items at Las Vegas Electronics Show

Digital Compact Cassettes: Still in the prototype stage, both equipment and digitally-recorded tapes were demonstrated by Philips Consumer Electronics Company. Designed so that standard analog cassettes may be played on the same equipment, Philips will offer the advantages of digital audio tape (the sound quality of compact disks) without forcing consumers to purchase new hardware that won't play existing tapes. Digital technology translates sound information into numbers.

Instant Video Receiver: Explore Technology of Scottsdale, Ariz. demonstrated patented ``video fax'' prototypes that can send and receive video/audio programs in compressed time - seconds or minutes instead of hours - depending on whether the transmission is via satellite, fiber-optic, cable, or standard phone lines.

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Lucasfilm Home THX Audio System: Several licensees (among them Snell Acoustics, Technics, Lexicon) demonstrated surround-sound speaker systems that recreate the ``dubbing stage'' where a film director makes decisions designed to produce goose bumps, or tears. ``It's the next stage of duplicating the full experience of movies in the home,'' says Michael Irwin of Audio/Video Interiors Magazine.

InfoGenius Systems: The International Software Division of Gametek Inc. unveiled five so-called ``productivity paks'' to broaden the use of Nintendo's hand-held Gameboy video game player: spelling checker and calculator, two language translators (Spanish and French), travel guides, and a personal organizer.

Video Toaster: A $1,595 circuit board offered by New Tek Inc. plugs into a Commodore Amiga computer and produces 128 special effects (flips, spins, tumbles, etc.) with broadcast-standard quality. The Video Toaster puts professional tape editing capacity and professional effects into the hands of everyman. Several observers said the device may be to desktop video what the laser printer has been to desktop publishing.

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