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Consumer Electronics Companies Go for Size

June 4, 1991

CHICAGO (AP) _ No longer is bigger better.

Nowadays, smaller is smarter.

Walk through the 1991 International Summer Consumer Electronics Show, for example, and you’ll see such innovations as a hand-held encyclopedia, a 2 -inch compact disc and even a palm-sized cellular phone.

″Things are always getting smaller,″ said Bob Gerson, editor of Twice, a consumer electronics magazine. ″Television sets that fit in your shirt pocket, camcorders that fit in your jacket pocket - those are the kinds of things you’re finding.″

Franklin Electronic Publishers Inc. of Mount Holly, N.J., introduced a battery-operated encyclopedia that measures 7 inches long, 4 inches wide and 1 inch thick. The information is drawn from Columbia Concise Encyclopedia’s most recent edition.

Resembling a small-screened calculator, it will be marketed in the July issue of The Sharper Image Catalog. The suggested retail price is $399.

Sony Corp. of America, based in Park Ridge, N.J., exhibited the Mini-Disc compact disc player that uses a recordable 2 1/2 -inch CD instead of the typical 5-inch non-recordable CD.

Sony hopes to have the Mini-Disc available late next year. A suggested price hasn’t been determined.

Also featured at the show are palm-sized cellular phones weighing just a few ounces. The phones were introduced at prices well below $1,000.

Or for a mere $3,495, there’s Travelpilot.

Manufactured by Blaupunkt-Bosch Telecom Broadview, Ill., this device functions with sensors on two wheels and an electronic compass. The driver punches in his destination by using an alphabetical listing of all street names in the city.

″I think it’s ideal for someone who’s always getting lost, like me,″ said Ross Merel, owner of Slam Group Ltd., a Chicago company that sells audio equipment.

Blaupunkt-Bosch already has marketed a West Coast disc that displays street maps of Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Las Vegas and Honolulu. In the next two months, the company hopes to distribute a Midwest disc with Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, Indianapolis and Gary, Ind.

Sanyo Fisher (USA) Corp., based in Chatsworth, Calif., is offering a voice- activated car stereo, already sold in Japan and soon to be made available in the United States.

The EX-W2 model, which retails for $1,499, functions with a microphone affixed to the visor. The driver can say ″eject″ to remove a tape cassette or recite the four-letter call number of a radio station to move the dial.

″I see it as a really good safety device for people always taking their eyes off the road and fidgeting with the radio,″ said Grady E. Purches, a sales representative for Montgomery Ward & Co.

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