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High-tech gadgets

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The twice-a-year Consumer Electronics Show, recently held in Las Vegas, spotlights the latest wrinkles in audio and video equipment. Many of the high-tech goodies on view will go on sale later this year, while some oddities — like last year’s SwimMan headphone stereo for your underwater listening pleasure — never do surface in stores. Here are this year’s showstoppers, all promised to be available in 1993:

WIDE-SCREEN TELEVISION One-third wider than current TVs, the new sets have screens that are not squarish but oblong, like those you see in movie theaters. One of the first on the market will be a 34-inch (measured diagonally), $4,995 model due in April from Thomson Consumer Electronics. The tube can be used to watch letterboxed laserdiscs and videos without those black bars at the top and bottom of the screen or, if you want, to watch dueling Amy Fisher docudramas side by side.

3DO AT&T, Time Warner, and Matsushita have thrown their substantial weight behind the development of this interactive audio-video CD player. The companies claim that the high-quality graphics of 3DO-based video games will leave Nintendo and Sega in the dust. Panasonic plans a device by fall.

VIDEO GOGGLES Demonstrated by a company called Virtual Vision, these allow the wearer to watch TV on a color screen that appears to be hovering in midair. The $899 battery-powered glasses don’t obscure your vision too much, so you can walk around and watch Star Trek: The Next Generation without crashing into walls. And you can look like LeVar Burton, as well.

HOME CD ”JUKEBOX” Fisher Audio/Video introduced a CD player ($499) that holds 24 discs, which can be played in a particular user-programmed category — ”Jazz,” say, or ”R.E.M.” Just put in four hours’ worth of Grateful Dead discs, for example, and you can pretend you’re at an actual concert.

If such flights of electronic fancy tickle yours, visit the next electronics show, to be held June 3-6 in Chicago; it will be open to the public on its final day. One gizmo likely to be on view there for sale during next winter’s holiday season: car radios that lets you scan for stations by format.

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