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Gracenote and MusiKube Vie to Name That Tune

Soon, you'll be able to get an answer to the perpetual question: What's that song on the radio? No more embarrassing off-key singing hoping friends will know what you're talking about. Just speed-dial your cell phone, hold it up to the music source, and in a few seconds, you'll get not only the name of the song, artist and album, but also an opportunity to buy the album, view artwork and even see concert information, depending on your cell phone and service provider.

Two companies lined up to make it happen are Gracenote and MusiKube. Both use music "fingerprinting" technology to identify songs from audio snippets. Gracenote has the advantage of its enormous worldwide CDDB music database, as well as huge name recognition. The company claims that it can recognize a song in as little as 3 seconds, using patented technology from Philips.

By contrast, MusiKube has a dual platform that includes bar-code recognition as well as audio identification, so users with camera phones can get artist information and song clips sent to their cell phones by taking pictures of CD bar codes. MusiKube is counting on this one-two punch to outflank GraceNote in the race to sign up service providers.

Both should be available in the US this year, although specific providers have not yet been announced.

Sierra Wireless AirCard 775
Sierra's new entry into the EDGE and GSM/GPRS networks will offer some key advantages over the competition when it ships this summer. World travelers will lust over the quad-band support for GSM850/900, DCS 1800 and PCS 1900. And Sierra's Watcher software for notebooks, Pocket PCs and handhelds makes installation simple.

CellBoost Instant Battery
If you've ever been caught with a dead cell battery far from home (and who hasn't...), CellBoost will provide emergency relief. These one-time charging packs come in versions for almost all cell phones, cost under $10, and will be available at convenience stores, gas stations and office supply outlets. They average about 60 minutes of talk time and 60 minutes of standby time, enough to get you reconnected.