Fast Forward: Dazzling displays

Smoother graphics, 3-D animation - the latest visual display panels will do anything to grab your attention

It seems that anything can have a fancy display panel these days - even the humble remote control or microwave oven. From 3-D animation to Internet link-ups and touchscreen control, the advances made in both design and technology mean that the options at your fingertips are increasing all the time. Although the new wave of display panels haven't taken over completely yet, it looks as if the humble LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) could be heading for the history books.

1. Pioneer LCD remote control

This remote control comes with the NS-DV1 home entertainment system, which consists of a DVD player (a digital video and CD player), built-in amp and surround- sound speakers. The LCD display doubles up as a touchscreen control, providing an easy way to operate the multitude of functions that DVD allows - for example, choice of screen format and amplifier settings. It is also preprogrammed to operate other products made by other manufacturers (such as a Sony TV), indeed, it can "learn" how to operate just about anything that has a remote function. Pioneer LCD pounds 1,200. For more information, call 01753 789500.

2. Siemens S25 WAP phone

The S25 is one of the new range of cellular phones that allow you to access a limited version of the Internet. Its six-line, high-resolution colour display is designed to take full advantage of the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP), which enables phone users to go web surfing. You don't have to plug your phone into a laptop either, since the phone has an integrated modem enabling it to access WAP web pages directly, without any wires, leads or other hardware. Internet and mobile phone companies are currently setting up WAP services and promising mobile banking, real-time news, flight times, weather reports, ticket agencies and a host of information services, allowing you to live your life from your phone.

Siemens S25 WAP pounds 90 (with contract). For stockists and information, call 0345 400700 or visit www.siemens.de/en.

3. Pioneer OEL head units

Pioneer's new range of "head units" - control panels - for its in-car stereos feature OEL (Organic Electroluminescent) displays that conjure up 3-D animated images. The displays are brighter and clearer to read than LCD, and you can choose to have images of the New York skyline or dancing graphic-equaliser curves to accompany your music - although this would seem to be rather distracting when you're meant to have your eyes on the road.

Pioneer OEL from pounds 550. For more information, call 01753 789789 or visit www.pioneer-funkycooldigital.co.uk

4. Sharp R-891A Viewcook microwave

The Viewcook is a 900W microwave and 2,000W convection oven that has a 2-in LCD screen that displays over 200 recipes. The recipes are divided into 10 sections, including one for kids, presumably to encourage a little home economics education. In addition to the recipes, it also offers cooking tips. You can scroll through the 2,000 pages of information much as you would leaf through a cookery book, and simple instructions help you follow the recipes. To make things simple, the screen brings up images to prompt an action: animated spoons, for example, indicate that it is time to stir the dish. Sharp R-891A Viewcook pounds 299.99. For stockists and information, call 0845 6007002.

5. Philips FW870C mini system

Big and brash - it has a massive 2x130W output - and very much of the more-is-better school of design. The LCD display has coloured lights jumping all over the place, providing information on the nine-band graphic equaliser, Digital Sound Control and surround sound system. There are more lights here than at the Blackpool Illuminations. The display also helps you to choose one of six different listening environments from "Hall" to "Disco".

Philips FW870C pounds 290. For stockists and information, call 0181-665 6350.

6. TAG McLaren T32R tuner

The TAG McLaren's understated display belies the fact that this is a serious piece of audio equipment. The VFD (Vacuum Fluorescent Display) works like a fluorescent kitchen striplight (but obviously on a much smaller scale) and offers greater legibility and viewing distance than LCD. The "dot burst" characters and font were specially designed, and scrolling is extremely smooth to cater for DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) - a new technology which allows radio broadcasts from some stations to be accompanied by text messages (providing details of which tracks are being played, for example). TAG McLaren T32R pounds 2,299. For stockists and information, call 0800 7838007. n

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