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Hey, look who's calling … literally

GE is taking caller ID to a new level with a home phone that shows you not only who is calling, but also what the person looks like.

The $140 device, the PhotoPhone, combines a cordless phone with a digital photo frame. Using SD, xD or Memory Stick cards, you can load up to 100 digital photos into the device, which can then be displayed on the 7-inch screen.

When it is not in use, the PhotoPhone operates like a standard digital photo frame, displaying a slide show of all the available photographs. When a call comes in, the phone will display both the number and the photos if you have associated photos with that phone number.

ERIC A. TAUB, NEW YORK TIMES

CHIT-CHAT OR WATCH TV

Cool-looking phones are a dime a dozen these days. But what about a phone that can stream live television, complete with a program guide?

The LG Vu is a smartphone with AT&T's Mobile TV service built in. The entire front of the phone is touch-sensitive; the on-screen buttons vibrate as a confirmation when you press them. The phone weighs 3 ounces, and a single charge provides up to three hours of talk time, or 10 days in standby.

The Mobile TV feature turns the picture sideways and offers a selection of channels including Comedy Central and CNN Mobile. The video quality is fairly good – better than the average YouTube video – and the program guide shows what's playing at any time. The service costs $15 a month for 10 channels and $30 for unlimited channels; selection depends on your coverage area.

The phone costs $299 on wireless.att.com. JOHN BIGGS, NEW YORK TIMES

EXTRA ROOM FOR YOUR DVR

One of the problems with digital video recorders like TiVo is that they eventually run out of room to record. And if you change out the internal hard drive to upgrade, you lose your library of programming.

Western Digital is offering what it thinks is a better solution. The company sells external hard drives that can add 60 hours of high-definition recording time.

Called My DVR Expander, the 500-gigabyte drives come in two models: a $200 eSATA model compatible with Scientific Atlanta, TiVo Series 3 and HDTV boxes, and a $150 USB device made to work with DISH Network.

The models have an important difference: The cable version can be chained to your existing drive, making the two drives work as one. With the DISH Network drive, you must first record a program on the internal drive and then transfer it over.

Both models run cooler, use one-third less power and are quieter than Western Digital's regular models. So as you relax on the couch, you can continue to feel good about your environmental impact.

ERIC A. TAUB, NEW YORK TIMES

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