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Innovation | Portable hard drives and more

A PORTABLE HARD DRIVE THAT'S EASIER TO PARK: Portable hard drives can make for great traveling companions. Their cords? Less so.

Short USB cables are fine when connecting a hard drive to your laptop in a hotel room, but using the same equipment to connect the drive to a processor under a desk can lead to back pains, banged heads and outbursts of profanity.

Seagate's FreeAgent Go hard drive is the first portable, self-powered drive to feature a docking station; the dock is optional for Windows-compatible devices and included in Mac versions. Connect the 6.35-ounce dock to your PC and you can sync up like any iPod or PalmPilot.

The Mac version of the Go drive is $160 for 250 gigabytes and $190 for 320 gigabytes. The Windows version is $120 for 250 gigabytes, $150 for 320 gigabytes and $240 for 500 gigabytes. It also has software for automated backups, encryption and password protection.

Azadeh Ensha, New York Times

EVEN MORE TO ADMIRE FROM A HEAVY-DUTY CAMERA: A September surprise, the Canon 5D Mark II popped up last week at the Photokina trade show in Germany.

The original 5D, though three years old, is still the heavy-duty camera of choice for a legion of admirers. Its full-frame sensor produces colorful, detailed images.

Cosmetically the same, the new version shoots full HD video and even better still pictures. The larger data stream from a 21-megapixel sensor is handled by more efficient amplifier circuitry and a new signal processor, the Digic IV, for a reduction in digital noise.

MPEG4 video can be shot for up to 29 minutes, depending on the content. The camera, which will ship in November, will sell for $2,699 for the body alone.

Marty Katz, New York Times

THIS iPHONE ADD-ON KEEPS TRACK OF YOUR TREKS: The Global Positioning System functions on the new iPhone may be great for drivers, but what about people who enjoy bipedal locomotion?

RunKeeper from FitnessKeeper costs $9.99 on the iTunes App Store. While the iPod Touch, the iPod Nano and the iPod Classic all support the Nike-plus iPod pedometer, RunKeeper taps into the native GPS capability of the iPhone 3G. While a person is jogging, RunKeeper displays the current pace, distance and time as well as a bar graph of the speed over time. After the run, the program automatically uploads the data to www.runkeeper.com. Log in to see a Google map of the route as well as the run's total distance.

In a few tests, the iPhone had trouble finding the exact location but still recorded the speed and distance at the end of the run. The program works best in wide-open areas.

John Biggs, New York Times
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