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Gadgets & Gizmos

November 02, 2000|JON HEALEY

Kima KS110n What it does: Two alarm-clock-sized boxes transport sound wirelessly from a computer--or anything else with a headphone jack such as a portable CD player--to a stereo or portable radio.

* Price: $149.95

* Manufacturer: Akoo.com Inc.

* System requirements: At least two audio devices built for stereo, one of which could be a computer equipped with any type of sound card.

* Niche: People who want to listen to online radio stations and songs downloaded from the Internet on something other than their computer.

* The good: The product works pretty much as advertised, which is more than can be said for some of its competitors. One box is a wireless transmitter that connects to your computer's sound card or headphone jack on your boombox. The other box, positioned up to several hundred feet away, relays those transmissions to a stereo via FM airwaves or wires. The wireless signals had no trouble passing through several walls, and could even reach from the front of the house to the edge of the backyard. After a few early glitches, the boxes were able to deliver solid sound--maybe not full CD quality, but good enough for songs you're "sampling" from Napster. They can work with any type of computer and either plug into a wall outlet or use four AAA batteries.

* The bad: Although the wireless signals between Kima boxes are sturdy, the FM link between the Kima receiver and your stereo can be fickle. Having a digital tuner helps--so you can set the stereo to the exact frequency used by the Kima box--as does keeping the distance between the Kima box and the stereo less than 20 feet. The receiver also can interfere with some TV channels if it's placed within a few feet of your TV antenna. Don't look for much trouble-shooting help from the owner's manual: Its only advice is to "contact an akoo.com customer service representative or visit our Web site." It's at

http://www.akoo.com.

* Bottom line: Sure, it would only cost a few bucks to use wires to connect your computer to your stereo. But that's not much help if your PC is upstairs and your stereo downstairs or out back by the grill. Those are jobs for the Kima KS110, and it does them well.

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