Singing Loudly: Flat and Far

Singing Loudly

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Flat and Far

A couple things of good news on the technology news front. Perhaps that's because I'm starting to get the itch for both a new TV and a new car that I'm thinking about this a little more.

In the first story, someone has developed a hybrid car that will go about 250 miles per gallon! I was skeptical because anyone could load up a lot of batteries and then charge them up over the night to accomplish this. At that point, you are using just as much energy (usually from fossil fuels -- although, my energy comes from wind power) as if you used the oil. However, the guy actually has developed it in a way that uses very little energy while plugged in:

Like all hybrids, his Prius increases fuel efficiency by harnessing small amounts of electricity generated during braking and coasting. The extra batteries let him store extra power by plugging the car into a wall outlet at his home in this San Francisco suburb — all for about a quarter.

What these mods to the Prius are good for is the shorter daily commutes of 40 to 60 miles.

"The value of plug-in hybrids is they can dramatically reduce gasoline usage for the first few miles every day," Gremban said. "The average for people's usage of a car is somewhere around 30 to 40 miles per day. During that kind of driving, the plug-in hybrid can make a dramatic difference."

Anything that can both help the environment and reduce our dependence on foreign oil isn't so bad.

The second story is simply that flat screen TVs are starting to get even cheaper. Remember that when the plasmas first came out they sold for about $15,000? That was a number of years ago, since those days the prices have dropped dramatically. In even the past year the price of flat screen TVs has fallen by 35%. This comes from a mixture of more plants opening that develop and produce these screens and the market forces at work.

Lesser-known brands, such as Westinghouse Electric Co., Regent USA's Maxent, Syntax Corp.'s Olevia and Norcent Micro Inc. are slashing prices to compete against more-established names like Sharp Corp. and Sony Corp, forcing them, in turn, to charge less.

Not to worry if you can't afford a flat screen TV, because the prices have still not bottomed out completely.


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