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FrontRunners: Curve Appeal

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The Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin speaker system (www­.bwspeakers.com) not only is compatible with the iPod, but just might be worthy of it. The striking, airship-shaped system employs technology borrowed from B&W’s famed 800 Series speakers, including the Flowport, a design that extracts deeper bass from woofers without producing the huffing and puffing that characterizes many speaker ports. The Zeppelin holds a 5-inch woofer, two 3.5-inch midrange drivers, and two 1-inch tweeters, a more distinguished array than the single 3-inch driver used in many iPod speaker systems…. Another kind of zeppelin promises to dwarf the speaker system in terms of size and technical achievement. Scheduled for completion in 2010, the Aeros ML Hybrid Aircraft (www­.aeroscraft.com), a 210-foot-long airship that uses 14 million cubic feet of helium to stay aloft, will be capable of housing a small hotel. The Aeroscraft (as it also is called) will take off and land vertically but fly like a plane, propelled by turboprop engines. If it meets expectations, it will achieve 155 mph and have a range of 3,100 miles. The company also is developing a version of the craft for business use. . . . By the time airborne cruise ships appear, their pilots may have to watch out for flying cars. A firm named Terrafugia expects to deliver one such vehicle, the Transition (www­.terrafugia.com), in 2009. The company says the craft will reach highway speeds in its automotive configuration and fly at 115 mph for 460 miles with its wings down. Terrafugia is accepting deposits of $7,400 on the $148,000 vehicle.

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