AOL to offer product 'test drives'

America Online announced it will create a service that lets consumers test-drive new products, such as DVD players and hi-fi audio systems, under an agreement with e-SIM, a simulation technology company.

E-SIM's LiveProducts technology is the same as that used in flight simulators. It will allow customers to experience the feel and sound of certain electronic products, as if they were handling them in a real-world store, officials from the companies said.

The e-SIM LiveProducts service on the Shop@AOL marketplace also lets users learn how to use a product before buying it. For example, users can try out a simulated version of a digital phone. They can point their mouse and click on the phone keypad, and digits will appear on the phone's screen.

LiveProducts will be available on AOL shopping sites in the fall, the officials said.

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