November 24, 2004

High Tech Toys for Girls and Boys

By Tom Carroll

All work and no play sometimes make Jack and Jill less happy than they’d like to be. And while science has not provided a direct correlation between high tech toy receiving and happiness (at least not yet), here is a selection of trendy, fun, and even downright geeky tech toys that may provide just the attraction or distraction your love one needs this holiday season (all dollar figures are suggested retail prices):

FOR GROWNUPS

JVC Mobile Mini Note PC: This is one mobile PC that maximizes on features and minimizes on size. The Mini Note is elegant looking, opens like you’d unlatch a lady’s compact (say what?), yet houses a 1GHz processor, Windows XP Pro operating system, and the following built-in features: a wireless LAN, a DVD-ROM &CD-R/RW drive, a 40GB hard disk drive, a SD mem-ory card slot. The battery allows more than six hours of PC use and a full three hours of DVD watching. Warning to guys with big fingers… if you’re going to use the Mini Note for more than checking email, consider adding a full-sized keyboard! $2399.95. www.jvc.com

Roomba Robot Vacuum: iRobot introduced the Roomba robot vacuum cleaner in 2002. Two years later (and a million sales later), there are four models to choose from, each with more sophistication. The most important similarity between them: they clean the house without requiring a person to push them around. Roomba Red: $149.99); Roomba: $199.99; Roomba Discovery: $249.99); Room-ba Discovery SE: $269.99. www.irobot.com

Radio YourWay: Radio YourWay sounds like the title of an old Bing Crosby movie, but it’s actually a very trendy little device from Pogo! that enables users to record AM/FM radio broadcasts, in real time, or by setting a timer. This feature lets users listen to their favorite shows at times and places that may be more convenient. Radio Your-Way can also be used as a voice-recorder or to listen to MP3 tunes. 32 Mb: $149.99; 128 Mb: $199.99. www.pogoproducts.com

FOR TEENS

Oakley Thump: Your ears are on your head, so why should your music system hang on your waist? What better introduction could Oakley give its new Thump .mp3 sunglasses? Listen to about 4 hours of music (60 tracks) directly to your ears without getting tangled in cables or wires. Oakley Thump weighs only 1.8 ounces - lighter than an empty CD case. Cut the cord and take OAKLEY THUMP places where tethered music players get in the way. Note: if price is the only criteria, the Thump should be considered a teen item only if the teen has a job! 128 Mb: $395; 256 Mb: $495. www.oakley.com

Samsonite Backpacks: What? You never thought of Samsonite for backpacks? Well, until this year, neither had I… Samsonite’s New Jack backpack is every much for tech teen’s who trek too. It has a sleeve for storing a laptop (with gear), and there’s a music pocket with a gate for headphone wires to pass through, and, hey, it’s comfortable to wear. What more could anyone want? $49.99. www.samsonite.com

SanDisk Cruzer Titanium: Kids at college need a portable drive to move files (and graphics… and music) from machine to machine. But it can’t be just any drive. It has to look cool. The SanDisk Cruzer Titanium USB 2.0 Flash drive is as stylish as it is rugged, flexible, and easy to use. Add to that a write speed rating of 13 megabytes per second and a read speed of 15MB per second and you have the makings of a real winner. $129.99. www.sandisk.com

Microsoft’s Halo 2: The sequel to the highly successful and critically acclaimed Halo: Combat Evolved. In Halo 2, the saga continues as Master Chief – a genetically enhanced super-soldier – is the only thing standing between the relentless Covenant and the destruction of all humankind. Comes with a Mature rating. $49.99 www.halo2.com

Ubisoft’s Chessmaster: Okay this one’s for the brainy kids in the bunch, the ones too much into books and board games to be interested in babes and shootem-ups (for now, anyway…). Chess-master knows no peer when it comes to chess instruction, practice, and matches. XBOX and PC: $19.99 www.chessmaster.com

FOR KIDS 5 - 11

Wild Planet Gear: There’s no planet in the universe that takes kids 5 – 11 (and any adults who want to try to slip in under the bar) more serious that Wild Planet. The company has so many gadgets that it’s tough to focus, but for 2004 let’s learn more about the Hoodio, Beat Blenders, and Spy Gear. Hoodio is a fleece-lined jacket that has a AAA-battery operated FM radio that attaches to the hood. Beat Blenders are hand-held music systems that let anyone create songs by layering and looping pre-recorded tracks. Beat Blenders can also be linked together to provide longer, more satisfying mixes. Spy Gear is Wild Planet’s name for a host of products that let kids be spies. They incorporate cool tech like laser beams, listening devices, walkie talkies, and telescopic magnfiers into things kids can wear as part of their action-oriented games. Hoo-dio: $68; Beat Blenders $14.95 to $16.95; and Spy Gear (see Web site for item prices) www.wildplanet.com

Kim Possible: The Villain Files DVD: The world’s coolest teen crime fighter and her trusted sidekick Ron Stoppable, take on bad guys like Diff Killigan, Duff Kil-ligan, Señor Senior Jr., and a host of others, even as she juggles school, cheerleading, and her personal arch foe: Dr. Drakken. Price may vary; consult http://disneyvideos.disney.go.com

The Incredibles: You can’t buy the DVD video until next Summer, but you can play the videogame. Addictive family fun that’s available on XBOX, PS2, Gamecube, and Gameboy Advance. Console prices vary. http://thq.com/theincredibles

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