The Box and Beyond

Games, hardware, and other tech toys

The Box and Beyond

Tech Toyland

Holiday shopping for the technophile can be daunting when you don't know your RAM from your ROM. Here are some ideas:

Geek accessories: Made by Victorinox (the Swiss Army Knife maker), the Cybertool is loaded with 41 tools for those pesky computer repairs. Available in translucent ruby, sapphire, or black. No, the Lap Genie isn't a lap dancer. It's a device to keep heavy-breathing laptops from roasting the top of your thighs (www.lapgenie.com). A similar item is the Podium Cool Pad, which creates space between laptop and desk. About $30 (www.roadtools.com). Without power, tech toys are useless. The Instant Power Charger provides one source to juice up most personal gadgetry (www.electric-fuel.com). Many styli sold for PDAs or pocket PCs convert from stylus to pen. The PDA Panache Trio is a stylus, a pen, and a mechanical pencil, all for about $22. But isn't a stylus really just a pointy thing to tap on your PDA? TrueTip (www.truetip.com) thinks so, too, and came up with the TrueTip nylon stylus, worn on your fingertip for point and tap action, and the Pen Cap stylus replaces a standard pen cap with a conical TrueTip pointed cap. At $10 for three TrueTips or four Pen Cap styli, they're less costly to replace if you lose them. Those foldable, full-size keyboards that attach to PDAs are nifty, but without a flat surface, they're not so handy. Smaller "thumb boards" attach to the bottom of your PDA for faster thumb typing. Examples include Seiko's ThumbBoard (www.seiko-austin.com), the ThumbPad by Targus (www.targususa.com/pen), and the PDA Pocket Keyboard by Fellowes (www.fellowes.com). Just wading into the PDA/Pocket PC jungle? Visit www.pencomputing.com for an excellent rundown.

Chic geek: It's an organizer, pager, dictionary, and scientific calculator. But that's not why your teens want the CybikoXtreme. They want it for the peer-to-peer wireless messaging system that does not require network or connection charges. A growing cult of high-schoolers have created micro-Web groups who message each other, play networked games, and connect long-distance friends, assuming there are Cybiko users from beginning to end. About $200, www.cybikoxtreme.com. MP3 players are now as ubiquitous as Walkmans, and the new and improved Archos Jukebox Recorder is worth a look. Improved sound and headphones, the Archos stores 100 hours of downloaded music, and it's still small and light. Decorative corner bumpers protect it from average wear and tear. About $350, www.archos.com. From Apple comes the iPod: At about $400, it boasts speed, ease of use, and a compact size. Besides supporting MP3, it handles variable bit rate and wav formats. For the computer-bound, consider the Kima KS110. At about $100, this device transfers audio signals from your computer (CD, digital music files, Internet radio) to a remote device like a nearby radio or receiver. And finally, for gamers, there's Microsoft's Xbox, Nintendo's Gamecube, and Sony's PlayStation2 (introduced last year). If you haven't heard of any of these, you haven't been paying attention. Don't ask me, ask your kid (or see reviews, facing page).

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