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Digging the Digi-Toys

The latest and coolest in tech divertissements for the wired bunch

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The microprocessor revolution progresses faster than a Pentium chip, with innovations barely staying ahead of obsolescence. Check out this year’s gaggle of gonzo gadgets — they’re smaller, smarter, lighter, and cheaper than their tech-toy forebears.

KODAK DVC 300
Hipness: This digital video ”quick-cam” is tops at capturing sharp, full-motion video and high-quality stills; specializes in live videoconferencing from desktop or laptop computers.
Lameness: The funky, oblong shape looks neat but balances awkwardly in the hand. (Kodak, $200, 888-375-6325, http://www.kodak.com)
[Lust Scale] 5
[Must Scale] 7

FREETALK TWO-WAY RADIOS
Hipness: Walkie-talkies for grown-ups, these two-way radios utilize specially designated radio frequencies, with 14 channels and 38 talk groups, a two-mile range, and a scramble mode for private gabbing. Best of all, air time is free.
Lameness: Breaker one nine, that’s a big ten four on the goober with too many tech toys. (Kenwood, $159 each, 800-950-5005, http://www.kenwood.net)
[Lust Scale] 8
[Must Scale] 3

RDC-300 DIGITAL CAMERA
Hipness: Compact and sleek, this digital point-and-shoot 38 mm camera lets you download pictures onto your computer or view them on TV. The color LCD monitor and 4 MB onboard memory lets you store up to 100 images in standard JPEG file formats.
Lameness: The itsy-bitsy monitor makes everything look smushed. (Ricoh, $495, 702-352-1600, http://www.ricohcpg.com)
[Lust Scale] 6
[Must Scale] 5

THE GLOVE
Hipness: With finger-button controls and wrist-motion-sensing technology, this gaming controller will work with Sony PlayStation when it ships in late October. By next year, new models will work with other console and PC games.
Lameness: Lefties are out of luck. (Reality Quest, $89.95, 888-96-GLOVE, http://www.theglove.com)
[Lust Scale] 6
[Must Scale] 6

LEARN ‘N SKETCH
Hipness: This made-for-kids drawing tablet features a brightly colored body, corncob stylus, and strawberry-shaped icons. Use it as a training mouse for young digi-artists.
Lameness: The 5-by-7-inch drawing area will seem skimpy to kids with bigger ideas. (CalComp, $69 with $20 rebate, 800-992-9549)
[Lust Scale] 3
[Must Scale] 7

DISKITS
Hipness: These foam disc holders also serve as wacky desk sculptures, in shapes like an alligator, a mailbox, and a hunk of cheese.
Lameness: Do you really need more komputer kitsch? (Curtis, $13.95-15.95, 800-272-2366)
[Lust Scale] 3
[Must Scale] 7

IBM APTIVA S
Hipness: IBM’s award-winning split-system design puts the floppy and DVD-II-ROM drives discreetly beneath the monitor, while the CPU (not shown) can be hidden elsewhere. A superfast Pentium II MMX chip makes this top-o’-the-line desktop computer rock.
Lameness: The integrated Bose surround-sound system and external DVD port let you hook up the DVD-II-ROM drive to your home-entertainment center, making all that dough you spent on your DVD player a waste of, uh, dough. (IBM, $3,800, 800-426-7235 ext. 4340, www. pc.ibm.com/aptiva)
[Lust Scale] 8
[Must Scale] 8

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