Dell Digital Jukebox
($329) One of several MP3 players challenging Apple’s still-hot iPod, Dell’s DJ might be the strongest contender thus far. The 20-gigabyte model costs $70 less than a similar-size 20-GB iPod and boasts double the battery life. At 7.6 ounces, it’s a bit heavier, but its rubberized edges make it easy to hold. And there’s a nice intuitiveness about the layout of the controls (grouped around a cylindrical scroll wheel, which makes navigating through thousands of tunes as simple as a song). We also like the display screen’s pleasing blue light. ”Dude! Maybe you should get a Dell…”
Meade Capture View Binoculars
($200) Sure to be a hit among birders, concertgoers, and Peeping Toms, these 8X 42mm binoculars have been grafted onto a digital camera, which rides on top. Tap a button and you can record an image to its 16-MB internal memory or optional SD card. There’s also a movie mode for capturing up to 90 seconds of video. The camera runs on two AA batteries and connects to a PC via a built-in USB port. Looks good to us, even from afar.
Jansport Live Wire Daypack
($120) If you think fumbling with an MP3 player and knotted skein of headphone wire is an exercise in frustration, you’ll love this integrated backpack. Contained in each shoulder strap is a retractable earbud. Another strap houses a volume-control wheel, while two side pockets offer additional functionality. Hmm, looks like Papa’s got a brand-new bag.
Tapwave Zodiac2 mobile entertainment console
($399) The Zodiac2 is a full-featured PDA and mini — game console with a 3.8-inch backlit display offering a resolution that easily beats that of the Nokia N-Gage and Game Boy Advance. With a joystick, built-in speakers, and four action buttons, it’s a portable gaming dream machine. And when it’s time to get down to business, the Zodiac turns into a Palm OS organizer with 128 MB of memory. So what’s the catch? For now, it’s available only from the manufacturer, at tapwave.com.