Tiny, extra-useful gadgets groove
Cool toys, handy tools continue to amaze and
ISSUE 605: Currentz Section: May 29, 2001
by Alan Zisman
Gear Guide Column
Gadgets that do double duty or come in ultra-small
sizes are a big deal.
From scanners to cameras and clocks, things aren't always what they
Is that a scanner in your pocket...
Wizcom Technologies (www.wizcomtech.com)
has shrunk a
scanner into its Quicklink Pen Personal Scanner, a pocket-sized,
personal scanner. With OCR technology, it can convert scanned text into
word-processable text and can hold up to 1,000 pages in its built-in
ready to download to a PC, Palm-style PDA or even a compatible
phone. About $270.
It's a camera... no, it's an MP3 player
No, it's the Polaroid Photomax MP3 Camera (www.polaroiddigital.com),
a gadget with a split personality. Part of the time, it's a low-end
camera (640x480 pixel resolution), and the rest of the time it's an MP3
player. A 16-MB Compact Flash memory card is included, practical for
images, music or a combination. You'll probably want to pick up a
card with more capacity, however. About $375.
It's a cassette tape... no, it's an MP3
This MP3 player won't take pictures, but the Digisette
MP3 (www.digisette.com) looks like a cassette tape and, in fact,
fits into most standard cassette players. Inside the shell is a
USB-connecting MP3 player, complete with 32 MB of memory, expandable to
96 MB with a Sandisk Multimedia Card. Slip it into your pocket
listen to tunes through headphones or insert it into your car stereo or
other tape deck to let your music blast. Lacking an LCD screen makes it
awkward to try to work your way around a playlist, however. About
It's a Discman... no, it's an MP3 player
I've been critical of the relatively high price and
time of RAM-based music players. One alternative, Creative Labs'
Nomad Jukebox, got around the short playback time by building in a 6-GB
hard drive, but it still seemed too expensive to me.
Budget-minded music fans have recently been treated to
the release of
portable MP3 CD players, from a range of manufacturers. Looking like a
standard Sony Discman, these all play standard music CDs, but
play CDs filled with compressed MP3s, letting anyone with access to a
burner tote around disks each holding 10 hours worth of music.
Check out, for instance, the D-Link DMP
about $179. Certainly, being able to store 10 hours on a 650-MB $2
CD beats storing an hour's worth of music on a $170 64-MB Compact Flash
card, as far as I'm concerned.
It's a clock... no, it's an MP3 player
Wake up to downloaded music.
The Visitor MP3 Clock (http://shopping.artistdirect.com/mp3)
connects to your computer to download music. It stores a single song,
it plays to wake you up. (Actually, it only holds 50 seconds of your
Connecting via parallel port, it's PC-compatible only.
Sorry Mac fans!
Something fishy going on here
Many of you have seen aquarium screensavers, which
turn your computer
screen into a virtual aquarium. And some of you probably have an old
Macintosh in a closet or basement. Techquarium (www.techquarium.com)
puts them together, turning old Macs into real aquariums. Who needs
fish on a computer screen when you can have real fish inside a computer
Download the plans and build your own.