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Personal Tech Guide

Your guide to what's new, useful, and just plain fun.

Oakley ThumpSight And Sound
Oakley already has Razrwire, a sunglasses and phone combo that proved too impractical. Cool shades don't look cooler with a cell phone hanging off them. The Oakley Thump pairs sunglasses with an MP3 player--now this is a natural marriage of sun and music. The big questions are, why hasn't someone done this before and why does it have to cost $495? Two versions hold either 60 or 120 songs with as much as six hours of playback per charge. But at that price, don't leave these laying around on your beach towel.


Against The Wall
Mobility Electronics iGo everywhere130Simplicity is important. Mobility Electronics has designed an AC/DC adapter that works with standard wall outlets and whatever's available on planes, trains, and automobiles. (Oh, and boats and RVs.) The $120 iGo everywhere130, coupled with the iGo dual-power accessory, which costs extra, can power a PC and a mobile phone, PDA, digital camera, or MP3 player simultaneously. And it charges those devices with a one adapter and interchangeable tips.


iRobot ScoobaClean Machine
The people who brought us the robotic vacuum Roomba now want to wash our floors. IRobot's Scooba is a self-propelled tank of water the size of a bathroom scale. A mop autopilot is supposedly smart enough to avoid carpets. At $400, let's hope so. Can 1.2 million Roomba owners be wrong? Available at www.irobot.com.


Monotony To Go
Sprint PPC-6700 Pocket PC PhoneBells? Check. Whistles? Check. Sprint's PPC-6700 Pocket PC Phone comes with a 1.3-megapixel camera and camcorder, sliding Qwerty keyboard, and EV-DO technology with broadbandlike download speeds (only where coverage is available, so don't get too excited yet). New Microsoft Office software lets you view PowerPoint presentations, so you can be bored to tears even on the road. One oddity: The $480 device's stubby antenna looks rather like a rhinoceros horn.


Paranoia Is OK
Locking down laptops isn't new, but Digital Innovations has some nifty security devices worth a look, even if you trust your fellow coffee-shop slackers when you head to the bathroom. The $15 SecurityDR Data Guard Thumbdrive Lock clamps a three-dial combination lock over any standard USB memory drive. The $30 Security DR PC Defender Screen Lock is a three-piece wireless system that conceals the screen once you walk a certain distance away, using one transceiver in the USB drive and another clipped on a belt or pocket. The $40 Security DR Laptop Security Alarm protects the truly paranoid with a motion sensor, physical lock, and siren. That'll send any hypercaffeinated snoopers screaming for the nearest exit.


SonosMusic By The Room
Maybe your parties are the kind where people dress like they fell out of a light-beer ad, all smiles and fashion, with just the right tune in the background. Then this is the sound system for you. It's also your sound system if you're just very particular about hearing music in every corner of your house. The Sonos ($1,500 for the gear to do two rooms) plays up to 32 songs in 32 rooms, or the same song in every one--perfectly synchronized, so you won't kill the party buzz with Wilco in the living room playing a half-second behind the kitchen.


Toaster Chic
HP Photosmart 475What makes the HP Photosmart 475 unusual is that the $280 printer stores 1,000 digital photos. Even more striking is how much it looks like a toaster with iPod envy. It prints 4-by-6s and 5-by-7s, and is small enough to pack in a suitcase to unload memory cards on the road. Battery lasts for 80 prints, about 200 prints per cartridge, or 24 cents apiece.


Scottevest Tactical VCCan't Touch This
Scottevest jackets are known for somehow concealing 40 pockets and compartments to store all of a person's electronic gadgets. Now the company has added microchips to the fabric to produce wearable "switching technology." Wearers of the $310 Tactical VC can adjust the level of devices inside using controls on the sleeve. Conductive fabric ribbon cables make the connections, which are washable and pierce resistant. Wear what the pros at the CIA and NSA wear.

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