Oh, what fun!
Check out some of the 40 or so cool gadgets, games and thingama-gizmos that we brought into our offices to play with.
by Computerworld Review Center
(IDG) -- Would you rather be watching a DVD movie on a big plasma display screen, reading a newfangled electronic book or swapping out disk drives? We know that database development tools, Web servers and storage management can be dry, dull — and necessary. But are they fun? Nah. Check out some of the 40 or so cool gadgets, games and thingama-gizmos that we brought into our offices to play with. (Hey, we want to have fun, too!)
Some of our favorites: The latest in Global Positioning System technology, a digital video disc player and new displays, an affordable digital camera and the latest games, including this year's hot new title, Trespasser.
We have a little of everything and something for everybody: the professional in you, the geek in you and the kid in you. It's cool stuff ... and not-so-cool stuff.
No lost horizons
Yes, you can get there from here, if you use one of the various Global Positioning
System (GPS) and map products that are available. With Street Atlas, you can
find and map addresses and area codes. You also can plot travel between two
points. It can take a few minutes to get started, but the program has loads of
features and even shows which radio stations you can receive along the
highways. You also can connect the GPS receiver to your laptop and see
exactly where you are along the way. The Magellan GSC 100 Global
Communicator goes a step further. It lets you tell someone else exactly where
you are, anywhere in the world, by sending them an E-mail.
Street Atlas USA 6.0 (with GPS Receiver) by Delorme
Magellan GSC 100 Global Communicator by Magellan Corp.
Fast-forwarding your VCR to the beginning of a movie is a stab in the dark. But
with digital video disc (DVD) players, you get a menu to guide you to where you
want to go. Click down once to see the opening credits or click on to your
favorite scene (DVDs segment the movies). I hooked up Toshiba's SD3108 DVD
to my fairly old color TV and was astounded at the sharpness and brilliance of
color. The only drawback: Rentals are hard to come by. DVD players range in
price from roughly $350 to $1,000.
SD3108 DVD Video Player by Toshiba America Consumer Products Inc.
Surf 'n' veg
WebTV Plus Special Edition, which comes as a plain black box, is relatively easy to set up (about as difficult as hooking up your cable and VCR to your TV) and has enough features for E-mail, simple searching and surfing popular Web sites. WebTV also includes TV features such as program reminders and local listings.
WebTV Plus by WebTV Networks Inc.
Pssst . . . got $22,000?
Skinny TV's? Skinny TVs? Yup. Plasma display technology is hitting the consumer scene. Well, for now, the wealthy consumer scene: Screens range from $10,000 to $22,000. The screens are about 4 to 6 in. deep, can hang on your wall and offer screen widths from 40 to 50 in. We reviewed a 42-in. screen from Fujitsu and a 50-in. screen from Pioneer. We were impressed by the sharp resolution and rich colors. But if you're closer than, say, 12 feet, the screen is grainy.
Plasmavision 42 by Fujitsu General America Inc.
PDP-V501X by Pioneer New Media Technologies
Out of the dozens of digital cameras ranging from $250 to less than $1,000, the Olympus D-600L and Kodak's DC210 Plus shape up as this year's hot sellers, according to our informal poll of a half-dozen major camera stores. We also reviewed Canon's Vistura Camcorder, which Canon says has the longest zoom lens of any digital video camcorder — up to eight times zoom maximum. The Olympus was hard to use. The resolution and color were sharp and bright only when set at the highest resolution. The cheaper Kodak's images were bright and clear, the colors were true, and it was a snap to figure out. The digital camcorder also was easy to use.
D-600L by Olympus America Inc.
DC210 Plus by Eastman Kodak Co.
Vistura DV Camcorder by Canon USA Inc
Playing the role of a dead person is the easy part of Grim Fandango.
The hard part is trying to solve a mystery in this 3-D adventure from
LucasArts. Based on Mexican, Mayan and Aztec mythology, with some hard-boiled
film noir thrown in, this game will have you laughing along with the other
corpses as you try to reach "heaven."
Grim Fandango by LucasArts Entertainment
Your objective couldn't be more straightforward: Don't get eaten. But when you're marooned with rogue dinosaurs on the tropical "Site B" island, in the aftermath of the Lost World expedition, staying alive isn't so easy. Everything in the Trespasser environment reacts according to the laws of physics, which is what makes this game so much fun. The catch for this sophistication is a minimum system of a 266-MHz Pentium II with 64M bytes of RAM or better.
Trespasser by DreamWorks Interactive
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