Santa'selves must be working overtime on such high-tech toys: ThePost and Courier's gadget gift guide for the holiday season. By Chris Dixon
Friday, November25, 2005
Edition: FINAL,Section: NATION, Page A1
Ina recent episode of The Simpsons entitled "Future Drama," the Margeof tomorrow makes the poignant observation that "life has been somuch easier ever since science invented magic."
Well, aholiday-season browse down the aisles of The Sharper Image on KingStreet or a read through Time Magazine's Most Amazing Inventions of2005 likely would be enough to convince most that Marge's prophecyalready has come to pass. From Robosapiens to underwater digitalcameras to video iPods, from Wi-Fi Sony PSP's to Xbox 360's, toNike's cyborg-inspired contact lenses, this year's slew of potentialtechno gifts is enough to inspire not only yuletide wonder but even alittle Christmas fear. For if Santa's once simple elves are nowcapable of such astonishing, silicon-based toys and gadgets, how willwe humans compete in the holiday marketplace of tomorrow? Will wehave to become Robosapiens ourselves?
Almost certain tobring more happiness than two turtle doves, five golden rings, oreven 10 lords a leaping, here are 12 days of techno gifts that kidsof all ages will hope to find under that most hopelessly low-tech ofobjects, the Christmas tree, plus 10 more techno toys for children.
12 techno gifts
1. The Apple iPodwith video. http://www.apple.com. Will video kill the audio star?Either way, you'll be ready with this easy-to-use but tech-heavylittle rectangle. Wisely, Apple has folded video into its flagshipmusic player, and simply keeps calling it the iPod. Remarkably thinand compact, the little player's 2.5 inch, 320 x 240 video screenmight grow a little wearisome after a long movie, but it stilldelivers remarkably clear and high quality video and, of course,audio. Videocasts can be bought from the iTunes
10 kids a leaping
Ten techno toysfor children, in no particular order.
1. Laser TagTanks. www.thinkgeek.com has two models. Their Desktop R/CMini-Rovers ($39.99), can shoot at one another in mock laser battles.A step up and ONLY appropriate for older kids, the R/C Laser TagShocking Tanks ($49.99) have controllers that actually deliver anelectric jolt to the hands of unskilled opponents.
2. Star WarsForce FX Lightsabers. Also available from www.thinkgeek.com for$119.99, these cool lightsabers feature lighting and computerizedsounds straight from the movie. Fairly sophisticated, so probablybetter for those age 12 and up.
3. Antworks -Space Age Ant Habitat. Available at www.exploratoriumstore.com for$19.99, this space-age ant farm is based on a NASA project. Ants liveand tunnel through an edible, non-toxic gel. Ages: 8 and up.
4. The RocketCar. Available at www.exploratoriumstore.com for $22.50, this coolnew take on the old baking soda volcano trick uses this tried, trueand safe chemical reaction to send a rocket car racing for more than200 feet. Just remember to run it outside only. Ages: 8 and up.
5. Discovery DNAExplorer Kit. From www.discoverystore.com for $79.95 this remarkablelittle mini-lab lets future detectives actually perform DNA analysisand tests with a real centrifuge. Ages: 10 and up.
6. DiscoverySunshine Symphony. From www.discoverystore.com for $29.95. Take itfrom a reporter with a fascinated
newborn. Thissmiling little stuffed sun plays real symphonic music and will be asource of wonder for a baby's sense of sight, sound and touch. Ages:newborn to a year.
7. ButterflyLiving Room R/C Flyer. From www.thinkgeek.com for $239.99, this isthe smallest remote control airplane available. Fully controllableand simply amazing, this glorified cross between a windup balsa andpaper airplane flies on a tiny battery. Ages: 12 and up.
8. R/C X-UFO.From www.thinkgeek.com for $179.99. This
innovative UFOflies for five
minutes percharge with the
help of fourdirectional motors. Gyroscopically stablized, lightweight and with adurable carbon fiber frame, you can fascinate friends up to 300 feetaway. Ages: 12 and up.
9. Fuel Cell Car& Experiment Kit. From www.exploratorium.com for $160.00. Build acar that runs on water! The fuel cell separates hydrogen from oxygenand the car scoots across the floor electrically. Get one soon beforebig oil companies buy the patent. Ages: 12 and up.
10. i-Dog MusicalCompanion. From www.sharperimage.com for $34.95. A functional andentertaining little audio robot that plugs into your iPod or MP3player. LED's light up, ears and tail wag in sync to the music.Doubles as an external speaker. Ages: 12 and up.