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Kicking Into High Gear

Steve Morgenstern
From the Print Edition:
Don Johnson, Mar/Apr 02

Maybe you've just received your tax refund and it's burning a hole in your pocket. Or maybe you're about to fork over a bundle and need a new toy to console yourself. Either way, we have just what you need -- our springtime selection of best-of-breed digital products: a game console built for adults; a featherweight cell phone; a digital camera that breaks through the five-megapixel barrier; a universal remote that really is universal; a two-inch-thin slice of television; a wristwatch that reads out in both analog and digital; a pocket-size camcorder with all the key features; a fire-breathing desktop computer; a DVD recorder, and the ultimate personal assistant. Enjoy!

SCP-6000 Cell Phone

At this point, it's technologically feasible to create really tiny cell phones -- the trick is making them small and comfortable to use at the same time. That's where Sanyo has succeeded while others have failed, by creating a featherweight phone (just 2.29 ounces) that's incredibly slim (.39 inches) but still feels substantial in your hand. What's more, it's a sexy-looking device, clad in sleek magnesium alloy, with a modern, sculptured shape. Slip it into your jacket pocket and you'll forget it's there. Pull it out and you have a handset with buttons big enough for fast thumb-dialing, and a large LCD screen (seven lines deep, 15 characters a line) that's easy to read whether you're checking phone numbers or accessing wireless information services. If you'd rather not push the buttons at all, you can program 30 numbers for voice-activated dialing. You also get a 300-entry address book for phone numbers, e-mail addresses, etc., plus access to AOL Instant Messenger service and voice memo recording capability. And despite its diminutive dimensions, the SCP-6000 delivers excellent battery life (160 hours standby, 2.25 hours talk time with the standard battery). The SCP-6000 is available exclusively on the Sprint PCS network.

Sanyo, $300,, 888-253-1315



Two game consoles -- Microsoft's Xbox and Nintendo's Gamecube -- threaten to hand Sony's PlayStation 2, unchallenged in the category for a year, some competition. While Gamecube offers an impressive family-friendly game lineup, including appearances by the ever-popular Mario and Pokémon characters, it's Microsoft's Xbox that stands to give Sony a run for its money among grown-up gamers. (Incidentally, the money in question comes to roughly $6 billion a year, which explains Microsoft's sudden interest in playing games).

Xbox starts out with state-of-the-art video and sound capabilities, tapping the expertise of PC component makers Intel (for the processor) and nVidia (for the graphics chip). Then it adds built-in capabilities that the other consoles lack: an Ethernet port for high-speed Internet connections and an 8-gigabyte hard-disk drive. The hard drive lets developers customize your gaming experience, add new features and load new game sections nearly instantaneously. The Internet connectivity opens the door for multiplayer gaming, if and when you have a high-speed cable or DSL connection to the Net (and if you don't already, you probably will soon enough). The Sony and Nintendo systems could be expanded at some point to include both of these features, but as we've seen before, if a capability isn't built into the original system, game developers won't support it. Xbox comes out of the box ready to deliver great gaming experiences today and decked out for exciting future developments, yet costs the same as the older PlayStation 2.

Microsoft, $299,, 800-4MY-XBOX


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