Wire your gift list to the 21st century with these high-tech holiday ideas
From the Print Edition:
Rudy Giuliani, Nov/Dec 01
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Maybe you're a baseball fan or Little League coach who wants to clock pitching speed. Or you might want to know how fast a tennis ball is moving, or a downhill skier, or a horse, or a race car. Or maybe you've always dreamed of opening your own little neighborhood speed trap and making a few extra bucks on the side. Whatever mesmerizes you about mph, the Speedster puts the power of radar in the palm of your hand. You can read the speed of a baseball from 6 to 110 mph from more than 75 feet away, and a car from 6 to 200 mph from more than 1,300 feet away, all with an accuracy of plus or minus one mile an hour. The LCD readout is crisp and clear, the unit is water-resistant, and the controls are point-and-shoot simple. Your biggest problem will be getting it back after your buddies see what you're carrying. Bushnell, $278, www.bushnell.com, 800-423-3537
Toshiba Satellite 5105-S701
Why buy a full-size desktop computer when you can enjoy plenty of computing power plus satisfying multimedia sizzle in this superb portable? The Satellite puts its best face forward with an extraordinary 15-inch LCD panel. The size is impressive, but much more important is the quality of the panel. In a side-by-side comparison with even a first-rate competitor, the Toshiba difference in brightness and contrast is striking.
Another pleasant surprise: built-in laptop speakers that won't make you grit your teeth when listening to music or DVD movies. The Harman/Kardon stereo speakers mounted beneath the screen keep distortion down while pumping out respectable volumes, even in the depths of the bass spectrum. Forget Spectravision -- just toss some DVDs into your bag, pop 'em into the Satellite's combination DVD-reading, CD-writing drive, and you have all the hotel room entertainment a traveler could ask for.
Under the hood, the Satellite is equally impressive. Powered by the mobile version of Intel's Pentium 4 processor and boasting the latest graphics solution from industry-leading nVidia, this is one laptop that won't leave computer gamers wanting. The built-in 802.11b wireless networking lets you Web-surf while wandering through your home or office. My absolute favorite use for this portable powerhouse, though, is digital video editing on the road. With an IEEE 1394 port for connecting a digital video camera and an enormous 60-gigabyte hard disk drive, I can basically carry an entire video-editing studio in my briefcase. Toshiba, $2,599, www.toshiba.com, 800-316-0920
Sony DAV-C990 DVD Dream System
Hi-fi enthusiasts may crave the anal-retentive complexities of setting up a home theater system almost as much as they look forward to actually watching DVD movies on the completed system. The rest of us just want the sound and the fury of a movie played back with crystal-clear dialogue, surround-sound special effects and a soaring musical soundtrack. The easier it is to get to that point, the better.
Sony dramatically lops the time from crate to soul-satisfying home-theater experience with the preconfigured 600-watt DVD Dream System. For a cool grand you get all the components you need, with the exception of a TV monitor. The five-disc changer lets you enjoy an entire evening at the movies (with CD musical interludes if you like) without ever leaving the couch, and the progressive-scan DVD playback delivers all the color and clarity that the format can provide. With four dramatic-looking floor-standing speakers, a center channel speaker that sits on your set, and a hefty subwoofer to deliver gut-rumbling bass, the sound is nicely balanced and powerful enough to fill even a substantial room. As expected, the receiver/amp supports Dolby Digital, dts and Dolby Pro-Logic II -- basically all the prominent surround-sound formats -- but in a welcome addition, also handles multichannel Super Audio CD (SACD) playback. The availability of SACD discs is still limited, but nothing else matches the sense of real-world space they provide when well mastered. Sony, $999.95, www.sonystyle.com, 877-865-7669
Saeco Italia Home Espresso Machine
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