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Good Word for Pocket WordFinder

Already, it has an endorsement--unsolicited, it’s emphasized on the brochure--from that man of letters, and words, William F. Buckley Jr., who said, “It’s a bloody miracle . . . (it’s) changed my life!”

The item is WordFinder, “the world’s smallest and smartest electronic dictionary/thesaurus,” a 6-ounce, hand-held machine that tucks into pocket, briefcase or purse and will verify or correct the spelling of 100,000 words instantly on its 20-character screen or display synonyms for any of those words.

Enter the word gadget, for example, on a typewriter-configuration keyboard and WordFinder will suggest 16 alternatives, among these apparatus , contraption , gizmo and widget . All of this--4.5 megabytes of information--is compressed on one microcomputer chip.

The 100,000 words, explained Mike Plitman of SelecTronics, the manufacturer, were chosen by scientists at Xerox’s research center in Palo Alto for software maker Microlytics, co-developer of the WordFinder. They include major cities and all states and most foreign countries.

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Explained Plitman: “You can take a dictionary and go through it and there’s a lot of useless words there. These are all words that are usable. . . . We don’t count one word twice. Walk , walked and walking is not three.”

Coming early next year, Mike Weiner of Microlytics said, are WordFinders in “most of the major European languages,” and ready to go into production are midget computer translators for businessmen, travelers and students.

The suggested retail price for WordFinder is $99. It is available at Robinson’s and Bullock’s.

Solar Sign

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New from Hammacher Schlemmer, which has given the world the heated area rug, the collapsible golf club and the electronic cat door, is a solar-powered illuminated address sign.

The sign, which requires no exterior wiring, uses solar energy to recharge its 4-volt lead acid battery that, said spokeswoman Susan Sanders, will run for 32 hours on a single three-hour charge from the sun and has a life expectancy of between 5 and 10 years. A photoelectric eye automatically turns the light on at dusk and off at daybreak.

The address sign, 7 inches high and 12 inches long, is steel-rimmed with plastic facing and comes with brackets for wall mounting and lawn stakes as an option. The package includes three sets of adhesive numbers ranging from zero to nine and one set of letters: N, S, E and W.

Hammacher Schlemmer guarantees it to operate up to 10 sunless days. “Even overcast, there’s going to be some recharging,” said Sanders. “Hopefully, in our lifetime there’s never going to be 10 days of total darkness. If there is, I don’t think people are going to care what their house number is.”

The item, $104.50 with post stakes and $82.75 without, is available from Hammacher Schlemmer’s Beverly Hills store,309 N. Rodeo Drive, (213) 858-7255.

Baby Wipes

James River Corp. (the Brawny paper towel maker) has launched a massive marketing campaign--including a TV spot showing a bare-bottomed baby crawling over hot sand in search of its product--to introduce Natural Touch baby wipes.

The disposable, cloth-like moistened towelettes, competing in a $300-million-a-year baby wipes market, are alcohol-free and chemical-free. They are saturated with water, aloe vera, citric and sorbic acids and other natural ingredients. They are mildly fragrant.

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Natural Touch baby wipes are packaged in a tub of 80 and in foil packs of 8 for use away from home. Suggested retail: $2.99 for the 80-count package; 79 cents for the 8-count travel pack.

Mustache Razor

According to data collected by the Wahl Clipper Corp. of Illinois, about 35 million American men now have mustaches, but only a third of those have beards too. Wahl’s new Groomsman Mustache Trimmer is targeting the mustache-only market.

The battery-operated multi-setting trimmer, which resembles an elongated electric razor, is designed to blend and taper mustaches thick or thin, long or short. Most men just use scissors on mustache or beard, said spokesman Ron Marin, but “you can cut your nose or lip” that way and there’s less control over “how much hair you’re slicing off.”

The trimmer, in steel blue, uses three double-A batteries. There is no plug-in option. Explained Marin, “Trimming a mustache is not a lengthy job.” Suggested retail price: $19.95. The firm will ship direct or give retail information to those calling toll-free: (800)435-7748.


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