The annual PC Expo in New York always shows off gadgetry to make technophiles drool. Last week's party was no exception. Here's some of what caught our eye wandering through the blinking, chirping aisles of the Jacob Javitz Center in Manhattan.
Casio Wrist Camera Watch
$250 to $270
So you went out last night, met that special someone and had an altogether magical evening. One problem: You can't recall whether they qualified as animal, vegetable or mineral. Casio's lightweight wearable digital cameras can help. Despite an unassuming 120-by-120-dot gray-scale liquid-crystal screen, these handy devices store as many as 80 color JPEG images that can be beamed to compatible PCs through an infrared adapter. Amnesiacs can also add 24 characters of text to portraits, assuring they'll never need to remember a name or number again. These nifty gadgets can tell time too, but who's checking?
Electric Fuel Instant Power Chargers
$15 for cell phones, $20 for PDAs, $10 for replaceable power cartridges
You're busy playing road warrior but left the cell phone or personal digital assistant power source behind. No problem, thanks to these nifty disposable rechargers. Purchase a power cable and replaceable power cartridge for the appropriate phone or hand-held, and you'll be good to go for three full charges. In times of desperation, one can run devices right off the charger.
Olympus Eye-Trek Goggles
No bigger than a pair of sunglasses, these goggles simulate the experience of watching a 62-inch television from 6 feet away. They're a perfect companion for portable DVD players, notebook computers, TVs and Sony's PlayStation 2. You won't find a more authentic hand-held home theater experience around. With a stylish 240,000-pixel screen and DTS and Dolby Surround Sound support, it impresses with silky smooth audio and video.
TravRoute Pocket CoPilot 2.0
Feeling too embarrassed or stubborn to ask for directions? Never fear. With this GPS tracking software for several Casio, Compaq iPaq and HP Jornada models, getting back on track couldn't be easier. Load data for appropriate cities, plug in a route and you'll be guided by oversized pop-up displays, step-by-step directional checklists and even vocal prompts.
Toshiba Satellite 2085
Goodbye, Game Boy Advance. Wait until mobile gamers get a load of this alternate portable powerhouse, designed for high-end multimedia performance. Boasting fully customizable perks such as an Intel 1-gigahertz Pentium III processor, 256 megabytes of RAM, an NVIDIA GeForce2 Go graphics adapter with 16 MB of RAM on board, a DVD-ROM/CD-RW combo drive, plus a crystal-clear 15-inch TFT display, it's every bit as powerful as Dell's rival Inspiron 8000 series. It's much sexier, to boot. The machine is also appropriate for serious number crunching and dedicated applications, with an integrated Ethernet port and modem included.
Sony CLIE N610C Hand-Held
If a picture is worth a thousand words, what does a streamlined, powerful PDA sporting a 320-by-320-pixel, 16-bit, 65,000-color LCD screen say? "Buy me," if Sony is to be believed. Its newest Palm OS hand-held is geared toward photo buffs with an eye for detail. Despite pint-size dimensions and a negligible 5.65-ounce weight, the machine can hold a sizable range of content.
Olympus DM-1 Digital Voice Recorder
Using an included 64-MB SmartMedia card, owners of Olympus' DM-1 Voice/Music recorder can enjoy as many as 22 hours of voice recording or one hour of the latest chart-topping hits as MP3 tunes. WOW sound system support from SRS Labs guarantees that whether you're jamming to Van Morrison or mulling over past dictation, every nuance of the original recording is fully audible. User-friendly DSS Player Dictation and MusicMatch jukebox software make this excellent package seem to hit that much more of a high note.
Kodak DX3600 Zoom Camera and Camera Dock
If you think taking great pictures is a chore, try sharing them with technologically impaired friends and family. Luckily, Kodak's DX3600 makes the perfect gift for those who simply want to point, shoot and admire their handiwork. Offering a vivid 2.2-megapixel resolution, 8 MB of internal memory and a bevy of entry-level features such as 6x zoom, a compact flash expansion slot and digital audio/video capture utilizing a built-in microphone and speaker, it's a winning bet for any amateur paparazzo. The docking accessory lets you instantly transfer images to any PC with the touch of a button.
Sharp Aquos LCD TV
$1,600 to $4,000
Oh yes, the revolution will be televised--and in glorious high-resolution color. Sleek and slim at just over 2 inches thick, Sharp's new Aquos LCD color TVs use proprietary Black TFT technology that reduces glare, produces an impressive 350:1 contrast ratio and elevates prime-time viewing to an art form. Elegant design combines with long-life backlighting, video input support of all stripes and built-in speakers for the ultimate home theater.
Handspring Visor Prism
This top-notch PDA is perfect for the modern-day renaissance man or woman. Demanding users will appreciate its minuscule size, 16-bit, 65,536-color screen and simple four-button interface only slightly less than its knack for added value. It's designed with flexibility in mind. You can snap on a MiniJam MP3 player, stowaway keyboard or attachable GameFace unit. Countless applications from Mad Gab to Vindigo will run on its default Palm OS as well. With so many killer apps available, the only vexing part is deciding how to divvy up your base 8 MB of memory.
Scott Steinberg is a freelance writer.