As Halloween blurs into the great amorphous mass that is the combined orgy of Thanksgiving eating and Christmas Holiday shopping, we take the time to look at some of the things we’d like to see in our holiday gift baskets. Beyond the obligatory wishes for world peace and international understanding, there are some nice toys out there, too.
I’ve had this SpyGear “tank” for a couple of months now, and I’ve had to give to to my nieces to play with, as I was becoming a nuisance around the office with it. Not only is it a remote-controlled tread-enabled remote camera, it also has a built-in microphone so you can both see everything the device points at and hear everything in its vicinity. I shudder to think of the amount of mischief a kid can get into with this, but it is really fun to play with. The tank and other interesting stuff can be found on the SpyGear home page at www.spygear.net .
Although not a gift per se, Evident Technologies’ dotstrand string lights use LEDs instead of incandescents for significantly improved reliability and operating efficiency (up to 90 percent less energy). We have needed a replacement for those dangerous, hot, and inefficient string lights for quite some time. In fact, dotstrand lights are presented as the first consumer devices to incorporate quantum-dot technology. Available in pink, peach, aqua, lime, plum, ice white, and pearl white, you can check them out at http://www.evidenttech.com/products/dotstrand.html .
Our Art Director, Eileen Whitmore, suggested something techy for the little ones. SEE Toys (for Safety, Ecology, and Economy) are fun, kid-powered electronic toys. Nothing disposable, rechargeable or solar powered; each toy has a crank to ‘charge’ up the toy. The Dynacar will appeal to the kids of Prius and SUV drivers alike. You can rev the engine, turn on LED head and taillights, and make six different car sounds by pressing the rear spoiler. Dynacar, for ages five years and up, can be seen at www.seetoys.com .
A perennial favorite of mine, the LEGO Mindstorms family of kits, is a great way not only to have fun, but also to learn about robotics. Celebrating its 10th year, Mindstorms’ most recent release is their 8527 kit, featuring the NXT Intelligent Brick with 32-bit microprocessor, three Interactive Servo motors, a sound sensor, an ultrasonic visual sensor, an improved touch sensor, and an improved light sensor. The kit also features 519 specially selected LEGO TECHNIC building elements. There is also USB 2.0 and Bluetooth support as well as PC- and Mac-compatible programming software. www.mindstorms.lego.com .
On the quirky side, I came across the ThinkGeek Electronic Drum Pad T-Shirt the other day and realized I had a lot of friends who could use something as fun and useless as this. The shirt has a removable (so you can wash the shirt) panel showing an image of a drum kit with 7 playable drum surfaces and an integral flat speaker. Check out the video of someone playing it at www.thinkgeek.com .
-Alix L. Paultre