Amazing Gadgets, Adorable Gizmos

Heads Up

Oct. 3, 1999

It's been a while since I went truly head-over-heels for any new gadgets. Now, these head-spinners arrive all at once! Think Outside's amazing portable, foldable keyboard for the Palm; Sony's super MD digital camcorder (with built-in editing); Sharp's pocket-sized MPEG-4 digital video recorder; 3Com's HomeConnect outstanding digital camera for your PC; and innovative new video-editing software for your home computer from Pinnacle Systems.

Think Outside's Stowaway >>>>

If you love the Palm or your Windows CE hand-size organizer, you no longer must rely on the clunky handwriting recognition software on these otherwise handy devices. Now, take your pocket-sized keyboard with you: just fold it up! Many much larger computers come with much smaller keyboards. This breathtaking design (I'm not kidding: it's cute!) allows you to snap it open and start typing write on your Palm or CE device. Say 'bye-bye laptop,' 'hello handheld.' The keyboard will be available around Christmas for under $100.

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Think Outside's Stowaway


Sony's MD Discam >>>>

Sony will release a disc-based digital camcorder that lets you record and edit on the same unit. Store 20-minutes of video on Sony's inexpensive MiniDisc format or up to 4,500 still images in MPEG2 format. The brilliant touch-screen allows for fingertip non-inear editing. The camera even allows you to add transitions (like dissolves and wipes) and drawings right on to the video. The bad news is the camera won't be available until January and the price tag is steep: $2,229.

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Sony's MD Discam


Sharp's Internet ViewCam >>>>

If you want to easily send video out on the Internet this little handful by Sharp Electronics is astonishing. Record and share MPEG-4 videos and stills with exceptional ease using this tiny and extra-light camera. Images and videos are recorded on the postage-sized Smart Media cards which allow easy transfer to your PC. If you're building web pages or sending video over e-mail, MPEG-4 allows a huge amount of compressed video to be stored and shared. Anyone with an up-to-date Microsoft Media Player can view these videos but the image quality does not compete with more traditional bandwidth-hogging video. Available now, at the suggested price $699.

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Sharp's Internet ViewCam


3Com's HomeConnect PC Camera >>>>

Attaching a camera to a computer can be an agonizing experience. That is, until now. 3Com's HomeConnect PC Digital Camera is a snap to connect and terrific to use. It plugs into a simple USB port (that is 'universal serial bus') so if you have one, you're in luck. This camera operates well in extremely low-light and adjusts beautifully to produce sharp, clear pictures. Suggested price: about $150.

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3Com's HomeConnect PC Camera


Pinnacle System's Studio DV Editing System >>>>

If you've always wanted to take advantage of your digital-video camcorder and edit videos directly on your computer, Pinnacle Systems has created a fascinating home-editing system. Studio DV allows you to transfer digital video to your computer using a provided Firewire connection card. Preserve precious disk-space using the powerful video compression technology on your raw un-edited video. The software makes video-editing fun and easy. After you've made your edit decisions, the computer goes back and gets only the video you need at the highest resolution. Then, the software allows you to share your newly edited production in a variety of formats. Though this product is a major improvement over existing PC editing solutions, I've found it neither easy-to-install nor bug-free so patience at a minimum is required. But after I slowly worked through the steps, I found it extraordinary that I could create professional quality videos on my desktop. Street price is expected to be $199.

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Studio DV Editing System


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