Fri, Dec 20, 2002 - Page 19 News List

Tech reviews

By David Momphard  /  STAFF REPORTER

When you're playing a movie, the PureCinema II function recreates each frame, so the video looks more like film. You can also plug your Mac or PC into the media receiver, which includes dual NTSC tuners that allow you to split the screen and watch two programs at once, or use half the screen as your computer monitor -- or monitor your Microblimp! You'll never leave home again!

Roomba Automated Vacuum


With a plasma-screen TV, not only will you never leave home again, you'll likely never leave your chair. Good idea then to add a robotic vacuum cleaner to the Christmas list.

Roomba is a joint venture between Taiwan's Acer Inc and Massachusetts Institute of Technology spin-off, iRobot Corp. About the size of a 12-inch deep-dish pizza, Roomba works on hardwood, carpets or tile floors, and is great at picking up pet fur, according to the manufacturer.

Just tell the vacuum the size of the room it is about to clean, then go back to playing with your indoor Microblimp. Artificial-intelligence technology allows the vacuum to navigate obstacles, and when it's done, Roomba shuts itself off automatically. For all the advanced technology put into this little housework wonder, though, it still scares the bejesus out of pets.

Roomba was first released in the US in September, and was made available in Taiwan starting Dec. 1. It can only be purchased over the Internet through Web Point Co.

Katita wind-up gadget


Since you won't have to vacuum the floor anymore, you can brainlessly idle away your hours with Katita. Katita is a stainless steel, spring-loaded gismo that bobbles around when you wind it up. That's it. It's part of a series of stripped-down, wind-up gadgets designed by Brazilian artist Chico Bicalho. None of them serve any purpose -- and you might think poorly of a wind-up toy in a world with remote-control Microblimps and proactive vacuums -- but if you see one, you'll want one.

Katita is named after a heroic dog that saved a boy's life and you'll have an affinity for the little guy as soon as you start diddling around with him -- Katita, that is, not the boy. Its wind-up companions include Critter, Bonga, Spinney, Zecar and Sparklz and while they don't come with cool stories about their origins, you'll want to collect all of them anyway. Five minutes after I first saw them on the shelf, I had the entire collection crawling, rolling, jumping and bobbling around on the store floor. The saleswoman sold two of them to passersby within the next 15 minutes (yes, I spent nearly a half hour researching the whole line of wind-up toys -- good work if you can get it!)

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