TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Gift Guide for Geeks 2003: Toys

Volume Number: 19 (2003)
Issue Number: 11
Column Tag: Review

Gift Guide for Geeks 2003: Toys

by Jono Bacon

Cool toys for grown up, and not so grown up, geeks

Sony AIBO

When the AIBO robot dog was first released some years back, its birth was met with some cynicism regarding just how realistic a dog replacement the robot could be. Since those early days, the AIBO line of products has continued to develop and there is now a range of different models for different types of consumer. Although similar in many ways to a dog, the AIBO robot has been likened to a new life form that shares dog attributes, but benefits from being a robot (such as rotating its legs a full 360 degrees; a feat that dogs can certainly not do).

The AIBO robots comes in a variety of forms from the lower cost Macaron series with fewer sensors and capabilities to the ERS-210 series with more sensors and robotic dog styling. Additional models include the futuristic looking ERS-220, with even more features, to the brand new ERS-7, that includes a built in wireless card and improved sensors.

AIBO robots are very flexible machines and are comprised of a number of limbs and sensors that allow you to interact with them. In addition to these sensors, the AIBOs include temperature, distance and visual sensors to ensure that the robot always knows what is going on around it. The main AIBO units are very well built and are pretty sturdy, although it is not recommended to take your new cyber-pal out for a walk in a muddy field.

The range of emotions and responses from the AIBO is dependent on its brain; the Memory Stick contains the AIBO Ware software to bring your AIBO to life. This range of software includes the AIBO Life 2 product in which your AIBO starts life as a baby that cannot stand up or walk and needs constant attention, just like a real child. As you spend more time with AIBO, it will grow up and gain more skills such as standing, then walking, and then become more inquisitive about its surroundings. Included with the AIBO is a pink ball in a teenage AIBO can kick around and tap. Another AIBO Ware product is the Explorer memory stick. This product provides a fully-grown, inquisitive AIBO, with more capabilities and responses. A recent product has been the AIBO Recognition stick which will allow AIBO to recharge itself when it needs power by going over to the charging station (sold separately) and sit down to charge. When AIBO is charged, it will get up and wander around as normal. The new ERS-7 robots are taking the AIBO concept further and include extra sensors (electro-static sensors that do not require pushing in), more LEDs, pattern recognition and the ability to pick up a small bone with its mouth.


Although certainly not cheap, the AIBO line of robots is a fantastic gift for someone who loves gadgets and electronic toys, and playing with AIBO is a true joy. The only problem you face is getting too attached to your little electronic companion....

PlayStation2 Eyetoy

Within the realm of game consoles, there have been many attempts to vary how you control the on-screen action. Attempts have included light guns, infra-red sensors, steering wheels, and dance mats, among countless other gimmicks. Recently, I have tried a new contender in this area, one that not only changes the way you use your PlayStation2, but is also incredibly fun.

The Eyetoy is a small black web camera that plugs into a USB port on the front of the console. Included in the package is a game disc that has over 10 mini games where you interact with on-screen characters using yourself as the controller. The games on this disc vary greatly in what you need to do, but highlights include the soccer game in which you keep a ball in the area using your head, a boxing game in which you fight a robot and a karate game in which you fight off legions of miniature ninja's intent on kicking you in the head.

The Eyetoy is not only a fun addition to your PlayStation2, but is immensely fun to use. When I first received the unit through the post, I was expecting it not to work quite as well as I was anticipating. To my surprise, the EyeToy works very well at interpreting your image and actions within the game that you are playing. As is the case with the dance mat, the Eyetoy really comes into its own at parties and gatherings as you marvel at Uncle Bill punching at thin air. If you want to make a fool of yourself and have some great fun while doing it, the Eyetoy is highly recommended.

PlayStation2 Network Adapter

When the PlayStation2 was first released, there was much fanfare about its up and coming network gaming abilities. As is typical with commercial products, the network adapter was held back for quite some time before its eventual release. The finally released adapter is a sleek black box that slots into the back of the PlayStation2 and provides the various necessary network connections. If you are based in the USA, there are modem and Ethernet connections, and if you are based in Europe, you get just the Ethernet port.

Included with the network adapter is a start-up disc that to get you connected to the Internet and some software to access the PlayStation2 gaming portal from your console. Settings for your network access are stored on a memory card, and the start-up disc has a number of DSL/Cable providers already included, so installation is a snap.

The range of online games capable of supporting the adapter is increasing all the time, and a number of publishers have confirmed titles that will be available in time for Christmas. One of the most popular of these games has been SOCOM: Navy Seals; a first person perspective action game that includes a USB headset with which you can talk to your team members to develop attack strategies.

The network adapter is ushering in a new era of game play for PlayStation2 owners. Although the other consoles have their equivalent products, the PlayStation2 has secured a number of publishers to create online content, and it looks as if online gaming will be a pre-requisite in future game titles.

Belkin 54g Wireless Access point

Wireless networking is fast becoming a standardised and popular method for networking machines together in the home and small office. The most common method used to implement a wireless network is to buy an Access Point and plug it into your LAN. Although a simple solution, access points have been limited to the 802.11b standard which can transmit data at 11MB/s; suitable for sharing internet connections and small amounts of data, but not suitable enough for transferring large files across your network.

The Belkin 54g Access Point was one of the first products to implement the 802.11g, or Apple monikered Airport Extreme, standard. The unit actually implemented the draft standard before that standard was finalised. Despite that, it works well with products using the now finalised 802.11g standard. Additionally, an upgrade patch is available from the Belkin website. This standard increases the bandwidth of the unit to 54MB/s and still supports 802.11b devices. It is important to remember however when discussing wireless devices, that 11MB/s and 54MB/s refer to the fastest theoretical possible speed, and obstructions such as walls, ceilings and doors can all reduce the signal throughput of the access point.

The Access Point is simple to install and merely requires plugging it into the back of a hub or network card. The unit provides you with a variety of features such as WEP and WPA encryption, MAC address filtering, upgradeable firmware and a variety of other features, all controlled by a web based interface. With the unit plugged in you just need to obtain an IP address, and you can connect to the network.

For most home users, wireless technology is useful for preventing unsightly cables being dragged around the house and drilling holes in the ceiling for computers upstairs. Although not the most expansive of access points on the market, the Belkin 54g provides a simple means of getting your wireless network up and running in no time at all. If you are going to consider giving this as a present or asking your nearest and dearest to get you one, don't forget to also include a request for one of the Belkin 54g network cards (PCMCIA and PCI version available) so you can connect as fast as possible.


Jono Bacon

 
AAPL
$119.00
Apple Inc.
+1.40
MSFT
$47.75
Microsoft Corpora
+0.28
GOOG
$540.37
Google Inc.
-0.71

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

HoudahSpot 3.9.6 - Advanced file search...
HoudahSpot is a powerful file search tool built upon MacOS X Spotlight. Spotlight unleashed Create detailed queries to locate the exact file you need Narrow down searches. Zero in on files Save... Read more
RapidWeaver 6.0.3 - Create template-base...
RapidWeaver is a next-generation Web design application to help you easily create professional-looking Web sites in minutes. No knowledge of complex code is required, RapidWeaver will take care of... Read more
iPhoto Library Manager 4.1.10 - Manage m...
iPhoto Library Manager lets you organize your photos into multiple iPhoto libraries. Separate your high school and college photos from your latest summer vacation pictures. Or keep some photo... Read more
iExplorer 3.5.1.9 - View and transfer al...
iExplorer is an iPhone browser for Mac lets you view the files on your iOS device. By using a drag and drop interface, you can quickly copy files and folders between your Mac and your iPhone or... Read more
MacUpdate Desktop 6.0.3 - Discover and i...
MacUpdate Desktop 6 brings seamless 1-click installs and version updates to your Mac. With a free MacUpdate account and MacUpdate Desktop 6, Mac users can now install almost any Mac app on macupdate.... Read more
SteerMouse 4.2.2 - Powerful third-party...
SteerMouse is an advanced driver for USB and Bluetooth mice. It also supports Apple Mighty Mouse very well. SteerMouse can assign various functions to buttons that Apple's software does not allow,... Read more
iMazing 1.1 - Complete iOS device manage...
iMazing (was DiskAid) is the ultimate iOS device manager with capabilities far beyond what iTunes offers. With iMazing and your iOS device (iPhone, iPad, or iPod), you can: Copy music to and from... Read more
PopChar X 7.0 - Floating window shows av...
PopChar X helps you get the most out of your font collection. With its crystal-clear interface, PopChar X provides a frustration-free way to access any font's special characters. Expanded... Read more
Carbon Copy Cloner 4.0.3 - Easy-to-use b...
Carbon Copy Cloner backups are better than ordinary backups. Suppose the unthinkable happens while you're under deadline to finish a project: your Mac is unresponsive and all you hear is an ominous,... Read more
ForeverSave 2.1.3 - Universal auto-save...
ForeverSave auto-saves all documents you're working on while simultaneously doing backup versioning in the background. Lost data can be quickly restored at any time. Losing data, caused by... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Make Way for Fat Chicken, from the Maker...
Make Way for Fat Chicken, from the Makers of Scrap Squad Posted by Jessica Fisher on November 26th, 2014 [ permalink ] Relevant Games has announced they will be releasing their reverse tower defense game, | Read more »
Tripnary Review
Tripnary Review By Jennifer Allen on November 26th, 2014 Our Rating: :: TRAVEL BUCKET LISTiPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad Want to create a travel bucket list? Tripnary is a fun way to do exactly that... | Read more »
Ossian Studios’ RPG, The Shadow Sun, is...
Ossian Studios’ RPG, The Shadow Sun, is Now Available for $4.99 Posted by Jessica Fisher on November 26th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Mmmm, Tasty – Having the Angry Birds for...
The very first Angry Birds debuted on iOS back in 2009. When you sit back and tally up the number of Angry Birds games out there and the impact they’ve had on pop culture as a whole, you just need to ask yourself: “How would the birds taste... | Read more »
Rescue Quest Review
Rescue Quest Review By Jennifer Allen on November 26th, 2014 Our Rating: :: PATH BASED MATCH-3Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Guide a wizard to safety by matching gems. Rescue Quest might not be an entirely original... | Read more »
You Can Play the Final Chapter of Lone W...
You Can Play the Final Chapter of Lone Wolf: Dawn Over V’taag Right Now Posted by Jessica Fisher on November 26th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Swords of Anima (Games)
Swords of Anima 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: A new tactical turn-based RPG experience. Command the Savior Rex Squad in an epic journey of courage and deception. Can you... | Read more »
Audio Defence: Zombie Arena
Audio Defence: Zombie Arena By Lee Hamlet on November 26th, 2014 Our Rating: :: DRAGS ITS FEETUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad From the makers of Papa Sangre comes a defense game that forces players to listen carefully... | Read more »
Tales from the Borderland​s Will be Comi...
Tales from the Borderland​s Will be Coming to iOS by the End of the Year Posted by Jessica Fisher on November 26th, 2014 [ permalink ] Telltale Games has announced | Read more »
Sunburn! Review
Sunburn! Review By Campbell Bird on November 26th, 2014 Our Rating: :: DON'T DIE ALONEUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Platform through the depths of space to make sure your entire crew dies together in this satisfying... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

2014 1.4GHz Mac mini on sale for $449, save $...
 B&H Photo has the new 1.4GHz Mac mini on sale for $449.99 including free shipping plus NY tax only. Their price is $50 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this new model. Adorama... Read more
Early Black Friday pricing on 27-inch 5K iMac...
 B&H Photo continues to offer Black Friday sale prices on the 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMac, in stock today and on sale for $2299 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $200 off MSRP... Read more
Early Black Friday sale prices on iPad Air 2,...
 MacMall is discounting iPad Air 2s by up to $75 off MSRP as part of their Black Friday sale. Shipping is free: - 16GB iPad Air WiFi: $459 $40 off - 64GB iPad Air WiFi: $559 $40 off - 128GB iPad Air... Read more
Early Black Friday MacBook Air sale prices, $...
 MacMall has posted early Black Friday MacBook Air sale prices. Save $101 on all models for a limited time: - 11″ 1.4GHz/128GB MacBook Air: $798 - 11″ 1.4GHz/256GB MacBook Air: $998 - 13″ 1.4GHz/... Read more
Why iPhone 6 Tablet/Laptop Cannibalization Is...
247wallst.com blogger Douglas A. McIntyre noted last week that according to research posted on the Applovin blog site the iPhone 6 is outselling the iPhone 6 Plus by a wide margin . Hardly a surprise... Read more
Worldwide Tablet Growth Expected to Slow to 7...
The global tablet market is expected to record massive deceleration in 2014 with year-over-year growth slowing to 7.2%, down from 52.5% in 2013, according to a new forecast from International Data... Read more
Touchscreen Glove Company Announces New Produ...
Surrey, United Kingdom based TouchAbility specializes in design and manufacture of a wide variety of products compatible with touchscreen devices including smartphones, tablets and computers. Their... Read more
OtterBox Alpha Glass Screen Protectors for iP...
To complement the bigger, sharper displays on the latest Apple devices, OtterBox has introduced Alpha Glass screen protectors to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The fortified glass screen protectors... Read more
Early Black Friday Mac Pro sale, 6-Core 3.5GH...
 B&H Photo has the 6-Core 3.5GHz Mac Pro on sale today for $3499 including free shipping plus NY sales tax. Their price is $500 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model from... Read more
Early Black Friday sale price: 15-inch 2.2GHz...
 B&H Photo has the 2014 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale today for $1699.99. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only. Their price is $300 off MSRP, equalling Best Buy’s price... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple (...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
Senior Event Manager, *Apple* Retail Market...
…This senior level position is responsible for leading and imagining the Apple Retail Team's global event strategy. Delivering an overarching brand story; in-store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple (...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple (...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.