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

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Google Chrome 53.0.2785.143 - Modern and...
Google Chrome is a Web browser by Google, created to be a modern platform for Web pages and applications. It utilizes very fast loading of Web pages and has a V8 engine, which is a custom built... Read more
Chromium 53.0.2785.143 - Fast and stable...
Chromium is an open-source browser project that aims to build a safer, faster, and more stable way for all Internet users to experience the web. Version 53.0.2785.143: [Security Fix] High CVE-2016-... Read more
QuickBooks 2015 16.1.7.1524 R8 - Financi...
Save 20% on QuickBooks Pro for Mac today through this special discount link QuickBooks 2015 helps you manage your business easily and efficiently. Organize your finances all in one place, track... Read more
Sierra Cache Cleaner 11.0.1 - Clear cach...
Sierra Cache Cleaner is an award-winning general purpose tool for macOS X. SCC makes system maintenance simple with an easy point-and-click interface to many macOS X functions. Novice and expert... Read more
Default Folder X 5.0.7 - Enhances Open a...
Default Folder X attaches a toolbar to the right side of the Open and Save dialogs in any OS X-native application. The toolbar gives you fast access to various folders and commands. You just click on... Read more
Safari Technology Preview 10.1 - The new...
Safari Technology Preview contains the most recent additions and improvements to WebKit and the latest advances in Safari web technologies. And once installed, you will receive notifications of... Read more
Tweetbot 2.4.4 - Popular Twitter client.
Tweetbot is a full-featured OS X Twitter client with a lot of personality. Whether it's the meticulously-crafted interface, sounds and animation, or features like multiple timelines and column views... Read more
Google Earth 7.1.7.2602 - View and contr...
Google Earth gives you a wealth of imagery and geographic information. Explore destinations like Maui and Paris, or browse content from Wikipedia, National Geographic, and more. Google Earth combines... Read more
Things 2.8.8 - Elegant personal task man...
Things is a task management solution that helps to organize your tasks in an elegant and intuitive way. Things combines powerful features with simplicity through the use of tags and its intelligent... Read more
Firefox 49.0.1 - Fast, safe Web browser.
Firefox offers a fast, safe Web browsing experience. Browse quickly, securely, and effortlessly. With its industry-leading features, Firefox is the choice of Web development professionals and casual... Read more

Cybird’s latest release - BFB Champions...
Launched in the UK in early September, BFB Champions’ newest update is loaded with great new features, and looks set to outshine the original version by taking it out of soft launch and giving it a new lease of life. | Read more »
3 apps to boost your focus
As someone who works from home, my workspace is a minefield of distraction. Cats, tasty snacks, the wind blowing past my window, that cleaning that I suddenly can’t put off any longer. If I let distraction takes its course, I find that soon half... | Read more »
4 games like Burly Men at Sea to inspire...
Burly Men at Sea is out today and it looks a treat. It tells the tale of three Scandinavian fishermen who leave the humdrum of their daily lives to go exploring. It’s a beautiful folksy story that unfurls as you interact with the environment... | Read more »
3 reasons you need to play Kingdom: New...
Developed by a tag team of indie developers - Thomas "Noio" van den Berg and Marco "Licorice" Bancale - Kingdom is a vibrant medieval fantasy adventure that casts players as a king or queen who must expand their empire by exploring the vasts lands... | Read more »
JoyCity have launched a brand new King o...
Great news for all of you Game of Dice fans out there - JoyCity have just released a brand new limited edition pack with a really cool twist. The premise of Game of Dice is fairly straightforward, asking you to roll dice to navigate your way around... | Read more »
Burly Men at Sea (Games)
Burly Men at Sea 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Burly Men at Sea is a folktale about a trio of large, bearded fishermen who step away from the ordinary to seek adventure. | Read more »
3 tips for catching the gnarliest waves...
Like a wave breaking on the shore, Tidal Rider swept its way onto the App Store charts this week settling firmly in the top 10. It’s a one-touch high score-chaser in which you pull surfing stunts while dodging seagulls and collecting coins. The... | Read more »
The beginner's guide to destroying...
Age of Heroes: Conquest is 5th Planet Games’ all new turn-based multiplayer RPG, full of fantasy exploration, guild building, and treasure hunting. It’s pretty user-friendly as far as these games go, but when you really get down to it, you’ll find... | Read more »
Infinite Tanks (Games)
Infinite Tanks 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Agatha Christie - The ABC Murders (FULL)...
Agatha Christie - The ABC Murders (FULL) 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $6.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Agatha Christie: The ABC Murders Your weapon is your knowledge. Your wits will be put to the ultimate... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Apple refurbished 2015 13-inch MacBook Airs a...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2015 13″ MacBook Airs available starting at $759. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is free: - 2015 13″ 1.6GHz/4GB/128GB MacBook... Read more
MacBook Airs on sale for up to $100 off MSRP
B&H Photo has 13″ and 11″ MacBook Airs on sale for up to $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 11″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air: $799 $100 MSRP - 11″ 1.6GHz/256GB... Read more
Apple refurbished 12-inch 128GB iPad Pros ava...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 12″ Apple iPad Pros available for up to $160 off the cost of new iPads. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: - 32GB 12″ iPad... Read more
Phone2Action Unveils New Voter Turnout Techno...
Phone2Action, a leading digital advocacy platform, today launched its Tech to Vote Civic Action Center digital advocacy and communications platform on National Voter Registration Day September 27.... Read more
Apple & Deloitte Team Up to Help Business...
Apple and international professional services firm Deloitte have announced a partnership to help companies quickly and easily transform their workflow dynamics by maximizing the power, ease-of-use,... Read more
Chop Commute – See Traffic and Drive Times on...
Shrewsbury, Massachusetts based Indie developer, InchWest has released Chop Commute 1.61, a Mac app that takes the guesswork out of daily commute by showing real-time traffic and drive times right on... Read more
12-inch 32GB WiFi iPad Pros on sale for $50 o...
B&H Photo has 12″ 32GB WiFi Apple iPad Pros on sale for $50 off MSRP, each including free shipping. B&H charges sales tax in NY only: - 12″ Space Gray 32GB WiFi iPad Pro: $749 $50 off MSRP -... Read more
Recent price drops on refurbished iPad minis...
Apple recently dropped prices on several Certified Refurbished iPad mini 4s and 2s as well as iPad Air 2s. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: - 16GB iPad... Read more
Apple refurbished Mac minis available startin...
Apple has Certified Refurbished Mac minis available starting at $419. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each mini, and shipping is free: - 1.4GHz Mac mini: $419 $80 off MSRP - 2.6GHz Mac... Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro available for $928...
Overstock has the 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro available for $927.99 including free shipping. Their price is $171 off MSRP. Read more

Jobs Board

*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
Restaurant Manager (Neighborhood Captain) - A...
…in every aspect of daily operation. WHY YOU'LL LIKE IT: You'll be the Big Apple . You'll solve problems. You'll get to show your ability to handle the stress and Read more
*Apple* Wireless Lead - T-ROC - The Retail O...
…wealth of knowledge in wireless sales and activations to the Beautiful and NEW APPLE Experience store within MACYS.. THIS role, APPLE Wireless Lead, isbrandnewas Read more
Lead *Apple* Advocate - T-ROC - The Retail...
…Company, is proud of its unprecedented relationship with our partner and client, APPLE ,in bringing amazing" APPLE ADVOCATES"to "non" Apple store locations. Read more
*Apple* Advocate - T-ROC - The Retail Outsou...
…Company, is proud of its unprecedented relationship with our partner and client, APPLE ,in bringing amazing" APPLE ADVOCATES"to "non" Apple store locations. Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.