Toys story

It’s official: Apple still hasn’t released the iPad. Until then, let’s play with some other new gizmos

TykeLight Glomate

1 TykeLight GloMate

Color-Changing Portable Nightlight (Mobi, $20) When considering a nightlight, the only real question is this: Can it protect you from monsters? I believe the TykeLight can. Because the color-changing light is detachable from its charging base, you can bring the GloMate under the sheets with you without setting your bed on fire. No monster or bad guy is going to mess with that.

2 Interactive Music System (Beamz, $200)

Six laser beams travel between three posts. When you wave your hand in front of a beam, the Beamz machine signals your computer to play a pre-selected musical note. Each laser beam represents a different instrument, so at any given time, you might be playing a flute, a clarinet, a piano, a harpsichord, a violin and a timpani by waving your hands around like Tom Cruise using the Minority Report computer.

Beamz Interactive Music System

It’s not as hard as it sounds. The Beamz System is similar to Guitar Hero in that you can’t play a ‘wrong’ note; you can only signal your computer to play an aurally satisfying note, or not.

I can envision the Beamz accompanying any sort of performance art: magic, dance, spoken word. Beamz would make you the hit of any Burning Man party or a sci-fi convention breakout room.

But there is a catch: The Beamz software requires Vista, XP or Windows 7. This is a big drawback when you consider that the type of person most likely to buy a Beamz system is also the type most likely to prefer Macs to PCs.

3 Roboni-I (Robonica, $250)

Roboni: Scarier than a Roomba

Imagine that your Zhu Zhu slept with your Roomba. Now imagine that the Zhu Zhu/Roomba lovechild mated with C3PO, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what the Roboni-I is all about. It’s a precision remote-controlled vehicle with a neurotic personality. The Roboni-I comes with an obstacle course and dozens of “missions,” which kept me busy for hours.

Two things I love about my Roboni-I: 1) It scared the hell out of my roommate’s otherwise cocky cat. So now, whenever the cat is bothering me, I bust out the Roboni-I and the cat dashes upstairs like a Scaredy. 2) If I leave the Roboni-I alone for a minute, it starts roaming around and humping everything in sight (e.g., it rolled onto my shoe and starts shaking vigorously). It does back-flips, too.

4 TV Hat (SKM Industries, $20)

It’s a baseball cap with a rectangular magnifying glass hanging from the middle of its extra-long brim. You hook your iPod or iPhone onto the brim’s far end, and the magnifying glass makes the screen appear bigger. The black drapes on the brim’s sides block out external light, so you feel like you’re sitting in a movie theatre.

This is a good look for Rick Lax.

At least, that’s how it’s supposed to feel.

The main problem is neck strain. It was hard for me to keep the TV Hat on for more than a few minutes. The product’s instructions say, “Please exercise common sense to avoid neck strain,” but don’t explain how, specifically, you should avoid neck strain. Well, common sense tells me that the best way to avoid neck strain is by avoiding the TV Hat entirely.

Too bad; I look so damn good wearing the thing.

5 Pro Gyro Exerciser (DynaFlex International, $27)

For the life of me I don’t understand how this thing works. What I do understand is that it’s a ball inside of another ball, and when I twist the outer ball back and forth, the inner ball starts spinning faster and faster (up to 13,000 revolutions per minute), and that makes the outer ball harder and harder to twist. Which, ostensibly, is good for my wrist and arm.

Pro Gyro Exerciser

According to the DynaFlex brochure, the Pro Gyro “will increase grip strength and aids in the rehabilitation of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, along with other hand arm, wrist, elbow and shoulder conditions.” I don’t see how this gizmo could help my elbow, but I do see how it might increase wrist and forearm strength: It’s similar to doing Dumbbell Wrist Flippers.

But unlike Wrist Flippers, you can use the DynaFlex Gyro on the couch and watch TV. At least, that’s what I’ve been doing for the past month. I don’t know whether the Gyro has actually increased my muscle strength, but I do know that it’s dramatically increased the amount of masturbation jokes my roommate cracks at my expense.

6 “Naughty Naughty” Teddy Bear Earphones (Ankit, available soon)

"Naughty Naughty" Teddy Bear Earphones

I don’t know what “G-bass technology” is—I suspect it’s a marketing term—but I know that the low notes coming out of these teddy bear-shaped earphones sound full and satisfying. The treble is great, as well. The only drawback: Ankit’s earphones are a shade heavier than regular earphones. Not a lot, but the difference is noticeable. But the earphone’s extremely hip appearance more than offsets this.

At the 2010 CES convention, I tested several other in-ear earphones. None were as good as Ankit’s. So stick to the Naughty Naughties. And if teddy bears aren’t your style, Ankit also manufactures skull earphones, cobra earphones and butterfly headphones. Pick up a pair to use with the iPad that you don’t have yet.


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