Neat Gadgets to Drool Over
A child tracker, CD-ROM changer and autofocus binoculars are among the 14 choices
PIONEER DRM-602X CD-ROM CHANGER ($895). It can be painful to watch multimedia mavens change disks: Take the CD-ROM out of the drive, hunt for the disk's plastic holder, search for the new disk, take it out of its holder, insert the disk, lose the holder on the desktop .... The Pioneer DRM-602X CD-ROM changer holds up to six disks. Priced at $1,250 earlier this year and since dropped to $895, the Pioneer DRM-602X is the first CD-ROM changer to approach affordability for home users. Even modest CD-ROM consumers who use more than one reference title, like an electronic encyclopedia, a multimedia movie guide and a mapping program, will appreciate the convenience. As with most CD-ROM drives, installing Pioneer's changer on an IBM-type PC involves getting under the hood, hooking up a special adapter and messing about with interrupts and dip switches. You would be wise to get a dealer to install it for you. Plugging it into a Macintosh, most of which come with a compatible adapter, is much simpler. But once the changer is installed, it is trouble free and easy to use.
DATASONIX PEREOS MOBILE STORAGE ($650). The Datasonix Pereos is a storage system that can hold 1GB of files on a tape the size of a postage stamp. (A gigabyte is more than 1 billion bytes--about two CD-ROM disks or 900 floppies.) It makes an ideal accessory for owners of portable computers, who can take DOS and Windows files and even software programs with them on the road. And it also makes an attractive, space-saving tape backup system for desktop users. The prerelease unit tested backed up more than 130MB of files in about 36 minutes, and the company claims the final version of the software will run even faster. The software makes it simple to copy new files onto the tape and shows graphically how close a backup or other task is to ending. The unit connects to the PC's parallel port. If you want to use the device in two places--like office and home--an extra base ($100) will come in handy. A five-pack of the 1GB tapes costs about $120.
FUN AND FITNESS
NORDICTRACK STRENGTH-AEROBICS TREADMILL ($770). What's that regimen again? You're supposed to work out aerobically three to five days a week for 20 to 60 minutes, as well as fit in two or three weekly sessions of weight lifting or other resistance training to build muscle and bone? You may start to feel as if you're spending all your leisure time getting into shape. Enter the NordicTrack Strength-Aerobics machines designed to build strength while providing aerobic exercise. There are three versions--a self-powered treadmill ($770), a skier based on NordicTrack's traditional cross-country motion ($670) and a combined Multi-Trainer ($1,470) on which you can run, walk, step or ski. The cross-country machines that made NordicTrack's name have hand cords you pull, which add to the cardiovascular workout and toning but don't build muscle. The new machines have long handlebars that impose resistance on both the push and the pull strokes, with more resistance during part of the stroke. A Nautilus user who tries out the machines will feel right at home. You can't target muscles as precisely as you can with free weights, and finding a balance between aerobic activity and upper-body workout will take days or weeks. But the machines do strengthen the arms, chest, back and shoulders without a trip to the gym--and give you aerobic exercise, too.