Gadgets and gizmos

eBookMan

The eBookMan is a lower-cost alter-native to the 3Com popular series of handhelds, designed for storing and reading electronic books as well as storing MP3 files. Despite its 30-line display and memory expandable up to 64MB, it will have a hard time carving out a niche in the market dominated by the seemingly omnipresent Palm.

Franklin

Price: $299.95 to $499.95

URL: www.franklin.com

Strategic Commander

More weird game controllers . . . this time it's Microsoft getting into the act, with a device that's designed to enhance your speed and control in real-time strategy games. You can twist the main body on two axes to control zooming and panning, while a multitude of programmable buttons can be assigned to any function.

Microsoft

Price: $99

Phone: 13 2058

URL: www.microsoft.com

Web controlled robot

Wouldn't it be nice to be able to keep an eye on the kids in your home, while you're out mowing the lawn on your Zero? The iRobot is designed to let you do just that - its Web-controlled interface includes the view from a video camera that it carries while you remotely direct it across the floor and up and down stairs to keep an eye on the house.iRobotPrice: $US4995URL: www.irobot.comLaser lawnmowerThis "Zero" demonstration vehicle produced for Germany's largest garden supply company has more high-tech features than a James Bond car. It uses lasers instead of steel blades to cut grass and reduce it to an easily-recycled residue. It has a low-emission exhaust thanks to its advanced drive technology. It has cameras, sensors - and Web access. There's something about surfing the Net while driving a road vehicle equipped with high-powered laser-cutters that worries me . . .

Wolf-Garten

Price: N/A

URL: www.wolf-garden.com

HipZip

A couple of years ago, Iomega introduced the tiny Clik! drive which holds 40MB in a space the size of a 50-cent piece. This was a product almost without a market - until the advent of the MP3 revolution. Now the drive, renamed the PocketZip, is the heart of Iomega's new HipZip MP3 player, giving it extendable storage capacity at a fraction of the cost of standard CompactFlash technology.

Iomega

Price: $699

Phone: (02) 9925 7700

URL: www.iomega.com.au

Freestyler

For Playstation owners who love skating and surfing, the Freestyler Board would make a tempting Christmas gift. It emulates a skateboard, and you control it by standing on top and leaning from side to side, aided by the hand-held controller and the large front and rear buttons. Made of thick plastic, its sturdy frame can support as much as 120kg. Unfortunately, it's not currently available for PCs.

Guillemot

Price: $99.95, exclusive to K-Mart

Phone: (02) 8303 1818

URL: www.thrustmaster.com

Bluetooth card

The most recent buzzword in wireless networking is Bluetooth - an energy-efficient standard that lets notebooks, PDAs, mobile phones and other battery-powered gadgets talk to each other at ranges of up to 10m. The vision of Bluetooth is that your phone will be able to automatically retrieve e-mail and store it in your PDA, and all your little devices will be able to work together more intelligently. This is the first Bluetooth adaptor for standard notebooks to appear on the Australian market.

Toshiba

Price: $390

Phone: 1800 680 662

URL: www.toshiba.com.au