Tech toys for Christmas

Nov 28, 2002, vol. 25, no. 7
By Terry Lavender

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All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth and an Apple iPod with 20 gigabytes of storage space.

Or maybe a Firebird II remote control airplane. Or possibly an ARCHOS Jukebox Multimedia device. Or how about an iSunSport Portable solar charger?

Those are some of the gadgets that the tech-happy folks at Simon Fraser University Surrey are dreaming about this holiday season. The Surrey campus, which offers the interactive arts and information technology program, has an above-average number of high-tech savvy professors, students and staff, and they were quick to respond when asked what tech toys they would like to see under the tree on Dec. 25.

Herbert Tsang, an information technology lecturer, would love a subscription to the PocketboxOffice, described as the world's first mobile entertainment network. The service for people with web-enabled cell phones includes live audio feeds from broadcasters, puzzles and lots of games.

Tsang also likes the iSunSport portable solar charger. The compact device uses solar energy to recharge batteries for cell phones, personal digital assistants, walkmans and other devices. So you can lie in the sun, recharging your batteries while you recharge your batteries.

Assistant professor Vive Kumar wants an NEC MobilePro 880 touchscreen computer. Smaller than a laptop, but bigger than a PDA, the MobilePro can be operated either by touching the screen or using the built-in keyboard. Several at SFU Surrey, especially the students - have been e-mailing Santa asking for portable music storage. Only a few years ago these devices could hold maybe 30 or 60 minutes at best, but now they have as much storage capacity as many computers with some boasting 20 or even 40 gigabytes of space enough for several days of continuous music.

The stylish iPod from Apple is a favourite, but the RCA LyraHD and the Creative Labs Nomad Jukebox were also mentioned. Jason Toal, who works as a media developer for the eLearning Innovation Centre (eLINC), is partial to the ARCHOS Jukebox Multimedia.

More than just an mp3 player/portable hard drive, it also includes a built-in microphone, photo album and carousel, still camera and camcorder, plus video player and recorder.

Dan McGuire wants an airplane from Santa. The intellectual property acquisition coordinator for eLINC would prefer the GW Tiger Moth, but is willing to settle for the simpler Firebird II if necessary.

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