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Saturday, May 21, 2005
Gadgets at Electronic Entertainment Expo

Plenty of gadgets shown at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo had absolutely nothing to do with the next generation of video game consoles from Microsoft Corp., Nintendo Co. and Sony Corp.

The handheld wars of late have focused on Sony's sleek PlayStation Portable and the interactive Nintendo DS. The Gizmondo from Tiger Telematics, Inc., however, intends to be a serious third contender if its able to deliver on its innovative promise. The Gizmondo looks to be the Swiss-Army knife of handhelds with its unique blend of technology that includes GPS satellite tracking, a digital camera and a gyroscope. Oh, and it plays digital music, movies and video games on a 2.8-inch color screen, too. It's already available in Europe and should appear stateside in August. Prices will start at $230.

Karaoke Revolution Party.
Karaoke Revolution Party won't be much of a video game without some cool accessories. (Namely, a Dance Dance Revolution dance mat and a microphone.) For the first time, Konami Digital Entertainment-America is combining two franchises in Karaoke Revolution and Dance Dance Revolution into one game for the GameCube, PlayStation 2 and Xbox. The result looks primed for parties as you sing and dance (try to, anyway) against as many as seven others. PS2 owners with an EyeToy USB camera peripheral will be able to put their skills on the TV screen, while subscribers of Microsoft's Xbox Live multiplayer gaming service can download new songs. It's set for a fall release; no price has been announced.

Clicking your computer mouse is hardly the most authentic way to play a few innings of a baseball video game. Why not swing a real bat? For $80, the QMotions-Baseball system replaces the game pad, letting you use a bat of your choosing. The setup includes a special bat collar that wirelessly sends swing movement to a home plate receiver you plug into an Xbox or PC. The device, available this month, works with big league baseball games including "EA Sports MVP Baseball" and "ESPN Baseball."

Theater Experience PSP.
Anyone who's drained their Sony PSP battery after watching a few movies will appreciate the Theater Experience PSP from Nyko Technologies. The extra five-hour battery life provided by this device is certainly welcome, but it also boosts the PSP's rather tinny audio with a more robust set of stereo speakers, all wrapped in a flip-open aluminum carrying case. One of the most welcome inclusions is the least techie: an adjustable stand. No more straining your wrists trying to hold the PSP at just the right viewing angle for hours on end. Look for it in June, for about $70.

PowerPlay 5.1 Media Chair.
Office desks never was particularly comfortable and now it's even less appealing. Blame it on the Empower Technologies PowerPlay 5.1 Media Chair. As the name suggests, this $999 chair is the center of a surround sound stereo system that'll make those explosions in "Halo 2" rumble through your entire body. The setup remains a prototype and it certainly could use some aesthetic help: as it stands, I don't think you'd see this black and tubular metal piece of furniture anywhere but the most macho of bachelor's pads.

Logitech Cordless Precision/Attack Controller.
Two new offerings from Logitech bring the affordable freedom of tetherless gaming to the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. The semi-translucent blue $30 Precision is compatible for the PS2, while the see-through green $40 Attack works with the Xbox. So what's new this time around? Logitech says the Precision and Attack will last 300 hours on just two AA batteries. And no tripping over cords anymore.

Saitek Pro Gamer Command Pad.
Coming in September, this $40 keyboard ad-on should appeal to fans of first-person shooters, or any computer game were you'll need a nimble keyboard to get around. This accessory looks like a separate numeric keypad with a special thumb rest. The keys are laser-etched and glow blue, which should make it easier to see what keys you are frantically pounding during those intense, late-night "Doom 3" battles.

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