January 26, 2001

Gotta Have It

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So you haven’t seen your friends from school for over a month. In the grand scheme of things, one month is not that long of a time period, but when the hiatus comes during the holiday season, a lot can change — especially when it comes to cool new toys. Over the last few weeks, my reunions with friends have revealed that they got some pretty neat presents which definitely deserve a covetous second look.

Same Shape, Different Sound

At first glance one would think that the silver-finished, oval-shaped item sitting on my friend Jeff’s desk was just a run-of-the-mill portable CD player. But on closer inspection (like trying to find the eject button to release the CD), you find that there are no moving parts to this “CD player”. What Jeff got for Christmas is not a CD player, but one of the hottest consumer electronics products on the market, the Nomad Jukebox — a fully functional MP3 player capable of holding up to six gigabytes of music (Translation: 24+ hours of music). This monster machine weighs just a little bit more than a conventional portable CD player and is compatible with all computers. The screen and user interface are small and do take a considerable amount of time to get adjusted to, which makes finding specific songs difficult unless you have well-organized playlists. To listen to all your six gigabytes of music on-the-go, you’d better be prepared to pump in several sets of batteries, as the Nomad has a high power demand (However, it does come with a neat cassette-adapter that lets you run off a car’s electrical system, making it a welcome companion on extended road trips). I believe this item sets the standard for MP3 players that marries style, storage and sound. I really do not believe there is anything cooler than this for the music aficionado.

Different Shape, Same Great Games

Harder to come by than a good sandwich at Jansen’s, the Playstation 2 was the toy for boys (and girls) this holiday season. Sony, due to parts shortages, was unable to deliver 500,000 units in time for Christmas, leaving a lot of people with rainchecks and twiddling their thumbs. However, after careful detective work, I discovered that my friend Josh received a system for the holidays (he locked himself in his room for the first few days of classes). Although he only has one game (Madden 2001), it is already apparent that the PS2 is truly a superior machine. It not only plays the latest in high end games but also doubles as a DVD player. This game system is so powerful that urban legend has it that Saddam Hussein imported 4,000 of these puppies into Iraq to use their tiny CPUs as missile guidance devices. It seems that the PS2’s ability to create such realistic 3-D shapes is just what’s needed for creating earth terrain guidance! Now if Saddam can’t live without one — how can you? When everyone is watching the Super Bowl this Sunday I’ll be at Josh’s controlling Collins as he throws the winning pass. (Hey, just because it looks real, doesn’t mean it’s reality. Does it?)

Just Different

We all get kicks out of different things in life. My friend James gets his kicks out of being an engineer. Thus, I thought his keychain, which looks like a USB plug was just a pathetic attempt at humor. Au contraire. The Q-Key is a keychain that is actually a fully functional hard-drive. It plugs into the USB port of your computer and can hold up to 128 MBs of memory. What use is this device? It gives you the ability to drive to your friend’s house, download information onto your Q-Key (MP3s, papers, images) and go home without having to use a floppy disk. For James this is a great tool, but for me, well, it would just make me really mad when I lose my keys.

Archived article by Ryan Silbert