Every year at Comdex, alongside the serious new business products, there are a whole load of novel, sometimes downright wacky gadgets and PC add-ons that never get much attention. Some of these deserve a little credit, at least for trying in some cases. Their lack of recognition is about to change, as ZDNet UK proudly presents the Top 10 Wackiest New Products of Comdex Fall.
6. Rugged Rocky 2000 Plus
What is it? A rough and tough notebook that will stand up to some really extreme treatment. Just the thing for the Timberland wearing tough guy who thinks Pilots are for cissies, and conventional Notebooks are handbags. The 'Rocky' comes in a toughened bright yellow case that is water resistant, shock resistant, and has a screen that can be read in sunlight. You want one now, don't you? Web site.
7. comptERGO, The Office on the Go
What is it? A workstation in a suitcase. The Notebook-toting road warrior can't always be sure that there will be a nice desk and comfy chair when it is time to work. That is where comptERGO comes in handy. Folded up it's a ruggedly build compact suitcase with a retractable handle that can be wheeled onto an aeroplane. Open it out and you have a portable workstation, complete with fully adjustable laptop work surface and two fold out wings for documents and mouse. Web site.
8. Easy CD Creator
What is it? A kit for making your own CDs. Adaptec has thought of everything you need to make an attractive, professional looking CD, that you could almost have bought in a record store. It comes with 'Spin Doctor' software to help you clean up scratchy LP's when you convert them to CD, and labelling software with templates to enable you to print-out professional looking sleeves from your colour printer to give your CDs that professional look. Want one? Then contact Adaptec.
9. The Artisan Collection
What is it? Something very over the top - a completely wood-enclosed tower PC, with an Italian marble mouse mat, and wooden mouse. Even the keys are carved out of solid wood. A choice of finishes are available, from expensive dark woods, to clean Scandinavian pines. If you want a wooden PC, check the Web site.
10. Home Automated Living Room
Some people might be a bit wary of having a computer that responds to the name HAL residing in their homes, but this gem from Home Automated Living has more prosaic ideas than its namesake. Based on voice recognition technology from Lernout & Hauspie, HAL2000 is the middle child of a family of three and works over existing power cabling in your home. You can use a microphone or telephone (either at home or dialling in remotely) to turn lights on or off, set your VCR, find phone numbers and activate numerous devices such as heating and security controls. You can run it from a 486 PC, but a Pentium is recommended; you also need a suitable voice modem. HAL consists of software, a powerline interface, a serial interface and a light module: further modules let you add more devices to the system. Simply configure the system according to your home setup and you're ready to go. Recently released in the UK, its US price is $399 for the starter pack. Watch out for a cut-down version, HAL1000, shipping with consumer PCs in the near future. Web site.
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