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My List for Santa

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Category: Hardware Published on Tuesday, 14 December 2010

All I Want for Christmas are Tech Toys

Spike Jones may only have wanted two front teeth for Christmas, but those of us that are tech addicted have a much longer list for Santa. In fact, here are a few items that are certain to brighten any technonerd's day on Christmas morning.

Duracell's MyGrid ($74.95) can charge up to four devices at once. Taking the "look ma, no cords" approach, this cool tool uses power clips to add juice to just about any cell or smartphone or any other device that can be attached to the system's tips. Of course you have to plug in the charging unit, but it does eliminate the need for separate power cords for whatever needs to be charged. You can also purchase MyGrid Power Sleeves ($29.95) for for your Blackberry, iPhone or iPod. Additional tips and clips are also available for $29.95.

For those that need power on the go, there's the MyGrid USB Charger ($29.95), which stores enough power to provide a four-hour charge for your smartphone or up to 100 hours for an ereader. The device, which is USB, micro-USB and mini-USB compatible, is designed so its lithium battery can be recharged using the MyGrid or plugged into your computer's USB port.

Gamers have two choices; The Kinect system for Microsoft's Xbox gaming system ($199 bought separately, $299 - $399 if bought with an Xbox) and the Playstation 3 Move system ($29.99 - $49.99 for controllers, $399 bundled with a 320 GB PS3).

The Kinect system comes with Kinect Adventures, which is a collection of games designed to get you used to using the system. It uses a built-in web cam to detect every move you make, eliminating the need for controllers. Right now, there are only 16 games available for it, but, trust me, they will get you up and off the couch and dancing, exercising or blocking shots. I've played with a few of the games, including:

  • Fighters Uncaged ($89.95) from UbiSoft tracks your puches and other moves as you face hulking opponents. Although you get a real workout, the game failed to impress me and may end up staying on the shelf.
  • Dance Masters ($44.49) from Konami has you grooving to tunes and learning new moves. The game can be played alone or on line, making it more competitive. The only problem with this game is that you've probably never heard any of the tracks before. So, if you're looking to dance to Top 40 hits, look somewhere else.
  • Motionsports ($49.99) from UbiSoft is the most addictive of this collection of games. You use your hands and body to block shots as a soccer goalie, run for a touchdown in football or participate in boxing, horseback riding and hang gliding.
  • Now we come to the exercise titles, all of which are worth the purchase of a Kinect system. These include Zumba ($49.99) from Majesco, Your Shape Fitness Evolved ($49.99) from UbiSoft and The Biggest Loser Ultimate Workout ($49.99) from THQ. All of these games give you a solid workout, and, since there are no controllers, you really have to exercise to play the games. One cautionary note here: Zumba does not include Zumba Gold, which is recommended for older folks.

The Move system requires different types of controllers that transmit your actions to the PS3 while you're playing the games. All of the controllers can be purchased separately, including:

  • The Playstation Eye Camera ($39.99), which dects movement form the controllers and calso act as a web cam.
  • The Playstation Move Shooting Attachment ($29.99), which is used with all of the Move shooting and arcade games.
  • The Playstation Move Motion Controller ($49.99), which transmits every move you make to the PS3 system and camera.

The games we played were, like the Kinect, pretty basic and really won't attract any mainstream gamers, but they can be addictive. These included:

  • The Singstar and Dance Party Pack ($39.99) lets you groove or sing along with Top 40 hits from NSYNC or Paula Abdul and many others. It comes with two microphones and uses the Move controllers to detect all of your fine dance moves.
  • Sports Champions ($39.99) gets you off the couch and competing in activities such as disc golf, beach volleyball, archery, table tennis, Championship Dual and Bocca using the motion controllers. Warning: This game can be extremely addictive, so make sure dinner's not in the oven and you don't have any appointments before playing it.
  • Eyepet ($39.99) and Start the Party ($39.99) are aimed at younger gamers. Children can raise and care for their own pets in Eyepet. They can also interact with their pets using the motion controllers. Start the Party includes 20 games designed to get young party-goers moving. The motion controller transforms into whatever you need to play each game, ranging from a paintbrush to a tennis racquet. Again, these games are extremely addictive, so be prepared for a long session.
  • KungFu Rider ($39.99) uses the motion controller to detect all of the moves you make to escape from the mob. You use various vehicles and KungFu moves to play, which can result in quite a workout.
  • The Shoot ($39.99) uses the shooting attachment and move controller as you "blast your way" through five destructible movie sets. This is the least addictive of the games we played, offered very little enticement to want to play it a second time after completing it.

Check out everything on my list by going to www.duracell.com, www.xbox.com and www.us.playstation.com.

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