Seattle Times news services Continuing from the past two weeks, our reviews feature examines more tech products that could be just the gift...

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Continuing from the past two weeks, our reviews feature examines more tech products that could be just the gift ideas you’ve been looking for.


It’s a device no bigger than an oversized pen — 8 ½ inches long, 1/2-inch wide — and, at 2 ounces, practically weightless. Pass the DocuPen over a piece of paper and its LED lights glow green. Plug it in via USB cable to your PC (after installing the PaperPort software) and a few clicks later, the scanned image appears on the screen.

After a few minor hiccups trying to figure out how to get the documents from the scanner downloaded onto my PC, I was in business.

I scanned a small poster and a piece of paper with scribbled notes. I took it to the kitchen and swept the little gadget over a treatise on kohlrabi from my favorite cookbook.

I took it back to my desk, plugged in the USB cable and the images all showed up on my computer with only a few mouse clicks.

It didn’t work well when I passed it over a very dark painting — the folks at Planon, which makes the DocuPen, say it doesn’t do photos or dark paintings yet. But no matter.

We started calling it the magic wand.

With 2MB of flash memory and rechargeable lithium batteries, you can take this thing to the library and scan away, recording up to 100 pages of text or graphics.

— Martha McKay

The Record (Hackensack N.J.)

“Dance Dance Revolution Mario Mix”

Mario, Nintendo’s beloved character, is shaking his booty in the new “Dance Dance Revolution Mario Mix” from Konami ( for the GameCube system. Nintendo partnered with Konami to create this first GameCube “Dance Dance Revolution” title targeted at kids ages 7-12.

“DDR” is a popular video game series in which players use their feet to stomp on directional arrows on a dance pad that correspond to arrows that appear on the screen. Points are awarded for accuracy and number of correct combinations achieved.

This same game play is at the heart of “Dance Dance Revolution Mario Mix,” but with two important distinctions. First, the dancing patterns presented in “Mario Mix” are a lot easier than those found in traditional “DDR” games. Second, “Mario Mix” is the first “DDR” title to have a story line that ties together the more than 25 songs offered for dancing.

Kids become either Mario or his brother Luigi to go on a quest to save the Mushroom Kingdom. Someone has stolen the four Music Keys and it is up to the player to get them back. The quest takes the player to five different worlds. In each world, kids must use the power of dance to overcome the obstacles. “Dance Dance Revolution Mario Mix” is a terrific way to introduce children to “DDR,” but don’t buy this for seasoned players, no matter how great their love of all things Mario.

The game sells for $49.99.

— Jinny Gudmundsen

Gannett News Service


If your household is like mine, the cellphone is plugged into a socket in one room, the portable music player is charging in another — and at the moment I can’t remember where the PDA is.

One elegant solution for this chaos is the MultiPot, an electronics recharging device imported from Italy by Design Within Reach, popularly known as DWR. The $278 device looks like a stylish ice bucket (or an upside-down version of the hat Devo band members used to wear), but hidden inside are five outlets, plus room for power cords to be tucked out of sight. The gadgets to be charged sit on top in a neat array.

The MultiPot also lights up from within, with a glow that makes it a bit of a conversation piece. But admittedly, a somewhat expensive one. As a friend of mine says of DWR, “It’s Design Within Reach — just not yours.”

— David Colker

Los Angeles Times

Logitech Harmony 520 remote control

You don’t need an engineering degree to operate Logitech’s Harmony 520 universal remote control (

Designed for the nongeeks in your family, the remote contains clearly labeled buttons that do exactly what they promise.

Want to tune into the stereo? Press “Listen to Music.” Rather watch a DVD? Push “Watch DVD” and the remote will turn on the television, DVD player and the audio/video receiver, and open the disc drawer so you can pop in the movie.

Using a computer hookup and a setup wizard, the remote can be programmed to do the work of 15 other remote controls. Available at Target, Wal-Mart and Sears, it costs $100.

— Deborah Porterfield

Gannett News Service

Sleevz for Notebooks

In looking for a great gift, I thought of what I use every day. One of my favorite things is the $29 Sleevz for Notebooks, a form-fitting PowerBook protector (

Think of an envelope of chamois material that perfectly fits your laptop.

With the Sleevz on my Apple PowerBook, I can use any bag to carry my laptop and not worry about scratches.

It may not be sexy, but it works great, and you can clean your laptop’s screen (or your eyeglasses) with the fabric. It also repels spills.

It comes in limited size selections, for the Macintosh only.

— Jim Rossman

Dallas Morning News