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Cool Gadgets That Won't Break Your Bank

It seems as though new technology no longer arrives in waves, but in a wave — in one continuous rush of innovation. For the techophiles among us, it's paradise. For the rest of us, it can sometimes feel overwhelming.

Fortunately, freelance writer David DeJean, a self–described computer nut and compulsive gadgeteer, has a raft of suggestions that are not only cool, but affordable. At less than $200 each, these gadgets will keep you on the cutting edge without pushing your finances over it.

Foldable Palm keyboard

If James Bond has a Palm™, he almost certainly has a PalmPort. "If you don't have a Palm, this keyboard is reason enough to get one," says DeJean. It's a full–sized keyboard that folds up to about the size of a checkbook. Once you open it and hook it up to your Palm, "you have the smallest laptop in the world."

The PalmPort keyboard comes in models compatible with the Palm III, Palm VII, and M100 series, as well as with the PalmV and the m125 and m500 series.

Omnisky modem

Keeping with the theme of turning your Palm into the world's smallest laptop, Dejean recommends the OmniSky™ modem (compatible with the Palm V, Vx, or Handspring Visor™ Platinum, Prism, or Edge), which gives you wireless access to email and a variety of Web services, including online shopping and Web surfing. It's anytime, anywhere Web access in the palm of your hand.

Digital pen

Digital pens are remarkable devices that allow you to take notes on both paper and digital notebooks — and then transfer everything you've written directly to your computer. All you have to do is put the pen in a USB cradle (included with the digital pen) and you won't have to type out any of your notes.

What's more, it preserves your notes in their original, handwritten form and even updates your electronic appointment book.

CD burner

If you don't have a CD burner (also known as a CD–RW drive), it's time to get one. A CD–RW drive not only enables you to burn and share your favorite CDs, but it also helps you store documents, video presentations, and digital photos on a CD. Choose between a CD–RW drive that can be installed inside your computer, and one that can connect to your computer's USB port.

Global positioning cards

For not much money, you can add a GPS satellite navigator to your handheld. The GPS uses satellite technology to help you know where you are, and where you're going — whether you're in the city, fishing at sea, or hiking deep in the mountains. (Check availability.)

Optical mice

Tired of using a mouse pad, or of using a mouse that sticks easily? DeJean recommends optical mice (mice that record information optically instead of with a ball). Since they don't have moving parts, optical mice break down less frequently.

Optical mice are great, says DeJean. They don't have a track ball, so they don't get gummed or hung up.

Flash hard drive or micro vault

The most portable USB storage drive available. Small, removable hard drives are about the size of a stick or gum or a car key, which makes carrying around information downloaded from your computer easier and more convenient than ever. Since they connect to a USB port, they're also pretty fast. Check availability.


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