Inspecting Gadgets

Image credit: Guitar: Spencer Jones

So you say Dad wanted to be a rocker but never learned how to play the guitar? Now he can, on his own, with Yamaha's clever self-teaching electronic EZ-EG Guitar ($299). Buttons on the instrument's fret board substitute for strings and light up to show the proper finger placement. Several self-teaching songs and a bunch of riffs are in the guitar's memory, and more can be downloaded via the Net. Looks like Papa's got a brand-new bag.

Who cares if the Cambridge SoundWorks 730 Radio ($250) doesn't have a built-in audio CD or cassette player and can't pick up Internet stations? When it comes to warm, rich sounds, this deceptively high-tech rig can't be beat, thanks to its marvelous speakers and a built-in powered subwoofer that takes up nearly half of the cigar-box-size cabinet. And if you buy it at, there's a 45-day money-back guarantee, too.

Palm's newest color PDA, the Zire 71 ($299), has all the electronic-organizer features you'd expect -- calendar, contact list, and memo pad using Graffiti 2 handwriting software -- plus some surprising extras, like a built-in James Bond-ish digital camera for taking low-resolution snapshots, and a decent MP3 player (he can even listen to audiobooks). But the best thing is the dazzling color screen, which lets Pop proudly show off pictures of the family in slide-show fashion.

Originally posted May 23, 2003 Published in issue #711 May 23, 2003 Order article reprints

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