BACK ISSUE #406

2002 Tech must-haves
Whether you love the quirky or the practical, 2002 is set to be a good year for gadgets and tech toys. Kristen McQuillin shares her picks.

eLIO
If sending your credit card details over the Internet makes you nervous, then Sony's eLIO credit card will ease your fears. From your own computer you swipe your eLIO card through a special card reader to make your purchase. There are some restrictions—the cards are accepted only at Web-based shops that have signed up to accept eLIO payments. Sony expects to have 3,000 merchants registered by eLIO's April launch and 20,000 in three years. The eLIO system runs on Windows and only works in Japan.
Sony. Available: April. Card reader ¥5,000. Annual fee ¥1,250.
www.sonyfinance.co.jp

Libretto adidas edition
Put your order in now because only 2002 of these special edition laptops will be produced. With its sporty gold-tone case and Fevernova (official tournament ball) logo, you'll commemorate the 2002 FIFA World Cup every time you boot up. The soccer icons, including referees, red cards and soccer balls, will dress up your desktop. Wallpaper files of soccer stadia and action shots round out the theme.
Toshiba. Orders: thru 2/28. ¥159,800. www2.toshiba.co.jp/tdirect/libad/

Paldio 633S
Bluetooth wireless built into this DoCoMo PHS phone allows you to communicate with your other Bluetooth devices to import your email address books and save yourself from typing them in. You can also download music to and from your computer. The 64K-browser gives you the power to scope mopera and i-mode sites. The gorgeous 65,536-color screen displays it all in style.
DoCoMo. Available: now. ¥40,700. www.nttdocomo.co.jp

Xbox
The long-awaited gaming hardware from Microsoft is poised to hit the streets in Japan in seven weeks—three months after its US launch. There are scads of games in the lineup, but will gamers queue to buy it? Nintendo's Game Cube sales have been steady but not stupendous since its September launch—either everyone's waiting for the Xbox debut or economic worries are putting gaming hardware sales on hold.
Microsoft. Available: 2/22. Price not available. http://xbox.jp

Segway Human Transport
Segway is the mysterious, much-hyped “Ginger” that made the news last year. Dean Kamen invented a high-tech scooter that balances for you, making it nearly impossible to fall off. Lean forward and Segway goes forward, lean back a bit and you roll in reverse. When you stand straight, Segway stops without dumping you on the ground. It runs all day on a small amount of electricity, which will keep operating costs low. First available to large institutions like the US Postal Service, the Segway will hit the consumer market later this year and is set to make a splash on the streets of cities worldwide.
Segway. Available: late 2002. Price not available.
www.segway.com