Plugged In: High-Tech Helpers
Itís January. New year, new resolve. While youíre worried about starting anew, here are some gadgets to take your mind off the little things.

Kameleon 8 Remote
Eliminate that pile of home entertainment devices with UEIís Kameleon 8 Universal Remote. Itís sleek, programmable, and a marvel at intuitive control.

The first thing you notice is the blank blue face. Relying on an internal motion sensor, the glowing buttons only show themselves when you pick up the unit (although itís sensitive enough to come to life when it detects footsteps). Depending on what device youíre trying to control, the remote only reveals the appropriate buttons. Touch one of the other animated function iconsófor cable box, CD player, DVD player, audio receiver, VCR and moreóand the button layout changes before your eyes. Though it tends to chew up batteries at a fairly healthy clip, itís slick, and weíve used the cool blue light it emits to navigate around a totally dark TV room.; $59.99

Targus PDA Keyboard
Weíve tried out many PDA keyboards by several manufacturers. Targus finally hit upon a great solution by going universal. Based on IR (infrared) technology, this QWERTY keyboard works with just about any device (we currently use a Siemens SX56 cellphone/PDA combo with great results). It folds up into a tight package for easy storage, and it works flawlessly. No more lugging a large laptop to meetings, and itís great on airplanes.; $79.99

Defcon MDP
Weíve used heavy cables and locks to secure our computer to hotel desks. And they work just fine. But Targus goes one better with the DEFCON MDP, an anti-theft motion alarm and data encryption PC card that not only sounds a nasty 110 dB alarm when someone untoward wanders off with your machine, but locks your valuable and sensitive data, retrievable only with a password. Its tiny micro-machined tilt motion sensor analyzes motion and implements responses such that it thwarts thieves from stealing and accessing your notebook computer.; $99.99

Miox Electronic Purifier
Ordinarily we donít combine electricity and water (for obvious reasons), but for the outdoor adventurers on your list, the MSR MIOX (Mixed Oxidant) Electronic Purifier is the perfect blend of high-tech wizardry and necessary functionality.

This little filter, the size of a small flashlight, conditions a small amount of water with a patented process that you add to your one-gallon supply. It uses electricity to convert salt and water into a powerful disinfectant, killing nasty pollutants like E. coli, Giardia and Cryptosporidium. Small, portable and effective. Powerful stuff.; $129.99

Technophile Don Campbell lives and writes in the Pacific Northwest.
Photo by Renata Kosina