Ultimate game gear: Controller looks fierce and handles...

WHTA'S HOT

June 29, 1998|By Gareth Branwyn

Ultimate game gear: Controller looks fierce and handles well

It's gear like the Gravis Xterminator ($50) that makes me wish I was a kid again (or had more time to indulge my still-intact inner geek). The Xterminator looks like something that the Starship Enterprise would use for photon torpedo practice.

The molded black plastic shell of this game controller looks like it could be uncomfortable but it isn't. The 16 buttons that festoon its surface look like they might be hard to access and use, but they aren't. The left controls are two directional pads. One is proportional, offering smooth joystick-like control; the other is an eight-position digital controller.

The controls to the right offer six programmable buttons, an eight-way "hat switch," and a programmable cheat switch. The center set of buttons houses the start and select buttons and a proportional throttle. Underneath the unit are two proportional flipper-type buttons on the front edge and two digital triggers on the hand grips. The software interface is a bit intimidating at first, but it's similar to other joystick and game controller software. It includes a directory of popular game presets (63 in all) and a DOS utility for testing your unit's operation.

Information: 800-280-8318 or www.gravis.com.

Saddle up with laptop bag that doesn't look like one

Sometimes the hottest tech tools are not the newest ones. Such is the case with the Kensington SaddleBag ($90), which has been around for several years, but hasn't gotten the exposure it deserves. This stylish, uniquely designed laptop case can be worn like a backpack (with hideaway straps), carried like a briefcase, or hefted onto your shoulder with a clip-on shoulder strap.

The SaddleBag is available in a two-tone black and brown, with black as the main color and faux suede trim in brown, and a black-on-black version. The bag is loaded with compartments, zippered pockets, and pouches. There's a big zippered pocket and a slotted ticket pocket (very handy) on the outside flap. Inside are a front compartment with a zip-down organizer (zippered mesh pocket, cell phone pocket, business card and pen holders, a diskette pocket, etc.), and a main compartment with a removable accordion file organizer and a foam-padded computer compartment.

One cool feature of this tote is that it doesn't look like a traditional laptop bag, so it's less likely to be stolen or switched by mistake.

Information: 800-535-4242 or www.kensington.com. To get outstanding audio quality, you need to spend big bucks, right? Not so with Grado Labs' SR60 headphones ($70). These 'phones offer better-than-average audio quality for the money.

The SR60s don't need an amplifier, so they work well with portable CD and tape players and the headphone jack on your CD-ROM drive. The earpieces are boxy and slightly uncomfortable, but their impressive audio quality makes up for this minor annoyance.

Information: 718-435-5340.

You can find full reviews of these and other neat gadgets at www.streettech.com.

Pub Date: 6/29/98

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