Creative Labs Web cam not confined to desktop Creative...

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January 10, 2000

Creative Labs Web cam not confined to desktop

Creative Labs has released a unique camera that serves double duty as a desktop Web cam and a mobile digital camera. The Video Blaster Webcam Go ($149) sits on your monitor like any desktop camera until you want to use it away from the desk. Then, you simply unplug it from its USB cable and go.

The Webcam Go offered the best "out-of-box experience" I've ever enjoyed. Take it out of the box, plug in the USB cable, load the software, launch the app, and snap, snap, snap. The full complement of software is excellent and lets you monitor the camera, load video onto the Web, e-mail video or stills, manipulate images, etc.

It also comes with Internet phoning software, a motion-detecting "spycam" that turns on whenever anyone steps in front of the camera and a creepy audio feature that lets users of SoundBlaster audio cards change their voicesfrom male to female or vice versa.

The Webcam Go uses what's called CMOS instead of the more common CCD imaging technology. This definitely improves the sharpness of colors in the images. It's the best image quality I've seen from a Web cam in this price range.

Creative bills the off-desktop feature as a "portable Web cam."That's an accurate description, as the camera away from the desk has much lower image quality than conventional digital cameras.

This is basically a way of taking photos away from the desktop to load to a Web site or e-mail. Don't expect to show off fancy vacation pictures using this camera.

Overall, I'm impressed with the Webcam Go as a desktop camera. The fact that you can also take modest snaps on the go is icing on the cake.

Information: 877-653-6227 or www.creative.com.

- Kevin Kincade

Superb Sebenza knife on cutlery's cutting edge

Chris Reeve, a blade-smith from South Africa, has designed what is arguably the best pocketknife in the world.

Called the Sebenza ($275-$325), which means "work" in Zulu, these knives have a following that can only be described as fanatical, and I now number myself a member of the cult.

Reeve starts with the best materials, top-grade steel and titanium.

The Sebenza strikes a superb balance between edge integrity and ease of sharpening. I've had mine since July and it hasn't needed sharpening yet.

The blade is also stone-washed, which imparts a nice, scratch-resistant finish, and the cutting edge is polished and hair-raisingly sharp.

There are other high-quality touches. Edges are rounded and smooth -- even the mini-grooves for your thumb, located on the back of the blade, are beveled.

The knife comes with a clip for your pocket and a tool so you can disassemble it for cleaning.

Everything about this knife exudes excellence -- don't be surprised if it appears in MoMA's design collection.

Chris Reeve and his family provide excellent customer service. The knives are guaranteed for life, and if there's something wrong, they'll make it right. Period.

They'll sharpen the knife for free if you send it to their Idaho workshop, and for $20, they'll refinish the titanium handles and blade.

Two to three hundred dollars is a lot to spend on a blade, but this is truly a work of art and will likely be the last pocketknife you ever buy.

Information: 208-375-0367 or www.chrisreeve.com.

- Eric Diamond For reviews and news on other high-tech gear, check out www.streettech.com .

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