Me2Camera makes user a star, with face appearing on...

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July 03, 2000

Me2Camera makes user a star, with face appearing on screen

The marriage of human and computer is becoming more fun, as my 11-year-old tester and I discovered while experiencing Intel Play's $99 Me2Camera.

With this little video camera atop your PC monitor, your young one can star in five interactive, animated games. Her body movements control the on-screen action in real time.

After the Fun Fair software is installed and the tiny see-through camera is plugged into the USB port of your Windows 98 PC, the child is positioned in front of the camera and monitor so that her head and shoulders show in an orange, rectangular box on the screen. The camera eliminates all other images.

She needs to be in the same spot so her movements can be captured for the included games, so I marked the boundaries on the floor in tape.

On screen, your child is shown boarding a spaceship that takes her to Fun Fair, where she can take her pick of games. My tester first chose to be the flippers in a pinball machine but moved on quickly after being clobbered.

The snowboarding game was action-filled and a lot more rewarding, though she missed a few jumps over rocks, trees and other surfers. The other three games, Bubble Mania, Club Tune and Fun Zones, will be big hits, too, for kids 4 and older - way up to 40-somethings.

During the action, the camera takes shots of the player and places them in a digital photo album. Photos can be printed out after the youngster leaves Fun Fair.

Information: 1-800-524-8697 or www.intelplay.com.

- Jean Nash Johnson/KRT

Portable Sony ZS-X7 CD player/radio has style

No, the ZS-X7 isn't the name of a new Japanese sports car. But Sony's portable CD player/radio has plenty of sports car-like qualities.

It's shaped like a cross between a Porsche dashboard and a UFO - most people blurt "cool!" on first glance. And it has quirks, such as buttons with exotic names like "DISPLAY ENT MEM."

Aside from the controls, which take getting used to, everything about this boombox screams, "Let's hit the road!"

It has high-tech electronic skip protection that keeps your CDs cruising no matter what bumps you encounter. Its low-tech strap attaches quickly and firmly. And you don't have to worry about taking the ZS-X7 outside because of the dirt- and water-resistant construction, which Sony describes as "splashproof."

Though sound quality is merely adequate - this won't replace your home stereo - the music plays free of distortion even at volumes loud enough to annoy everyone at nearby picnic tables.

The ZS-X7 comes in black or yellow and should be available for about $180.

You can certainly buy a cheaper boombox. But after a test drive, you may not want to.

Information: 1-800-222-7669 or www.sony.com.

- Michael Merschel/KRT

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