FreeStyler Board lets players control movements with...

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October 29, 2001

FreeStyler Board lets players control movements with hips

Ever snowboarded down a mountain in your living room? Virtually, anyway?

Well, there's a way for you to try. Just don't break your neck falling off the board on to your coffee table.

Thrustmaster's FreeStyler Board for the PlayStation 2 is a large, unorthodox joystick that plugs into the game console. The board is positioned on rockers so you can sway your body to and fro creating the same effect as pressing buttons on a regular joypad.

The FreeStyler works with just about any PlayStation or PlayStation 2 game featuring skateboarding or snowboarding, including the popular Tony Hawk Pro Skater series and SSX. It takes a little effort to use your hips for video movement instead of your fingers, but once you get the hang of it, the FreeStyler is easy to control.

Attached to the board is a hand-held controller for additional functions, and the board has two customizable buttons so you can program how your moves will translate to action on the screen.

It might seem that a gadget like this could be potentially destructive in a furnished room, but Thrustmaster has made it a pretty sturdy and stable rocker stand.

This is a fun and novel way to play boarding games, and you won't need bandages. It's going for about $70 in many department stores that sell video-game accessories.

Information: 877-484-5536 or www.thrustmaster.com.

- Sun staff

Panasonic SL-MP50 player won't skip a beat for hours

If you're looking for a sleek MP3 player to take for a drive or transport between your home and office, the Panasonic SL-MP50 ($140) has a lot going for it.

The unit performs well when playing CD-Rs and CD-RWs packed with MP3s and standard CDs.

The "No Skip" anti-skip system - a group of technologies to keep the player from going off-track as you listen to your music while jogging or driving - kept me from missing a beat as I played MP3s in my little Toyota Corolla, a car well-known for its rough ride.

While you can get an optional rechargeable battery, the SL-MP50 played my MP3s for nearly 13 hours on two AA batteries. Once I changed the batteries, I logged another 25 hours of CD play in my tests before I had to replace the batteries. If you're using it mostly in the car, the unit comes with a car power adapter.

The big problem with the SL-MP50 is that it doesn't feel sturdy. While dropping an MP3 player is never advisable, I felt that the daily bumping and bouncing a portable unit should expect from being dragged all over the place might be too much for Panasonic's player.

Information: 800-211-7262 or www.panasonic.com.

- Kevin Washington

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