When you gotta know the score

Liveboard follows baseball game for you

Plugged In

July 10, 2008|By Eric Benderoff | Eric Benderoff,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Most of us don't have the time to sit in front of the TV to enjoy each inning our favorite baseball team plays.

That doesn't mean you can't keep up with the score.

These days, updated scores are as close as your mobile phone, but what if you could get a score while eating dinner with the family? Or while putting a puzzle together with the kids?

All you need to do is glance at the nearby desk or bookshelf where you put Liveboard, a gadget that does one thing: keep score.

If you've ever gotten the evil eye from the wife when you say, "Hold on for a sec while I check the score," then Liveboard is for you. (Apologies to the wives who get such glares from their husbands; some of my most treasured memories are shivering with Mom on Opening Day.)

Liveboard (MyLiveboard.com) is the simplest of ideas, and that's the key reason I recommend it despite the $199 price.

Liveboard is a scoreboard that shows one game at a time. You can change the game or set it to cycle through all ongoing games, but that would be missing the point.

When you set up Liveboard, you input your favorite team. When that team's game starts, your scoreboard goes live.

As a scoreboard, it is only slightly more informative than the one that looms over Chicago's Wrigley Field. You get team names, the current score, the inning and the jersey number of the player at bat, and the bases light up if runners get on. There are smaller lights for balls, strikes and outs. That's it.

It does not provide details on how your team scored, there is no live box score to let you know how your favorite player is doing, and there are certainly no video highlights.

Liveboard is just over 4 inches tall and 7 inches wide, and it uses LED lights to show the score. It is framed in white ash, which the maker, Vroop LLC, notes is the same wood used for big-league bats. It works with Macs and PCs.

A nice feature, and a clue that this was designed by baseball fans, is that when your team's game is over, Liveboard switches to a game in your team's division.

Liveboard uses Bluetooth to fetch scores from your computer and wirelessly send them to the board. It ships with a Bluetooth attachment that plugs into a USB port. Setup was simple; I had it working in five minutes.

I could quibble about a few things - why didn't they make this more flexible for scores from other sports, such as football or hockey? - but that would ruin the aesthetics of the simple tabletop design.

And like baseball itself, Liveboard excels because of its simplicity.

Eric Benderoff writes for the Chicago Tribune.

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