Cool stuff: Your 2007 holiday gift guide

More than 50 amazing gifts for the technology lovers in your life

The autonomous mode, however, seems a bit creepy. Like one of those paintings in Disney's Haunted Mansion, Elvis is always watching you. Alive Elvis is the kind of present you don't want in your bedroom at night.

Price: US$300
Summary: A head-and-shoulders replica of Elvis Presley sings, speaks and follows movement. WowWee successfully captures some of the singer's classic facial expressions and moves in this animated reproduction.
Robert L. Mitchell

Roboquad

WowWee's Roboquad is a four-legged, crab-like robot designed to maintain a constant state of suspicious alert. If anything moves, or if lights come on or something makes a loud noise, Roboquad reacts more or less like a nervous chihuahua: It looks startled, fidgets, has a minor freak-out, then goes back to just hanging out, beeping, chirping and looking around.

You can use the included remote control to give it any of several personalities, modes or activities -- such as dancing to music -- and any of 27 different "emotional states." You can also control it directly, using movement and motion buttons on the remote.

It even has a guard mode. If an intruder breaks into your house, Roboquad will track him down, follow him with its "eyes," and, ultimately ... get stolen. It's just too cool to leave behind.

Interestingly, Roboquad's legs were developed for a NASA Mars robot. The designer left NASA to found WowWee -- and used his expertise to create Roboquad.

Price: US$79 to US$99
Summary: A crab-like robot loaded with personality, Roboquad interacts with light, motion and objects and can be programmed or controlled with a handheld remote. Mike Elgan

Estes Astrovision Video Rocket

Model rockets are fun, but the Estes Astrovision Video Rocket (US$55) is extra fun, because its digital camera takes either video or still pictures of the flight. After the rocket floats back to Earth using the included parachute, you can plug the rocket nose cone into your Windows PC via USB, and transfer the video.

Using the rocket takes zero skill as a rocketeer -- no assembly is required. The entire nose cone is a lightweight, solid-state, special purpose camera. And it's easy to use: Just choose video or picture mode, turn the camera on, and launch the rocket. In video mode, the camera captures about 12 seconds of flight. In picture mode, it takes three pictures, 1.5 seconds apart.

A typical video taken with the Astrovision shows the launch pad fading into smallness, and the surrounding area, straight down. Then, as the rocket peaks, you can see the horizon, then sky, then parachute.

Price: US$55
Summary: The Astrovision Video Rocket is an easy-to-use rocket that soars into the sky and then parachutes down to Earth, taking video or digital pictures along the way.
Mike Elgan

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Computerworld Staff

Computerworld Staff

Computerworld
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