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Techno File

Techno File

Connect 4 Robot? Let me test your metal

IT WAS meant to be an easy challenge that would surely prove that, when it comes to a game of skill and tactics, man can easily beat machine.

Clever Trevor does it again

NOW here's what we need at this time of year - a wind-up toy. Of course, whether a relatively sophisticated media player can be defined as a "toy" is a question I'll leave you to answer.

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Why should students have all the fun?

Before we start I should warn you that this little A5-sized notebook computer could be hard to get hold of if you're not a student. The miniBook is specifically designed for the education market. But it seems to me its appeal could be wider than that.

More than OK, computer

DELL has had its problems over the past few years. As it tried to retain its position as the world's number-one seller of computers by keeping prices down, it developed a reputation for unreliability. This was particularly true of its range of laptops.

Hello Moto, again

MOTOROLA wasn't just running short of vowels when it launched the original Razr phone. Its handsets were the sort you tried to conceal while you were making a call or sending a text. Actually, trying to use a Motorola mobile furtively was more than a little challenging given the appalling design of its menu, which made it awkward to do anything. Nobody wanted a Motorola, so the company's phone division was struggling.

A Mini adventure for music on the move

BY AND LARGE DRIVING IS pretty boring. And it's not good for global warming. This little gizmo won't save the planet, but it might make the roads a bit less dull and perhaps safer as well.

Sand gets in your eyes, not your iPod

IT'S hard to believe, but what passes for summer is here. Sun, sea, beaches and barbecues beckon. Unfortunately, most electronic gizmos are as sensitive as a Celtic skin in a heatwave. Substantial protection is required.

A clever little box of tricks

The first thing everybody says when they see the Evesham Mini is that it's a straight rip-off of the Mac Mini. Well, there's nothing wrong with that. Apple showed there was a demand for a computer reduced to the size of a paperback book, so why shouldn't other manufacturers follow the same design path?

If it's good enough for Paris . . .

The original T-Mobile Sidekick was given an unwitting boost by Paris Hilton when hers was hacked into a couple of years ago, resulting in her address book being spread across the internet like a rash. (She had already proved that all publicity is good publicity when a grainy video of her love life was made available on the web to anybody with a credit card.)

How to cross the stream

CDS ARE GRADUALLY drifting into the past as pop-pickers turn to the convenience of downloaded tunes. This raises a common problem - the household stereo is in the living room, while a music collection resides on the hard drive of a computer in a bedroom or study.

Techno File

iWar?

Wake up and taste the coffee

HERE's what is allegedly a great scientific breakthrough. Japanese scientists have come up with a way of creating toothpastes flavoured with just about anything, including curry, caramel, blueberry and bitter chocolate. The clever bit is that they leave the user's breath smelling of menthol.

Live in the laptop of luxury

THERE USED TO BE A HUGE PRICE AND performance difference between laptop and desktop PCs. It was really only worth buying a laptop if you were going to be spending time on the road and your computing needs were limited to word processing, email and simple spreadsheets.

Useful, practical and illegal, for now

THE iStuff iCast Universal FM Transmitter is one of those quirky gadgets that is legal to own, but not to use.

Is it time for a revival of Morse?

ABOUT two years ago I stopped wearing a watch. It wasn't a deliberate decision. The battery ran out on my favourite Japanese timepiece and it needed a jeweller to replace it. For a few days I kept glancing at my left wrist, but after a couple of weeks I didn't feel as if anything was missing.

Small is beautiful, remember?

THREE YEARS AGO I was loaned one of the first "third-generation" (3G) phones so I could experience the wonders of this new service. It arrived on a Friday and was fully charged in time for me to show off at the football on Saturday. The handset was brilliant.

Can you handle water music?

THERE must surely be a limit to the number of iPod add-ons the market can come up with. Every day I receive press releases plugging cases, speakers, headphones, docking stations and other paraphernalia tenuously linked to Apple's pocket-sized musical gewgaws.

Miss a death-defying stunt? No danger

I'VE never understood the attraction of taking part in extreme sports. What is the point of making a generally long and expensive journey to somewhere that's usually cold and uncomfortable in order to risk life and limb?

Keep a Blueye on your mobile phone

THIS gadget's for anybody who has missed a call on their mobile while they were listening to their MP3 player, something that's easily done and frequently embarrassing.

More power to your MP3 player

THE WORLD of technology is dominated by blokes. OK, women do represent a growing proportion of gadget-buyers, but it's impossible to escape the male fixation with numbers in the gizmo sphere. So men will boast about how small their MP3 players are, how many tunes they'll hold and how long the battery life is. But, as with all the best things in life, you can have too much of a good thing.

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