- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Here’s a look at some gadgets available for Father’s Day that target the high-tech dad’s body, mind and soul.

For the body

Real World Golf from In2Games and Mad Catz for Xbox, rated E, $69.99. This combination video game and peripheral is an interactive version of the centuries-old game. It tracks the golfer’s swing in real time and translates it to an on-screen avatar that delivers the shot.

The player first puts on gloves attached with strings to a square base unit called the GameTrak, which is on the floor in front of him. After he customizes his golfer (left- or right-handed, height and body type), his goal is to swing a miniature golf club the size of a hammer in alignment with an orb on top of the GameTrak to produce a result nearly as accurate as a slice at the local course.

The player has a full complement of clubs, can work though 10 18-hole golf courses, can take part in tournaments and championships and can spend plenty of time in a moderate caloric burn while practicing through pitch-and-putt courses and driving ranges.

Those new to the game can learn though an Academy tutorial that has a live golfer pop up in the corner of the screen for encouragement as well as to demonstrate the use of the GameTrak to help develop a perfect swing.

Up to four players can take part in the fun, and those who do not want to take off the gloves to pass to another golfer can buy extra sets ($9.99 per pair) or another GameTrak to plug into the Xbox.

For the mind

Durabook N15RI, from Twinhead Corp., stand-alone product, $1,699. Twinhead Corp. is helping the patriarch of the family keep the computer safe with a line of laptops that it boasts are drop-, shock- and spill-resistant. Among the laptops’ pre-ship tests, the company tosses each one, in a closed position, 26 times from a height of three feet onto a plywood-covered concrete floor.

It uses a magnesium alloy case that is 20 times stronger than the typical laptop case, rubber padding around the LCD and hard drive and a liquid-resistant C-face to protect the keyboard, touch pad, speakers and LED.

The model reviewed came with the Windows XP Professional operating system, an 80 gigabyte hard drive, an Intel 2.0 GHZ processor, DVD burner, a 15.1-inch LCD screen with XGA resolution, 1,024 megabytes of memory and a translucent green button on the keyboard area that offered immediate WiFi access within any hot spot.

I performed my own tests on a hardwood floor and had a small helper unleash a diet soda on the keyboard. The laptop performed impeccably in each experiment.

The N15RI will not impress dads looking for a multimedia entertainment center, but it is an excellent choice for the workaholic road warrior.

For the soul

IH30 Boom Box, from IHome Audio, stand-alone product, $149.99. The IPod has become such an integral part of society that electronics shelves are flooded with gadgets to extend the functionality of the music player.

The IH30 combines a compact size, 10 watts of audio power delivered via a pair of 4-inch stereo speakers, and the flexibility to run any current IPod within an embedded dock station to give dad an earful of sound at the beach, on a picnic or in his workshop.

The unit comes in silver and white models and also has an FM receiver and headphone jacks. The dock station also will charge the hand-held player as well as protect it when not in use.

The IH30 runs on eight C batteries, AC outlet (adapter included) or through a car adapter (also included), but cannot connect to a computer to update the IPod.

Although it would have been nice to control the selection of songs in the IPod while it’s in the Boom Box (users will have to take it out to choose from the playlists), dad still will appreciate an easy way to introduce the children to his favorite tunes at the next family party.

Write to Joseph Szadkowski, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002; or send e-mail ([email protected]).

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