Macworld Gear Guide 2006

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Gear Guide: Family stuff and security gear

Part four of the Gear Guide focuses on gifts for the entire family—parents, kids, teens, and more. Then we turn our attention to four gadgets that will keep your Mac-related merchandise more secure.

Gear for Parents and Kids

Whether you’re a newly minted parent or an old hand at this child-rearing thing, we’ve got products that will captivate your toddlers, your teenagers, or you.

  • Gear for less than $30: Mostly IP Creeper and Toddler Tee
    Creative Park
  • Gear for $31 to $60: Zoundz
    iCrib Sound System
  • Gear for $151 to $300: Lego Mindstorms NXT Kit
    Skwarim
    Jeep Overland Limited Jogging Stroller
  • Take me to your teen

    If your teenagers enjoyed hours of Lego fun when they were little, you can bet the Lego Mindstorms NXT Kit will put smiles on their faces now. The kit includes loads of blocks; touch, sound, ultrasonic, and light sensors; three motors; and the programmable NXT brick (which is OS X-compatible out of the box). Online guides outline how to build and program a robotic arm, a six-legged scorpion with pincers, and even a walking, talking humanoid robot. Whether your kids end up creating light-sensing alarm robots to protect their rooms, or pinching robots to annoy their siblings, this is the rare bit of gear that’s both incredibly fun and educational.—SSM

    Lego Mindstorms NXT Kit

    Lego Mindstorms NXT Kit: $250; The Lego Group

    ip toddler tee
    IP freely

    ThinkGeek’s Mostly IP Creeper and Toddler Tee masterfully combines three highly advanced forms of humor—potty humor, tech humor, and baby humor—and is sure to make geeky parents chuckle (wearily). The shirt fits adorable little packets from size 6 months to size 4T.—SCHOLLE SAWYER MCFARLAND

    Mostly IP Creeper and Toddler Tee: $13; ThinkGeek

    It’s a bouncing baby hard drive

    It’s a bouncing baby hard drive

    From LaCie, the company whose name is easy to mispronounce (“lah-see,” not “lay-see”), comes a new tongue twister: the Skwarim (pronounced “square-im”) portable hard drive. Its name is partly derived from the name of its designer, Karim Rashid, and partly from its notably square shape. In any case, you won’t need a degree in design or linguistics to figure out what this drive is shooting for: everyone’s undivided attention. Available in pink (30GB) or blue (60GB), this USB 2.0-compatible drive makes a great gift for new parents who need to tote around a few thousand pictures and videos of their new tyke, and who will enjoy having a storage device in a traditional new-baby color.—ERIC SUESZ

    skwarim

    Skwarim: 30GB, $150; 60GB, $200; LaCie

    How music takes shape

    Making music out of shapes? That’s exactly what Zizzle’s Zoundz lets you do with its seven “sculptures” and milky-white, curvaceous base unit. Six of the sculptures represent a type of sound: percussion, strings, bass, keyboards, cosmic, and soothing; the seventh is used to record mixes. Place a sculpture on one of the base unit’s three Hot Spots to activate one of three samples—you get a total of nine possible samples per sculpture—and a colorful light show. By combining samples from each Hot Spot and adjusting effects, you can create your own mixes and even record them. You can also plug your iPod or another music source into the base unit to take advantage of the device’s speaker. A built-in alarm clock is difficult to use, but the other features are surprisingly fun.—DAN FRAKES

    Zoundz

    Zoundz: $50; Zizzle

    Zoundz: $50; Zizzle

    Save It for a rainy day

    Need a way to distract youngsters trapped inside by the weather? If you’ve got an ink-jet printer, press it into service with Canon’s Creative Park. This craft site isn’t just limited to the standard downloadable greeting-card templates and origami. Kids who love to cut, fold, and glue can assemble a fleet of paper airplanes or an entire 3-D paper town—complete with a superexpress train, a police station, and more. In addition to offering hundreds of projects, from the simple to the very complex (a 3-D Taj Mahal, for instance), the site contains an impressive variety of scrapbook resources, clip art, and photography. Buy a few packs of matte photo paper and print out some samples to get the kids started, and you’ll give yourself the best gift of all—hours of peace and quiet.—SSM

    creative park

    Creative Park: free; Canon

    icrib
    The accessory that rocks the cradle

    If music can soothe the savage breast, it should also be able to quiet a squalling infant—and if that alone doesn’t work, a light show might help matters. The Munchkin iCrib Sound System is a simple, inexpensive speaker setup that attaches to a crib rail and includes a nightlight that slowly cycles through a soothing rainbow of colors. Plug an iPod into the holder (safely away from the baby), and then set the turn-off timer for 15, 30, or 60 minutes. (The iCrib doesn’t turn off the iPod itself; use the player’s Sleep Timer feature, under Clock options, for that.) Parents can get a lullaby playlist off to a good start by downloading two free albums’ worth of Mozart tunes from the Munchkin Web site.—SSM

    iCrib Sound System: $30; Munchkin

    Baby a-go-go

    Help new parents serenade their spawn with Kolcraft’s Jeep Overland Limited Jogging Stroller with Music on the Move. Plug an iPod into this good-looking stroller’s speaker-equipped tray, and parent and baby can both listen to tunes on-the-go. Granted, the tinny speakers (pointed right at the baby) won’t do Linkin Park justice, but they’re just right for low-volume Raffi. Like most jogging strollers, this one’s front wheel doesn’t turn, so it’s not very maneuverable. But it’s solid and steady on the road. It even comes with a nifty odometer, so parents can keep track of how many miles they’ve logged to “Wheels on the Bus” while trying to put that inconsolable newborn to sleep.—SSM

    jeep

    Jeep Overland Limited Jogging Stroller: $170; Kolcraft

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