Cool gadgets for a hot summer

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 July, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 July, 2005, 12:00am

These devices will make a trip to the beach or a hike in the hills more entertaining

Summertime in Hong Kong means many things to many people, but for gadget geeks it is a time to drag those anaemic-looking bodies from behind computer screens and out into some colour-changing sunshine.

The good thing is leaving the desktop behind does not have to mean going without a gadget fix.

Here are six devices for a hi-tech summer.

Shaking out the winter cobwebs begins with a healthy body, which is where Nokia's 5140 GPRS mobile phone can help.

The deal with this phone is its ability to pair up via infrared with certain Polar heart-rate monitor watches.

Installed Fitness Coach software keeps track of important training statistics such as heart rate, distance covered and speed, as well as calories burned. Aside from helping to whip you into shape, the phone also boasts a changeable splash- and dust- resistant durable cover, a digital compass, a VGA and video camera, and walky-talky-style, push-to-talk functions, making it ideal for long days out on Hong Kong's trails and beaches.

With Hong Kong summers prone to some serious thunderstorms, keeping an eye on the weather is key to planning barbecues and junk trips.

Oregon Scientific's MR238 Mirror Weather Station can be mounted on a living room wall or stood on a bathroom shelf to provide the day's vital statistics when you are shaving or applying suncream.

The unit shows indoor and outdoor temperatures and the humidity level through a remote sensor which supplies accurate readings for weather forecasting.

With the sun shining and the party in full flow, Panasonic's latest DMC-FX8 digital camera produces high-quality photos that belie its compact size.

The five-megapixel camera boasts a 3x optical zoom, a 21/2-inch liquid-crystal display and Panasonic's proprietary MEGA Optical Image Stabiliser, which eliminates blurry pictures caused by shaky hands.

Panasonic has also boosted battery life in the FX8 and added a built-in speaker to provide audiovisual playback of films on the camera.

JVC's Everio GZ-MC500 camera has 3 CCD technology to ensure professional picture quality on this consumer model, which records mpeg-2 video to 4GB microdrives for up to an hour of what JVC states is DVD-quality video. The Everio also shoots five-megapixel still pictures.

Game lovers unwilling to splash out on a PlayStation Portable for trips to the beach should check out the Bluetooth Game Pad from Hong Kong firm Omiz.

This pad adds game console controls to selected smartphones, including most models from Sony Ericsson and Nokia.

Easy to install, the Game Pad adds a new dimension to all those Java games that were just too fiddly to play using a numbers pad. The highlights are an eight-way d-pad, a relatively long battery life that provides about 3? hours of play and an innovative design that holds the pad securely in place.

Palm's LifeDrive is a stylish device guaranteed to make heads turn and ideal for gadget aficionados who want to pack all their entertainment files on one unit. The 4GB LifeDrive plays MP3s and mpeg films and browses the internet using its Wi-fi connectivity, which gives users the edge when looking up film times for summer blockbusters.

Six of the best

Palm LifeDrive, $3,890

Oregon Scientific Mirror Weather Station MR238, $2,178

Nokia 5140, $1,598

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX8, $3,390

JVC Everio GZ-MC 500, $11,980

Omiz Bluetooth Game Pad, $499

Model: Christine Yoen