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High-Tech Toys Gain Prominence At Toy Fair 2001

2/12/2001 02:00:00 AM Eastern

NEW YORK -The Toy Fair 2001 show being held here this week looks more like CES Jr. than Santa's workshop, as more companies roll out high-tech products for kids.

While the vast majority of products to be displayed at the Jacob Javits Convention Center and the Toy Building are traditional in nature, a growing segment is essentially versions of adult products for tykes and teens.

Ranging from Tiger Electronics' organizer/e-mail products to Intel Play's digital video camera and bundled video-editing software, the show has taken a huge technological leap from 2000.

The majority of high-tech toys will be displayed at the fair's TechnoPLAT@ Toy Fair pavilion, with about 35 companies dedicating 7,700 square feet of floor space to handheld devices, interactive toys and software. The pavilion was introduced at Toy Fair 2000.

Tiger Electronics has brought a full complement of toys for the technically savvy youngster. The company revamped its music device lineup with the addition of the a digital music player/recorder, whose official name has not been settled upon, and the i.Karaoke. In addition, Tiger's Lifestyle Electronics line has four new offerings.

The music player and i.Karaoke products will start shipping this fall. The former will function with a PC using MusicMatch music downloading software to create playlists from CDs and the Internet. The device, which will have a $99 suggested retail price, will come with 8MB of internal flash memory capable of holding up to 32 minutes of audio content and will be small enough to fit in a shirt pocket.

The i.Karaoke is Tiger's first product to target this market. The player displays the lyrics on a built-in LCD and allows the user to download songs from an Internet library of music for a fee per song. It is expected to ship this fall with a $149 suggested retail price.

The Lifestyle line will add dear diary III. Targeted to girls, the device is a PDA-type diary that is password protected and comes with a keypad and stylus to enter daily notes. It will ship in June with a $29.99 suggested retail price.

E.chat is a wireless, text-based chat device. Using a stylus and touch pad, children can tap out messages and then zap them to friends within the product's 100-foot range. It will ship in August with a $29 suggested retail price.

Shipping in the fall with a $99 suggested retail price is the my.data, a true PDA with 1MB of internal flash memory that kids can use to store phone numbers, calendar and other data. The information is input through a bundled keyboard or stylus and touchpad.

Also coming this fall is Tiger's Yahoo Web Cam. It gives any PC the ability to conduct video chat or send video e-mail, and is bundled with software that allows the user to change their appearance on the screen in a variety of funny ways. The suggested retail price is $89.

Intel's Digital Movie Creator, suggested retail price $99, can capture up to four minutes of video and audio, or when in digital still mode, it can store 2,000 images. An onboard application allows the end user to add special effects to the video, such as filters and transitions. The camera attaches to a PC via a USB port, where it can be used as a tethered PC camera.

VTechis marking its 25th year in the toy business with the introduction of 66 new toys at the show. The headliner product is Me-Mo-Mo, a friendly little alien that children teach to speak English by completing a series of 25 activities such as puzzles. Me-Mo-Mo is a two-piece toy comprised of a keyboard and a small three-legged visitor from outer space. Pricing and shipping information were not available at press time.

Other VTech introductions include a revamped PowerZone Plus Desktop computer that allows kids to download additional activities and games through a separate Internet-connected PC. Also new is the Vapor PDA.

Among other product introductions at Toy Fair:

  • Polaroid will highlight its I-Zone Convertible Instant Pocket Camera with changeable faceplates. The newest member of the I-Zone family is smaller than its predecessors and comes with magenta and blue faceplates to give teens some flexibility in changing the camera's appearance. The I-Zone, shipping next month with a $29.99 suggested retail price, creates 1 x 1.5-inch photo stickers.

  • Radica Games will introduce the Play TV Snowboarder. The device, which plugs into the A/V jack of any TV or VCR, comes with four games: FreeRide/ Trick Run, Timed Slalom Competition, Half-Pipe Trick Competition and Big Air Competition. It will ship this fall with a $64.99 suggested retail price. The device is not a game console, but an individual game unit that utilizes XaviX technology, developed by Radica. XaviX is a single-chip, multiprocessor integrated circuit that allows high-quality graphics and audio to play on a standard TV.

  • Cybiko will show five PC and wireless products it unveiled last month at CES. These products are geared for teens and are much more than toys. The CyWIG is a wireless Internet gateway that can create a LAN for connecting PDAs made by Cybiko and other vendors. The CyOS, an operating system for peer-to-peer wireless networking, offers a wireless modem, an MP3 player and a kit that allows Cybiko users to access the Internet through a Web-enabled cellphone.

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