Gadgets geared toward teens

Lest any consumer category out there feel underserved, numerous companies at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles identified the teen market as the next frontier for personalized computer hardware.

KB Gear Interactive has its snappy, rugged Jam line, which includes a digital camera, an MP3 player, a Web-site designer template, and a digital sound mixer, all of which will be on the market this summer.

Cybiko arrived with a compact hand-held computer aimed at teens who aren't ready for a Palm Pilot, yet feel too old for Game Boy. Cybiko offers a calendar, e-mail, real-time chat functions with friends up to 300 feet away, the capacity to "identify" others with similar user profiles, an onboard digital "pet," and games.

The hook is that a Web site will offer a new downloadable game daily. And, like so many of these new products, plans for further functions are in the works. "It will expand to download MP3 files," says company president Donald Wisniewski.

And like many new products, some of the ideas work better than others. Currently, a visit to the Web site (www.cybiko.com) informs the teen that the e-mail function is "under construction."

However, with its sleek, ergonomic design (available in several clear colors) shaped for a left-handed grip (no right-handed grips for the southpaws yet), and an impressive array of games, it's sure to find a home in the in-be-teen marketplace. One small question does come to mind: In today's youth culture, are we really to believe that teens are so vastly underserved? I'm so sure.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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