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TECHNOWATCH

THE GOODS : Whatever Happened to Passing Notes?

September 02, 1994|LYNN SIMROSS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Perfect for school days is Casio's new Secret Sender 6000 Diary, an electronic digital diary for kids that does a lot more than store telephone numbers and addresses.

Secret Sender 6000 is similar to last year's children's hit from Casio, My Magic Diary, but it has added features.

In addition to a variety of practical functions, Secret Sender also can send messages from one unit to another via infrared signals. And it can even activate a TV or VCR.

In its message mode, the compact diary can send 10 pre-programmed messages or a child's own personalized ones as far as 25 feet. Up to 10 messages of 28 characters each can be stored, and messages and telephone directory data can be recalled from the unit's memory and sent just by touching a button.

The unit's display features four lines of 16 characters.

Intended for children 8 through 13, Secret Sender's phone directory also has a "Fun Face Maker" that allows kids to create funny faces to accompany friends' phone numbers. Addresses, birthdays and other important dates also can be stored.

The unit keeps time, too, displaying the time in 29 time zones on a scrolling world map. A calendar with cartoon pictures for sports, homework, hobbies and the like reminds the child on what day and time a specific activity is planned, and has a schedule alarm (in addition to a daily alarm) so he or she won't be late.

A "Secret Password" function permits the child to put in private information as well.

In addition, there's a 10-digit calculator with memory, square root and percentage functions, and a currency converter that allows the user to compare the value of six foreign currencies to U.S. dollars.

For fun there are "Fortune Telling" and "Match Maker" features. Punch in your birthday and you get your fortune for the day, every day. Match Maker can give advice about getting along with a special someone.

Lightweight--4.9 ounces--Secret Sender 6000 ($119.95) comes with a 2,000- to 7,000-hour main battery and a three-year memory backup battery.

It is available at Target, Toys R Us, Good Guys and Fedco. If you can't find it in your area, call (800) YO-CASIO.

Now You Can Draw and Sniff

Even crayons have gone high-tech this fall. Crayola is out with Magic Scent Crayons that feature "micro-encapsulated" fragrances in the nontoxic crayons.

There are 16 food and nature fragrances--orange, lemon, banana, chocolate, strawberry, blueberry, cherry, spearmint, lime, licorice, grape, coconut, bubble gum, rose, pine and a fresh air scent--and they smell quite realistic.

It's not too likely kids would eat the fragrant crayons, because they don't smell unless you draw with them or scratch the surface of the crayon. But Binney & Smith, makers of Crayola crayons, has had them tested by toxicologists and an independent safety specialist to assure their safety.

After evaluating the scented crayons, Dorothy Drago, the specialist who was formerly with the Consumer Product Safety Commission, said they "pose no greater potential for ingestion than do regular crayons." Drago reasoned: "The scent is produced only on the writing/drawing surface, so if anything, it is the surface that may be licked or eaten. The most common coloring surface is paper, which does not pose a serious ingestion hazard."

Another test was done with 170 families with children, who used the crayons for a week. None of the parents reported that their children had placed the crayons in their mouths or eaten them.

Crayola Magic Scent Crayons ($2.79) come in boxes of 16 regular size or eight large size and are available nationally.

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