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HOT STUFF / Mary Purpura and Paolo Pontoniere : Shoot the Tube

June 10, 1996|Mary Purpura and Paolo Pontoniere

If you really feel you need to shoot at something, consider the TV. Canadian-based TVT Inc. has developed a pistol-shaped remote control device called the TV Terminator. The remote offers four sound effects that allow users to audibly register their endorsement of or opposition to what's happening on the screen: a booing crowd, a cheering crowd, gunshots or machine gun fire.

Changing channels, adjusting volume and activating sounds requires pressing a button . . . or pulling the trigger. The universal remote control works on virtually every TV, VCR or cable box, so you can take it with you when you go to your friend's house to watch a big game or political debate. For more information on the device, which sells for $69.95, call TVT at (800) 522-6888.

Small Talk: Smaller is indisputably better when it comes to cellular phones, and Motorola Inc. recently unveiled the teeniest, lightest model to date. Called StarTAC, the phone weighs a bit more than 3 ounces and, when folded up, is roughly the size of a pager. Users can wear StarTAC in its holster or tuck it into a pocket.

StarTAC is the first cellular to operate with two removable batteries at the same time: When one is spent, the other automatically kicks in, for up to four hours of continuous talking. Other features include a "smart" button, which allows for one-handed use, and a headset jack so you can keep both hands on the wheel while you're driving and talking.

None of this comes cheap: Authorized Motorola outlets are selling StarTAC for $1,000 to $2,000, though it might be cheaper with some service packages.

Duds That Defend Against Sun: If you think regular clothing provides adequate protection for sun-sensitive skin, think again. Typical summer wear offers SPF protection of about 7, meaning you can get fried right through your T-shirt in about an hour. And most sunscreens don't offer thorough defense against ultraviolet rays.

Enter Solumbra by Sun Precautions, the only clothing line to win FDA approval as a medical device. The line includes hats, shirts, pants, jackets, children's wear and skirts, and offers 30+ SPF protection and defense against the entire UV spectrum--whether the clothes are wet or dry.

Solumbra's protective capabilities come from a combination of special synthetic fibers and an unusual weaving technique that provides a mechanical sun block--but doesn't make the machine-washable fabric feel stiff or clammy, its makers say. To order or request a catalog, call Sun Precautions at (800) 882-7860.

A Better Mouse Pad: A dirty, crumby mouse pad can quickly render a mouse--and therefore, in effect, an entire computer--nonfunctional. But that kind of problem could become a thing of the past thanks to 3M Corp.'s Precise Mousing Surface.

The unique pad's thin, flat surface takes advantage of a 3M technology called microreplication, in which precisely shaped structures are created on surfaces such as plastic.

If you could magnify a side view of the 3M Precise Mousing Surface, you'd see neat rows of peaks and valleys. This design lets the track ball roll over the peaks, while dirt, dust and oil from the skin fall into the valleys. This keeps the track ball clean and rolling smoothly, which allows for faster, more exact mouse movements. Computer and office products retailers are selling the pad for $15.

Voyeurs, Take Note: If you're into live music but can't afford front-row seats, VU Points' Performance Binoculars may make it possible for you to enjoy the action from afar.

These 8X-magnification binoculars are more than powerful. VU Points founder Matt Esecson, a marketing entrepreneur, apparently made good use of his time figuring out how to ogle things using ergonomically designed tools in cool packaging. Performance Binoculars' features include an oversized, rubber-coated grip with an adjustable wrist strap--a plus if you're interested in steady, one-handed viewing; ruby-red "Truth Lenses," which Esecson says sharpen the image; and a snap-on, padded carrying bag, inspired by the chalk bags used by rock climbers.

VU Points offers a "Millennium Warranty," which covers the binoculars until Jan. 1, 2000. Performance Binoculars are currently available direct from VU Points for $129 (the carrying case is an additional $20) by calling (800) 787-6388.

Freelance writers Paolo Pontoniere and Mary Purpura can be reached via e-mail at

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