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THE CUTTING EDGE / BACK-TO-SCHOOL TECHNOLOGY SPECIAL

Reading, Writing and RAM

September 01, 1997

Nearly half of all homes in the Southland now have personal computers, and most students have at least limited access to a PC at school. Now other electronic products, notably hand-held computers and organizers and communications tools such as pagers, are also catching kids' fancy. A look at the electronic products being snapped up this fall:

Elementary school: Some younger kids have gotten a jump-start on their word-processing skills by using Apple's eMate, a laptop that allows students to enter data using a keyboard or a stylus. Sophisticated graphing calculators with the processing power of a minicomputer are also popular at this level.

Junior and senior high school: Personal information managers (or hand-held electronic organizers) are big with this crowd. Teens also gravitate toward electronic dictionaries, thesauri and spell checkers. Electronic dictionaries are available that translate foreign words and phrases and even pronounce words. Pagers are also a big status symbol for this age group: About 20% of pagers in the U.S. are carried by teens in junior or senior high.

Miscellaneous: Neon-colored computer accessories such as mouse pads, wrist rests, copy stands and diskette holders are popular with students of all ages.

Sources: Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Assn., Technology & Learning magazine, wire reports

Researched by JENNIFER OLDHAM / Los Angeles Times

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