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Shedding Some Light on Magnifiers, Note Pads, Umbrellas

April 08, 1999|LYNN SIMROSS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Want to light up your life? Here are some clever new products that will do just that.

First up is NiteOut, a two-in-one lighted magnifier and flashlight that's ideal for reading maps in a car (or playbills and programs in a darkened theater or menus in a dimly lit restaurant).

We also found that the flashlight feature comes in handy when you're searching for your car or house keys in a cluttered purse. Or if you're someone who has trouble reading small print (particularly stock tables) without benefit of a bright light.

NiteOut, from Lumatec Industries of Austin, Texas, is a lightweight, compact accessory that fits in a shirt pocket or purse. Simply push a button on the side of the case and an optical-quality 200% magnifier lens pops up. A small on-off switch enables you to use the magnifier with or without the light. And when you close the lens, NiteOut becomes a flashlight with a powerful little beam from its krypton bulbs.

NiteOut costs $14.95. Its bulbs have a total steady burn time of 19 hours, and it runs on two AAA batteries (included). For a list of retailers, call Lumatec, (800) 586-2832; on the World Wide Web: http://www.lumatec.com.

Lumatec offers a second innovative device for the car: the NiteTouch note pad, which lights automatically when you touch a pen to the paper. It dims in 10 seconds if the pen isn't pressing on the pad.

Users of cellular and mobile phones will find NiteTouch quite useful in the car because it attaches easily to the windshield with two suction cups to provide a secure writing surface. It's a perfect place to jot down directions in the dark.

NiteTouch operates on two AA batteries (not included) and comes with its own ballpoint pen, which uses standard refill cartridges and fits in the holder on the right side. Should you lose the pen, the holder fits most ballpoints. A standard 3 1/2-by-4 3/4-inch writing pad is included.

The suggested retail price is $14.95.

To illuminate your way once you've gotten out of the car, Nightlighter is a full-size folding umbrella with a flashlight built into the handle.

Nightlighter--from Totes, the well-known Cincinnati-based rain gear manufacturer--features an angled halogen "headlight" in its handle to brighten the area directly in front of the umbrella. A small button on the side activates the light.

Nightlighter (available in black, navy and crimson) costs $20 and runs on two AA batteries (not included). It is sold in major department stores. Information: (513) 682-8301; on the Web: http://www.totes.com.

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Highway 1 contributor Lynn Simross can be reached via e-mail at highway1@latimes.com.

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