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Internet Guide | Gadgets & Gizmos


October 19, 2000

* Price: $19.95

* Manufacturer: Keytronic Corp.

* Niche: This push-button device, which takes the place of--but is much bulkier than--a regular mouse pad, seems to be aimed at new Web users. It provides programmed bookmarks to Web sites on various topics. For example, when you press "news & reference" on the pad, a "myassistant" window pops up on the screen to give you choices among several subject headings, including "newspapers" and "magazines." Into each, the folks at mysmart.pad -- who seem to have a thing about using only lower case -- have programmed a few choices -- their choices--that you can click on. You can add your own push-button bookmarks by programming them into the nine available open buttons on the device.

There is also a "mysmart specials" button that is designed to go to designated shopping sites, but it won't be working until later this year.

* The good: Easy to install.

* The bad: This product is simply not as easy or fun as using the Web itself to explore the online world and find your own favorite sites. And although the push-buttons might be of some use at first, they add an extra step that would be a bother to almost anyone who has spent more than a couple of hours on the Web. Finally, not only is the pad unattractive, its buttons are unpleasantly squishy.

* Bottom line: Give a first-time Web user the gift of showing them how to use bookmarks and other cool Web features, and they will never have to bother with anything as burdensome as mysmart.pad.

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