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METROPOLIS / ROAD TEST

Personal Cooling Systems

April 08, 2001|DARCY RICE

Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it. Although technology still can't control the temperature, it hopes to improve your personal climate zone. With help from KABC-TV Channel 7 weatherman Dallas Raines, we tested three products that promise to help you chill out.

COOL DOWN SPORTS SEAT from Hammacher Schlemmer & Co.

PRICE: $39.95

SPECIFICATIONS: A cushion seat with chill packs in the back and seat. Hammacher Schlemmer says that when pre-chilled, the Microcore packs cool for as long as eight hours. They can also be heated in the microwave for use in cold weather.

EXPERT OPINION: "It's nice looking. But this might be too small for a big, athletic butt. My butt fits fine, but I have a smaller butt. When I turn to do the East Coast, people could check out my butt and decide whether this would work for them. After two hours, it seems to be losing its cool."

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PERSONAL COOLING SYSTEM 2.0 from the Sharper Image

PRICE: $49.95

SPECIFICATIONS: An evaporative system fueled by a tiny battery-powered fan. Sharper Image says the aluminum plates, filled with water and worn around the neck, will make the wearer feel at least 20 degrees cooler.

EXPERT OPINION: "This looks like something you would see out of the medieval period. I thought it would pinch your neck, but it doesn't. I can hear the fan, but it doesn't bother me. If you're at the Dodger game, this might do the trick. But how does it look? This is California--is it a styling thing? I might wear this on the air during the summer! This might be perfect when I'm working in my KABC vegetable garden."

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SOLAR- POWERED VENTILATED GOLF CAP from Hammacher Schlemmer & Co.

PRICE: $29.95

SPECIFICATIONS: Six half-volt solar cells power a fan mounted in a nylon mesh cap. Batteries provide backup for use indoors or on cloudy days.

EXPERT OPINION: "The airflow feels good, but I would not wear this. It's a little geeky. The first thing you do with a hat like this is bend the bill down. That's what all the cool ballplayers do. The instant you try to bend [this], the fan starts to separate from the bill. That's a flaw. But this might be appropriate for an older gentleman, maybe 75, who could wear it on the golf course. A man of that age wouldn't care how he looks. At that age, he's a survivor."

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