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GEAR & GADGETS

Products to keep you rolling

October 12, 2003|Judi Dash | Special to The Times

Car travel gets an assist from these new products. Items have been tested by the author and may be available in stores.

Way to go

Map Mate Pro: How many times have you tried to figure out mileage on a road map by using your fingers? No more. On your next trip, take along the Map Mate Pro, a pocket-size battery-operated mileage/time calculator that is easy to use. Open the protective flip-top cover and follow the instructions for keying in the map-scale size and the speed you are traveling. Then run the tiny wheel at the corner of the device along the route on the map. As the wheel rotates, the LED display will show the distance. Press the "time" button, and the display will show how long the trip will take. The Map Mate Pro runs on one included button battery. It comes with a carry cord and a small compass that attaches to the cord.

Map Mate Pro (HU-3021) is $29.95 from TechnoScout; (800) 704-1210, www.technoscout.com.

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Scentsible car

Drive Fresh is an air-scenting device that plugs into the cigarette lighter. The heat from the lighter releases the scent, housed in a replaceable gel cartridge that slides into the unit. The refills of popular home plug-in air fresheners are compatible with the unit. The newest Drive Fresh model has low and high settings to regulate the amount of scent emitted. The unit, which comes with one scented cartridge, is available in a variety of colors, including a simulated wood-grain finish.

Drive Fresh starts at $5.95 from Aries Manufacturing; (800) 959-2743, www.drivefresh.com.

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Write on

Cross Ion: I always have a pen on hand, or, more precisely, attached to my key chain. The Cross Ion is a fat little pen that attaches to the key chain with an easy-on, easy-off quick-clip cap. The pen is 3 1/2 inches closed, extending to 4 1/4 inches. A translucent window displays the level of ink. The pen, which is available in several colors, is sold with one black gel ink cartridge; refill cartridges are available in six colors.

Cross Ion pen starts at $25; refills, $3.30. For information, A.T. Cross Co.; (800) 282-7677, www.cross.com.

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For inflationary times

Fix-A-Flat: Sure, you could fix a flat tire the old-fashioned way -- if you know how and have the tools. For a quick fix, especially at night, I prefer Fix-A-Flat, a tire inflator in a can. Shake the can vigorously for about 30 seconds, then screw the plastic nozzle onto the tire valve with the can upside down. The contents of the can -- a rubber compound that provides a seal on contact as it inflates the tire with compressed air -- will automatically discharge into the tire. (The rate slows as the tire inflates.) Unscrew the nozzle after the can has discharged. After making sure the tire rim has lifted off the ground, drive a few miles to allow the tire pressure to increase and the sealant to spread evenly inside the tire. Get the tire checked by a professional as soon as possible. For bicycles and motorcycles, use Fix-A-Flat Bikes Only, which comes in a smaller can safe for smaller tires.

Fix-A-Flat comes in several sizes, starting at $2.99 for a 12-ounce can. Fix-A-Flat Bikes Only is $3.79 for a 3-ounce can. For technical information, call SOPUS Products: (800) 416-1600, www.fixaflat.com.

Judi Dash can be reached at judidash@aol.com.

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