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GEAR & GADGETS

Recreation along the way

Travel can be entertaining in itself, but for those who need additional amusement on the go, here are some nifty options.

September 07, 2003|Judi Dash | Special to The Times

Bitty boombox

SI-5 portable speakers: With portable music players, you can take your songs wherever you go. But the tiny speakers on most devices can't produce the rich sound of full-size entertainment systems, and most portable speakers are clunky space hogs. Not so: The SI-5 portable flat panel speaker set, which weighs less than a pound, produces full-bodied 360-degree surround sound. The twin speakers are each about the size of a CD jewel case; the separate amplifier is palm-size. Just plug the amplifier into the speakers and the speakers into your MP3, CD, portable DVD or laptop, and you'll get great performances. A more expensive model, the Gen2 SI-5, incorporates the amplifier into one of the speakers, with the whole kit clipping together for easy storage. The amplifier for both models runs on four AAA batteries (not included). Optional AC and USB adapters are available.

SI-5 portable speaker set in a variety of colors is $49.99. Gen2 SI-5 model, $79. Sonic Impact Technologies; (800) 533-5177, www.si-5.com.

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Wonder wheels

Runt Mini-Bike: This bike isn't built for long-distance riding, but it's a fun way to tootle around a resort or vacation home. The tiny bike, which collapses for car travel, weighs only 17 1/2 pounds but can accommodate a rider weighing up to 300 pounds. The adjustable seat and handlebars can fit adults as well as children. The Runt looks like a cross between a scooter and those tiny circus bikes favored by clowns. It will probably appeal mainly to children, who will love the stunt possibilities. Those tiny wheels require plenty of legwork and provide a good workout. It measures about 27 1/2 by 27 by 14 inches wide when extended and comes with a hand brake, front and rear reflectors, chain guard and wrenches to assemble it.

Runt Mini-Bike is $75 from Wysco Products; (800) 731-9972, www.sportautolife.com.

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Illuminating remarks

Audio Lumifier: Whether you are trying to decipher a map or read a good novel on a road trip or in flight, the new Audio Lumifier from Zelco provides triple assistance. The retractable swiveling lens gives 2 1/2 times magnification, the bright LED light illuminates the material and a built-in digital memo recorder provides 20 seconds of recording time. You can remind yourself of the page you were reading, record a quick synopsis of the directions to your destination or post phone numbers or a to-do list.

Audio Lumifier (12104) is $30 in stores. Zelco; (800) 431-2486, www.zelco.com.

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Soundest system

CD/Radio & Sound Soother 20: The Sharper Image is continually tinkering with its innovative travel alarm clock/radio/CD players, adding new features and improving the sound quality. The latest model uses a technology similar to that found in newer computers, and that greatly improves the speaker quality. The radio has an AM/FM/TV-band tuner, and the built-in Sound Soother provides 20 digitally recorded sounds (for relaxation or as an alarm), from "Yosemite Falls" to "thunderstorm," "fireside" and even "city" sounds. Press "talk" and a voice will announce the time. It runs on six AA batteries. Stereo ear buds and AC adapter are included. It measures 9 by 6 by 2 inches deep and weighs 2 pounds. For added audio impact (best for a car trip, where space is not at a premium), add the optional powered subwoofer.

CD/Radio & Sound Soother 20 (SI 785) is $229.95; powered subwoofer (SA251) $99.95 from the Sharper Image; (800) 344-4444, www.sharperimage.com.

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Broadcast views

Casio Handheld Color TV: It won't get cable TV channels, but this battery-operated pocket color TV will get UHF and VHF channels and display the shows on a 2 1/2-inch active matrix anti-glare LCD screen. The 5-by-3-by-1-inch-deep TV has a retractable rod antenna for improved reception and a battery-conserving sound-only option. It runs on four AAA batteries and has input jacks for optional earphones, AC or car adapters. The TV also can be connected to camcorders or VCRs. It weighs only 8 ounces, even with batteries installed, and fits easily in a jacket or pants pocket.

Casio Handheld Color TV (653519) is $89.97 from the Discovery Channel Catalog; (800) 938-0333, www.discovery.com.

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