Future Tense: Gear, Gadgets, Gifts

What to give your family, your colleagues — and yourself — for the holidays.

Hot Wheels!

For anyone who’s dreamed of starring in their own Roman Holiday, it’s hard to resist the timeless appeal of the updated Vespa scooter. Available in eight delicious colors, the new Vespa comes in two models: the simple ET2 ($2,950) and the more powerful ET4 ($3,950). It’s easy to park and delivers a smooth ride. Caution: In some states, riding a Vespa requires a motorcycle license (


Hands of Time

Looking for a timely gift that merges style with utility? Try the Progetti clock by Italian designer Alberto Sala. Its frosted 12-inch-by-12-inch Plexiglas face creates a blurred effect that’s decidedly playful. But this fashion statement is functional too. Battery operated, the clock can sit just about anywhere — home or office, on a wall or upon a desk. The clock is available for $125 at Troy in New York ( or 212-941-4777).

Attention, multitaskers! The Internet Messenger by Timex is a less bulky, high-tech version of the popular Ironman Triathlon watch. You can retrieve email, news, weather reports, sports scores, and flight updates — even as you check the blistering pace of your morning run. The watch comes in three colors (slate, blue, and white) and retails for $119.95 (

Do you know someone who’s always late? Then consider the Monza Calibre 36 Chronometer by TAG Heuer. It’s the most precise watch of its kind on the market. This sleek, Swiss-made timepiece uses a pendulum that oscillates at 36,000 vibrations per hour. (For high-end watches, the norm is 28,000 per hour.) What’s more, you can admire the system in motion through the chronograph’s sapphire back. The Monza Calibre 36 retails for $3,750 (

Calling all road warriors: You’ll never wonder what time zone you’re in with the Citizen Skyhawk Flight Chronograph . This stylish, titanium watch has three alarm clocks and a 22-time-zone calendar. And while you may run out of energy on a long trip, your watch won’t. The Skyhawk charges itself in light — from sunshine to the glow of your laptop — and has a four-year power reserve. It retails for $499.95 (

In the Bag

Imagine a closet on wheels. The JG22 by Andiamo combines the convenience of a wheeled carry-on with the practicality of a suitcase that need not be unpacked. The bag fits two to three suits, and there are three large, gusseted pockets for folded clothes, shoes, and toiletries. The JG22 retails for $665 (

Flying off for a weekend getaway? Try the small duffel bag in the Courier Collection by Tumi. Clean lines and a modern silhouette make it a fashionable carry-on. Inside, the bag features an intuitive packing system that holds up to three days’ worth of clothing. There’s also a separate shoe compartment with locking zippers. Its refreshing new color (winter cherry) is guaranteed to stand out in a sea of black bags. Retail price is $450 (


Looking for a smarter way to carry around your work (and your laptop)? Our hands-down choice is the Mobile Brief by Brenthaven. This is a bag for the urban jungle. The hardware is solid: The wheels are built to provide maximum shock absorption, and the telescoping handle easily locks into place. Inside, there’s a removable computer sleeve that provides extra protection for laptops. The Mobile Brief retails for $399 (

Messenger bags have become standard equipment for on-the-go professionals. Our favorite is Timbuk2 Designs’s new commuter bag . This go-anywhere bag is guaranteed to look great — because you design it online. Choose from a menu of colors, fabrics, sizes, and features. Prices range from about $85 to $200. Build your bag on the Web (

Great Gear (I)

Most of our lives reside on our laptops, so it makes sense to own one that’s easy to live with. The PC-UM10 mini-notebook from Sharp is a lightweight answer for both sore shoulders and weak wallets. Priced at $1,999 and weighing in at a mere 2.89 pounds, the PC-UM10 is still a heavyweight in the functionality department. This sleek, platinum-colored notebook features the best of Sharp’s LCD-screen technology and comes standard with a 20-GB hard drive and 128 MB of RAM (

Sick and tired of cell phones and PDAs? Maybe it’s time to experiment with an entirely new class of handheld devices. Danger Inc. has created the new Hiptop to function like a miniature desktop or laptop computer — and perform all of the applications of a cell phone and PDA to boot. Available in limited quantities at the end of this year, look for a wide rollout in early 2002. The device comes branded with the name of a wireless carrier and will retail for approximately $200. Armed with a full suite of rich-media Internet applications, instant messaging, email (with attachments!), all PDA functions, phone capability, a movie player, a camera attachment, a complete thumb keyboard, and better screen resolution than a Palm, the new Hiptop is the hippest tech toy on this year’s market (

Notebooks help you work smarter. And when it’s time to present your work, your best bet is IBM’s lightest and brightest new miniprojector. The IBM MicroPortable Data/Video Projector is no bigger than your favorite book (2 inches by 6.3 inches by 8.3 inches). Interfacing with most desktop and notebook computers, it can project high-resolution images up to 30 feet away. The MicroPortable Projector is priced at $4,999 (

Great Gear (II)

Tough times demand resilient technology. With the GoBook Max by Itronix, your stock options may be underwater, but your laptop can still get wet — or hit the wall. To meet the stringent requirements of its “ultra-rugged” certification, Itronix dropped its GoBook Max 54 times with the power on, and it still kept working. All this toughness comes at a price though: $5,995 (


Phone, PDA, pager: Who can manage them all? You can, by carrying the new Sanyo SCP-6000 handset (available with Sprint wireless service only). Priced at $299.99, this device is only 0.39-inches thick and light as a feather. With the right cables and software, it will sync with your Palm for a one-shot answer to all your wireless, calendar, and memo needs. Our favorite feature? The old-fashioned telephone and “cock-a-doodle-doo” rooster rings on the Sounds menu (

Want to stay in touch on the road, but stay safe too? Then a hands-free telephone accessory like the EarBoom Winder from Jabra rings true. The retractable winding device hooks onto a waistband or a belt and keeps hands-free appliances easily accessible and its cords untangled. The EarBoom Winder retails for $34.99 (

Powder Puffs

Why isn’t this man smiling? The T:Nine X by K2 is designed for the serious female skier. It is engineered to support the female build, not fight it. Made from spruce cores rather than fir, the T:Nine X is lighter than comparable models and features a softer-flexing ski. The fact that women have a lower center of gravity than men was built into the construction: The bindings are mounted higher on the ski. The T:Nine X retails for $625 (

For skiers born to push limits (especially those who flirt with avalanches), the German-made ABS Model Plus Backpack is a smart companion. With a firm tug on the pack’s chest chord, air bags instantly inflate into two bulky, orange wings that float a troubled skier to the surface. The pack costs $740 and weighs about 6.7 pounds, including the nitrogen tank that inflates the air bags (

Burton Snowboards, the company that changed the face of so many mountains, has introduced its next big thing: the Junkyard Snowdeck , a snowboard-and-skateboard combination. (Think snowboard without bindings or skateboard without wheels.) The Snowdeck retails for $149.95 (

The best thing about a hard day on the slopes? Après-ski. For certified ski bums — or folks who want to look the part — we recommend the Primo Moc Gore-Tex by Merrell. Tough, stylish, and super comfy, this leather slip-on is the perfect after-sport snowshoe. The Gore Tex-lined interior gives tired feet the right amount of love — soft but not squishy. Its sturdy frame hugs the foot like a broken-in baseball glove. The Primo Moc retails for $110 (