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Our Favorite Things

A collection of gadgets, gizmos, and gear treasured by Fast Company staff members. Find out what tools help us work smarter and play harder, and then visit our new online product gallery: Hot Stuff!

Here at Fast Company, we take business seriously. We like to think big, work hard, and, on a good day at least, feel that we’re creating value for our customers. But we like our toys too. We’re gadget freaks — and we’re not afraid to admit it. Here are a bunch of our favorite things — stuff we like so much that we wanted to share it with you. And if you like what you see here, be sure to visit Hot Stuff, an online gallery of products and services offered by our advertisers.

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Staff Stuff

Trailblazer
Paul C. Judge, senior editor

(from the January 2001 issue)

If Bob Dylan had one, he would never have sung, “How does it feel / To be on your own / With no direction home …” The eTrex Summit, a nifty handheld GPS device made by Garmin Corp., is perfect for outdoor adventurers. The size of a cell phone, it fixes your position on the surface of the earth to within 30 feet. Plus, it comes with a built-in altimeter and an electronic compass — all packed into a sleek, waterproof case. I use it to explore the Vermont backcountry on skis. I plan my route ahead of time using a topographical-map program, download the information to my eTrex Summit, and then follow the way points to make sure I go where I planned to go. You can purchase the eTrex Summit on the Web for around $267, not including the topo-map software ($151) and connector cable ($38).

Just Shoot Me
Scott Kirsner, contributing editor
(from the February 2001 issue)

Taking snapshots with the eyemodule digital camera — a plug-in that works with the Handspring Visor — is a great way to lighten up interviews and playfully disrupt panel discussions. Everyone wants to try it out. The instant pix (the camera stores up to 500 small black-and-white images) have a whimsical, vacation-kitsch quality about them, even when your vistas are limited to the confines of a convention center or an office park.

Installing the eyemodule is every bit as easy as slipping a slice of bread into a toaster, and the software that controls the camera is fairly intuitive. You can also beam pictures to anyone else’s compatible PalmOS device or download them in JPEG format to your desktop. The one missing feature I’d like to see added: a way to link photos to events in my calendar. The eyemodule can be purchased online for $149.95.

Out of Pocket
Alison Overholt, staff writer

(from the April 2001 issue)

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I hate handbags, but I always used to carry one. Why? Because I don’t wear suit jackets with breast pockets for my PDA, I don’t wear baggy trousers with pockets big enough for my mobile phone — and I refuse to clip pagers or phones to the waistband of my clothes. But my favorite new toy and tool, the Samsung SCH-8500, eliminates that problem. It’s a PDA, mobile phone, and wireless Web browser, all in one. Its display is big enough to check stock quotes and email messages on Yahoo! comfortably. My dual-band phone also has a calendar, calculator, and to-do list, plus an address book with room for up to six phone numbers under each name entry. And much to my delight, the phone’s sleek, space-age design elicits an “Ooh … now, that’s a cool phone!” from Silicon Valley compatriots whenever I use it. But best of all? When fitted with a slim battery, the SCH-8500 is skinny enough to carry in the front pocket of even my tightest jeans — no jacket pockets or baggy trousers required. The Samsung SCH-8500 retails for $199.99, the slim battery for $59.99. Visit Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. on the Web.

TiVo for Two
Michelle L. Cain, copy editor, new media

(from the May 2001 issue)

As a newlywed, I’ve learned that the first months of marriage include a certain amount of compromise. Which is why my husband and I are proud to own a Sony Digital Network Recorder (SVR-2000). Harmony at last! This gadget offers the functionality of a VCR without the videotapes or the programming nightmares. Using the TiVo service, the SVR-2000 provides easy-to-navigate TV listings, enabling you to peruse schedules, read program descriptions, and select shows to record. You can also pause and rewind live television shows. With this contraption, my husband never misses an episode of Junkyard Wars, and I never miss a minute of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Now, if we could only agree on who takes out the garbage. The SVR-2000 retails for $399. The TiVo service is sold separately and is available for $10 a month, or a one-time fee of $200.

Radio Waves
Angela Brimhall, Web marketing manager, fastcompany.com
(from the November 2000 issue)

If you’re like me, you find exercising to be just about the least exhilarating part of your day. But I’ve discovered the perfect little workout companion: the Speedo SurfRunner 2000 Radio, my latest exercise toy. It’s smaller than a yo-yo but provides tons of fun. And it’s waterproof! I wear it clipped to my swimming cap while doing laps in the pool. It’s also great for running, lounging at the beach, and my least favorite activity: commuting. The three-button design (power, volume, and scan) makes it simple to use, and its reception measures up to that of any other handheld radio. Surf’s up! The Speedo SurfRunner 2000 can be purchased online for $30.

In Gear

One for All

Whether you prefer to burn your own, buy retail, or download from the Internet, the Philips eXpanium is the perfect gadget for storing your tunes. The unit plays your ripped CDs, standard discs, MP3 files — even discs with multiple formats — without getting all hot and bothered about it.
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Mouse Beautiful

The PC Mouse, designed for Lexon Design Concept by our favorite tactilely inclined designer, Marc Berthier, turns your mouse into a style statement.
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Go Gaga

The Gaga 2000, from the German design firm Troika, gives new meaning to the phrase “travel alarm clock.”
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Remote Control

The Ricochet GS Modem by Metricom Inc. promises easy, wireless connectivity at 128 KBPS — and it actually delivers, with a PDA-sized device that attaches to the outside of your laptop and plugs into the USB port.
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Screen Saver

With 3M’s new Notebook Privacy Filter, on-screen data is visible only to the person seated directly in front of the monitor. From the side, nosy parkers just see a blank screen.
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Me Talk Pretty

When traveling internationally, good language skills are what separate the bon vivants from the booboisie. Next time you find yourself linguistically challenged, whip out the Universal Translator UT 106 from Ectaco Inc.
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Use Your Head

The ArialPhone’s wireless connection to your PC and its light, trim design keep you connected and mobile at the same time.
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Control Freak

Life too complicated? Simplify, baby. Chuck all of those remotes and spring for a Proton SRC-2000 Smart Remote Control. Why this one? Because the SRC-2000, which handles up to 10 appliances at once, is actually easy to use.
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Svelte Sound

Gamers, audiophiles, and office slaves alike will appreciate this new offering from Philips: the MMS305 Flat Panel Speaker System, a four-channel system with subwoofer that provides luscious surround sound for your desktop or notebook computer.
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What is your favorite gizmo or gadget? Tell us in Sound Off …