I Want To Own... Some Urban Hardware
LIFE'S TOUGH on those mean city streets - but, come on, not that tough. Probably the most distressing urban experience you can put your armoured off-road vehicle through is the local 50p car wash. If this is the kind of pampered street life you lead, then here is your essential urban toolkit. From transport to communications, the well-equipped urbanite has all options covered and, more importantly, meticulously abides by the Golden Rules of Gadgetry and Urban Gear.

RULE NUMBER ONE:

Being able to cope with every eventuality, however ludicrous, is the name of the game. Over-qualification is one important maxim.

Tool for the rule: the Casio Pro Trek PRT 40E. In the world of sophisticated egg-timers, this is the one that will tell you what psychological problems the chicken had. The bulges at the side of the watch house a range of sensors that can help you get your various bearings. A digital compass tells you exactly where you're heading in life, the on-board barometer chips in with a few handy hints about the weather, and the altimeter can tell you how high you are (great for clubbers). If you program in how high you want to be, the alarm will automatically sound when you reach that altitude (5th floor Harvey Nicks, whatever). If it's dark and cold up there, just flick your wrist and the auto-illuminator will help you read the temperature gauge. Research will also reveal the dull stuff such as times, alarms and stopwatches, but by then you won't even care.

Cost: pounds 189.95

RULE NUMBER TWO:

Gadget density. The correct size-to-weight ratio is vital if you're going to convince anyone of the seriousness of your tool.

Tool for the rule: the oddly named Leatherman Wave (not to be mistaken for a friendly S&M enthusiast) fits the bill here. This little brick of stainless steel opens its arms to become a shed-load of screwdrivers, pliers, blades and openers, plus a saw, wire-stripper and a diamond- coated file. Whether you want it for filing your nails while waiting for a bus, or deciding to build your own vehicle to get you home in time for tea, this a crucial bulge for your back pocket.

Cost: pounds 89.95

RULE NUMBER THREE:

In the field of communications, the weight rule is turned on its head. The ideal here is to be able to carry an office in your pocket without even knowing it's there.

Tool for the rule: the Nokia 9110 Communicator (due out in January) weighs 253 grams and allows you to phone in sick, fax in sick, e-mail in sick - even send the pictorial evidence - all from the comfort of your sun-dappled deckchair. As well as the host of Windows-compatible personal organiser facilities, the Communicator can receive pictures via infrared from digital cameras and also has Multi Media Card removable data-storage. Its capacities as an office are sadly lacking, however, when it comes to wild Christmas parties.

Cost: pounds 350-pounds 450

RULE NUMBER FOUR:

Excessive durability and protection, especially where carrying all the clobber is concerned. Gadgeteers have a Pavlovian reaction to the word "professional" as an emblem on any product, suggesting as it does the toughness and specification demanded by those whose lives depend on them.

Tool for the rule: to make sure you won't be knocked off course by any stray thermonuclear explosions, sniper attacks, pollution or freak weather conditions as you pop out to take the cat for its evening stroll, invest in a Vexed Generation ballistic nylon Parka.

This is a garment with "specifications" that would put the average tank to shame: it's made from high tenacity nylon 66 (fashionable with the Ministry of Defence for flak jackets and blast-proofing) and comes internally coated with neoprene for water and fire resistance; has strategic padding around the pelvis, kidneys, spinal column and head; plus a full-face hood for protection and anonymity, and a special sleeve pocket for respiratory mask. Paranoia is definitely back in style - and if you have trouble getting a taxi to stop for you on the way back from your local war zone, just chuck yourself on to the bonnet with nonchalant impunity.

Cost: pounds 210

RULE NUMBER FIVE:

If it's fast we like it - and that, of course, means transport.

Tool for the rule: if throwing yourself on the bonnet fails, it's time to whip out your shiny City Bug fold-away electronic scooter. At a racy maximum speed of 15mph you run the risk of being overtaken by the average crisp packet in a breeze, but it is rechargeable and its 1,200-watt motor has a 12-mile range. The downside to this nifty machine is that, although the frame weighs next to nothing, the battery would need some serious weight-watching to make it anything like portable - and that, unless the idea of a whale pedalling along on the bicycle of a small child appeals, or you are the kind of person whose main concern is whether the helmet you are advised to wear will cause distress to your locks, it is guaranteed to make you feel silly. It's tough on the streets - but you've got to keep a sense of humour.

Cost: pounds 550

Pascal Wyse

The Casio Pro Trek PRT 40E is available from Time For Life on 0171-497 0534; for Leatherman stockists, or product information, call the importers, Whitby Products, on 01539 721032; for your nearest Nokia stockist call 0990 003110; Vexed Generation clothing is available from 0171-287 6224; and for stockists of the City Bug fold- away electronic scooter, call 01276 679558

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