Gadgets

Sonic Reflex Chair; Sony NW-E8 Walkman; HP Jornada 568; Symbol Technologies CS2000
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The Independent Online

Sonic Reflex Chair
From £1,000
Vibro Sonic Labs (01942 245 563); www.servedchilled.net

Designed and built by Oliver Smith, a laid-back entrepreneur from Wigan, the Sonic Reflex Chair was originally intended to help deaf people "hear" music, by pumping selected parts of the music to different areas of the body. How? Under each cushion lies a speaker, so that your backside gets a blast of sub-bass while the tweeters serenade your head.

The result is a cocoon of sound and vibration that will massage away your worries. While lying back listening to Kruder and Dorfmeister, I felt as if the musicians were actually playing my body – an intense experience. In fact, the effect is so intoxicating that Oliver claims the chair has healing properties, which a number of therapists are already tapping into. And while it didn't change my life, it certainly made my day.

I didn't get the chance to realise its potential for home cinema, but the thought of watching Gladiator lying on one of these is almost enough to make me rush out and buy one. Almost.

Sony NW-E8 Walkman
£280
Sony (08705 111 999); www.sony.co.uk

Technology, eh? It just keeps getting smaller. Take Sony's new NW-E8 Walkman. All you get is a pair of headphones, and the music seems to appear magically from nowhere. The headphones have a built-in audio-player, which gets the music straight from the source to your ears. Sony uses its own ATRAC3 format, so if you also want to listen to your MP3s on it, the files need to be re-encoded before the player will accept them, which is a pain.

The controls are on the right-hand ear pad, alongside an LCD screen displaying track information. With a tweak of your ear you can skip, search and adjust the volume. But this makes the 'phones cumbersome, and without a headband, you couldn't run for the bus with them clinging precariously to your ears. They are also very expensive. But then, what price can you place on being at the cutting edge of technology?

HP Jornada 568
£499
Hewlett-Packard (0870 547 4747); www.hp.com

For some time HP's Jornada range of Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) have played second fiddle to the flashier models from Compaq and Casio. But with its new Pocket PC 2002 series, Jornada may be the one to be seen with this year. It looks sexy, has the longest battery life on the market at 14 hours, and a 65,000-colour display. HP has also just introduced a detachable keyboard, making it perfect for working on the go, as well as a digital camera (£199), which slots into the CompactFlash slot. You can then preview and edit your snaps on the Jornada screen and mail them straight to your mates, if you have a compatible WAP phone.

But with other models available for just £200, you have to ask yourself if that lush colour screen is worth the extra dosh.

Symbol Technologies CS2000
£113
Symbol Technologies Ltd (0118 945 7000); www.symbol.com

Three types of people make shopping lists; parents, dieters and the anally-retentive. I just wander around supermarkets for hours, hoping that interesting things will jump off the shelves at me. Which is why people like me should get one of these.

The CS2000 is a hand-held memory scanner that makes online shopping a breeze.When you finish a food item, just scan its barcode and the item is added to the electronic shopping list stored in its memory. Next time you want to shop, stick the scanner in its cradle attached to your PC's serial port, and with one click it's all done. But you can only use websites that endorse the scanner, so if you're a die-hard Tesco shopper you may not find it useful.

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