Hi-tech toy to ring tills this Xmas

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The Independent Online

Forget Furby's, Tickle Me Elmos or Tracey Island. The plaything that will create parental stampedes at UK toyshops this Christmas will be the Cybiko.

Already the US toy of the year, Cybiko has been selling across the Pond at the rate of 10,000 units a day. Its makers are already predicting immediate sell-outs when it reaches these shores for the present-buying season at the price of£100.

Though the Cybiko describes itself as a toy, it is a technologically advanced piece of kit, specifically designed to appeal to the modern nine- to 16-year-olds who have grown up surrounded by computers, mobile phones and video games.

The Cybiko is a combination of all of these things. Part-organiser, part-phone, part-games machine, the device has generated thriving "communities" of users across the US. The UK distributor, The Caudwell Group, is expecting the same phenomenon to occur here.

The machine has many of the functions of a personal organiser – diary, address book and day-planner – but it is tailored to all the other features children want. It has a program that allows it to store and display digital photos, and a phrase book that might be useful if you happened to have tricky Spanish homework to do.

It has many games built into it and can send text messages between other Cybikos. What makes it appealing to parents is that, because there is no network involved, the "calls" cost nothing, and the toy does not charge any monthly rental.

But perhaps the machine's biggest draw is that it can be plugged directly into a PC, allowing the machine to be constantly upgraded. The Cybiko community has, via a series of individuals' websites, invented hundreds of new games of its own, all written by teenage programmers.

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