Rap machine, stress-test telephone among electronics show's gadgets


LOS ANGELES -- It's a mad, mad, high-tech world. The following gizmos on display at the Winter Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas are either on the market or due out within the next few months.

* Play ball: Sure to be high on every sports trivia buff's wish list is Franklin's Big League Baseball Electronic Encyclopedia ($129.95), a credit-card sized reference work with more than 620,000 batting statistics, 270,000 pitching statistics and biographical information on every player in the history of Major League Baseball. There's even a spelling corrector for names. Due out in April.

* Phone shopping: We've heard of home shopping, but home grocery shopping? Already available in San Francisco is ScanFone, a telephone that allows you to pay bills and shop from catalogs (including one from a supermarket chain to be announced) using a built-in light pen and a magnetic strip credit-card reader.

The $9.95 monthly rental fee for the phone includes payment of 30 bills, for which postage costs alone would total $8.70. There's also a surcharge for each grocery delivery.

* Rap it up: You can get your rap act together and take it on the road with Casio's Rap-10 ($69.95), a kidney-shaped unit that hangs on your belt with a clip. Features include a microphone, a scratch disc for record-scratching simulations, 10 rap patterns and four drum/voice pads (if you don't know what these are, you wouldn't know what to do with this item).

* Watch this: You can have looks and brains with Casio's DataBank watch. The traditional-looking face, with hour, minute and second hands, flips up to reveal a little keypad and screen that can be used for memos, phone numbers and calculations.

* Honestly speaking: A new addition in the fast-growing field of personal security is CCS' Truth Phone ($379), which administers a voice stress test to whoever is on the other end of the line while you're talking.

* Hands off: Now you can tune your radio, tape deck or CD player and talk on the phone without ever lifting your hands from the steering wheel. The Blaupunkt Las Vegas is the world's first voice-activated combination cellular phone and car stereo system. Due out late this year; no price announced.

Already available from Blaupunkt, however, is the TravelPilot, a $2,495 (plus installation) navigation system. A small, moving map display guides you to your destination, provided it is in one of the CD map's data bases.

* Well done: Tan, don't burn, with Elexis Corp.'s SunDial ($39.95), a combination wristwatch/stopwatch/suntan timer. Punch in your skin type, the SPF (sun protection factor) of your tanning lotion; SunDial in turn measures the intensity of damaging ultraviolet radiation at your tanning site and, taking all these factors into account, computes your optimum exposure time. An alarm will sound when time's up.

* Pet projects: Elexis also has an intriguing line of pet-related products, ranging from a Nite Safety Lite Collar ($19.99) with a photoelectric sensor that turns on a flashing beacon when it gets dark (to keep you from tripping over your pet), to a "no bark" collar that recognizes nuisance barking (as opposed to useful, guard-dog barking) and discourages it by startling (not shocking) your dog with a high-frequency tone.

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