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Portable boom gets the shot

Name: : XShot 2.0 camera extender

What it is: : A 9-inch rod that telescopes out to 37 inches. Attach a lightweight camera or camcorder and capture images of yourself that appear to have been shot by someone else.

How it works: : Screw a pocket-size camera or camcorder (maximum weight: a little more than a pound) on to one end of the XShot, then tilt the camera to just the right angle and lock the XShot in place. Extend the XShot away from you for self-portraits that capture more background than if you were to hold the camera in your hand and aim it at yourself. This makes the XShot a must-have for camera-happy travelers.

The good: : The XShot is stable, maneuverable and portable enough for a backpack. And it eliminates the potential awkwardness of asking a stranger, "Would you mind taking a photo of us?" This works especially well with pocket camcorders such as the Flip Video because you can pan the camera around you to capture interesting vistas or walk and talk about the scenery as if you are being followed by a cameraman, making your videos look like travelogues. The more you use it, the more you'll want to use it.

The bad: : It doesn't work with cell phones, which don't have camera mounts. A new iPhone case-and-XShot bundle ($44.95) and iPhone 3GS tripod attachment ($19.95; you'll still need to buy a $29.95 XShot) are expected to ship this month.

Cost: : $29.95 to $44.95

Available from: :

- Eric Gwinn, Tribune Newspapers

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