Boys love toys, but only if they've got a gimmick - and both of the items I checked out this month do.
Blue Man Group - that outrageous multisensory music trio that performs with everything from a zither to a Chapman Stick - has come up with the Keyboard Experience ($99, shown) and the Percussion Tubes ($99) so you too can blend your theatrical and rock-star skills with the press of a button. These user-friendly music makers were a blast! I conducted a wacky jam session with the preprogrammed music, but you can also jack in an iPod or MP3 player and riff along to your favorite songs. The coolest thing, though, is the proximity-sensor technology. Just wave your hands over the control tubes to start the music, stop it, make it louder, or change the type of instrument. A little blue face paint and I could sub for one of these guys any day.
Portable media players are getting smaller and thinner, with larger screens. The slim and trim Archos 604 ($350) has that "wow" factor we all crave when we unwrap a new gadget. It boasts a generous 4.3-inch wide screen beaming 16 million colors and stores 30 movies or 15,000 songs. An optional DVR Station ($100) lets you record TV shows. Best of all, the easy-to-navigate menus and animated icons let me get the 604 up to speed right out of the box.
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