To Complete This Phone Call, Please Pick Up Your TV the Latest Offerings of the Consumer Electronics Industry Span the Spectrum of Handy to Wacky

By Laurent Belsie, writer of the Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, January 31, 1997 | Go to article overview

To Complete This Phone Call, Please Pick Up Your TV the Latest Offerings of the Consumer Electronics Industry Span the Spectrum of Handy to Wacky


Laurent Belsie, writer of the Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


One of the most fertile areas of human imagination resides in the consumer electronics industry. No matter how weird or wacky an idea might seem, someone out there is producing it in the hope it will become the next big seller. And once in a while it does.

So here is a selection of the latest and (maybe) greatest from the recent Winter Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas:

Products under $50 Bass Fishin' - $20 Probably the closest thing to bass fishing without leaving the living room. This unit, roughly the shape and size of a parsley grater, lets you cast an imaginary line and reel it in. The little screen tells you if the lure is traveling at the proper depth. When a fish bites, the unit shakes and the at-home angler has to jerk quickly to hook his prize. It looks like a game, but manufacturer Radica USA claims at least 75 percent of its customers are adults. It has been so popular that many mass retailers, such as Wal-Mart, are running low, but the company hopes to catch up with inventory in March. Coming near the end 1997: Deep Sea Fishin' for catchin' marlin, sailfish, spearfish, and swordfish on the open seas. World's smallest radio - $20 American Technology Corp. offers AM and FM versions of this neat device. Based on microchips, they're small enough to plug into your ear, yet deliver all the sound anyone would need. The company's vice president of sales uses the ear clip (included) to go jogging. SmartSwitch - $39.95 Tired of clapping to get the light to go on? The SmartSwitch from VOS Systems in San Diego lets you call out instead. Just say "lights" and the switch comes on; say it again and it goes off. The system worked flawlessly even on the noisy floor of a trade show. VOS, which is looking for distributors, hopes to have the system available in March. It's especially useful near entrances to the home, where a person with hands full of mail or groceries can call out and have the lights come on, says the company's Rick Matulich. Products under $100 Car Stereo "Thummer" - $70 For all those drivers who like cruise controls on the steering wheel, Blaupunkt introduces a steering-wheel remote for its high-end line of cassette and compact-disc players. The seven-button device lets you tune the radio, switch to cassette or CD, skip to a favorite song, and adjust the volume with your thumb while you grip the steering wheel. The device works exclusively with Blaupunkt's Reno, Aspen, Denver, and Las Vegas models, which retail for $199 to $349. In May of this year, the German company expects to introduce a new line of CD and cassette players that use a smart card. Plug it in and the card automatically has all your individual music settings. Take it out and thieves won't be able to make the system work (which should discourage them from taking it in the first place). Safetywear light-up vest - $65 Extra protection for anyone working at night. Besides the traditional high-visibility orange coating, these vests are ringed with a flexible orange light tube that blinks when you turn it on. Requires two AA batteries that operate about 200 hours. Small size fits most people up to 150 pounds. (Regular size at $80 fits larger people.) Manufacturer Buddy Products in Green Oaks, Ill., says it will be available in stores soon (Call 800-886-8688 for retailers). …

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