By Tim Boxer

Microsoftís Xbox

Black & Deckerís Essentials
Lord of the Rings Battle Game


Bill Gatesí New Toy
Not Just for My Kids

WAS mighty curious to experience Microsoftís new videogame console, as it captures the vivid imagination of the younger generation. Naturally, it would be expeditious to call upon my two children to help me evaluate the product. After all, 42 percent of video game players are the under-18 age bracket.

I remember years ago trying to cajole my kids in doing their homework, but they were more enthralled with such self-assigned diversions as Nintendo and Sega Genesis.

Today I couldnít call upon my homegrown tech support. Gabriel, now 21, is married and David, 19, is in college. So I had no one of the proper age to try out the Xbox game for me. I had to rely on my own resources, such as they are.

Then I saw the ultimate nerd icon himself, Bill Gates Ė his teenage credentials far behind him Ė come to Times Square and flawlessly introduce the new gaming system. As for moi, I am more comfortable roaming the aisles of Saks Fifth Avenue than checking out the latest offerings at Toys ďRĒ Us.

NFL Fever 2002
captures the
hard-hitting realism
of playing in the
NFL without those
nasty concussions.

But I figured if Mr. Gates can have such fun with his new toy, it must have some attraction for us gamers of a certain age. Indeed, I read that 42 percent of American households own a game console. And the majority of gamers actually are over 18 years old Ė 37 percent are in the 18-35 age group and 21 percent are over 35.

With that encouragement I got myself a unit. This first-ever video game console from mighty Microsoft came in signature green, priced at $299.

Without any help from the kids, who are always adept at operating anything from a computer to a VCR, I was able to get the machine up and running smoothly. I proved I could be just as big a nerd as Mr. Gates (without the bulging wallet).

Of the 20 games available for the Xbox, at $50 each, I got two nifty ones:

  • NFL Fever 2002, featuring hard-hitting action from all 31 teams.

  • Fuzion Frenzy, offering six arenas and 45 mini-games with the frenetic action of a futuristic street sport set in a dynamic 3-D urban environment.

  • Gabriel dropped by for a short visit as I was setting up Xbox. When he left, Xbox left with him. Now Iíll just have to get another. As I said, itís not just for the kids.

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    Essential items
    For Every Home

    IRST of all, if youíre like my Nina in the kitchen, you definitely need a can opener. We had a manual one, which means you can get calluses by the time you finish opening a couple of cans for dinner.

    Thanks to the fine folk at Black & Decker, Nina opens can after can with aplomb. Sheís a veritable whiz in the kitchen, ready to take her place beside Drew Nieporent.

    Thatís because sheís now armed with Gizmo. Itís a cordless can opener that walks around the can and automatically shuts off when it has done its job.

    Black & Decker assures you that, at a full charge, their Gizmo gadget can open a monthís worth of cans until it needs a recharge. They donít know Nina. She can use up a monthís charge in less than a week. Thatís how she cooks.

    By the way, you donít have to handle this cordless can opener. You can easily mount it under the cabinet, where itís out of the way.

    Gizmo Can Opener, EM200, lists at $36.90. Order at

    Toast Your Buns
    With This Baby

    OT only muffins, but also bagels and buns and bread and waffles and pastries. You can mix and match because Black& Deckerís Toast It All Plus (Model T4300) comes with two sets of individual controls so you can heat up two different things at different temperatures simultaneously.

    The super-wide slots with built-in guides automatically adjust to the thickness of the bread and buns. Thatís neat.

    Now hereís the good part. Put in a bagel or an English muffin, and this baby will toast the insides without burning the outsides. Can your old toaster do that? Probably not. Leave it to Black & Decker to solve that problem.

    Donít be afraid to touch that toaster while itís on. You wonít burn yourself with its cool exterior.

    You can check it out for yourself at where you can order it for $34.99.

    A Great Personal
    Heating Machine

    TíS called a Heat Xtreme Deluxe Oscillating Ceramic Heater  (Model BDCH 300) and itís proven a lifesaver for me in my office. When Iím alone, I donít have to heat up the whole office. I place heater nearby and work in warm comfort.

    This works well in every size room as you can adjust the thermostat to select the right amount of heat you need.

    The machine oscillates 90 degrees to blanket the room in warmth. The removable dust filter is easy to clean. It automatically turns off if overheated.

    In fact, the machine provides an eight-way protection pattern, including shutting down if the cord is damaged or the machine falls over or is lifted.

    The heater will protect your pipes against freezing by turning on automatically if the temperature drops below 40 degrees F (4 degrees C).  And in the summer you can use the fan to circulate cool air.

    It is available at $54.99 at

    Brimming Hot Coffee
    That Lasts for 4 Hours

    HAT is what you get with Black&Deckerís Thermal Select Plus Programmable Thermal Carafe Coffeemaker (TCM508). It has a digital clock and timer, with automatic shutoff.

    So you can set the timer and have the brew wafting its aroma at the time you get up. The coffee will stay fresh for four hours.  Thatís because the coffee brews directly through the lid into an insulated Carafe, after which the unit shuts off.

    Thereís no hot plate to burn away the flavor or use electricity needlessly.

    The 40-ounce Carafe holds eight cups of coffee.

    Priced at $54.99, the Thermal Select Plus may be obtained at

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    Join Battle Against Evil
    With Lord of the Rings

    VEN if you havenít read the J.R. Tolkien books (impossible!), or seen the first of three Lord of the Rings movies (what are you waiting for?), you can still settle back at home and engage the enemy yourself with the tabletop strategy battle game of all time.

    The British-based company, Games Workshop, a leader in tabletop battlegaming for 25 years, has released what will surely become the hottest item in its genre: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring game.

    In its first license agreement, the company produced the model figures for The Lord of the Rings trilogy. These are miniature characters recreating the adventures of Middle Earth where the good hobbits and dwarfs fight the evil goblins, giants and wizards.

    The game comes with a 128-page rule book, a ruined building, dice, and 48 highly detailed plastic miniatures Ė 8 Men of Gondor, 16 Elves and 24 Moria Goblins.

    Take up sides, roll the dice, and get ready for fast and exciting, not to mention suspenseful, battles between the forces of good and evil.

    You will soon see if you have the makings of a great general as you outthink and outmaneuver your opponentís forces.

    Games Workshops, the third biggest toy maker in the U.K., publishes a monthly magazine, White Dwarf, which circulates in five languages to 500,000 dedicated readers. The companyís American office is based in Glen Burnie, Maryland.

    The company estimates that strategy games account for 10 percent of the toy market. Customers readily become ardent fantasy fans, attending conventions and workshops.

    The sword-and-sorcery game is available at 24 Games Workshop stores across the country as well as Barnes & Noble, Borders and other retail outlets.

    To order call 800 394-GAME or log on to For more information on the movie, go to

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