Only the Best Earn
PET Seal of Approval

Reviews by Tim Boxer

CanoScan 8000F
Peg-Perego Stroller
Black & Decker Jar Opener
Old Century Dread Pirate
Midtown Madness 3
Zip Zaps
Xbox games
Finding Nemo

Best Scanner Yet

GEEK would have the Canon scanner up and running in no time. I, however, can’t even open a jar without an automatic Black & Decker jar opener (see below), so naturally I had to call tech support.  Glad I did. I discovered that Canon has courteous, patient technicians willing to stay with you all the way as they walk you through the setup.

Canon technical support is amazing. They got my new CanoScan 8000F scanner ($299.99) working like a charm.

Once I got the hang of it, I found it a snap to open ArcSoft PhotoStudio to acquire my photo from the scanner onto the monitor, where I could resize and crop, then scan to a file as a jpeg. For the easy way, touch a button in front of the scanner to copy, scan, email and file.

This flatbed scanner comes with a 35mm film adapter, which enables you to work with slides or film. You can scan up to 12 negative frames or 4 mounted slides at a time.

It’s bundled with a powerful suite of applications including Adobe Photoshop Elements, which allows you to edit, retouch and enhance your pictures.


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Johnathan finds Peg-Perego the
only way to go

The Only Stroller To Get

EAUTIFUL Italian fabrics and plush hand washable upholstery enhance Peg-Perego’s Pliko P3. At $319, this is the stroller to get when you need lightweight and portable, to fit quite nicely in your car.

The reinforced backrest reclines in four positions, there is an adult cup holder, a folding child tray, large double swivel wheels, 5-point seatbelt system with strap holder, and more.

Chief evaluator Johnathan, all of 12 months, judged the Peg-Perego an extremely comfortable travel system. He heartily recommends it to his peers, as Gabriel does likewise to all fellow fathers.

“It’s light, durable, and easy to fold and carry in the car,” Gabriel says. “It rolls very well on city streets. And a great part of what we love about it is the cool rain shield. That’s a great plus when you have to take the baby out in it’s pouring.”


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How to Open a Jar
Without Banging

HERE is one tried and true way to open a tightly sealed jar: take a knife and bang the lid all around, then open the top. Works every time. Of course you have to endure the admonishments of the mistress of the kitchen who fears you’re about to smash the glass.

Credit Black & Decker with bringing tranquility in our kitchen with their latest innovation—a jar opener that works safely with little effort while maintaining peace and quiet in the region.

Nina, our head PET (chief of the Product Evaluation Team), loves it!

Lids Off Automatic Jar Opener takes the struggle out of jar openings. You can adjust to fit any size jar. With the touch of a button you can loosen the most stubborn lid.

You place the jar on the turntable, lower the jar opener so it rests on top of the jar, press the button until the lid pops.

It is ideal for those suffering from arthritic or other hand related disability. It also makes a great gift for newlyweds, so she can immediately train her hubby to open a jar without fear of smashing the glass.

With Black & Decker’s Lids Off Automatic Jar Opener, Nina doesn’t have to keep an eye on me anymore as I pop open a jar.

Available at Bed, Bath & Beyond, Sears, WalMart for $49-$59.


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Pirates on the Coffee Table

ATTERIES are not always necessary to assure fun for the whole family. Front Porch Classics of Seattle, Washington, has been developing entertaining games that look good on anyone’s coffee table.

These items are of archival quality designs in classic styling. Display them on your coffee table when not engaged in fun and games.

Old Century Dread Pirate is a game of adventure rich in history. It features a weathered wooden sea chest stuffed with pirate ships, cast doubloons, jewels. You play on a lavishly illustrated aged treasure map with knuckle bones (dice) and cast playing pieces.

Have fun with high seas treasure hunting and low-level pirate plundering. Expect mutinies, explore desert islands and discover buried treasure.

“Coffee table games like Old Century Dread Pirate exist comfortably in both the game and home furnishing world,” says Steve Edmiston, Old Century Classics spokesperson.


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Test Your Racing Skills

IDTOWN MADNESS 3, the first racing game for Xbox Live, lets you get behind the wheel of 30 vehicles to compete in three race modes such as Blitz, Checkpoint and Cruise. You can indulge in over-the-top driving excitement through the landscapes of Washington or Paris.

A new career mode puts you in the driver’s seat wearing a variety of 14 different caps including limousine driver, pizza deliverer, secret agent or police officer while pursuing more than 50 missions.

There is a wide assortment of 30 vehicles with which to test your racing skills. These include the BMW Mini Cooper, Lotus Espirit Turbo, or one of the world’s fastest street-legal cars in production, the 225 mph Swedish super car Koenigsegg CC. Test drive these babies on your Xbox before you decide to go out and buy one.

The game is for one to eight players. Cost $49.99.


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Racing Fast ‘n Furious

IPZAPS is the way to go when you want live fast action. These micro RCs hit the streets last September and have been roaring off Radio Shack shelves ever since.

Micro RCs are radio-controlled customizable speedsters that will have you going fast and furious.

My Mazda RX-8 X-Men car body came in a starter kit that allows me to zip the car together, zap it with a one-minute charge, and zoom it away for a full five minutes.

All ZipZaps come in two different frequencies: 27 MHz or 49 MHz. (Frequency is the number of times per second a cycle occurs.) You can race two different cars at once.

Each car comes with turbo speed motor (21,500 RPM), stock chassis, wheels, tires, custom rims, controller/charger, owner’s manual and even a holographic trading card.

To take your cars on the road, we suggest getting an X2 Garage/Carrying Case, inspired by the X2 movie. In addition to storing nine cars, it also holds your controller and X2 multi-tool.

I suggest getting your ZipZaps pronto. Every four months Radio Shack retires one of these models to make room for a new line. The older models will no longer be available. Eventually your little cars will become valuable collectibles.

The next generation of these micro RCs will stack up on Radio Shack shelves in late September. So get the current versions before they’re phased out.

Visit showroom at for more.


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More for Xbox

Inside Pitch 2003 comes just in time to keep the boys of summer busy with a new brand of baseball. Using Xbox Live, fans will be able to challenge friends online and in special tournaments. You can place yourself in the 2002 season and rewrite the record books in nine scenarios. $49.99.

Brute Force, featuring an elite tactical commando unit, allows you to play solo in six challenging worlds, each with new enemies and gameplay strategies. Or battle it out with up to three friends via split screen or System Link. $49.99.

Pirates of the Caribbean for PC or Xbox allows you to engage in power struggles between European authorities, merchants and other fortune seekers. Explore exotic islands, mysterious jungles and smugglers’ dens after your emerge from naval battles with realistic damage and spectacular explosions. Official website:


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Fun With Genetics

ET aside more game time for your child. Involve him or her in doing, instead of just receiving, as in passive TV viewing. Activate their brains. They’ll thank you for that.

During school break, encourage your child to continue learning about science with a wonderful game called Metanon: The Biocode Adventure.

Without boring him, this board game is an interactive way for players to understand language, mathematics and science, while imbuing them with the fundamentals of DNA and genetics in a simple and entertaining way.

kSERO Corp., a Richmond-based firm that creates educational tools for children, developed the game, which is priced at $29.99. (Ksero means “I know” in Greek.)

Designed for 2 to 6 players, aged 5 and up, the game is made up of elements of chance and strategy that help children learn about genetics as they play.

“Metanon teaches kids about DNA in much the same way Monopoly taught us about economics,” said Susan Hardwicke, kSERO founder.

See more at


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We Got Nemo

INDING NEMO is a fun diversion for your Xbox.You meet all the great characters from the Disney/Pixar movie. As they say on the box, the search for Nemo is on, and it’s up to you to find him.

Finding Nemo also comes as a separate CD Rom for your computer enjoyment.

A second CD-Rom titled, Finding Nemo: Nemo’s Underwater World of Fun contains seven great games for children aged 4 and up.

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