Products
Only the Best Earn the PET Seal of Approval from
The 15 Minutes Products Evaluation Team

Tim Boxer
Senior PET

Johnathan Boxer
Junior PET


[ Leica Digilux 2 ] [ Saitek Chess Computers ] [ Magellanís Travel Tools ]
[ DVD Xpress ] [ Wild Planetís Spy Gear ] [ Xbox: Fable ]


Best In The Market

OR the past year Iíve been using the Leica Digilux 1 digital camera and I found it to be the best digital camera for all my photographic needs. Only an upgrade could surpass the quality of this excellent product.

With the release of the 5-megapixel Leica Digilux 2, I took one on a two-week tour of eastern Germany and found that it surpasses the previous model in ease of use and every other way. I made about 300 images Ė bright, brilliant and exceptional.

I was able to compose my shots either with the humongous LCD at 2.5 inches, or through the viewfinder. But not at the same time, so you save on battery life.

The built-in flash pops up high to fire over the large lens. You can also turn it up to get bounce lighting for soft even portraits.

Unlike the first version, which offers a top button for electronic zoom, the Digilux 2 lets you zoom by turning a ring on the lens. The zoom lens is the equivalent of a 28-90mm on a 35mm camera.

The fast F2 lens also has rings for focus and aperture adjustment. I found the manual setting feature comfortable to use while keeping my subjects in focus.

At $1850, the Digilux 2 costs twice as much as its predecessor. It is a solid well-built camera that will last a long time. Leica covers it with a three-year parts-and-labor warranty, a better deal than most cameras offer.

 

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Play Chess

AITEKíS latest lineup of new chess games includes three entries that should appeal to all game fans. Maestro Travel Chess Computer, with a blue backlit screen and superb styling, is a joy to hold in your hand. The action is all on screen; no small pieces to move. Make your move with the sleek stylus. Designed for the intermediate player, this model offers 100 playing levels, with hints, tips and coach mode. $99.95. See more at www.saitek.com.

Chess Explorer, with 64 playing levels ranging from beginner, normal, training, tournament, blitz and mate search, is suitable for everyone, beginners to experts. You can take back and replay up to 30 moves. Now thatís helpful if youíre just learning. Has built-in chess clock, automatic power down to conserve battery power, and five-digit backlit LCD display. Comes with set of chess pieces and user guide. $79.95.

For the novice thereís the Micro Travel Chess Computer with 50 different playing levels and 64 study positions where you learn how the experts do it, teaching you to play and helping improve your skills. You can take back and replay more than 200 moves. Unfinished games are held in memory so you can come back later and resume where you left off. Comes with stylus, protective screen cover and user guide. $49.95.

 

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Magellan Travel Tools

Order these nifty travel aides at www.magellans.com.

Flyweight Booklight clips on any size book. Its three LED bulbs illuminate what youíre reading without disturbing those around you. Great for long flights or relaxing in bed. Weighs just 2 ounces, folds flat, and fits in your pocket. Includes two lithium batteries. BA301. $12.85.

Lonely Planet Maps are full-color laminated especially useful for explore a host of foreign cities, including Beijing, Rio de Janeiro, Amsterdam, London, Madrid, Dublin and many other destinations. Each map has an index of streets and local attractions, plus transportation routes, telephone numbers and recommended walking routes. $5.95.

Pop-Out Lighted Magnifier is a must if you have trouble deciphering the tiny print on maps (that takes in everybody, I imagine). Squeeze the protective case and the magnifier springs out; squeeze again and the light turns on to illuminate the tiniest type on maps and menus. Incliudes two AAA batteries. Model BA701N. $6.85.

Montoya Menís Travel Loafers, handcrafted in Verona, Italy, looks like a dress shoe yet is constructed like an athletic shoe to support your long walking excursions. Comfort is assured with its flexible fabric midsole, soft foam padding and shock absorption. Lightweight like slippers. SS4146. $119.

CoRead is a series of interactive foreign language communicators. Instead of trying to ask directions in broken German or misunderstood Italian, or seven other languages, you simply set the sliding stylus on this hand-held 8x10 inch board and point to the word or thought you want to convey. This unique communicator helps you "speak" the language without understanding it. $9.85.

 

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VHS To DVD

SIMPLE way to transfer your old VHS tapes on to CD and DVD is with DVD Xpress from ADS Tech. Of course, you must have a CD-RW drive when archiving to CD-RW disc, or DVD recordable drive when archiving to DVD discs. But you already knew that.

Just pop your tape into your VCR, connect to the DVD Xpress device, then plug your DVD Xpress to your computer with the USB cable, and capture your video.

You can preview the video on your monitor to make adjustments and edit with the DVD MovieFactory 3 software included in the box. Priced at $99.

ADS Tech also produces Instant VideoMPX, which allows you to capture video to DivX video, WindowsMedia 9 and VCD. Connecting to Windows XP machines with USB 2.0 port, it will compress your video so that it will play on many different devices such as Palm and Pocket PC PDAs.

Included in the package is Ulead VideoStudio 8, an easy to use video capture and editing application.

 

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The Well Equipped Spy

N this age of terror, spies and undercover agents are more crucial than ever to ferret out and thwart agents of evil empires wherever they spawn. To equip your young Ďuns for the task of detecting the enemy, you need to investigate Spy Gear.

Spy Gear is a brand of electronic toys from Wild Planet thatís proved highly popular among the small set ages six and up who want to play at espionage. Several new items are being introduced in this holiday season, available at Toys R Us as well as www.spygear.net.

Spy Safe Cracker tests your safe cracking skills as you race against time to get the safe to spring open before a timer sounds the siren. Itís a real working safe with interactive games. Use the earbuds to crack the safe by matching sounds. Or try to decode the PIN number. Play alone or compete with a friend to match your best score. SRP $24.99-$34.99.

Of you want to play at being a spy, then you have to call on your Spy Robot, a radio controlled spy rover with a robo claw to pick up incriminating evidence and carry them off. Its headlamp is a bright LED to help you navigate on night missions. You can record sound with its remote mic. The robot covers a 75-100 foot range. SRP $29.99-$39.99.

XP-6 Spy Watch is an essential espionage accessory. You canít call yourself a spy without it. This wrist gadget not only tells time but also has a flip-up scope with a focused beam of light. It is a stopwatch, alarm and world time translator. Place it on your door knob of your room, backpack or anything else you want to protect, and it will confirm not only if, but when, someone approached to mess with your Top Secret property. SRP $9.99-$12.99.

Spy Lazer Chase is a set of two wrist-mounted laser systems to capture enemy spies. Just aim and flex your wrist for rapid fire. This high-tech laser unit is also a target, so a rival can aim his infrared Spy Lazer at you, too. So watch out Ė 5 hits and youíre history. SRP $14.99-$19.99 for a set of two.

 

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Your Move

ABLE is Microsoftís latest entry for its Xbox video game system, where your every action determines your characterís appearance and morality. He walks the path of righteousness or dedicates his life to evil. The choice is yours. Rated M (mature). $49.95.


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