Jul 152008

If you’re a born luddite – or just a little on the tight-fisted side – and you’ve been lost any time in the last year, then you’ll be sick of being asked “When are you getting a GPS for the car?”
Or perhaps you’re sick of your other half constantly banging on about the dulcet tones of the ever-patient, wise and understanding Jane, who talks him through the directions to some place he’s probably been to dozens of times already.

For anyone, whatever the reason, who has resisted the exhortations of friends, family and colleagues to fork out hundreds of dollars for an irritatingly calmly-speaking electronic street directory, here’s the ultimate gadget.

The distributors promise that the Sat-Nag is a “joke that just keeps on giving.”

The Sat-Nag doesn’t perform any useful directional function, has no on-board map and doesn’t connect to anything at all.

The holographic screen glued to the front of the plastic gadget points to roads named Whiny Lane, Backseat Drive and Earache Avenue.

And press the button on the front and the random-nag generator will deliver a fabulous gem that can only have been written by someone who has been married a long, long time.

The rather well-spoken and ever-so patronising woman’s voice issuing from the Sat-Nag has a host of driving direction one-liners like: “I know you’re a man, but it’s been 35 minutes now, so can you please admit you’re lost and ask someone the way.”

Other gems include “In 100 metres turn left. No right, err, no left. Sorry, I never can tell my left from my right,” or even “In 50 meters I’m going to put on my most annoying voice and say ‘Is your short cut really faster when we get stuck in traffic like this, well, is it darling?”

You can only buy it online from the UK, so order now for the perfect Christmas gag gift.

Where: www.iwantoneofthose.com/gadgets-gizmos/sat-nag
How much : About Au $16.50 plus freight

Jul 012008

Despite my family suspecting me of early-onset dementia, I do have some remnants of working memory and, like most people over the age of about ten, once I have read a book, I’ll only read it again if it was a jolly good read and some time has passed.
But as any parent knows, once your pre-schooler has decided a particular book is a favourite, you’ll be up for a recital several times a day for the next six months or until you hide it somewhere they would never look (like their wardrobe).

US-based toy company Leapfrog scored a winner with their LeapPad kids own laptop reading system, launched a few years back, which appealed to a broad range of parents: the pushy parent wanting genius advantage before little Johnny got to kindergarten; the time-stretched parent whose kids had learned the alphabet from Sesame Street; and the desperate parent who had to buy themselves a new laptop following a trip to the sandpit.

The LeapPad’s successor is destined to be an even bigger winner, apparently; called The Tag Reading system, it is based on a chunky plastic pen-like stylus, in green or pink, that will read a paper-based book aloud and never has to do the washing-up first.

The Tag stylus contains an infrared camera that scans dot patterns on the books and then reads out the appropriate text to the child. Magic, I told my two-year old (though it probably uses an inbuilt MP3-like audio file.)

A USB connection allows you to plug the stylus into your PC to track your child’s progress and additional phonics-based activities at the back of the book can be useful to promote reading. Or you may have the kind of child who just wants to make chicken noises hundreds of times in a row. (Maybe that’s just my offspring!)

At least there’s a range of books to choose from – 18 books have been rolled out with the initial launch with the promise of more to come. And though aimed at 4-8 year olds, this would make a great present for stressed-out parents of 2-6 year olds. Just add batteries.

Where: http://www.leapfrog.com/tag
How much : Basic tag and book kit from Au $99, with extra books starting at around $22