Trends: Social Science | Party Technology
Ten new high-tech toys for any party, from a tapeless camcorder to a photo-snapping robot.
1 Disposable digital camera
Ritz Camera's Dakota model has a lot in common with disposables that use film: It's about the same price and you drop it off at certain photo shops to get prints. But when you're using it, you can erase photos you don't like and snap again. And when you pick up your prints, you'll get the photos on a CD-ROM, so they're easy to send via e-mail ($11; 877-690-0099 or www.ritzcamera.com).
2 Flat-screen TV
Until last year, if you wanted something large and flat, you had to buy a plasma television. But Sharp's AQUOS LCD TV has picture quality that rivals that of a plasma TV. Plus, the 37-inch high-definition screen is exceptionally bright and uses less energy than other televisions the same size ($5,800; 800-BE-SHARP or www.sharpusa.com).
3 Pro-quality digital camera
Canon's EOS Digital Rebel, the first affordable single-lens-reflex digital camera, lets you switch lenses as you would with a professional-quality 35mm camera—but now the price has dropped to a fraction of the $5,000 or more it was a few years ago ($900; 800-OK-CANON or www.canoneos.com).
4 Photo printer
Olympus's P-10 printer uses the same process, called dye sublimation, that photo labs employ. It heats the ink to help the colors permeate the paper, so there's no space between pixels. The result: photos that are sharper than those produced on an ink-jet printer ($250; 800-622-6372 or www.olympusamerica.com).
5 Digital camera and printer
HP's Photosmart 735 digital camera and printers are perfect for technophobes. The camera's resolution (3.2 megapixels) is good enough for 4-by-6-inch prints and it connects directly to the printer—no computer is necessary ($200 for the camera, from $100 for the printer; 888-999-4747 or www.hpshopping.com).
6 Tapeless camcorder
Fisher's Pocket CameraCorder, one of the world's smallest DVD-quality digital video cameras, records to postage-stamp-size memory cards instead of tapes. To copy video clips, you just put the palm-size camera on a docking station attached to your computer and burn the sections you want onto a CD or DVD ($900; 818-998-7322, ext. 433 or www.fisherav.com).
7 Electronic nametags
When guests wear nTAG Interactive's LCD nametags, they can beam their names to each other and swap contact information. You can even program the tags to tell you when you're near someone with similar interests (rentals from $40 each; 609-448-2991 or www.ntag.com).
8 Entertainment computer
Gateway's 901 Media Center PC looks like a stereo component, but it's really a computer that uses a television as a monitor. It can record and play back TV shows like a TiVo and play MP3s. And it comes with both a remote control and a mouse (from $1,000; 800-GATEWAY or www.gateway.com).
9 DJ machine
Pioneer's Digital Vinyl Turntable helps you be your own DJ: Mix, scratch and play CDs and MP3s just like you would vinyl (from $800; 800-421-1404 or www.pioneerprodj.com).
10 Entertaining robot
Sony's AIBO electronic pet now comes in an even more interactive version. The ERS-7 recognizes voices and faces, recharges itself and walks around taking pictures ($1,600; 888-917-7669 or www.us.aibo.com).
Photographs: Andrew Woffinden