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Easy Does It

This season's new tech toys are simply irresistible - because they're irresistibly simple to use.

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How terribly sad it's been to watch PC manufacturers attempt to catch up to the best-selling iMac: Designers used to cranking out dull beige boxes for the Windows market have had a pretty flat learning curve over the past couple of years -- adding the occasional half-hearted design flourish or splash of color to what are still, basically, dull beige boxes. But the new Compaq Presario EZ2000 Series shows that at least one manufacturer gets the hidden message of the iMac -- that beauty isn't just skin-deep; beauty means thoughtful, ergonomic design. Beyond its sweetly retro, organic design (reminiscent of the toasters Michael Graves designed for Target), the EZ2000 simply makes it easier to get on the Internet, and to configure and upgrade your machine. As with Apple's G3- and G4-series computers, it's incredibly simple to get inside the box: Side panels pop open so you can easily drop in a new PCI card or add memory. And a "Digital Dashboard" panel on the front guides you, step-by-step, through the setup -- which means the EZ has a Microsoft mind but the soul of an Apple. (RCS Computer Experience, starting at $999; 212-949-6935.)

Clip and Save

If you've been holding out on joining the MP3 revolution, keep in mind that digital-audio players are unlikely to get much smaller or simpler than the new Sony VAIO Music Clip Personal Network Player. "Clip" up to two hours of MP3 files from your Windows computer (using the included Sony software to download from the Internet or to copy cuts from a CD), then load them into the VAIO with the included standard USB cable. That's it -- you're ready to go. One AA battery will give you up to five hours of continuous play in a shockingly small, 4.69-by-.91-by-.88-inch package that weighs in at under two ounces (including the battery). You want something lighter than that? Sing to yourself. (J&R Computer World and CompUSA, $299.99; phone J&R at 212-238-9100, CompUSA at 212-764-6224.)

I Want My DVD

What you want is a DVD player. What you don't want is another black box to hook up and configure. The new Panasonic PV-DM2799 27-inch TV graciously delivers DVD for dummies, in that the DVD player is built right into the TV case (just below the picture tube), along with an FM radio, a four-head hi-fi VCR -- because not all movies are yet available on DVD -- and outputs for Dolby Digital audio. And like most DVD players, it can also play audio CDs, making this all-in-one-unit almost absurdly well-rounded. Added bonus: If you cram the PV-DM2799 into your bedroom, it's humble enough to serve as a mere (multimedia) alarm clock, so you can wake to CNN or NPR, or perhaps Korn on audio CD or Happy Gilmore on DVD -- whatever you find more alarming. (Harvey Electronics, $1,000; phone 212-575-5000.)

Time Machine

The new Motorola Timeport 7389 isn't going to turn any heads: It looks pretty much like other cell phones. (Motorola has obviously taken inspiration from Nokia's curvy designs.) But what the 7389 lacks in stand-out styling it more than makes up for in ease of use and versatility: It's technically an MCD (multi-communication device), which means you can view special graphics-free versions of Websites (think terse bits of information, like stock quotes, weather, and headlines) on its little five-line screen. Even better, the 7389 (and its predecessor sister model, the 7089) is a "tri-band" phone, which means you can use it pretty much worldwide -- no fussing with special modules or access codes. A colleague can dial your usual 917 or 646 exchange cell number, and it'll ring whether you're in Brooklyn or Berlin, Melbourne or Milan. If you travel overseas for work, the 7389 will save your sanity. (Omnipoint, $399, on sale in April; call 888-ru4-omni for retail locations.)


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