Tech Goodies off the Beaten Path

With more than 1.8 million square feet of convention hall space and more than 2,700 vendors, it can be a little daunting for some of the smaller technology companies to get attention at the annual International Consumer Electronics Show. So, while the multibillion-dollar companies like Sony, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft were busy laying out their plush carpet and readying their glossy brochures for today's opening there were some off-site media events that introduced products that are sure to impress in 2008.

Vectrix Zero Emission Vehicle — $11,000

A motorcycle that is powered 100 percent by electricity. A stylish, speedy, powerful ride for urban commuters with a conscience. There is no gas in the vehicle. Most of its 500-pound weight comes from a giant rechargeable battery. More than a scooter, the Vectrix can go 0-50 in seven seconds and can cruise at up to 62 mph making it highway legal. The battery lasts an average of 50 miles and recharges in two to three hours. It runs so quietly that the Rhode Island-based company added a subtle hum so people knew it was coming. The thing looks sporty, goes quickly and the efficient rechargeable battery will save the environment and cost only a penny a mile.

Franklin Speaking Spelling Bee (SSB-210) — $99

Franklin's been sponsoring the National Spelling Bee for years evening awarding the winner a $5,000 scholarship, but now it is bringing the fun, or maybe it's the anxiety, home to fourth-graders and above in an innovative little package. The Speaking Spelling Bee has a color screen, three levels of difficulty and three levels of interactivity.

Practice rounds allow you to rehearse and remembers the words you get right and asks you again about words you get wrong. Game Show rounds pit one user versus the computer. Pass Along competition allows up to six players to battle it out on each device. The game is designed for anyone fourth grade and above and Franklin promises adults they will have as much fun attempting to solve the more than 7,000-word vocabulary. There are an additional four games included and room to download more.

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