I took a few hours today to look at toys and gadgets.
1) convinced local Cingular store to take a phone home and see if the reception was acceptable with their GSM network. I could hear just fine even in the basement, but whenever I spoke i heard a heinous echo. Conclusion: Undecided.
2) took a test drive in a toyota prius. It was the 2004 model, so not the absolute newest, but it has the v2 changes that they made for 2004 so it's good enough to discuss. It is entirely drivable, Not entirely attractive, and reasonably spacious. (I can almost lie down in the back w/ the back seats folded down and fit. In a pinch I think it would be fine for two medium or small adults to sleep in.) Build quality of the interior surpasses subaru and a little lover than Honda. I am undecided about the giant touchscreen that replaces dozens of manual controls. Fortunately, they hooked up the most common controls on the steering wheel so you don't need to use the touchpad for most tasks. (volume, mode and channel; ac on/off and temperature up/down) Unfortunately you cannot use the giant screen to watch movies, control your Ipod or use a navigation system. I'm also not convinced that the menuing is all that well designed, but it does suffice (can you say flash upgrade and 3rd party skins?) Conclusion: I'll wait for v3, but it is good technology.
3) went to best buy to look at gear. First of all, I understand the need to secure the gadgets,. but you cannot reasonably try out a phone or mp3 player when it's locked down and you cannot access many of the controls. That sucked. I tried out the Rio Carbon once he took it out of the protective sheath. It sucks. I cannot narrow my collection first by genre (ex: rock) then by artist (ex: aerosmith) then by album (ex: big ones). This is a key way to filter your collection down to the desired subset that they are obviously too dense to understand. Too bad, because I have an unopened Rio Carbon on my desk that I will have to sell, return or exchange for something useful. (I don't have the receipt, but I bet I can exchange it at best buy for a Ipod Mini since they cost the same)
Lastly, I like the new refrigerators with the fridge up top and the freezer below. You open the door and all the frozen goods live in two big drawers. Seems exceptionally convenient (except when you need to hold that extra turkey when tey are buy 1 get 1 free.)