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High-Tech Tip

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by Marty Demarest


The new year may be a time to reflect, reassess and regroup after the madness of the holidays, but it can also be a time to catch up on the gifts that you wanted but didn't receive. If you missed out on one of the new video game systems that were released in the past months, consider snagging a low-cost alternative that still has the potential to deliver the high-tech adrenaline rush you crave: the Sega Dreamcast.


Released almost two years ago, the sleek, platinum-colored machine is no slouch in the technology department. While it may not be as fast as the Xbox or the GameCube, the Dreamcast still offers a 128-bit processor and a built-in modem. But the real reasons to grab one now are the unbelievably low price tag and the hefty library of video games that have already become classics.


Late last year, the company that makes the Dreamcast -- Sega -- decided to withdraw from the video game machine market and concentrate exclusively on designing and publishing games. This means that for a while, Dreamcasts are available for $50, which is approximately the same price as a single game for one of the new systems. Most of the games for the Dreamcast are available at prices ranging between $10 and $40.


Some of the highlights are the eye-candy laden skating game Jet Grind Radio, and the epic and absorbing Shenmue. And while the Playstation 2 and the Xbox wait to launch their online networks, Dreamcast owners simply have to plug their machines into a phone line in order to start playing football (NFL2K2,) basketball (NBA2K2,) or fantasy role-playing (Phantasy Star Online 2) with other gamers around the world. Finally, while they're still available, collectors will want to grab the maracas-shaking game Samba de Amigo and the voice-activated adult pet-simulator Seaman, both of which are destined to become collector's items.


Want to recommend a newfangled gadget, doo-hickey or plain old gizmo? Tell us: letters@inlander.com.