Every once in a while, a new product comes along that immediately elicits the techno-geek's highest compliment: "Now this is cool." Part PDA, part portable storage unit, part MP3 player, the Terapin Mine is a gadget fiend's dream. Slightly bigger than the average handheld, the Linux-enabled Mine holds up to 10GB of data and offers plug-and-play compatibility with a PC's USB port. The data's password-protected, too, and disables itself when it detects any unauthorized attempt to access data.
It's also a basic MP3 and WAV audio player, with bass and treble controls, as well as eight volume presets and stereo outputs. What's more, it lets you download JPEGs, BMP, and GIF files from your PC or digital camera, then catalog and categorize them into any number of "digital photo albums." The Mine even hooks up to a television set with a composite video output, so you can share your pictures with friends and family without making Uncle Fred and all the cousins huddle around and peer over your shoulder at the unit's bright, but relatively tiny, LCD display.
The Mine also allows you to email photos and audio files using "templates" that you've created on your PC and downloaded to the unit. You can't type in messages on the Mine itself, but you can download your email address book and select from the "templates" that you've created with subject lines and messages. The lack of a text-entry keypad (three buttons on the front and three more on the side control all the functions) is a drawback, but you can use the Mine's built-in microphone to record voice memos and respond to email verbally if you're so inclined.
With both Ethernet and PC card ports, the Mine can also work as a mini-FTP server, letting you assign passwords to friends, family, and associates so they can access photos, audio files, and data remotely. Access is customizable, too, so that you can give your family access to your photo albums while giving your business associates access to your calendar or projects.
Boasting a price tag of nearly $600, the Mine isn't for everyone, and it's just a bit too large to really feel like a handheld device. But it's still darned cool.