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Plugged In

Hi-tech outdoor fun

Plugged In

Summertime is just about over, but there's still plenty of time to soak up some rays before things get chilly. And thanks to some snazzy goodies, there's a lot more to do than just fly kites and stare at the ocean these days. Check out these high-tech toys perfectly suited for outdoor hijinks.

AR Drone Parrot

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Remember those remote-controlled miniature helicopters that were all the rage a few years back? Here's what they grew up into. The AR Drone wirelessly connects to your iPhone, sending back a real-time video feed of the view from its cockpit. Cunning software makes it stable even in light winds, and with a top speed of 11 mph and a battery that'll keep you in the air for 12 minutes, it's a versatile toy. Better yet, you can even download iPhone games that'll create virtual obstacle courses for it to navigate. Buy at Amazon


GoPro HD Helmet

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If you like to spend your days participating in outdoor sports, you probably like to spend your evenings bragging about your hair-raising exploits to your family and friends. Go one step better this year with the GoPro HD, a wearable high-definition video camera with a bewildering variety of mounting options. Stick it on your helmet, your bike, your chest, your dashboard, even your surfboard, and capture your achievements (or your wipeouts) for posterity. Buy at Amazon
Nerf N-Strike Longshot 6

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Fed up with being caught in the crossfire of your kids' Nerf games? Grab one of these bad boys and retaliate. The daunting Longshot is over three feet long, can lob projectiles over 35 feet, boasts a sniper-style targeting scope, and is magazine-fed for rapid reloads. And like all Nerf products, it's perfectly safe for kids and plenty of fun for adults. Arnold Schwarzenegger impressions are optional (but highly recommended). Buy at Amazon
Sea Doo Sea Scooter

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Swimming is hard work. And if you wanted to do work, you'd be at work, right? Take the effort out of cruising around the pool with the Sea Scooter, a handy electrically-powered turbine tailor-made for those unable -- or just too lazy -- to do anything more than kick while swimming.  Just grab on to the handles and let it do all the heavy lifting. If you're more the salt-water type, don't sweat it -- it works in the ocean too (just like what James Bond used in 'Thunderball'). Buy at Amazon
Indoor Target Shooting

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Fun though skeet shooting is, it's not necessarily a family activity -- and certainly not the sort of thing you can do at the park without getting into serious trouble. So here's a safe alternative that won't break the bank OR get you arrested: the gun fires a harmless infra-red beam instead of lead shot, and the re-usable targets still "break" if you hit them. It even packs realistic sound-effects and variable intervals between launches. Buy at Amazon
SpyNet Night Vision Binoculars

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Whether you're off on a nighttime snipe hunt or could just use some help roaming around the campsite in the dark, these infrared, night-vision binoculars will do the trick. With a 50-foot range, eye-width and focus adjustment dials and multiple displays, it's a seriously loaded piece of tech but without a seriously steep price tag. A great accessory for any overnight camping trips -- even if that trip is in your own backyard.  Buy at Amazon
Waterwear for iPad

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The iPad is the perfect waterside companion. Stacked with plenty of reading material, the odd movie, a few games, and a selection of choice summer hits, it's got everything you need to keep you entertained...until you drop it in the deep end. Snag one of these waterproof/sand-proof cases before you leave, though, and all you'll have to worry about is reapplying your sunblock. Buy at Amazon

Fed up with being caught in the crossfire of your kids' Nerf games? Grab one of these bad boys and retaliate. The daunting Longshot is over three feet long, can lob projectiles over 35 feet, boasts a sniper-style targeting scope, and is magazine-fed for rapid reloads. And like all Nerf products, it's perfectly safe for kids and plenty of fun for adults. Arnold Schwarzenegger impressions are optional (but highly recommended). Buy at Amazon

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