A roundup of the latest modern techno-miracles
Read All About It How do you say "useful" in French?Easy Translator software can tell you ($49 from Transparent Language; Windows; 800/332-8851). It's capable of translating Web pages, E-mail, and text in French, Spanish, or German to English and vice versa. Great for those cool sites you can't quite comprendre.
Virtual Victuals Brasserie Perrier, sibling of Philadelphia's classic restaurant Le Bec-Fin, has introduced a virtual-reality tour on its Web site. It's no Myst, but as you navigate with directional arrows and a zoom function— assuming you have the patience to get through the 20-minute download— you do get a sense of the place. If only you could book a table on-line . . .
Deep Discounts A new service called QuirtClub (short for Quick Response Travellers' Club) promises to deliver last-minute bargains for unsold rooms on cruise ships, just like the popular ones for airline tickets and hotel rooms. QuirtClub members pay $5 a month— rather a lot, considering similar services tend to be free— to receive up-to-the-minute listings of vacancies. For a free one-month trial, visit members.aol. com/quirtclub/quirt.htm.
Click On Whether you want a Red Sox score in the Himalayas or a stock quote in Madagascar, 3Com's new x2 PC Card modem grants laptop users hassle-free access from more than 250 countries ($269; 800/527-8677). Just install the bundled software, navigate the country-by-country setup, and connect— as easy as a click. It also comes with a five-year limited warranty and a free guaranteed upgrade to 56K bps.
The Cheap Seats Here are two great sites for do-it-yourselfers: Intellitrip, developed by TheTrip.com, bills itself as the fastest way to make plane reservations on the Net. In as little as 90 seconds, it scans travel-related sites to find fares for your destination. It's also free— just download the software. Or try TravelBids, where customers post their itineraries and agents bid on them. The lowest bid wins the fare. The cost: $5 to register and $5 per listing.
now that's what we call room service
Launched in Sydney at the end of January, ITT Sheraton's new in-room communication system will debut throughout Asia later this year, with the rest of the world soon to follow. You access Sheraton.Net through a wireless keyboard and a box on top of the TV. It's multilingual and loaded with digital stuff: Microsoft Office, E-mail, a host of games. Once you set your preferences, they're memorized for future visits to any Sheraton.Net property, and whatever information you want is delivered daily to your digital doorstep. (Another nifty benefit: movies that you can view— and stop, start, and rewind— anytime.) Read all about it at www.sheraton-net.com.
Talk about cold cash: Wells Fargo recently set up Antarctica's first ATM (accessible via MasterCard and Cirrus).