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The i's have it

Leave it to the techies to make "I" impersonal.

The iGeneration, or "Internet Generation," is a lifestyle -- filled with high-tech gadgets and gear.

That's why companies are jumping at the chance to name and market their products with the one letter that embodies this generation.

No one knows for sure who started it all with the "i" naming, but many credit Steve Jobs and Apple for being first on the scene with the iMac.

Even if Apple wasn't the first to put "i" on the map, the company definitely put its iPod in everyone's hands.

Now, if a company makes a product associated with the iPod or other digital media players, it's a safe bet that it will start with an "i" for easy product recognition.

"The one message iLuv tries to convey as a company that provides audio and video products for the iPod, is that we do in fact have an audience beyond iPod users," said Howard Kim, iLuv's marketing manager.

But not everyone is in love with the "i" image.

Tim V. Kolton, owner of V-Moda headphones, says he didn't want the "i" in his company name, because he didn't want to be like everyone else.

"I've always felt that if everyone else was doing something, we should do and think differently," Kolton said.

Whether you live a digital lifestyle or not, one thing's certain: There will be an "i" product out there for you.

Here's a look at the latest in "i":

iRobot Dirt Dog

What it does: A robot that vacuums all carpet and hard-floor areas, including garages. Press one button and a high-speed brush picks up dust, dirt, small nuts and bolts, and anything else on the floor.

What we like: Vacuuming while sitting down? That's a no-brainer.

Cost: $129.99

Where to get it: www.irobot.com

Recommended for: The stay-at-home mom or dad who needs a break from multitasking

"i" factor: Founded in 1990, the iRobot has some clout compared with the current crop of "i" products.

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inno

What it does: A portable satellite radio and MP3 player that can play the full XM radio lineup, along with being able to record up to 50 hours of programming

What we like: It's commercial-free radio and portable!

Cost: $199 (after current rebate offers)

Where to get it: Circuit City or www.xmradio.com

Recommended for: This time of year, it's highly recommended for baseball fans. Every MLB game is on XM.

"i" factor: It's not an iPod, but it's the same size and does a lot more.

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iLOCKr

What it does: Just like the Web site says: "It's your iPod, keep it that way." iLOCKr locks your iPod with a personalized combination code to keep the device from walking away. Even while the lock is on, access to all the iPod's functions is available, and it comes in many colors.

What we like: This might be the best investment, next to the iPod itself.

Cost: $25.99

Where to get it: www.buy.com; www.amazon.com; Wal-Mart

Web site: www.i2electronics.com

Recommended for: That tech-savvy student in your life

"i" factor: A very useful accessory. Remember, it's not just the cost of the iPod you lose but also the music and videos you downloaded.

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iGo

What it does: Portable adapter to power all devices, with tips to fit laptops, digital cameras, Bluetooth devices, cell phones and media players.

What we like: In a world where we demand power for all of our gadgets, this is a great device.

Cost: Varies depending on model and tips

Where to get it: Radio Shack, Best Buy and Brookstone

Web site: www.igo.com

Recommended for: Business travelers who carry a lot of gadgets

"i" factor: It doesn't matter how many gadgets you have -- with drained batteries, they are useless.

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iPhone

What it does: It's several Apples in one: cell phone, iPod and Internet/e-mail device.

Pros/cons: We don't know; it's not out yet

Cost: $499 4GB; $599 8GB

Web site: www.apple.com/iphone

Recommended for: Those who want the latest and greatest

"i" factor: This has the potential to be the second most popular "i" to the iPod.

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iCarta

What it does: Easy access to both toilet paper and an iPod. "Moisture-free" speakers deliver high-quality sound.

What we like: This proves you can take your iPod anywhere -- but do you really want your iPod near a toilet?

Cost: $99.99

Where to get it: Best Buy

Web site: www.atechflash.com

Recommended for: iPod users who can't go anywhere without it

"i" factor: In this case, "i" stands for "icky."

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iDrink

What it does: A Web site with thousands of cocktail recipes. It tells you what can be made with the ingredients you have on hand.

What we like: Useful information for summer parties

Cost: Free

Web site: www.idrink.com

Recommended for: Jimmy Buffett fans

"i" factor: What could be better than sitting by the pool with your iDrink, listening to your iPod, while cleaning your house with your iRobot?

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