Entertainment:

Travel Gadgets

Cable on Demand

Movie Kiosks

Universally Charming
Best of Country Music

Youth Robotics Revolution

LEGO Master Builder Academy

Reading Leads to Learning

Travel Gadgets For The Whole Family

(NAPSI)—Getting the most out of your next vacation may be easier with some of the latest electronic gadgets. From navigating your way and keeping the kids entertained to capturing those favorite vacation moments, you may wonder how you ever traveled without these latest gadgets.

Getting there: Take some of the stress out of driving with a GPS navigational system, ranging from $100 to $400. The TomTom Portable Navigation System has a 4-inch LCD touch screen and advanced audio system, and is available at most major retailers, including Target, for $80. Better yet, GPS units provide alternative routes around rush hour traffic and can find the closest hospitals and gas stations.

Entertaining the kids: Whether traveling by plane, train or automobile, parents dread the question "Are we there yet?" and undoubtedly want to keep their kids entertained while en route. The Nintendo 3DS gaming device offers the latest in 3-D technology to keep them mesmerized. The 3DS comes ready to play with many games, including "Nintendogs + Cats," "LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars 3-D" and "Madden NFL Football," and it doesn't require 3-D glasses.

Don't leave home without your favorite movies and a portable DVD player to keep your family entertained. More affordable and convenient than laptops, portable DVD players come with a built-in TV screen and typically retail for less than $100. The Philips portable model with a seven-inch-wide screen for optimal viewing has a five-hour built-in battery and headrest mount.

Enjoying your time: For the readers in the family, there's the Amazon Kindle with Special Offers, retailing for only $114 at Target stores nationwide. With a storage capacity of up to 3,500 books and a glare-free screen, it's a travel essential for those who love books.

Capture your summer vacation and create lasting memories with Nikon's digital-meets-traditional DSLR Camera, a lightweight digital SLR camera that is easy to use and loaded with cool features. The 14.2-megapixel digital sensor and HD video capabilities help you capture high-quality photos and videos, making it a great camera for both the novice or hobbyist photographer.

For savings, find a retailer that offers an electronics trade-in service. Target has a program that accepts used iPods, video games, cell phones, iPads and even the original Nintendo DS, in exchange for store credit toward any new gadget or electronics products. Great deals like these give you the freedom to enjoy a memorable trip while staying on budget.

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Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Summer's "Guilt-Tech" Pleasures

(NAPSI)—If you’re finding the summer heat too oppressive and the kids are already sick of the pool, you’re not alone. Many Americans are floating in the same boat this year. And it comes as no surprise.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the globe experienced the tenth warmest May since record keeping began in 1880. So with the mercury on the rise and your splish already splashed, it’s time to get creative and amp up the indoor fun.

Stay cool, save money and enjoy the season using some of the technology you already have in your home.

Savory Surfing—One of summer’s best-loved guilty pleasures is undoubtedly eating. There’s no faster way to spice up your summer menu and bone up on cooking techniques than by surfing Internet recipe sites or checking out your digital cable On Demand listings.

For example, want to cool down with a summer treat, but you don’t have an ice cream maker? Your high-speed Internet service enables you to connect to a video on how to make delicious ice cream using the basic ingredients and just a couple of resealable bags.

Or if you’d rather heat things up, the secrets of the grill are yours with a couple clicks of your TV remote. Simply check out “how to” programming On Demand to reveal the tricks that will have you claiming the neighborhood title of Grill Master Champ.

Movie Mania—Getting your summer movie fix has never been so convenient. Binge on the newest movie hits or relax with the classics. Everyone’s favorite genres are On Demand on cable.

• Summer of Love—Get out the tissues (and a bowl of that homemade ice cream) and love is in the air! From the never-thought-it-would-happen to the happily-ever-after, you can satisfy your craving for the courtships, breakups and make-ups, not to mention wedding cakes and wedding crashers.

• Family Fun—Curl up with the kids and enjoy some old-fashioned bonding. Take your pick of time-tested classics, nature favorites or the latest hot hits your kids have been dying to see.

• Man Cave Movies—Reclaim the remote and get in touch with your inner Neanderthal. With gritty Western gunslingers, edgy Vegas grifters and a few hungover best men, the gang’s all here for a good time.

For more information on how to pass the hazy days of summer, go to www.thisiscable.com.

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Reinventing The Neighborhood Video Store

(NAPSI)—Increasingly, consumers are finding that a trip to their local video store might actually take them to a supermarket or convenience store.

That’s because a well-known home-entertainment brand is reinventing the movie night rental experience. Blockbuster Express, owned and operated by NCR Corporation, has launched over 9,000 movie rental kiosks in the U.S. in the last two years.

Blockbuster Express makes it easy for customers to rent the latest new-release movies at their local grocery and convenience store. Just like the neighborhood video store, Blockbuster Express will guarantee that the latest new-release movies are always in stock, in some cases up to nearly a month ahead of other rental kiosks and mail-order services, while also offering a broad array of movies starting at only $1.

Unlike your old video store, no membership is required and consumers can conveniently rent a movie from one location and return it to any other location in the United States.

This is great news for consumers who are looking for inexpensive, convenient ways to entertain their family. So the next time consumers head to the grocery store to pick up a gallon of milk, it might just become a movie night, too. To learn more, visit www.blockbusterexpress.com or call (877) 300-2128.

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Charm The Child Within

(NAPSI)—Walt Disney once said, “I do not make films primarily for children. I make them for the child in all of us, whether we be 6 or 60. In my work, I try to reach and speak to that innocence, showing it the fun and joy of living; that laughter is healthy; that the human species, although happily ridiculous at times, is still reaching for the stars.” No one set of characters has helped Disney accomplish this more successfully over the years than the honey-loving, philosophical bear, Winnie the Pooh, and his friends Tigger, Rabbit, Piglet, Owl, Kanga, Roo and Eeyore.

With Walt’s goal foremost in mind, Disney animators have revisited the wit and whimsy of Pooh for the first time in more than 35 years to craft a brand-new feature-length film, “Winnie the Pooh.” Available for home viewing on Blu-ray and DVD, the film is inspired by three stories from the original A.A. Milne books and rendered with Disney’s classic hand-drawn, watercolor-art style.

When asked why the Pooh characters are still so universally charming, producer Peter Del Vecho suggests, “’Winnie the Pooh’ resonates with today’s audiences more than ever.” Maybe it’s because we crave some relief from today’s fast-paced world of constant connectivity or maybe because, in spite of it all, we still recognize the basic importance of imagination and of relationships. Adds Del Vecho, “It seems like everyone has at least one character with whom they identify. And these characters keep it simple.”

“You can really define each friend from the Hundred Acre Wood with one word,” adds director Stephen Anderson. “Pooh is innocence. Tigger is impulsive. Piglet is fear. Owl is ego. Rabbit is control. Kanga is nurturing. Eeyore is pessimism. They all possess core human values. That’s what makes them so relatable and so entertaining. No matter what age, when kids or adults view the movie, they laugh while seeing themselves in these characters.”

“With Pooh, there’s a clear-eyed human wisdom that comes through in a very subtle way,” adds Del Vecho. “He’s all about enjoying friends, enjoying family and enjoying life.”

Tigger is a one-of-a-kind creature—exuberant, with a famously springy tail. He acts on every impulse and his boisterous manner and desire to do things his way often lead him to leap before he looks.

“The wonderful thing about Piglet is that while he’s frightened of everything, he still goes out and faces the world alongside his friends,” says Travis Oates, who provides the voice of Piglet.

Owl (aren’t owls the wisest?) knows everything-at least, he thinks he does, even if his information (and spelling) often turns out to be not quite right. It’s his effort to help that often stirs up trouble in the Hundred Acre Wood because he makes things up. He improvises so that his friends won’t see how desperate he is to be right.

Rabbit is the smartest of the Hundred Acre Wood friends and is often the self-appointed leader of the group. Rabbit can be stubborn and often overreacts but his friends know he’s a real bunny at heart—and always willing to hop to action.

Kanga (mother of Roo) is a warm and protective creature. If Kanga were a person, she’d be a busy mom who multitasks to perfection. Roo is her wild, young adventurer offspring who wants to go everywhere and try everything. No matter the situation—or his mother’s objections—Roo throws himself right in the middle of all the action. Sometimes Kanga’s mothering tries Roo’s patience but, in the end, there’s nothing better for him than being cuddled in his mama’s pouch.

Finally there’s Eeyore the donkey, who with his gloomy approach to life, has proven to be a relatable and beloved fan favorite. He doesn’t see himself as gloomy; he just has low expectations.

Tony Award−winning songwriter Bobby Lopez, who along with his partner and wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez wrote six new songs for the film, sums it up when he observes, “You love the Pooh characters when you’re a kid because they’re cuddly and soft and funny. And even though they don’t continue to grow, they continue to offer humor and I think you can love them at every point in your life. You’re never too old to love ‘Winnie the Pooh.’”

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The Best Of Country Music Compiled In A Single Album

(NAPSI)—A new album release is designed to hit the right note with country music fans—particularly those who want nothing but the hits.

The world’s best-selling multi-artist album series, NOW That’s What I Call Music!, has released the highly anticipated fourth installment from the respected and successful NOW That’s What I Call Country series of compilation albums. The collection includes 11 No. 1 singles.

America’s Music

If you believe that consumers vote with their wallets, then music fans continue to vote in favor of country music. Consider the following:

• Country music was the dominant music radio format in the United States in 2010 with just over 2,000 stations around the country.

• According to the Country Music Association, Lady Antebellum trailed only Eminem in Nielsen Sound Scan’s top-selling, all-genre albums of 2010 as Need You Now came in at No. 2 with just over 3 million copies sold.

Though her third album, Speak Now, was released only 10 weeks prior to the end of the year, Taylor Swift finished 2010 as the third-best-seller of the year with just under 3 million sold.

• And as if to prove that country fans and artists are comfortable going “new school” when it comes to sales, in terms of all-genre digital singles sales, Lady Antebellum made the Top 10 with “Need You Now” selling 3.18 million tracks.

A Big Tent

Country music continues to be a “big tent” in the entertainment industry with room for all kinds of fans.

Maybe you are the type of fan who was country “before country was cool” and know the difference between a dobro and a pedal steel. Or maybe you couldn’t tell the difference between a honky tonk and a hoedown, but you like the stories and the sound of the songs. Either way, the creators of NOW That’s What I Call Country believe you’ll find something to like in this latest volume.

The album features 18 hit songs from the superstars of country music as well as the best new artists in the format.

Artists featured in the collection include Lady Antebellum (“Hello World”), Blake Shelton (“Who Are You When I’m Not Looking”), Sugarland (“Stuck Like Glue”), Carrie Underwood (“Undo It”), Keith Urban (“Put You In A Song”), Miranda Lambert (“Only Prettier”), Darius Rucker (“Come Back Song”) and everyone’s favorite honky tonk hero, George Strait (“The Breath You Take”).

Celebrated With A Sweep

To celebrate the release of the album, the label will sponsor a sweepstakes. One grand prize winner will have the opportunity to see and meet one of the NOW Country Volume 4 artists of his or her choosing live in concert. (Transportation not included and some restrictions apply.) Other lucky winners will receive a copy of NOW That’s What I Call Country Volume 4.

For more information, visit www.NowCountrySweeps.com.

A Multiplatinum Franchise

The NOW That’s What I Call Music! series is a joint venture from EMI Music North America, Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group.

The NOW That’s What I Call Music! series debuted in the U.S. in 1998 after the brand had been a multiplatinum international success for 15 years. The series has generated sales exceeding 200 million albums worldwide, including more than 80 million copies in the U.S. Every album in the numbered U.S. series has reached Billboard’s Top 10, and 14 NOW releases have reached No. 1.

NOW That’s What I Call Country Volume 4 is distributed by Universal Music Group Distribution.

To learn more, visit www.nowthatsmusic.com.

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4-H Revolutionizes Youth Robotics

(NAPSI)—With just two minutes until their next match, members of 4-H’s AIR Strike 78 robotics team worked feverishly to repair a broken chain on their robot when the opponent called a time-out. They were relieved; they now had 10 more minutes to get the chain and motor back in place before their next match.

AIR Strike 78 is one of 60 4-H robotics teams across the country participating in FIRST Robotics, a competitive robotics organization for middle and high school youth. Teams have six weeks to design and build a robot to compete in a game that will challenge both their engineering and sport skills.

4-H’s growing robotics program has inspired youth to take an active interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics over the last few years. With the newly released 4-H Robotics Curriculum, youth of all ages are now engaged in robotics and engineering concepts early on, which sparks an interest in pursuing science careers and higher learning.

“The great achievements of our youth in robotics are proof positive of what we’ve learned from the longitudinal study conducted by Tufts University: Young people in 4-H perform better in science, engineering, technology and applied math subjects, and are more interested in pursuing science careers than their non-4-H peers,” said Donald T. Floyd Jr., National 4-H Council president and CEO.

In addition to FIRST, 4-H’ers also participate in robotics competitions such as the MATE (Marine Advanced Technology Education) International ROV competition, where youth build robots that tackle real-world issues, like repairing oil spills completely underwater.

“Youth in 4-H have really jumped into robotics; 12 of our 60 4-H teams were invited to compete at the national level this year, and we expect those numbers to continue to grow,” said Floyd. “Through their experiences in 4-H, our young people are on the path to become the nation’s next generation of great scientists and engineers.”

The rising interest in robotics within the 110-year-old organization is representative of 4-H’s progression and ability to remain relevant in the lives of today’s American youth. While 4-H has been known historically for its agricultural and healthy living activities through after-school clubs across the country, it has evolved to include a more diversified science program that allows youth to explore interests in a variety of programs, from animal and environmental science to rocketry and renewable energies.

As AIR Strike 78 and other 4-H Robotics teams wrapped up their pit stops between matches at the national FIRST Robotics Championship, they knew that it’s not always about winning and losing.

“This is an amazing amount of knowledge here,” said a member of the Camdenton (Mo.) 4-H Laser robotics team. “Just the hands-on experience, I mean; you can never get this in a classroom. It’s an experience like no other.”

For more information on 4-H Robotics and the new 4-H Robotics Curriculum, visit www.4-H.org.

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Play Well Today And Live Well For Years To Come

(NAPSI)—According to noted experts supported by recent research, playtime actually prepares kids for their futures. Perhaps one of the best places to see the benefits of play in action is in the halls of some of the institutions educating the toymakers of tomorrow. For example, at the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Toy Design program, where students create toys that entertain, educate and inspire kids, Chair Judy Ellis sees the lifelong benefits of play firsthand. “Our incoming students all need to be able to think conceptually and translate those ideas into action. When children have access to toys that respect their imagination and intelligence, it can foster these abilities from an early age.”

While all kinds of play can deliver these benefits to children and adults alike, construction play—building with blocks, sticks or bricks—seems to be gaining in popularity in part because of its perceived ability to develop motor skills, problem solving and creative thinking.

To help encourage this new generation of builders, LEGO Systems created LEGO Master Builder Academy, a new program that teaches the techniques of model designers via a yearlong toy subscription. Children learn successful building methods such as locking and model stability while they play; at the same time, they learn transferable skills such as how to conceptualize, design and create on their own.

This curriculum has been carefully developed to strengthen, test and reward core building skills by an elite group of designers known as the LEGO Master Builders. They hold one of two important jobs: They either design the many LEGO sets sold each year, or they design and build all the spectacular, one-of-a-kind models on display around the world. “The No. 1 question I hear from parents and children alike is ‘How can I learn to build like a Master Builder?’” says Erik Varszegi, a Master Builder based in the U.S.A.

Varszegi offers parents these tips, also found on www.LEGOmba.com, to help teach kids about design and building in order to bring their ideas to life, all while having fun:

• Put it on paper—he uses special graph paper to design models, but any graph paper or lined paper will help kids translate their ideas into reality-whether it’s building a sandcastle or making a one-of-a-kind cake, it’s easier to translate scale and proportion once you’ve seen it on paper.

• Assemble the elements—gather your bricks, ingredients, art supplies, whatever pieces you need to make your creation; have them in one place so you can plan your approach and make any adjustments before you dive in.

• Make mistakes—remember, you’re experimenting and creating, so there’s no such thing as a “right” answer. Take chances and keep a fresh eye on what you’re making. Some of the world’s best inventions have been a result of a “mistake.”

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Improving Your Odds Of Playing Better Games

(NAPSI)—Game players want a variety of ways to enjoy their favorite pastime. Just as music lovers like to sample music before buying it and movie lovers like to rent a DVD before considering a purchase, some gamers prefer to rent games or take new games for a free test-drive before committing to buying them.

Those who play games even casually love to have a variety of choices and the ability to easily find top games. According to eMarketer, 115 million video gamers are playing online at casual game websites.

Fortunately, you can take online games for a test-drive, as you might view a season of a television show on Hulu, rent it—as you might rent a DVD with Redbox—or buy as you might through iTunes.

For example, WildTangent allows gamers to play top games free for hours by showing a 30-second commercial before game playing begins. Players can also rent games for a fraction of the purchase price when free play is finished, which is a big plus for people who like to play many games and don’t feel the need to own them all.

If you really love the game after playing for free or renting it, you can decide to buy it. One hundred percent of your rental applies toward ownership of the game.

Playing games online can make life more fun for the whole family—especially at sites that offer kids games, family games, casual games and enthusiast games.

Interested in trying a hidden object or match 3 game? Maybe you need a little action or adventure in your game? Or perhaps you prefer the old arcade games or need more of a challenge with brainpower games? WildTangent.com offers thousands of hot online games, adding new games each week for every kind of player.

The site is one of the largest and most trusted online game services in the world. You can find game tips and highlights on Facebook and twitter at www.facebook.com/WildTangentGames and twitter.com/PlayWildTangent. For more information or to start playing, visit www.WildTangent.com.

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AMERICA'S HEROES


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