In Brief

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ORIGINAL SIM If you liked The Sims, the best-selling computer game that simulates ordinary life, you'll definitely have the hots for The Sims: Hot Date ($30). Building on the virtual world of The Sims, Hot Date adds more complex relationships and a funky downtown setting with night spots where your Sims can now engage in several new "interactions"--including the "suave kiss." the "dip kiss," and, if necessary, the Springeresque "slap fight."

BETTER BROWSER Coke and Pepsi, McDonald's and Burger King, Netscape and Internet Explorer--sometimes we forget there are more than two choices in life. Opera, a Web browser that hails from Norway, has a lot going for it that the others don't. Opera takes up less space on your hard drive--it's only a 3MB download--it crashes less often and in many cases it downloads Web pages faster than its rivals. A new and improved version, Opera 6.0, is now available free at www.opera.com.

TV OR NOT TV Remember Tivo, the gadget that digitally records your favorite shows? The next generation is here: SonicBlue's ReplayTV 4000 ($699) works like a Tivo but also connects to the Internet so you can swap recorded shows online--if you have a fast connection, that is; these are big files. Trading TV shows over the Net for free? If this reminds you of the Napster flap, you're not alone: the Big Three networks are suing.