The Best Of 1995: PRODUCTS


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1 CONTAX G1 Look elsewhere for a point-and-shooter. This ingenious titanium beauty is a remarkable hybrid of two previously implacable classes: rangefinder and single-lens-reflex cameras. Manufactured by Kyocera, the G1 combines the compact, noiseless flexibility of a rangefinder with the auto-everything magic of SLRs--minus the blinking lights, beeping sounds and bulk. With its four state-of-the-art Carl Zeiss T* lenses, the G1 is a thoroughly modern version of the classic Leica, proof that retro is the wave of the future.

2 CALIFORNIA VIOGNIERS Originally from the Rhone valley in France, viognier (vee-oh-nyay) will never displace Chardonnay, but this white wine's complex array of flavors--a soft simulation of sweetness--has California vineyards devoting huge acreage to the difficult grape. Arrowood and Kunde Estate are choice.

3 NIKE AIR MAX The seamless, blow-molded cushioning technology has improved with each new model since it was introduced in 1993. And the latest incarnation of the running shoe is the sleekest, lightest and most comfortable yet. The needs--and feet--of runners vary, but for generalists who just have to do it, this is as elegant a mileage earner as has ever been designed.

4 AVANTI CONDOMS The first such prophylactic made of polyurethane is 50% thinner than the latex condoms that dominate the market--and much better at conducting heat. It is also a godsend to those allergic to latex. Avanti may also be safer. It can withstand some lubricants that are known to leave perforations in latex.

5 AFRICAN PYGMY HEDGEHOGS First, despite the porcine last syllable, they won't outgrow the confines of your apartment like those Vietnamese potbellied pigs. You can keep them in that old aquarium. Their teeth are too small to break the skin. They do have quills, but these stick out only when they sense danger. Even that's kinda cool, a living Transformer toy.

6 KLEIN MANTRA MOUNTAIN BIKE One early critic said it looked like a "flying knockwurst," but the Mantra has since enlightened cyclists who have actually used it. The bike's design--especially its active suspension--make it a superb hill climber. Now its strange look and hefty price have assumed yuppie chic.

7 JAVA Neither island nor coffee, this miniaturized programming language from Sun Microsystems can add sparkle and interactivity to the most sluggish home page on the World Wide Web, the fastest growing part of the Internet. Rivals--IBM, Microsoft and even Netscape--have all agreed to adopt it as a kind of Esperanto of the net.

8 VAMP BY CHANEL First the supermodels painted their nails black as dried blood. Then Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction and Madonna. Now everyone wants to vamp. With lipstick to match.

9 TANGO TWO-WAY PAGER Motorola's latest gadget is the same size as an old-fashioned pager but way more versatile. All the fun of a walkie-talkie without the obnoxiousness of a cellular phone.

10 SUB-ZERO CUSTOMIZED REFRIGERATORS The company that made industrial steel fridges a thing of beauty and status has deconstructed the icebox. Sub-Zero has developed technology that will allow kitchen mavens to refrigerate the most unlikely spaces: an overhead cabinet, a closet, a row of drawers. The box has vanished. This is the stuff that Martha Stewart's dreams are made of.


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