Gadget Envy

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The hottest gear of 2008 comes in small packages. It could be a wireless Internet browser, a digital reader, a pocket projector, or something equally buzz-worthy. Here's our list of cool products to consider when shopping for that special someone.
 

1. Net-Savvy Tablet

Archos Internet Media TabletThe Archos 5 Internet Media Tablet is a 4.8-inch touch screen (800 x 480 pixels) with Wi-Fi browser. Besides letting your fingers do the site reading, it's ideal for playing video, music, and slideshows from its embedded hard drive or streamed from a wireless network. If you love Internet radio, you can listen with the earphones or built-in speaker. If you want the ultimate wireless picture frame, just pop the kickstand. Plug the tablet into the optional Archos DVR Station, and you can schedule recordings from your cable or satellite box without paying to download content. The Archos 5 Internet Media Tablets are available in 60-, 120-, and 250 Gigabyte versions. If you prefer a 7-inch screen, there's the Archos 7 Internet Media Tablet with 160- or 320 GB of memory.

 


2. Paperless Bookworm

Revealing an electronic display that mimics text on paper, the Sony PRS-505 Reader Digital Book makes it possible to read thousands of pages on one battery charge. The 6-inch monochrome (600 x 800) display is viewable in direct sunlight. Its built-in memory stores 160 electronic books, and there's a card slot for extra storage. Books are downloaded to a Windows computer and transferred to the Reader. (As a rebate, the eBook Store from Sony is including a credit for 100 eBooks Classics titles.) You can also view PDFs and JPEGs (with eight levels of gray) and listen to MP3 and AAC audio files. Weighing just 9 oz, the Sony Reader is available in sliver, red, or dark blue.

Sony PRS-505 Reader Digital Book (Dark Blue)
Sony PRS-505 Reader Digital Book (Dark Blue)


3. Palm Projector

Move over shadow puppets. Now you can raise your hand and cast the complete picture. The 3M MPro110 is a micro projector that uses an included VGA or a video cable to show an up to 50-inch still or moving image on a screen or wall from your attached portable media player, digital camera, notebook computer, or other video source. Its LED light source is cool (literally) so there's no noisy fan and no need for a replacement bulb. The LCoS chip offers WXGA (1280 x 768) resolution, and the rechargeable lithium-ion battery powers the show for 40- to 60 minutes if the projector isn't plugged into an outlet.

3M MPro110 Micro Professional Projector
3M MPro110 Micro Professional Projector


4. Diehard DVD Player

With its 13-hour battery life, the Panasonic DVD-LS86 Portable DVD Player is good for watching movies at 35,000 feet going and coming across the country without recharging. Using the player's dual headphone jacks, seatmates could pass the time viewing all 13 episodes of Mad Men (Season 2) when they come out on DVD almost certainly before Season 3 debuts in 2009. The 8.5-inch display is comparable to an airline's seatback TV, but you get to program it. If you're driving a long distance with the kids, there's no need to fear Hour 13 – just plug the DVD-LS86 into the cigarette lighter with the included adapter. While many other portable DVD players peter out after about 3 hours, the Panasonic just keeps on playing.

Panasonic DVD-LS86 Portable DVD Player
Panasonic DVD-LS86 Portable DVD Player


5. iPod Muscle

Speaker systems don't get more portable or compact then the Sonic Impact i-F2 Portable iPod Speakers. Slide a late model iPod or iPhone into the dock (adapter sleeves are included for different models) and stand back. Four neodymium speakers pump out the music enhanced by a Class-T amplifier and MaxxBass technology. If your Pods don't dock, use the line-in jack and included cable. The i-F2 contains a rechargeable 15-hour lithium-ion battery or you can power the speakers from the included AC adapter. The infrared remote controls a docked iPod from across the room. Complete with zippered case, the i-F2 is one accessory you'll want to keep close.

Sonic Impact i-F2 Portable iPod Speakers
Sonic Impact i-F2 Portable iPod Speakers


6. Car Stereo Companion

Since wearing earbuds while driving (EWD) isn't cool, manufacturers have introduced everything from MP3 players in the guise of pop-in tape cassettes to FM transmitters that hijack station frequencies. The latter category has a brighter future. One of the better transmitters is the Monster Cable iCarPlay Wireless 250 FM Transmitter. Compatible with the iPhone 3G and almost every iPod model except the shuffle, the iCarPlay features the AutoScan 3D feature to scan the FM dial three times to find the most available frequency to play your music. It sports a large bright display so you know where to tune your radio, three memory presets, and a cigarette lighter adapter for powering your personal radio station even as it recharges your iPod.

Monster Cable iCarPlay Wireless 250 FM Transmitter
Monster Cable iCarPlay Wireless 250 FM Transmitter


7. Music on a Stick

Song creep isn't such a bad thing if you consider that unlike feature creep (as in bloated computer programs), an abundance of tunes can make things run more smoothly. The pint-size Sony NWZ-B135 Walkman MP3 Player stores up to 475 songs in its 2 Gigabytes, which means the constant listener who believes in diversity won't have to hear the same ditty for nearly 24 hours. Even then, you can switch to FM. The tuner contains presets for 30 stations, and you can record radio or your own voice. There's a 3-line color LCD and a mega bass button that also causes a light to pulsate to the rhythm. The player attaches directly to a USB port without a cable. It's available in pink, black, and red.

Sony NWZ-B135F Walkman MP3 Player 2GB
Sony NWZ-B135F Walkman MP3 Player 2GB


8. Ear Upgrades

The most personal part of a personal entertainment player is the pair of buds that enter your ears. So, why settle for the included pair? Better still, why not have a set of spares that fit and sound better than the originals? The Shure SE110 - Sound-Isolating In-Ear Stereo Earphones come with three pairs of flex sleeves and three pairs of foam sleeves in small, medium, and large sizes to accommodate every-size human ear on the planet. You also get an extension cable and carrying case. And B&H is including a $20 Gift Card, too. The SE110's are available in white, or black.

Shure SE110 - Sound-Isolating In-Ear Stereo Earphones (White)
Shure SE110 - Sound-Isolating In-Ear Stereo Earphones (White)


9. Time for Anadiggies

Your portfolio may be underwater, but at least you'll know if the market is still open. The Bonica Underwater Watch takes a licking at depths of up to 100 feet. Landlubbers will like it, too, especially in a storm. Thanks to the analog dial, so will anadiggies – those born in the analog age that'll be gone in the digital era. By glancing at the hands, you can tell how much time you have left before the hour runs out without having to mentally subtract the 12:53 digital readout from an imaginary 1:00. Sometimes, the analog way is simply better.

Bonica Underwater Watch
Bonica Underwater Watch


10. No Cell Phone Required

The thing about using a cellphone is that you get a bill every month. Not so with a Family Radio. A handheld two-way radio may be all that you need to stay in touch with family and friends in the neighborhood, at the mall, or during a trip to the slopes. Sold as a pair, each Motorola Talkabout 2-Way Radio brings the walkie-talkie up to date. Depending on the model and terrain, outdoor distances range from 18- to 28 miles. They're available in such colors as orange, camouflage, yellow, silver, and blue. The radios come with rechargeable batteries – just like a cellphone – but without the plan.

Motorola 8500R Talkabout 2-Way Radios - Pair - with NiMH Batteries & Chargers - Orange

Motorola 8500R Talkabout 2-Way Radios - Pair - with NiMH Batteries & Chargers - Orange

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