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Gadget makers are gearing up for the holidays, showing off AudioBulbs, Kinect add-ons, and sub-$US250 tablets. Here is a look at what they'll be promoting.
GiiNii International Audio Bulb: What if installing a wireless music system was as simple as screwing in a light bulb? That's the idea behind GiiNii International's AudioBulb system, which features light bulbs that double as wireless speakers. You just screw them in to your light fixtures, pair them with the system's wireless base station, and let the tunes play. Price: $US300 | Available: October 31
Amazon Kindle Fire: I know you're sick of hearing about iPad killers, so I won't burden Amazon's tablet with that label. But I will say that this Android-based tablet is inexpensive, simple to use, and easy to load up with content. In case any of my relatives are reading this, the Amazon Kindle Fire is what I want under my tree this year. Price: $US199 | Available: November 15; preorders accepted now
Amazon Kindle Touch E-Reader: Let's face it: Tablets - even those as cool as the iPad 2 and the Kindle Fire - are not for everyone. Some people want to keep things simple, with an ebook reader. For those folks, check out the $99 Kindle Touch (the price jumps to $US139 if you want to eliminate ads from the screen). This bargain-priced e-reader will be Amazon's first to sport a touchscreen, and it still uses the E-Ink technology that makes its display so easy to read. Price: $US99 with Amazon Special Offers | Available: November 21; preorders accepted now
Canon PowerShot S100 Pocket Camera: Canon's PowerShot S95 was just about the best all-around pocket camera that PCWorld reviews editors saw last year, so they're pretty excited about its follow-up, the PowerShot S100. This premium point-and-shoot offers 1080p video recording, 12 megapixels of resolution, and burst mode for capturing a series of images. Price: $US430 | Available: November
Apple iPad 2: No, it isn't the latest tablet. And some people may say that it isn't the greatest. But the iPad revolutionized the tablet market, and the iPad 2 is what plenty of people want - at least until Apple unveils the long-awaited iPad 3. Price: Starts at $US499 | Available: Now
dB Logic EP-200V Earphones: The dB Logic EP-200V Earphones are more than just your average earbuds: This is a gift that shows you care. These earphones carry dB Logic's SPL2 (Sound Pressure Level Limiting) technology, which modifies the audio to make it sound its best while limiting sound pressure that can damage hearing. Price: $US50 | Available: Early November
Toshiba Qosmio F755 3D Laptop: Love 3D movies, but hate 3D glasses? Meet the Toshiba Qosmio F755, a 3D laptop that works without special glasses. And it has more to offer than just 3D technology: It also packs a 15.6-inch screen, an Intel Core i7 processor, 6GB of RAM, a 750GB hard drive, and a Blu-ray drive. Price: Starts at $US1699 | Available: Now
OnStar FMV: If your car didn't come equipped with an OnStar system, you're not out of luck: You can easily install the technology in almost any car, thanks to OnStar FMV.
This gadget looks like a regular rear-view mirror, but adds features such as hands-free calling, audio driving directions, and roadside assistance. Price: $US200 | Available: Now
HTC EVO 3D Smartphone: If the iPhone 4S doesn't offer enough for the technology lover on your gift list, consider Sprint's excellent HTC EVO 3D smartphone. It boasts a 3D screen and true 4G support, something lacking from Apple's latest iPhone. Price: $US200 | Available: Now
Hot Holiday Gadgets: You probably haven't started your holiday shopping yet--but that doesn't mean that tech companies aren't already developing and shining up their new gear, hoping you'll buy it. In fact, fall marks the start of the flood of holiday buying announcements.
We haven't had a chance to evaluate most of the following items, which range from the hottest tablets to the must-have home tech accessories, but they intrigue us nonetheless. Here's the best--and in a few cases, the most eyebrow-raising - of what may end up gracing your home this December.
Netgear NeoTV NTV200 Streaming Player: If your TV has an HDMI port, it can become a smart TV. That's the idea behind the Netgear NeoTV Streaming Player. The NTV200 lets you stream movies, TV shows, news, and games from sources such as Netflix, Vudu, and YouTube directly to your TV. And you can use it with Netgear's free app to turn your iPhone or Android phone into a remote control for your television. Price: $US80 | Available: October 10; preorders accepted now
Mint Plus Robot Floor Cleaner: If you're going to take the plunge and give the gift of a garbage can (see the third slide), you may as well go all the way and add the Mint Plus. This new-and-improved hardwood-floor cleaner sweeps and mops the floors around the house. Price: $US300 | Available: Now
TomTom Go Live 1535 M GPS Device: Apps are everywhere these days. Don't believe me? Take a look at TomTom's Go Live 1535 M, a GPS device with, you guessed it, apps. This product offers the excellent driving directions and navigational tools that TomTom is known for, but also throws in access to travel apps from Expedia, TripAdvisor, Twitter, and Yelp. Presumably your gift recipient will know better than to use them while driving. Price: $US250 | Available: Now
Orbotix Sphero Robotic Ball: Why, yes, Sphero is a robotic ball, and you control it with your smartphone. Why would anyone want that, you wonder?
Just think of all the fun you can have trying to outrun the family pet. Or playing a downloadable game (for Android and iOS devices) that lets you destroy virtual zombies or enjoy a round of golf with Sphero. What could your family do with it? Price: $US130 | Available: Late 2011
Simplehuman Sensor Trash Cans: Yes, it takes a brave soul to wrap up a trash can and call it a Christmas present. But if you're planning to go there, at least wrap up one of Simplehuman's sensor cans.
Featuring touch-free technology, they're smart enough to open when you need them to, and they stay open until you're done. They also come in an attractive silver design, and have a built-in odor-absorbing filter. Price: Starting at $200 | Available: Now
iPad 'App-cessories' for Children: If your favorite 5-year-old has an iPad (and whose doesn't, right?), you can make the device even more fun by adding "app-cessories." Each of these apps comes with a gadget that allows an iPad to act as, well, the world's coolest toy. For instance, Crayola's $US30 iMarker Digital Stylus lets children draw on an iPad's screen as if they were using a crayon, while the $20 Cars 2 AppMates kit from Disney comes with cars that kids can race around a track displayed on the iPad. (Or you could simply wrap up some crayons and Hot Wheels. Just a thought, right?) Price: Varies | Available: Now
Altec Lansing's InAir 5000: An audio system with wires? Definitely yesterday's news. Cut the cord with the Altec Lansing InAir 5000, which allows you to stream music from your iOS device around the house wirelessly. It's designed to offer easy setup through Apple's AirPlay, as well as to provide excellent audio quality. Price: Not yet set | Available: Late October 2011
Epson MegaPlex MG-850HD Projector: Your iPhone or iPad is great for watching movies - if you're watching alone. But if you have company, your group might want to see the picture projected on the big screen. Enter Epson's MegaPlex MG-850HD projector. It serves as a portable dock and speaker for your iPad or iPhone, and it can project content on a virtual screen as big as 100 inches diagonal. Price: $US799 | Available: October 22
Sony Handycam NEX-VG20 Camcorder: No, it certainly isn't cheap. But the aspiring videographer on your list will love the Sony Handycam NEX-VG20. This camcorder shoots 1080p video at 60 frames per second, and features a comfortable hand grip and 5.1-channel surround sound.
If all that isn't enough, consider that this interchangeable-lens camcorder is compatible with A-mount DSLR lenses. That means it can use a phase-detection autofocus system that performs impressively fast. Whew. Price: $US1600 (body only), $US2200 (with lens) | Available: November
Apple iPhone 4S: You may think that the iPhone 4S is nothing more than a minor upgrade over previous versions of Apple's excellent smartphone. But the truth is that this gadget tops many wish lists this year, for good reason: With its improved camera, more powerful processor, and all-new wireless system, the iPhone 4S is a worthy upgrade over the iPhone 4. Price: Starts at $799 | Available: October 14; preorders accepted now
Nyko Zoom for Microsoft Kinect: Don't let cramped quarters restrict the fun you have with your Microsoft Kinect games. The Nyko Zoom is a clip-on lens for your Kinect sensor that lets you play games in 40 percent less space - think small dorm rooms and post-grad apartments. Price: $US30 | Available: Now
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