Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Gadgets we Love

Sony VPL-VW50 $4,750 Stewart Filmscreen SST screen
$1,760 and up

Once you've watched movies in high definition on a 100-inch screen in your living room, retreating to a 50-inch flat panel feels like a schlep back to the Berle era. Sony's latest hi-def video projector and the screen surface Stewart Filmscreen expressly designed to work with it can fill your life with images once confined to movie palaces and Hollywood screening rooms: big, immersive and viewed by reflected light. You may never go out to a theater again.
--Stephen Manes

Nokia N95

Early next year Nokia will begin selling the new N95, a luxe phone with a silvery front, beige back and two-way sliding top. Everything's in there: MP3 player with stereo speakers, a 5-megapixel camera, DVD-quality video, GPS maps, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, high-speed cellular, spreadsheets, e-mail. It's basically a laptop in your hand. The N95 will sell only in Europe. It may never even arrive in the U.S.
—Bruce Upbin

Guitar Hero

Guitar Hero is simulated six-string karaoke. Step one: Strap on fake plastic guitar, assume power stance (sneer optional). Step two: Select one of 47 songs. (Oh yes, there will be "Smoke on the Water.") Step three: Shred.
--Amanda Schupak

Nintendo Wii

This dirt-simple interface opens gaming to people who don't want to master endless button combinations in order to have some fun--and should enable new forms of games nobody's thought of yet. Whee!
--Stephen Manes

Slim Devices Squeezebox


This $300 metal and- plastic receiver declutters a living room by streaming digital tracks from your computer to your stereo over your home's wireless network. Setup was simple. I'd already ripped hundreds of CDs into iTunes on a Mac Mini.
--Daniel Lyons

Sonos Digital Music System

This overgrown iPod of a remote is the wireless heart of the Sonos Digital Music System, a delightful--if expensive--way to shuttle music from computer or Internet around the house. With it, I can send the Ohio Players to my bedroom, Handel to the living room and Keane to the kitchen. If I'm feeling impish, I can switch them all around by swirling the track wheel and mashing a few backlit buttons while I'm walking from the living room to the bedroom. Lift the remote after it's been down for a while and its motion sensor wakes it up. Love the brick and the brick loves you back.
--Bruce Upbin

Plantronics Discovery 640

When the guy who sold me my pink Motorola Razr cell phone told me I needed to buy a Bluetooth headset, I was crestfallen. Until, that is, I found the Plantronics Discovery 640.

The first time I held it I giggled with glee. The thing is tiny, only 2.25 inches long and 0.3 of an ounce, and nestles inside its chrome carrying case very much like a lipstick. I stuck a handful of rhinestones on the outside case, and now it looks even cuter clipped onto my purse. All the little parts that come with it are kept inside a tidy chrome compact with a handy mirror on the outside.
--Erika Brown

Garmin StreetPilot c330

The Garmin global-positioning satellite receiver knew exactly where we were and all the places we could go: restaurants, hotels, stores and gas stations. We found our spot and discovered that the Cowgirl Creamery was on the way home (I brake for cheese).
--Victoria Murphy Barret

Skype Video Free

Skype's video quality made thousands of miles disappear for me this summer, during the Israel-Lebanon war. Hundreds of people were dying from Israeli and Hezbollah missiles. Family members were being drafted overnight under emergency military orders.

I decided to go back and called my parents just as they were about to practice going down to the bomb shelter. Their faces on Skype looked ghostly. "Cancel your plane ticket," my mother commanded. "You stay there, and stay safe. Promise me you won't come back."

We looked at each other for a few seconds without saying a word. On my screen a small tear rolled down her cheek-- sharp, clear and unmistakable.
--Dan Fishel

iGo Charger

Life as a three-gadget man is not elegant. I need baggy pants, bulky jackets or a backpack to haul the things around. In an attempt to regain some dignity, I converged what I could: the power cords. The iGo charger juices up all three of my machines equally well; the only adjustment I have to make is swapping out a different nib for each gadget.
--Peter Kafka