Smartphones, flat-screens, robots, green tech: We wade through it all to ID the coolest innovations, including Sony's absurdly svelte, impressively vibrant XEL01 TV screen and the newly customizable Flip Mino video camera.

Few gadgets turn heads the way Sony's latest flat-screen TV does. The small XEL-1 is kitchen-sized at 11 inches, but its svelte 3mm display boasts technology that is home theater-worthy. The XEL-1 is Sony's first OLED television released in the US, and like the smaller OLEDs used in mobile phones, uses rows of glowing, organic semiconductors that reduce power usage and need for a traditional backlight. That allows the XEL-1 to be impossibly thin and still boast a crisp 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio and snappy bright colors. It also features a glossy base and bezel, and a price-tag befitting any technological first.

Price: $2,500
More Info: XEL-1

The first Flip camera democratized digital video like never before, and now its successor is getting personal. The diminutive, easy-to-use cam now packs 2GB of internal storage and can come in pretty much any look you want: choose a case design from Flip's extensive gallery, generate your own pattern on their site, or upload an image, and you can get it emblazoned on your Flip. The Mino (pronounced “minnow”) is 40% smaller than the original Flip at about the size of a typical mobile phone, and holds an hour of footage that is viewable on its 1.5-inch LCD screen. Touch-sensitive buttons, a TV-out jack, rechargeable battery and the eponymous flip-out USB connector make the Mino a cool buy.

Price: $180
More Info: Flip Mino Camcorder

Any gift that cuts techno-clutter is a boon, and the Eye-Fi Explore SD card is one such little wonder. It holds photos and data just like a regular 2GB SD card (used in your smartphone or other portable device), except that it's WiFi-enabled, allowing users to transfer photos to their PC wirelessly, geo-tag them, or bypass their computer entirely by uploading them to the Web via any home WLAN or Wayport WiFi Hot Spot – all automatically.

Price: $130 with 1 year of Hot Spot access and unlimited uploads; and $100 and $80 versions that also do the home WLAN uploads and wireless PC transfers.
More Info: Eye-Fi Explore

Is a Zune or iPod too trendy for you? Then take a look at iRiver's elegant Spinn multimedia player. The whole device is modeled on an old-time radio aesthetic, complete with its large aluminum dial input and on-screen tuner motif. The brushed aluminum enclosure and intuitive touchscreen make it a solid challenger to the look-and-feel of the iPod touch. It also packs a 3.3-inch AMOLED (Active Matrix OLED) screen, wide format support, up to 20 hours of audio and video battery life, FM radio, picture viewer and voice recording. The 2.5-ounce Spinn can be had in 4- or 8GB versions.

Price: $190 and $230
More Info: Spinn

The Zoombak is your own personal homing device: a small, durable GPS locator that can be clipped on anything from your car to your golden retriever, making sure you never lose track of the things that matter. The device itself is about the size of a beeper (remember those?) and is water-resistant, lasting about five days on its rechargeable battery. The interface is completely Web-based, allowing any scheming Zoombak owner to use Microsoft Virtual Earth to track multiple locators and log their routes of travel. For errant teenager drivers and the like, Zoombak lets you set “safety zones” that will alert you via SMS or email when they are breached. Is that a privacy-can-of-worms or peace-of-mind?

Price: $200-$250, plus $10 per month subscription
More Info: target="_new">Zoombak GPS Locators

High-definition camcorders produce magnificent video, but not everyone wants to use their computer in the home-movie process. If that's you, check out Hitachi's 3-way recording HD cam; it can burn video directly onto Blu-ray disc, store it on its integrated 30GB hard drive, or record to a high-capacity SD card. It sports full HD recording at 1920x1080 resolution with one-touch dubbing from hard drive to Blu-ray disc, as well as the ability to take 7-megapixel still shots. Convenient in-camera editing software is well-integrated, as is face-recognition functionality and image stabilization. If you haven't jumped on the Blu-ray bandwagon yet, the DZ-BD10HA can also burn DVDs.

Price: $1000
More Info: Hitachi DZ-BD10HA 30GB Blu-ray/HDD/DVD Hybrid Camcorder

The Lenovo IdeaPad S10 may be the bestnetbook available. Like others in its class, the IdeaPad S10 has a sensible, low-cost spec: 1.6GHz Intel Atom processor, a 10.2-inch display, 80GB hard drive, integrated web cam, and no optical drive. But it also has a solid build quality that other toy-like netbooks lack, with understated accents, a smudge-resistant glossy finish, and a decidedly grown-up enclosure. Add to that package a decent keyboard at 85% full size, a particularly fast and long-range wireless card, a choice of five appealing colored lids, and a whole package of 2.6lbs, and you have one appealing travel machine.

Price: $400
More Info: Lenovo S Series

At only 9.3mm thick, Logitech's Ultrathin Keyboard, as its name suggests, one of the thinnest around, even with dynamic backlighting built in. Its aesthetics are archetypal geek chic: jet black, minimal graphics and few extraneous buttons, with a sober, square-edged design. It also includes an attached wrist-rest and translucent bezel to complete the effect.

Price: $80
More Info: Logitech Keyboards

The InTouch Wireless Internet Frame takes the concept of the digital frame to its fullest potential, adding WiFi, a multi-card reader, a rechargeable battery, and a smart, proprietary operating system. Think of it as a little Internet-enabled dashboard. It doesn't just display your favorite images in bright, crisp 800x480 resolution – it also streams news and video from a litany of sources like Google and the BBC, and has a calendar, alarm clock, Web TV, Internet radio, RSS feeds, and a simple, easy-to-use touchscreen interface that even sports a full-screen QWERTY keyboard. You can even display photos streamed from Picasa, Facebook, Flickr and Webshots.

Price: $350
More Info: intouch Wireless Internet Frame

For the serious amateur photographer, there are a lot of options out there, but none as appealing as the JD Power award-winning Nikon D700. The D700 packs the guts of a pro-level digital camera into a smaller, lighter body that has great hand-feel and solid construction. Unlike most full-sized pro DSLRs, the D700 begs to be carried, and has the chops for it: weather- and grit-resistant internal seals makes it more durable than most, and a powerful built-in flash precludes the need for an external flash in a lot of situations; most pro DSLRs lack built-in flashes. In the pro-camera world, sensor size is synonymous with quality, and the D700 packs a 95% full-frame sensor – a big deal for a camera this portable. Its 12.1MP images are processed by the same fabulous EXPEED image processing as Nikon's flagship D3, and the D700 sports the same incredible low-light image quality, with effective film speeds of between 100 and 25,600 ISO.

Price: $2700
More Info: D700 from Nikon

For any technophile, wireless is next to godliness, and that makes the i2i Stream heaven-sent. The i2i Stream allows any gizmo to stream audio to any other gizmo – PC to stereo, Xbox to headphones, iPod to speakers – all without wires. The kit comes with two little transponders with seven channels; simply attach one to an audio source and the other to an audio output, sync the channels, and get streaming wireless audio without expensive, permanent home theater set-ups. The interface is a fool-proof two-button system with color-coded channels, and audio fidelity is of Bluetooth-beating HD quality for up to 30 feet between units.

Price: $120
More Info: i2i Stream

Tech Gear of the Year

Smartphones, flat-screens, robots, green tech: We wade through it all to ID the coolest innovations, including Sony's absurdly svelte, impressively vibrant XEL01 TV screen and the newly customizable Flip Mino video camera.

Smartphones, flat-screens, robots, green tech: We wade through it all to ID the coolest innovations, including Sony's absurdly svelte, impressively vibrant XEL01 TV screen and the newly customizable Flip Mino video camera.

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