Electronics and Gadgets You Will Love
The Latest TV's, Cameras, and other Great Gadgets
The big buzz in electronics is not a hot new game system or some other must-have gizmo - it's the dropping prices on just about everything. Consumer Reports tech experts looked at more than 400 products, and found that you can get lots of great stuff at really reasonable prices. CR selected loads of innovative gadgets, including super-thin TV's and MP3 players that also shoot video.
APPLE IPOD NANO
Price: $149 for 8-gigabyte model, $179 for 16 GB
Why they like it: It has a standard-def video camera that has special effects and an FM radio that you can pause. It also comes in some very cool colors.
Why they like it: This inexpensive HD flash-memory camcorder has very good picture quality and an excellent image stabilizer, which helps reduce the shakes in a scene. It is lightweight and small enough to fit in your purse. It is a lot better than most at shooting in low light, and you can get almost an hour of hd video on a single charge. A minor bummer: If you want more than the 8GB of internal memory it comes with, you will need to buy Sony's Memory Stick Duo memory cards.
Other smart pics: Canon Vixia HV40, $800; Sony HDR-XRS00V, $1,200; for easily sharing video on the web, Pure Digital Flip Video UltraHD, $200
CANON EOS REBEL T1i
Price: $700 (without lens); $850 (with 18-55 mm lens)
Why they like it: This little gem is great for that dad who lugs two gadgets to every gathering. It is a 15-megapixel SLR camera that also shoots HD video. You will not get the same top-quality video you would with an HD camcorder, but it is convenient. It also shoots excellent still images, even in low light.
Other smart pics: Nikon D90, $1,200 (with lens); Nikon D5000, $700; Pentax K7, $1,300 (both without lens)
KODACK EASYSHARE C160
Why they like it: Most cameras that cost less than $100 have major compromises of performance, image quality, or both. But this cute 9-megapixel subcompact is a very good performer overall. It has little first-or next-shot delay, which lets you capture the action when you see it, and very good image quality. It has a decent 3x optical-zoom lens and can shoot about 500 shots on a single charge.
Other smart pics: Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR, $360; Casio Exilim Card EX-S12, $250; Sony Cyber-shot DSC-G3, $480; Canon PowerShot SD780 IS Elph, $230; Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T90, $270
DIGITAL SPECTRUM MEMORY FRAME MF801
Why they like it: This 8.5 inch digital photo frame stores 5,000 photos, and you can add music to your slide-show, and play video also. It even has a remote control. Picture quality is very good, and so is the price. You can also change the frame to match your decor; switch the black frame with the wood-grain one, and change the matte from black to ivory.
Other smart pics: Ipevo Kaleido R7, $200 (also shown); Pandigital PAN7000DW, $80; GiiNii Slope GN-812, $90
GARMIN'S ETREX VENTURE HC
Why they like it: You can download hikes or use it for geocaching, a GPS-based treasure hunt. For drivers they like the supereasy-to-use Garmin Nuvi, $120
GARMIN NUVIFONE G60
Why they like it: This unit mimics Garmin's popular Nuvi GPS device and has a built-in cell phone, which is capable of making calls and surfing the Web. It comes loaded with maps and areas of interest, and you can pay an extra monthly fee to get info on traffic, weather, and gas prices.
ASUS EEE PC 1005HA
Why they like it: This 10.1-inch netbook hits the sweet spot, with a low price, large keyboard, and long battery life. (8.25 hours; that is a whole day's work on a single charge). It also comes with a carrying case.
Other smart pics: Samsung N110-12GBK, $340; Toshiba Mini NB205-N210, $350
TOSHIBA SATELLITE A505-S6960
Why they like it: It is a full-featured laptop that has a big 16-inch screen and an impressive 6.5 hours of battery life. It is on the heavy side at 7 pounds, but you can not beat the price.
Other smart pics: Dell Inspiron 14-inch, $670; Apple Macbook Pro 17-inch MC226LLA, $2,200
HP PAVILLION ELITE E9120F
Why they like it: You can put a movie into the built-in-Blu-ray player. The hard drive (1024GB) holds hundreds of hours of video and music, plus huge family photo albums. 512 megabytes of video memory makes it great for gamers. Add speakers and a monitor, and it's a great setup.
Other smart pics: Apple iMac 24-inch MB418LL/A, $1,460; Dell Studio One 19, $900
NOKIA 7705 TWIST
Price: $100 (with 2 year Verizon contract)
Why they like it: This is a sleek little model that fans open. It is designed for women, so it has smaller keys and even a mirror on the back. It also has other unusual features like a ring that glows in color-indicating who is calling (you assign a color to your frequent callers). Voice quality is good for talking, but only fair for listening.
APPLE IPHONE 3GS
Price: $200 for 16GB model; $300 for 32GB (AT&T, with two-year contract
Why they lie it: The best smart phone for work and play now has a video camera and supports GPS applications for spoken directions.
Other smart pics: Palm Pre, $150 (Sprint), HTC Touch Pro2, $200 (Verizon).
Price: $259 ($279 for global model)
Why they like it: The best e-book reader just got more affordable-and more valuable at the same time.
Why they like it: It's an excellent 58-inch plasma set, at just an inch and a half deep, has all the best new features, including Medi@2.0 Internet service to access online content. It also comes with a lot of preloaded content. You can wirelessly connect it to a home network. The downside is the sound isn't so great, so pair it with an external sound system.
Other smart pics: Panasonic Viera TC-P54Z1, $5,500; and two LCD's, LG 55LH90, $2,400; Toshiba Regza 55ZV65OU, $2,000
Why they love it: This 42-inch 1080p LCD has very good picture quality, an extra wide viewing angle, and better-than average sound. It also has a built-in flip-up iPod dock so that you can play your music on the TV while watching the football game.
Other smart pics:Toshiba Regza 46XV645U, $1,000; Insignia NS-L42X-10A, $700; LG 42LF11, $700
Why they like it: With this Blue-ray player you get LG's NetCast online service, with access to instant streaming, movies from Netflix, Cinema Now, and Vudu. It can also access a home network wirelessly.
Other smart pics: Sony's BDP-S360, $230; Samsung BD-4600, $350
Why they like it: This Blue-ray home theater in a box system has a subwoofer and two speakers instead of the usual five-good for smaller rooms-and a cool design. It has excellent high-def picture quality with Blue-ray discs and excellent quality when playing regular DVD's. It has virtural surround-sound processing, with good overall sound and an external iPod/iPhone dock. You can also stream movies from Netflix and movies from Pandora Internet radio.