Top 10 tech toys for 2009
$100 or less
One of the season's hottest games is this reinvention of the classic Nintendo game, which was released on Nov. 15. The game uses the Wii's innovative motion controls and lets up to four people play at once. A great gift for anyone nostalgic for the 1980s or new gamers.
Apple Magic Mouse ($69)
The first mouse to incorporate some of the multi-touch gestures found on the iPhone and the touchpads of many of the new Mac laptops. Instead of rolling a ball to scroll down a Web page, you just move your finger up and down on the mouse. When viewing photos, to go to the next or previous photo, simply swipe two fingers on the mouse.
Chumby One ($100, on sale)
Like its predecessor, it's a touch-screen, alarm clock-sized device that lets you use 15,000 Internet widgets. You can listen to Internet radio, watch video clips from YouTube, check your e-mail or view the news and weather. It's also an FM radio, alarm clock and speaker. Although it does all of the same things as the Chumby Classic ($200), it's lost a lot of its charm and cuteness because its exterior is plastic instead of a squishy beanbag.
Roku ($80 to $130)
This affordable digital media player made my list of top gadgets last year, but I'm including it again because it has more features, and there are now three models. At its core, the Roku is an easy way for Netflix customers to stream movies from the Internet to their TVs. You can purchase the latest TV shows and movies from Amazon Video on Demand, baseball fans who pay for the MLB.TV services can watch live games, and more services are coming soon.
$100 to $300
Nook e-reader ($259, order at bn.com for January delivery)
Electronic book readers such as Amazon's Kindle and the Sony Reader series are expected to be popular this season. The most anticipated device in the bunch is the Nook from Barnes & Noble, which features a color, touch-screen LCD and allow users to "share" digital copies with others.
iPod nano ($149 for 8GB, $179 for 16GB)
With its built-in FM radio and video camera, it's like three devices in one. It's small enough to clip onto your arm while you run on a treadmill, but it's 2.2 inch screen is big enough to let you watch videos without hurting your eyes. You can pause live radio for up to 15 minutes, and certain stations allow you to "tag" songs you like so you can buy them later.
Motorola Droid ($200 after rebate, with 2-year Verizon contract)
A worthy competitor to the iPhone that has many things the iPhone lacks, such as a physical keyboard, the ability to run multiple apps at once and free voice guided turn by turn GPS driving directions from Google.
$300 to $500
ASUS Eee PC Seashell 1005HA-PU17 ($400)
Many netbooks come with the new Windows 7 operating system and prices are falling, so now might be the best time to get one. This model has a stylish design, a 10.1 inch screen, a battery that can last 10.5 hours and a comfortable keyboard.
LG BD390 Network Blu-ray player ($350)
Blu-ray players should also sell well this year, and although you can get good models for less than $200, this device combines a Blu-ray player with many of the features of the Roku and more. Besides playing Blu-rays and DVDs, it streams video from Netflix, YouTube and movie services Vudu and CinemaNow.
$500 and above
13-inch MacBook Pro ($1,199 or $1,499)
The perfect laptop because it's not too heavy, and its screen is big enough for everyday use, it has a built in SD card reader so you can easily load pictures from your camera onto your computer, and it has a stylish yet sturdy design.
Etan Horowitz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-420-5447. To read fuller reviews of some of these gadgets, visit OrlandoSentinel.com/techblog.