Best Tech Gadgets 2008


This is a look at some of the contenders for the best tech gadgets and electronics for 2008, so far. At the end of the post there are some runner up gadgets and electronics that have come close but didn’t quite make my top 10. (Here is an updated post of my key selections of Top Christmas Electronics).

Asus Eee PC 901 XP


Just over £200 for a for a good laptop? Yes, its all true well after a bit of tweaking. Once you get your battery replaced with the higher rated one they meant to ship with it and you update the bios and get SP3 installed you have yourself a lean mean ultra portable laptop.

Before this I was using an ASUS Travelmate C210 tablet PC running Vista with 2GB of RAM and a GeForce Go 7300 graphics card – it is a great laptop/tablet pc apart from the 2.5 hour battery life and the amount of heat it produces. Its boot up time with Vista was good but still longer than I liked and I have never got used to the mouse ball. All this lead me, in some way, to the Eee PC with its longer battery life (I can get 4+ hours with fair usage), cooler running (since it has XP and less resource hungry), quicker boot time (solid state drive), ultra portable design and cheap price. More info…

Velocity SPYDER PRO Backpack


Women go on about handbags well I am just as bad with bags. And this one is without doubt the king of them all (if you need to carry kit around like a ps3 or desktop replacement laptop for instance). First off it doesn’t just look like something you would see on the back of Batman it performs like something Batman would have on his back. Here are some specs:

  • Water repellent BuckBlast suede
  • The outer-most layer is a molded rubber EXO-skeleton that provides protection from bumps while also keeping the structural integrity of the bag
  • CORE3 laptop protection, this bag utilizes three layers to provide unparalleled security for your digital gear
  • 15.4″ or 17″ shock padded laptop storage compartment
  • Stay cool lined pocket for snacks and drinks

More info…

Apple iPod Touch 16GB


Well this probably would of been number 1 on my list if it wasn’t for the fact that the current software updates (since the App Store / 2.0 firmware was released) have been really bad and in most cases caused the Touch to crash and take a while to respond. Regardless of this the key functionality, which I bought this for -playing and organising music and videos – works fantastically. Added to this its above average battery and iconic cool form factor and you have winning gadget. More info…

Buffalo Ministation 500GB


This combined with the TrueCrypt software (No. 10 below) offers a huge amount of portable storage in a sleek small design (with a USB lead wrap around design – ingenious) and with peace of mind that anything you put on it is secure and safe from knocks and bumps – with its floating internal supports. More info…

Nintendo Wii balance board


A great innovative idea and one that really hasn’t yet seen it’s full potential. Currently Wii fit is the only title that really makes the most of it but I’m sure next year we will start to see some really nice tied in games that aren’t just based around fitness.

This seems to be where Nintendo are heading with the Wii – on top of the balance board there is the Steering Wheel (great fun with Mario Kart), the Zapper (great fun with Link Crossbow Training) and following this the Wii Motion Plus (which promises greater motion sensitivity and accuracy). More info…Wiki

Blackberry Bold


This is without doubt the best looking and functioning Blackberry ever (and probably ranks pretty high on most top 10s of mobile phones). There are still some downsides in that the OS is a little buggy and needs an update, it has poor SAR ratings and it’s not cheap the sim free route. More info…

The Razer Tarantula Gaming Keyboard


I find these to be one of the smoothest and most responsive keyboards out there. It’s not cheap for a keyboard that isn’t wireless but if you type a lot and want something comfortable and responsive you can’t beat it. More info…

LaCie LaCinema Premier


A fantastic portable video, music and photo hard disk player that pretty much will play anything you throw at it and will adapt to video content up to 1080i (which you would be hard pushed to find elsewhere). Here are some specs:

Supports
Video: MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4 (AVI, Xvid), DVD-Video (ISO**, IFO, VOB)
Audio: MP3, WMA, AC3, Ogg Vorbis
Photo: JPEG (up to 8MB pixels), BMP, GIF, PNG
Subtitle: SMI, SRT, SUB, SSA

Output as well as Hi-Speed USB 2.0 (USB 1.1 compatible):
Video: Composite video (cable included), S-Video, HD Component video (up to 1080i upscaling)
Audio: Analog stereo (cable included), SPDIF optical and coaxial audio

More info…

Eikon Digital Privacy Manager


This is not only a great time saver it also adds solid security and all in a very user friendly interface. Basically it is a USB fingerprint reader combined with their excellent Protector suite software (. The software stores an encrypted template of your fingerprint and with that you relate encrypted passwords and usernames. More info…

It couldn’t be simpler to add a password profile.

  1. Once you have been through the initial easy fingerprint registration, simply go to the website or application that prompts for a password.
  2. Enter the details as you would usually to gain access
  3. Before clicking OK, swipe your fingerprint and you will be prompted with a the Protector suite dialog box
  4. Simply click register and job done (now next time you see that password prompt it will briefly flash a red border around the password prompt and after swiping your finger your in).

“In addition to offering flawless Firefox and IE password handling, the reader is simple to use and solid…In the end we definitely recommend this reader.” – Jason Chen, Gizmodo

Before I used this I was using the Microsoft USB Fingerprint reader but this isn’t aimed at the security conscious as the software it uses has no encryption built in and therefore adds vunerabilities – unlike the Eikon. Also the Microsoft reader has annoyingly bright red lights which would randomly blink.

Nervous about using fingerprints? Relax. Your fingerprint image is not stored, only a handful of unique features called a “template” which are extracted from your fingerprint and cannot be used to reconstruct an image. Also, concerns related to fingerprints are exaggerated – we leave our fingerprints on objects everyday such as cell phones, drinking glasses, doorknobs, etc. The point is: a simple fingerprint image cannot be used to “spoof” or be “inserted” into a UPEK fingerprint reader.” – Eikon

Canon Digital IXUS 80 IS Camera


If you want a cost-effective camera that takes great pictures, small form factor and good battery life you can’t go wrong with this. It also has one of the easier user interfaces I have come across and would strongly recommend it to anyone who is looking at this for their first camera, second camera when you don’t want to carry a bulky SLR or for someone who is a bit unsure with technology. More info,,,

Gadgets that didn’t make the top 10 for 2008

Truecrypt 6

This is a real killer application and is open source. If the name doesn’t give it away its a file encryption application. For me it offers peace of mind and security in a very easy to use application.

“TrueCrypt is a software system for establishing and maintaining an on-the-fly-encrypted volume (data storage device). On-the-fly encryption means that data are automatically encrypted or decrypted right before they are loaded or saved, without any user intervention. No data stored on an encrypted volume can be read (decrypted) without using the correct password/keyfile(s) or correct encryption keys. Entire file system is encrypted (e.g., file names, folder names, contents of every file, free space, meta data, etc).”

Mozilla Firefox 3

They did a great marketing stunt of launching this stating they were trying to get into the Guinness Book of Records for the most downloads of an application in 24 hours. They won this with a staggering 8 million downloads. Regardless of this marketing ploy it is a great browser and Microsoft IE8 has a lot to live up to.

Call of Duty 4 (PS3)

The long-awaited COD4, IW’s follow-up to the excellent Call of Duty 2, is a jarring, intense, and gripping take on war in the new millennia. The enemies are smarter, the weapons are deadlier, and the grenades all too plentiful. COD4 will shake loose your fillings and have you begging for more.

Professor Layton and the Curious Village (Nintendo DS)

See my ‘game of the month’ review here

TomTom ONE v4 Western Europe

By far the easiest and most intuitive sat nav on the market. It does have it occasional flaws in that road updates take a while to be updated on the machine – but even with that it will get you from A to B 99.9% of the time even if the new roundabout you are coming up on isn’t there.

VW Scirocco 2.0 GT

Pictures don’t do this thing justice. In white, it looks properly cool, and the wheels are unlike anything on other ‘normal’ cars – they’re more like the turbine-style jobs you get on an SLR. Underneath all that, it’s a Golf GTI. There are worse things to have as an alter-ego…So it’s quick. And stylish. Quick, stylish and utterly appealing.

Samsung BD-P1400 – BluRay Disc Player – 1080P True HD

This is really good if you don’t have a PS3 but want to make the most of that HD screen you just bought – faultless in every aspect apart from the remote control – but then if you have the next item on my list this wouldn’t be an issue.

Logitech Harmony One – Advanced Universal Remote Control

For those of you with lots of sound and vision devices and sick of multiple remote controls this is a saviour – it can replace up to 15 remotes (but I’ve yet to see anyone beat my 12 remote record). The only problem with this I think is the software which albeit works could offer you more control (particularly as I expect 90% of people buying this are geeks) and it isn’t bluetooth which limits some control over PS3, Wii and Xbox 360.

Thrustmaster Glow Saber Duo Pack (Wii)

Awesome accessory for the Wii but needs more games to make it truely a killer accessory. Watch this space…

Sony KDL-40X3000 – 40” Widescreen Bravia 1080P Full HD LCD TV

Motionflow, motionflow, motionflow – this is a killer part of this TV for me. Without doubt one of the best HD pictures you can get from an LCD TV at the moment – it is just let down by the integrated speakers but it would be a crime to buy this and not get a surround sound system.

Bose SoundDock Portable Digital Music System

See my review here

Podspeakers – The Drop Speakers

If you in the market for £500 speakers these are just great, particularly if you get their iPod dock – breathtaking audio!

Other Top Gadget Lists

Resources – Manufacturers websites

  1. Asus Eee PC 901 XP
  2. Velocity SPYDER PRO Backpack
  3. Apple iPod Touch 16GB
  4. Buffalo Ministation 500GB
  5. Nintendo Wii balance boardWiki
  6. Blackberry Bold
  7. The Razer Tarantula Gaming Keyboard
  8. LaCie LaCinema Premier
  9. Upek / Eikon Digital Privacy Manager
  10. Canon