Strange New World: Tech Picks of the Week

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Technology Retailers

Has the iPhone met its match?

Well ... maybe not. But only in the strange new world of technology could a kids' toy even get into a conversation about taking down the Web's fiercest dragon.

Nintendo rolled out its new portable player, the DSi ($169), this week. And while it is far from the networking powerhouse that is the iPhone, this is one remarkable digital thingamabob.

Equally remarkable, Dan and I have both noticed that prices for consumer electronics here in the gadget-o-sphere have -- get ready for it -- firmed up over the past few weeks. Retailers are hardly living large. But gone is the firesale discounting that marked the early part of the year, at least at the major retailers we looked at last week.

And finally, Yahoo it taking another stab at music. Though it faces a tough slog against Apple, the company's search-oriented approach to music deserves some street cred.

Here are our picks for the top tech stories of the week:

The iNintendo: The DSi Comes to Market

Ya gottta give it up to Nintendo. Just a few years ago, this company was selling discount game systems to low-end gamers and their loser friends. No more. With Wii and now this new portable device, the Nintendo DSi, the company has become a major gaming heavy hitter.

Tech followers would be foolish to dismiss this DSi as mere child's play. It comes with bigger 3.25-inch screens, two .3 megapixel cameras, and -- most importantly -- improved Wi-Fi support. The effect is a faster, more robust gaming system that is interactive and Web savvy.

While it is nothing close to the Sony PSP or the iPhone in terms of hard performance, there is a quirky cool factor about this thing. Doing Super Mario on this box is pure fun.

Get one. Stick a mustache on yourself and you'll see. Factor in the developer community for this baby and, come summer, the DSi could be running some of the best games in mobile gaming. It's that good.

Could the Nightmare Be Over? Consumer Tech Pricing Seems to Be Hardening

Leave it to the nerds to stick their necks out. But the fact is, if we weren't being told every three seconds that financial armageddon was at hand, we would be betting this recession has just about reached bottom. Why?

Tech Retailers Put Deep Discounts Aside

Most major consumer electronics vendors have put discounting aside over the past week, at least based on our informal survey of shopping circulars from around the country. Instead, places like Target were pushing Nintendo DSis at full prices and Best Buy went so far as to start promoting its higher end store within a store, Magnolia.

The promotion had all sorts of juicy photos of higher-end gear from Pioneer, Definitive Technology and others. And we were even seeing branding cheapskate Radio Shack invest in some bigger, fatter flyers to drive awareness now that Circuit City is gone.

Yes, we do know that unemployment numbers are awful and entire industries are going south. There still is plenty of hurtin' going on and who knows where all this goes. But strictly speaking, from a technological pricing perspective the facts are these: Some sort of bottom in electronics pricing has been reached.

The days of 30 to 70 percent off everything seem to be over. What that means is up to you.

Yahoo Gets Its Groove On: Yahoo Music Makes its Move

Music news is an oxymoron in these days of iTunes. The 800-pound digital music gorilla is Apple. And that is just that. But still ... there is Yahoo Music. And something is going on there.

The Web's number 2 search engine recently released an upgrade to its music search engine. And you know what, it does not stink.

Yahoo ditched trying to post up iTunes; instead it seeks to establish its outside search oriented game. Yahoo is combining powerful search functions for all different aspects of music content -- videos, chart information, download services, artist data and other stuff -- into one easy-to-use interface.

In our testing, Yahoo Music was compelling. It is not all inclusive -- links to iTunes, for example, are rare. But there is plenty of music to sample, learn about and buy.

Of course, it is far too early to say if Yahoo Music can give iTunes a run. And it's sad that it took the music industry a decade to get where it should have been when it first killed off the original Napster back in the day.

But at least the music biz has gotten here. And while there are no moral victories in this vicious game of technological innovation, there is progress. And Yahoo Music is most definitely progress.