The Top 10 Gadgets of the Decade

E-Book Readers

Bye bye, books? Maybe not quite yet, but as e-readers, such as Sony's Reader and Amazon's Kindle, gain in popularity, printed novels, textbooks and even newspapers and magazines are slowly retreating into the background.

Sony was the first this decade to offer an e-book reader in 2006 and Amazon's Kindle quickly followed in 2007. But since then, as prices fall and content options rise, the market has continued to grow.

This month, research firm Forrester said 2009 has been a "breakout year" for eReaders and eBooks. By the end of the year, sales will have more than tripled with content sales up 176 percent for the year.

Netbooks

Earlier this year, some analysts predicted that the PC industry would experience its sharpest shipment decline in history. But the industry's fate was changed largely because of one key new computing species: the netbook.

Smaller and cheaper than its cousins the laptop and desktop, the netbook has emerged as an increasingly popular PC option.

The netbooks, or mini-notebooks, can't compete with fully-functional laptops and desktops when it comes to memory, power and battery life. But they can be had for below $300, a price closer to that of some smart phones than traditional computers.

In addition to the price, their compact size and mobility make them attractive options for consumers.

Taiwan-based Asus introduced the first netbook of the decade in 2007 when it launched the Asus Eee PC (the three "Es" stand for "Easy to learn, Easy to work, Easy to play).

But its competitor, Acer Inc. (also from Taiwan), popularized the category with its 2008 launch of the Acer Aspire One. Analysts say Acer's version was the first to do well among retail customers, as its operating system and overall look more closely resembled traditional PCs.

In March, research firm Garter predicted that PC shipments would fall in 2009 by 11.9 percent. Now, boosted by netbook sales, the firm expects shipments to actually grow by 2.8 percent this year.

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