Nothing says "Happy holidays, Sweetheart" better than an iPhone or plasma television. OK, so high-tech gadgets tend to cost more than classic gifts such as clothing or modest jewelry, but wouldn't you rather receive a sleek BlackBerry Curve than a cardigan? Consider this guide a look at some of the best tech toys of the year. By no means is this a complete list — other guides in this section highlight the best in cameras, inexpensive tech gadgets and more — but these digital delights are worth a look (or listen). Compiled by Marc Saltzman, Jefferson Graham and Edward C. Baig, and written by Saltzman.
The tech choices as holiday gifts are limited only by designers' imagination. Give the gift of music this holiday season, whether it's a portable MP3 player, docking station speaker system or a Wi-Fi radio. Here are a few highlights:
iPod: New features, more storage
It's six years later, and the iPod is as popular as ever as Apple appl continues to reinvent its portable media players by adding new designs, features and more memory. Now, the iPod Classic ($249 for 80 gigabytes; $349 for 160 GB) can store up to 40,000 songs. The new iPod Nanos (from $149) can play video and games. And the iPod Touch (from $299) enjoys the same graceful interface as the iPhone (see below).
Zune: Built for sharing
Microsoft msft has introduced new Zune players (www.zune.net; from $149.99), redesigned Zune software and new online services such as the Zune Social online music community. Along with the ability to play music, podcasts, photos and videos, every Zune player can share tracks wirelessly with other Zunes (with some restrictions) and includes a built-in FM tuner. Available in 4 GB, 8 GB, 30 GB and 80 GB.
Sansa View: Versatile
At just 0.3-inches thin and weighing under 3 ounces, the Sansa View (www.sandisk.com; from $149.99) is a convenient media player offering impressive battery life of up to 35 hours for music or up to seven hours for video. It includes a MicroSD card slot if you'd like to add more memory, plays multiple music, photo and video formats (including DivX files) and features a built-in FM radio.
Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin: Speaker heaven
While pricey, the Zeppelin ($599.95) is a high-end Bowers & Wilkins (www.bowers-wilkins.com) blimp-shaped iPod speaker system that sounds extraordinary — and extraordinarily loud with its 25 watts per speaker and 50-watt woofer. The iPod fits on a small cradle that makes it look as though it's floating. The Zeppelin includes an integrated equalizer, S-Video out (to connect to a television) and wireless remote.
OXX Tube: World radio, wirelessly
Access more than 7,500 subscription-free radio stations from around the world — from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe — with the Oxx Digital Wireless Music Center Tube Edition ($299.99; www.oxxdigital.com), a desktop radio that uses your Wi-Fi connection. Search by country or genre, then save your favorites as preset buttons. As a bonus, this tube-shaped stereo radio (with integrated subwoofer) can also wirelessly play digital music stored on your PC in another room, such as MP3s, ACCs and WMAs.
Cellphones have morphed into digital Swiss Army knives, used for talk, music, photography, Web surfing and personal organization. Some of the best of '07:
iPhone: Widescreen wonder
The Apple iPhone (www.apple.com/iphone; $399 with two-year AT&T plan) combines a widescreen media player, smartphone, camera and host of Wi-Fi Internet services. And it's as gorgeous as it is functional, powered by a revolutionary "flick" interface that lets you use your fingertip on the touch screen to access all your content.
BlackBerry Curve: E-mail excellence
If mobile e-mail is your priority, Research In Motion's rimm (www.rim.com) BlackBerry smartphones are still best in class. The Curve (8310 from AT&T att, $199.99 after rebate with two-year plan; 8320 from T-Mobile, $249.99 after rebate with two-year plan) isn't just for business people. Along with e-mail pushed to your phone, the keyboard-based Curve has a built-in media player, camera, GPS navigation (8310) and more.
Samsung u740: Flip it
Dubbed the "Double Flip" phone, the Samsung u740 (www.samsungwireless.com; $79.99 with two-year Verizon plan) opens vertically (when placing a call) or horizontally (for e-mail and text messages), which reveals a keyboard and widescreen display. Touch-sensitive music buttons on the face of the unit control tunes stored on expandable MicroSD cards.
Palm Centro: Pocket power
The compact Palm palm Centro (www.palm.com; $99.99 after rebate with a two-year Sprint s plan) gives you voice, text, e-mail, music, photos, games and Web — all in your pocket. Interact with the smartphone using either the keyboard or touch-screen. Powered by the simple and intuitive Palm OS, the Bluetooth-enabled Centro includes a camera and memory card slot.
Falling prices, plus more selection and content, makes this the year to invest in a high-definition TV.
Pioneer Elite Kuro PRO-110FD: Tops in high-def
This top-of-the-line 50-inch plasma TV ($5,999.99; www.pioneerelectronics.com) not only delivers up to 1080p (progressive) resolution for outstanding clarity but exceptional contrast, offering deep blacks that are about 80% darker than in the previous generation. The Pioneer Kuro TVs are ideal for high-definition HD television programming, PS3 or Xbox 360 gaming.
Slingbox Pro (HD): Take it with you
No TV fanatic who travels should be without Slingbox Pro ($199.99; www.slingmedia.com). Use a laptop or phone to watch your local TV programming anywhere with an Internet connection. This HD-ready model streams up to four independent sources, such as a cable/satellite box, DVR or DVD player, so you'll never miss favorite shows. No subscription fee.