My Favorite Gadgets of 2008

2008faves

It’s New Year’s Eve, which means it’s time for me to reflect on all the gadgets that passed through my hands during 2008. During this past year, I wrote over 100 reviews. That’s a lot of products that were either really cool, or really lame. I’d like to share some of my favorites with you. These are gadgets that I have continued to use once the review period was completed.
Timbuk2 Laptop Messenger Bag – This remains my everyday gear bag even almost one year later. It has my must have requirements for every gear bag: a grab handle and a flat bottom so that it doesn’t fall over. Yeah I’m not hard to please ;) I also love the colors and simple design.

iWave Cube Microwave – I have this tiny microwave sitting on my desk at work. I like that it doesn’t take up much space and is quiet. Although this particular model is underpowered, it works great for heating up a cup of tea. I may buy one of their newer models that have more wattage so that it doesn’t take 25 minutes to fix my steel cut oats.

HP2133 Mini-Note – This was my first taste of using a netbook and I loved it! The metal case, keyboard and screen on the Mini-note were wonderful. I really hated sending this little guy back to HP. I considered buying one, but wasn’t super happy with the processor performance. The mini came out before everyone started using the Atom processor.

LifeGear LifeLite Lantern – I still use this little crank-style lantern when we lose power here. I like that I never have to worry if the batteries inside it are charged. The fact that it has both a light and a radio built in is great too. At one point this summer, it was my only entertainment for a whole day.

LED Lenser P7 LED Flashlight – This powerful flashlight is my current favorite. It throws a really bright beam that can illuminate an entire room.

Hammer Storage morespace External USB Drive – This remains my main backup drive for my iMac. I’ve tried other drives, but the Hammer is the quietest, which is important to me.

Orb Audio Mod2 Home Theater Speaker System – I love these speakers! They provide wonderful sound and it’s great that you can start with a small set and build on a little at a time. They look pretty cool too.

Slacker Portable Radio – I started out with their original player and fell in love with it. Then they came out with the Slacker G2 which was smaller. These are great little players with a cool service. If you’re bored with an iPod, try a Slacker.

Livescribe Pulse Smartpen – This is a great tool for students and people that take a lot of notes in meetings. I’ll admit that I haven’t used this much once I finished the review, but I can’t help but love the tech involved with this product.

MSI Wind Netbook – The HP mini-book review had me wanting a netbook, so I bought the MSI Wind. I even put OS X on it for awhile. I love the size of this notebook, but don’t like the keyboard layout. Even though I continue to it, I’m sure I’ll replace it sooner more than later.

BlueMic Snowflake USB Microphone – This isn’t a wow-wee kind of product, but it is easy to use and does a great job of recording audio. I’ve been using it more and more lately and like it way better than my Zoom H2.

Belkin Conserve Power Strip – Great device for saving power and money on your electric bill. Two things we probably all wouldn’t mind doing.

WD TV HD Media Player – Of all the reviews listed here, I have to say that this one is probably my favorite of 2008. So far it’s played almost every video file that I’ve thrown at it. It’s easy to use and is getting way more action than my AppleTV these days.

There you have it! Those were some of my favorite gadgets of 2008, what were yours?

{ 8 comments… add one }

  • Rob January 1, 2009, 12:13 am

    My favorite gadgets of the year:

    Slacker G2 portable — XM radio changed for the worse, I unsubscribed, and replaced it with a Slacker. Great concept, great service…

    Roku Netflix player — Netflix streaming is all over the place now, but the Roku box is a super-simple standalone way to get access to it. Review coming soon, I think.

    iPod Touch 2nd gen — Apple finally has a PDA again. It’s not the Newton, but it’s quite nice. Wish they had one with a lot more storage though, so I could replace my regular iPod entirely.

    That’s about all I can think of off the top of my head… I don’t go through nearly as many gadgets in a year as Julie does :)

  • John January 1, 2009, 6:59 am

    My favorite gadget is the new Canon DSLR 5D, which is a hd recorder as well. However, it is pricey. I am trying to determie if worth the cost. Do you think DSLR cameras are worth the price? I found this site http://www.dslrcamerareviews.com that gives some info on them. Just trying to decide whether to buy a DSLR or point and shoot. Thanks for any advice.

  • Dave Rees January 1, 2009, 7:37 am

    Macbook Air — I dragged my feet a long time before buying a MBAir (worried it was not enough bang for the buck and lacked horsepower). But I have had zero buyers regret. I take it with me everywhere and do all my gadget reviews on it.

    iPod Touch 2nd gen — I agree with Rob on this one. The new Touch (in combination with all of the great applications/games) is a great PDA. I use mine daily to listen to music, watch movies, and play a game or two.

    Sony 8gb Micro Vault Tiny USB Flash Drive — I carry this micro thumb drive with me everywhere I go. Very pocketable (but incredibly loseable).

    Buffalo Technologies DriveStation HD-CEU2 External Hard Drive — This is a great external hard drive. It is nearly silent and does an outstanding job backing up all of my critical data.

    Altec Lansing InMotion iM9 — I use these great sounding, rugged iPod speakers all over the house, garage, and yard.

    I’m hoping that 2009 brings a load of new gadgets that are worthy of a tech-adrenaline-rush.

  • Mark January 1, 2009, 7:58 am

    OK, now it’s my turn. My favorite gear for 2008:

    1) SFBags Waterfield Cargo Bag (small): has become my daily bag. Nearly indestructible with paraglider buckle in front, it carries my OQO Model 02, Acer Aspire One netbook (and AC adapter) and a host of other small items and cables.

    2) Acer Aspire One netbook: 1 GB RAM, 120 GB HD, 8.9″ screen, decent keyboard and CHEAP! I use it as my multimedia machine in school, as the Toshiba powerhouse I had bought for that purpose stuttered video so badly as to be useless.

    3) HTC Touch Pro (Verizon): Verizon crippled this significantly, but with the addition of Kinoma Play, I gained back a lot of media functionality. Verizon will be coming out with an unlocker for the GPS (or so they say) sometime in the next 5 months.

    4) Garmin Colorado 400T: a horribly buggy and laggy handheld GPS that FINALLY allowed me completely paperless geocaching. During a storm chasing trip this spring, it allowed me to find many finds on the fly that otherwise would have never happened.

    5) OQO Model 02: OK, I bought it in 2007, but it still remains my favorite computer gadget.

    6) Korg Kaosillator: This yellow plastic wonder is a miracle of music-making.

    7) Korg KP3: This dynamic effects machine is so intuitive to use and it creates organic effects without much thought involved.

    8) Korg R3: The big brother to the microKorg, this thing has full-sized keys and full-sized sound.

  • Julie January 1, 2009, 10:26 am

    Rob:
    I’d love it if you reviewed the Roku :) So please do :)

    John:
    The Canon 5D looks like a great DSLR. As far as your question of worth, that really depends on what you plan to use the camera for. There’s no question that DSLRs take fantastic pictures. Better than much cheaper point and shoot digital cameras. But, if you’re not going to print the pictures very often, I’m not so sure I would want to spend that much on a camera and lenses.

    Dave:
    I really thought hard about buying a Macbook Air these past few days. But I decided to wait and see what happens at MacWorld.

    Mark:
    Nice collection of gear you have! :)

  • Jerry January 1, 2009, 11:33 am

    Nice selections… :)

    I bought a Nikon D40 in 2007, the appeal of a DSLR for me is the “no lag” shutter. I found myself losing a nice photograph or two due to the shutter lag in P&S cameras. The D40 is pretty small for a DSLR.

  • barbarabaker January 2, 2009, 11:36 pm

    I loved your review on the HP 2133 Mini-Note PC Review and still want one so bad…shoot, I actually want to try any netbook, but the HP 2133 sounds the most tempting!!!

  • Julie January 3, 2009, 10:25 am

    Barbara:
    I’ve ordered the new HP mini 1000 netbook to review. Can’t wait to try it out. I’m hope I like the keyboard layout better than the Wind.

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