The Gadget Girl: Best Gadgets of 2006
'Tis the season to be listing. In the spirit of our Editors' Choice Awards, here are my picks for the Best Gadgets of 2006.
Highest honors go to the ARCHOS ultra-slim 604 personal video player (October 2006), with its knockout 4.3-inch-wide screen - perfect for watching on the go. Just pop out the kickstand, and it's a mini cinema! (The player is shown at right with its optional DVR station, which you can use to record programs easily from your TV.) This gadget gets kudos for being plug-and-play right out of the box. A new Wi-Fi version, allowing you to surf the Net wirelessly, was expected at presstime.
Next is ACOUSTIC RESEARCH's Home Décor line (September 2006). At the company's press conference, I walked into a beautifully appointed set of rooms and thought I had blundered into the wrong event. Moments later, it was revealed that the elegant living-room and bedroom vignettes were actually adorned with 5.1-channel home theater systems. But where? The subwoofers were cleverly disguised as antique trunks, and the speakers were masquerading as vases and clocks. What a great way to have a room outfitted with surround sound without compromising appearance.
I gave high marks to MEDIA DÉCOR's line of plasma frames and mirrors (December 2006) that transform a TV into a piece of museum-like artwork. Styles vary, but you can go especially high-end with a robotic picture frame that has a tilt/swivel function and a choice of more than 500 art selections.
And finally, also from a design standpoint, I liked JBL's Spyro and Spot 2.1 multimedia speaker systems (November 2006). They dress up any work space with their mod, colorful styles while giving you decent sound quality so you can enjoy listening to music or watching movies on your notebook or desktop system.