With Thanksgiving just around the corner, the Crave team couldn't imagine a better time to express gratitude for our favorite tech toys of the moment. For the first part of this gallery--which covers gadgets including the BlackBerry Curve, 42-inch Sharp Aquos, Logitech Harmony 550, and Apple MacBook--click here.
Apple iPhone I have to admit, I wanted to hate the iPhone, I really did. I've owned several iPods over the years that ended up breaking, leading me to curse Steve Jobs' name many times. Needless to say, I wasn't planning on becoming an iPhone fangirl. But as a reporter who covers mobile technology, I felt compelled to at least check it out. I was going to give myself 30 days, and if I didn't fall in love with the device, I was going to return it. Truth be told, I fell in love on day one.
I recall it well: I was covering a story in Baltimore and rented a car to drive down there from New York City. I got lost heading into the city. But luckily, a co-worker who was traveling with me was able to punch in our destination on the iPhone, and through the magic of GPS and Google Maps navigate us toward the hotel. The iPhone saved the day.
I've also grown to love some of the cool apps I've downloaded from the App Store. My favorite is UrbanSpoon; last week I found a delicious new tapas bar in Chelsea.
So thank you Apple, and thank you, Steve Jobs. Of course, it's only been a month. If my iPhone breaks a day after my Apple Care runs out, you can kiss that thank you good-bye.
Using it couldn't be any simpler. The SD card works in my camera like any other. When I'm ready to download my pictures, I pop the card out, snap one side under the other, and slip the prong into any USB port. The files can then be copied over just like any data. No muss, no fuss.
It's especially useful when visiting with friends and family. This Thanksgiving, for example, I'll be able to take pictures to my heart's content, and when it's time to leave, I can drop the photos from the weekend right onto my mom's computer so she can remember how wonderful her daughter is even as I pull out of the driveway.
DVR, any model really They say "once you go DVR, you don't go back." "They," of course, being the cable/satellite company employees who have spent the last two years trying to convince me I couldn't live without a DVR. While a catchier slogan--or at least one that rhymes--might have inspired me to bite the bullet sooner, well, better late than never. I got a DVR recently and my life is forever changed.
The model I got from Comcast is the Motorola DVR DCT 3412 I, but that's not really what's important here. What matters is that I no longer have to be in front of the TV at 9 p.m. on Mondays to watch Heroes. I can wait until the laundry is done now, instead of coming to work the next day in damp clothes.
If I'm watching Anderson Cooper 360 and I find my self girlfriend lost in his dreamy eyes and realize I've missed a pundit's point, I can rewind right on the spot and soak up every last word from David Gergen.
Finally, the instant-record feature. I haven't owned a VCR since 2002, so being able to record something on the spot--without spending five minutes tearing my apartment apart, looking for a blank tape--is almost novel to me.
I realize I'm late to the party on this, but it's like a whole new world--and I won't be going back.
iRobot Scooba Hanukkah Harry must read CNET, because iRobot's Scooba topped my 2006 Crave holiday wish list, and next thing I knew, a charge for one of the floor-cleaning bots showed up on my Visa bill!
I can't say my Scooba experience started out smoothly, as repeated problems with a clogged pump led to more time spent talking to iRobot tech support over the course of a month than with my family and friends.
I admit it, I almost gave up and went back to the mop. But once my new BFFs at iRobot determined I had simply scored a bad bot, I traded it in for a free update, a Scooba 380, and I've enjoyed sparkly linoleum and hardwood ever since.
The Scooba scrubs floors more thoroughly than the average human would, whirring around for about 45 minutes per designated space and cleaning under cabinet edges, tables, chairs, and other hard-to-reach places. And I love how you can opt for other, lazier tasks--like watching TV or taking a nap--and still end up with super-squeaky floors.
In a perfect world, the Scooba would be able to self-clean after operating by emptying its own dirty tank and de-gunkifying its own darn brushes. But I nitpick...
Netflix on a Mac I love Netflix. I love my Mac. Bringing those two together for the Watch Instantly feature is the best thing for movie watching since, well, Netflix's original DVD delivery service.
I've been a Netflix customer since 2003, and two weeks ago I signed up for the Watch Instantly service. Downloading Silverlight, the program the service uses to stream video directly to your desktop, was a snap. Plus, I pay for Netflix's one-disc-at-a-time unlimited plan, so for $9.95 I can consume far more content--no more waiting two days for DVDs to arrive--and feel like I'm really getting my money's worth from Netflix.
It's got its limitations, of course. The streaming video is not the most fabulous quality, but it gets the job done. And the selection of new Watch Instantly movies can be disappointing. Red Dawn and Cyborg Soldier, which are suggested on my Netflix home page, aren't really my cup of chai tea.
The real value for me, however, is the selection of TV series available to watch right away. There's no expectation of cinema-quality video as with some movies, and no changing discs after four episodes, or being redirected to a menu every time a 22-minute show has concluded. As soon as one segment ends, you can easily click forward to the next on the same screen.
But the real reason I'm currently obsessed with Watch Instantly: though I'm three years late to the party, in just one week I caught up on two seasons of 30 Rock, which totally blew my mind grapes.
Nikon D80 I've always enjoyed photography, but up until a couple of months ago I used point-and-shoot models that did all the work for me. I couldn't control shutter speed and aperture, and though I could change the ISO, I had no idea what that meant. Most of the time my photos came out well, but there were instances (and they were always at the worst times) where my shots were overblown with too much light.
But then I discovered a fantastic gadget called the Nikon D80. Encouraged by my esteemed colleague Lori Grunin, I took the DSLR jump and chose the CNET Editors' Choice Award-winning Nikon D80.
Since then, I've been in photo heaven and have moved off auto pilot to fully control all aspects of my shots. The differences have been astounding and I love my newfound ability to get exactly the photo I want. Best of all, the Nikon is easy to use and affordable.
BlackBerry Pearl Both as a phone and mobile e-mail device, my BlackBerry Pearl is essential to my volunteer work with the cat rescue and adoption organization City Critters. I've lost several phones, but when I lost my Pearl in the summer of 2008, it was the only one I'd ever wanted to get back (and the only one never returned to me).
After two days of withdrawal--and of course, inconvenience--I replaced my black model with a red one that would be easier to spot falling out of my pocket or backpack.
D-Link DIR-655, Linksys PLE200 PowerLine AV I cover networking for CNET, but I got this D-Link DIR-655 wireless router from a technologically clueless friend as a present. And guess what? It happens to be a perfect product for me.
For more than two years, it's been working non-stop to keep me entertained, connected with friends, and productive, especially on days I work from home. The router works so well I often take it for granted.
Sonicare Elite 7300 My favorite gadget (yes, even more than my iPhone) is my electric toothbrush. I began using the Sonicare Elite 7300 three years ago, and since then I've become an electric-toothbrush evangelist, pushing it on friends and family like a missionary for the Latter Day Saints.
It was truly a spiritual oral awakening when I first tried the Sonicare. I had pooh-poohed electronic toothbrushes for years, believing them to be just another unnecessary household item sold to vanity-conscious consumers. I mean, really, shouldn't a Tom's of Maine-loaded toothbrush and some elbow grease be enough?!
But after admiring my friend's pearly whites and watching her wield her Sonicare like a magic wand every day, I decided I just had to try it.
I keep it on the charger when not using it and toss it in my bag when I travel as the battery lasts a long time. Granted, it's not cheap at $80-$125, but it's well worth the money. My gums have never felt so good.