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'Tis the season to Crave: Candace Lombardi's picks

Throughout the holiday season, Crave is featuring gadget picks from its writers. Check them out--maybe you'll get a few ideas.

NOTE: To commemorate the holidays, different Crave experts will be posting their top 10 gadget picks for the season. See what we crave, and maybe you'll get some ideas! Here's the first installment.

Whether it's cars, motorcycles, robots, or lifestyle gear, Candace Lombardi is on top of all things mechanical. An avid fan of travel, she's also always on the lookout for the best gadgets to take on the go.

Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione Alfa Romeo Automobiles 2007

1. Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione I told you this would be at the top of my Crave wish list when I first wrote about it. This six-speed, rear-wheel-drive beauty with a 4.7-liter engine capable of 450 horsepower has a steel chassis and carbon fiber body that was developed in collaboration with Maserati. Boy, does it show. Should be available for about $200,000 in the U.S.

Volvo Car

2. Volvo C30 While I'd still love a Maserati GranTurismo, in my real world driving life I've only managed a Subaru Impreza WRX STI and a Toyota FJ Cruiser. Now looking for something environmentally friendly with great gas mileage, I'm looking at the Volvo C30 diesel that gets 52 mpg. But that doesn't have to mean boring. I'm hoping the Heico Sportiv version of the Volvo C30 displayed at the SEMA show with papaya leather interior becomes available soon.


3. Audi A1, aka the Audi Metroproject Quattro OK, so this is technically only a concept. But since the Audi A1's unveiling at the 2007 Tokyo auto show, rumors have swirled that this will eventually be a production car to compete against BMW's Mini. The car is envisioned as a hybrid-electric car with a 1.4-liter turbocharged engine that would get about 48 mpg. It would have a top speed of 125 mph and would be able to ride on electric power only for about 60 miles.


4. Garmin Nuvi 670 There's a reason the Garmin Nuvi 660 is at the top of CNET's Editors' list. Personally, I'd like the Nuvi 670 for $857.13 (the version that offers full coverage for Europe as well as the U.S.). As with the Nuvi 660, it'll get me where I want to go, but also double as an MP3 player, picture viewer, language translator, world clock, currency and measurement converter, and calculator. It'll also sync with my Cingular 8525 cell phone via Bluetooth. I'd also add Travel Guide Europe software for $160.70 that shows points-of-interest.

Sling Media

5.Slingbox Solo Yes, I know there's a writers' strike going strong, but there's still plenty to watch in the form of documentaries and film. Why miss shows when traveling if I can catch them from a Slingbox transmitting from my set-top box at home? The Slingbox Solo for $180, the newest version of the Slingbox, offers HD compatibility.


6. iRobot Roomba 500 series vacuum Why would I ever waste time vacuuming when I could set a timer and have a robot do it for me? Testing showed that because the newest version of the Roomba can be set to run every day (and most people usually only vacuum once a week) it really does keep the rugs and floors cleaner than usual. The Roomba also proved to be dog compatible and resistant. One dog I know thought it was his little pal, followed it around, and notified his owners when it got stuck, or was finished and docked.


7. Shure SE530 earphones Anticipating a lot of travel in the coming year, I'd love to trade in my looks-like-I-should-be-in-a-recording-studio noise canceling headphones for something that leaves more room in my carry-on. But at $500, these sound isolating ear buds with near perfect sound are certainly something of a wish list item.

NY Built

8. Built NY Laptop Sleeve We've said we like their Charger Bag. NY Built's Laptop Sleeve made of machine washable extra-thick durable 5mm wet-suit grade neoprene is perfect for protecting my MacBook Pro. It comes in three sizes priced between $30 and $43 with a color choice of striped, navy, black, or green.


9. iStyles vinyl skins Last year I got the Wii and now I want more gadgets to go with it. What better way to dress it up than with skins. The vinyl skins are also offered for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Apple TV, iPod, and several portable gaming devices.


10. Coldmate EF-8780 Thermocool This wine cooler/warmer fromColdmate can accommodate two different bottles at two different temperatures. What a cool gadget this would be to have on hand for making white wine drinkers feel welcome among the usual red-only oenophiles.