Get your gadget on

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, a technophile is “one who has a love of or enthusiasm for technology.” Given that each year’s new wave of gadgets and gizmos grow faster, stronger and just plain sexier than before, it’s hard to refuse the enthused when it comes to technology.

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, a technophile is “one who has a love of or enthusiasm for technology.” Given that each year’s new wave of gadgets and gizmos grow faster, stronger and just plain sexier than before, it’s hard to refuse the enthused when it comes to technology.

If you’re seeking the latest and greatest in ways to jack up your electric bill, here is a rundown of the novelties 2007 had to offer. And don’t worry if some of these items seem out of your price range-Thanksgiving is next week, and that’s high time for circulating your holiday wish list to rich relatives and making sure they have an updated address.

Computer operating systems

Macintosh OS X v10.5, a.k.a. Leopard$129 retail for home software upgrade, $189 for Family edition***1/2Mac users everywhere are going to be delighted with Leopard’s smooth graphic interface, its simple navigation system and file management, and enhancements to the Mac chat feature, dictionary and backup utility. Some buyers have reported difficulty loading the OS past the boot screen-and a blue screen isn’t worth the upgrade if you already have a decent Mac OS, so beware. A good shopper can find Leopard software for close to $100, and some retailers have a student discount in place that renders the cost less than $70.

Microsoft Windows Vista$159 retail for home software upgrade, $259 retail for Ultimate edition***After 10 months of Microsoft smoothing out the kinks, Windows Vista is a decent upgrade from Windows XP. The security, interface and multimedia support issues typical of new Microsoft software have been addressed, and Vista will safeguard your files better than any previous version of Windows.

What you won’t be able to do, however, is find ways around the stringent anti-piracy and licensing issues. For peer-to-peer and torrent folks, Vista spells out death to your freeloading ways, and you’ll need to pay for every new song and video you download. I’m not advocating piracy, but there is something to be said for free use and open-source coding, two arguments Vista just won’t hear out.

Digital Camcorders

Panasonic VDR-D310$699 retail, $429 online****The camcorder trend has been popular for many years, and the last few have seen a shift toward miniDV recording. At the forefront of this year’s miniDV camcorder batch is the VDR-D310, a veritable powerhouse of moment-capturing capability small enough to fit in your hand. The lighting, zoom and sheer crispiness of video that this bad boy has set it apart from the crowd (much like its price). Good shoppers will find it far lower than retail, but regardless of what you spend, the warranty and user support are solid, and you won’t find a better camcorder for post-recording video editing anytime soon.

Canon ZR800 $279 retail, $215 online***1/2This on-the-cheap camcorder has all the bells and whistles of a pricey model, and it gets the job done with distinction. However, its light quality is questionable, and there is the occasional difference between the color clarity on the screen and what you’ll see later on miniDV. The impressive 35x zoom at budget pricing makes this toy a solid purchase for any budding video artist or amateur porn auteur, plus it has a decent microphone function, though background noise doesn’t filter out as nicely as with fancier models.

Videogame consoles

Sony PlayStation 3$399 for 40GB system, $499 for 80GB system***The PlayStation 3 has been out for a year now, and its gaming library still sucks. The connectivity, the Blu-Ray support and the system specs are all still cutting-edge, and the technology curve set by the PS3 is finally being met, so purchasing one is starting to look good. The number of game titles will increase in the coming months, so if you have good credit or generous gift-givers in the family, now is prime time for picking up a PS3.

Nintendo Wii$250 retail****1/2Also coming into its sophomore year, the Wii has a plethora of great games. Combined with its innovative controls, easy-to-use web features and budget-pricing, the system is hard to beat. Though it isn’t as multimedia-friendly as Sony’s box, this white and upright pile of glee benefits from its greater focus on gaming alone. There are thousands of old-school games downloadable through WiiConnect24, and regular Wii gameplay rarely, if ever, lags. They were hard to find this past year, but they’re readily available now, so there’s no reason not to own one.


Apple iPhone$399*Okay, you jet-setters who drool at the sight of Apple’s hipster commercials, wherein seemingly “regular” folks herald the iPhone as the greatest thing since steak and A1 sauce: This thing is a piece of shit. It has service issues, it’s overpriced, the connectivity to your other Apple software is nowhere near as smooth as Apple claims, and third-party application software was recently cut out entirely. If you try hacking your iPhone, say goodbye to service. And what good is a phone that has games and accessories if it doesn’t make phone calls? Honestly, you’re better off keeping whatever cell phone you’ve got now and just buying a PlayStation Portable.

Brando USB Mini Fridge$33 retail****1/2This. Is. Beautiful! How much more useless an object could you want or need? For the geek who needs a chilled soda during World of Warcraft bouts, Brando created a handy-dandy mini fridge that plugs right into a computer. It offers cool quarters the size of a single 12-ounce soda can that will be 47 degrees Fahrenheit within five minutes. It’s cheap and easy to find online, so get yourself one and another for a friend or family member who will love you forever (or at least until next Christmas).

Sharper Image Laser Baseball$25 retail***Geeks can be athletic too! And that’s why Sharper Image created the Laser Baseball, a little gizmo that blends pitching with technology. There’s an LCD readout that records the ball’s speed as you pitch it a preset distance, be it Major League Baseball regulation distance (60 feet, six inches) or just across the room. It’s quite durable, though hurtling it hard and fast at a brick wall is not recommended.

Pioneer PDP-5070 50-inch HDTV$3,500 retail*****If you’re a former Lake Oswego resident whose overpaid attorney parents bought you a condo for high school graduation, be sure to affect your best Paris Hilton or Cartlon Banks voice and ask your parents for a PDP-5070. It will make you the envy of all your friends. It might also catch you a beating from students who would rather use that $3,500 to pay off their student loans, not revel in the glory of plasma display.