Tech Toys Guide: Cool Mobile Technologies

This year, mobile technologies got smaller and faster, and a new market for smart watches took off where the original Timex Datalink watch left off 5 years ago. You can now use a variety of cool electronic devices to get work done, stay informed, and find entertainment virtually anywhere on Earth.

Let's take a look at some of 2003's most exciting tech toys:
Cell Phones/Smart Phones
Digital Audio and Music
Digital Photography
Digital Video & Movie Making
Wireless Technologies
Cool Mobile Technologies
TV/PC Integration
Input Devices, Game Controllers, and PC Games
Video and Computer Games

The watch front saw two major developments this year, both involving PDA-like functionality. First up is the Fossil Wrist PDA ($275 to $300), which combines the functionality of a Palm OS-based PDA with an attractive—if somewhat large—Fossil watch. All three Wrist PDA models feature black-and-white screens; compatibility with Palm OS contacts, calendar, memo pad, and to-do list; and a wide variety of wristband types. If you're looking for something a little more intelligent and connected, consider the Fossil Wrist Net ($180 to $200) line, which features Microsoft MSN Direct's Smart Personal Objects Technology (SPOT) technologies. These intelligent watches connect to online services to provide up-to-date information of your choosing, including sports scores, news, weather, calendar, personal messages, and so on. Of course, the watches come with a range of configurable "At A Glance" watch faces. Three styles are available, including round, Dick Tracey, and square.

Portable DVD movie players took off last year, and this year the small portable devices are hotter than ever, thanks to a variety of models at various sizes and price points. These devices let you watch the latest Hollywood movies in virtually any location, such as in bed, on an airplane, or even in the bathroom. For a budget experience, look at the Initial IDM-9520 Portable DVD Player ($170), which features a small 4" LCD display and a car kit for the ultimate in affordable and portable family entertainment. Moving up in price, the Panasonic DVD-LS5 Portable DVD Player ($350) features a larger 5" screen and compatibility with DVD-R, DVD-RAM, CD, and recordable MP3/WMA CDs. At the top of the heap is the Toshiba SD-P2500 Portable DVD Player ($700), which sports a relatively massive 9" screen, HD-compatible output, and 3.5 hours of battery life—about an hour longer than most players.

As I did last year, I must recommend a couple of terrific traveling companions: the Kensington FlyLight ($15), a slender wand-like light that plugs into your laptop's USB port to provide keyboard illumination, and the little USB-based fan called the Kensington FlyFan ($20), which works on the same principle except that a fan sits on the end of the USB wand: This fan can be a lifesaver in poorly ventilated areas, or on grounded airplanes trying to preserve power. These toys are must-haves for geeks on the go.

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