Gadget Fever

The bountiful new crop of high-tech goodies

Hot! Hot! Hot! That's what we think of the new crop of tech goodies in this, our eighth annual Technology Buying Guide. As in the past, our seasoned team of technology pros have unearthed the year's best tech gear. And our reporters and writers have put the products, the software, and services through their paces to ensure that everything works as promised.

This year, though, we've gone one step further and teamed up with CNET Networks Inc. (CNET ) to provide even more depth. CNET, a top supplier of tech information on the Web, has helped us rank and recommend only the best of the lot. You'll find the results, along with thumbnail reviews from CNET, in the tables that accompany each story.

Want more? Once you've digested what we can deliver in this issue, log on to BusinessWeek Online or CNET.com. There you'll find much, much more, including exhaustive reviews of all of the individual products, full specifications, and pricing information that's updated several times a day. It's everything you need to determine what's best for you, and where's best to buy it.

There's a little something here for everyone, but let us point you to some of the highlights. If you're looking for a handheld computer, there are a bunch now that come with a cell phone built-in. Or take a look at the new phones and services: They let you take, send, receive, and store snapshots--all in living color.

We looked at lots of laptops, from lightweight, go-anywhere wonders to mighty behemoths outfitted with CD drives that have the power to burn, baby, burn. Still, you'll get a lot more byte for the buck in a desktop, be it a bargain-basement home appliance or a megabuck speedster. And with the computer business on the skids, there are great deals to be had. With what you save, you can get a sleek-and-sexy flat-screen monitor to go with it, starting around $300.

That picture-perfect flat display someday might become the centerpiece of your digital home. Or it might not. Watch as our reporter rounds up some of this year's most hyped stuff and tries to fashion it into the much-touted wired home. (These days, of course, the wired home is wireless.) In the end, everything worked--most of it even worked together. Still, this is something you may not want to try at home. Yet.

But there's plenty of tried-and-true here, too. So take a look. You're bound to find some smaller, faster, even smarter gadget or gizmo to simplify your life. And, hey, it may even make it more fun.

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