Innovative Products, Numbers 6 through 10
6. NetGear Digital Entertainer HD EVA8000
Benefit: It makes life easier in a multiple-DRM world.
Netgear's Internet media player, the NetGear Digital Entertainer HD EVA8000 ($400) busts through the DRM (digital rights management) wall, and even allows you to check your e-mail and watch YouTube videos on your television.
7. HP TouchSmart IQ770 PC
Innovation: The first all-in-one PC on the market to boast a touch-screen display.
Benefit: Does for the computer what the iPhone has done for mobile handsets.
HP's kitchen-friendly computer, the HP TouchSmart IQ770 PC ($1650), is beautifully designed, and its touch screen makes it suitable for use on a countertop as well as a desktop. HP also supplies a software interface, optimized for use with the touch screen, that ties into news, weather, and calendar details, among other daily-living information. The handy, customizable HP control panel lets you quickly access photos, launch a photo editor, and play back music, too.
8. AT&T Tilt
Innovation: Clever, unique hinge lets you slide the screen up at an angle.
Benefit: Well-positioned QWERTY keyboard results in what looks like a tiny notebook that you can use in your hands or rest on a table.
The tilting screen is the main innovation, but the Tilt (made by HTC under the name TyTN II, $400 with a two-year AT&T contract) is one of the most powerful phones available, period. Want a quick rundown of the specs? How about the Windows Mobile 6 operating system, a large screen, 3G wireless connectivity, GPS, a 3-megapixel camera, and the ability to talk to corporate BlackBerry servers? Top that, iPhone.
9. Facebook API
Innovation: Platform lets anyone with a good idea and some coding chops add real value to Facebook.
Benefit: Facebook taps developers' creativity, in turn permitting Facebook users to customize their pages.
Sure, the killer app of Facebook has not been written yet--and many of the ones that exist now are kind of silly. But Facebook has been on a roll in more ways than one, having led to the creation of the Google-backed OpenSocial, which looks likely to result in open platforms' becoming widespread. Common ground should spark lots of creativity, and it should keep the social networking and media buzz alive.
10. DeviceVM Splashtop
Innovation: Allows a PC to boot in a few seconds into a simple, secure interface with a Mozilla-based browser.
Benefit: Lets you save energy by keeping your PC powered off when you're not using it.
DeviceVM's Linux-based technology allows you to boot into its Internet-appliance-like platform in a few seconds, so you don't have to spend minutes waiting for Windows to start up. If all you want to do is check your Web mail account or make a Skype call, for example, you'll save both time and watt-hours. Though the technology is currently shipping as a feature only in the Asus P5E3 Deluxe/WiFi AP motherboard, it should be more widely available in desktops, laptops, and additional motherboards in 2008.