Top 10 must-have gadgets for 2009

There is only one thing an entrepreneur loves more than closing a big deal or finding about a new tax break – discovering a hot new gadget. With this in mind – and with Christmas just around the corner – SmartCompany has compiled a list of 10 must-have ga

By Patrick Stafford

Top gadgets

There is only one thing an entrepreneur loves more than closing a big deal or finding about a new tax break – discovering a hot new gadget.


With this in mind – and with Christmas just around the corner – SmartCompany has compiled a list of 10 must-have gadgets that will have executives drooling.


Our list includes the hottest devices of 2008, plus some of the brand new products set for release in 2009.


Of course, if there’s a gadget you just can’t live without that is not on our list, drop us a line at and we’ll let everyone in on the good news.



3G iPhone

The first iPhone had its US debut over a year ago, but 2008 saw the Australian release of Apple’s 3G version – and it was huge.


For months before, rumours quickly spread over the internet about which carriers would provide the phone, along with questions regarding how much they would charge. As launch day approached, customers lined up overnight to be among the first to get their paws on one of the hottest products in a decade.


Since its release in July, analysts estimate between 40,000 and 100,000 units have been sold in Australia, and that looks set to grow further in 2009.


The hype is big, but so is the price tag. While you can get the iPhone in a plan deal for as little as $199, buying the device outright will set you back over $700. And if you want to unlock it to another network, that’ll be an extra $80.


So why does every want one?


Because it’s got the lot; Wi-Fi capability, the famous iPod media player capabilities, two megapixel camera, touch-screen, 3G capability, the ability to download applications from the App Store and “push” email from a home server, and organise contacts and schedules.


Oh, it makes phone calls too.



BlackBerry Storm

While much has been made of the iPhone, there are still many enthusiasts dedicated to its predecessor – the BlackBerry.


The BlackBerry Storm is the first of its kind to boast a touch-screen, leading many to believe it was created as an answer to Apple’s gadget. It created so much excitement that when stores sold out on the first day of release, police were called to help control angry customers.


The device continues BlackBerry’s tradition of providing the ability to “push” email from servers, a media player and a built-in camera.


Research in Motion has always sought to showcase the BlackBerry as the choice for entrepreneurs and executives, and the Storm is no exception. The device offers extensive contact and scheduling applications, Wi-Fi access and the ability to add 16GB of storage with an SD card.





Asus Eee PC

Netbooks – miniature laptops with less power and maximum portability – have come to the forefront of computing in 2008. The most popular model is by far the Asus Eee PC.


The name “Eee” stands for “easy to learn, easy to work, easy to play”. It is also easy to buy – costing just $US245 for the cheapest version.


The basic model boasts an Intel processor, a seven-inch screen, external speakers and a 2GB or 4GB hard drive. Higher models have a 10-inch screen and up to 40GB of storage. Each model contains an SD card slot for more storage.


The largest version is just 265.9mm across.


The models also come complete with open-source software packages, including Open Office, Mozilla Firefox and Skype.


If businesses want to provide laptops for their staff while keeping costs low, the Asus Eee PC is a top choice. And if the top computer companies follow Asus’s lead, we will see a flood of netbooks in the next 12 months.





Since the iMac was first introduced in 1998, it has been the centerpiece of Apple’s modern computer lineup.


The iMac has gone through four different upgrades to the version available today. While the original model saw a bubble-shaped design, the computer’s components are now hidden inside an LCD monitor, reducing the amount of desktop space needed for storage.


Placed on a metal base with the silhouette Apple logo on a silver background, the device is sleek, stylish – and since being upgraded with top-of-the-line components, extremely fast.


So why do you need one? Fewer complications and viruses than a Windows-operated PC, simplistic design, superior video and image editing capabilities and simplicity of use means the iMac is definitely a contender.


It isn’t for everyone, but if you want a computer that performs extremely well and looks great, then the iMac is a top choice.



3D GPS navigation

While consumer GPS navigation devices have been around for a while, the last two or three years have seen sales really take off. Any new mobile phone produced is likely to have GPS capabilities, while the extensive Google Maps applications are now used on smartphones such as the iPhone.


But another advance in GPS technology is the use of true 3D GPS. These new applications display 3D graphics of buildings, monuments and local topography.


There are rumours Google’s Street View applications may become part of a GPS system, allowing realistic views of local areas, but Google has yet to confirm any such plans.


These systems are constantly becoming cheaper and easier to use. Courier businesses and entrepreneurs constantly on the road can use GPS to save the time and effort of relying on often out-dated paper maps.




Subscription digital video recorders, which allow users to record, pause and rewind live television, were introduced to Australia though Foxtel’s IQ. But that gadget may soon be knocked off the top spot with the national introduction of TiVo.


The device, released to the US market in 1997, was the pioneer digital video recorder. It can record multiple shows, display program information and sync with home broadband networks to control recordings via the internet.


Other features include the ability to record an entire season of a television show automatically, even if the show changes program times. Suggestions are also given to the device’s user based on viewing habits, and users can transfer shows from the device’s hard drive to a PC.


But while TiVo boasts more features than the Foxtel IQ, they come at a price. The cheapest option costs $37.58 a month for three years, while buying the device outright costs a hefty $699.



Nintendo DS 2009

Nintendo has experienced renewed success with the release of the Wii, but it is still dominating the portable console market with its DS device. While it has yet to confirm any new versions of the product, rumours are flying that Nintendo will release an updated DS in the first half of 2009.


The DS has proved extremely popular both among younger gamers and adults. It boasts two screens, one controlled by touch, a number of different accessories and Wi-Fi connectivity to the Nintendo wireless game service. Users can also chat with other DS users within wireless range.


But the updated version is tipped to offer dual touch screen capability, a wider screen, updated wireless capabilities and a camera. The current model costs about $AU188, but the 2009 DS is almost certain to cost more.


If you’re constantly stuck on long plane flight or in taxis, a DS may help the time pass a little easier.



Sony Cybershot

There are hundreds of cheap digital camera options on the market, but if you want something particularly cool you’ve got to be prepared to spend a bit more cash.


The Sony T700, which costs $599 is about as cool as it gets. It boasts a 3.5 inch touch-screen, a built-in flash, memory stick slot and the ability to adjust lighting settings automatically. But the device also comes with 4GB of internal storage, as the camera is also designed to be a portable photo album.


And at just 15mm thick, it looks sleek, slim and oh so cool.


While some cameras force the user to download and install software, the Sony T700 lets you use whatever software you want to download photos, or none at all. Users can also connect the camera to an HD television or create a slideshow on the camera itself.



Hot watches

It’s probably the gadget everyone needs most – a watch. And while a $15 plastic job may do the trick, you’ll have to spend a bit more if you want to make an impression.


If you want to sport the most expensive timepiece at that swish new year’s eve party, male readers will do well to pick up IWC’s Big Pilot’s Watch.


The gadget sports an automatic winding system, seven-day power reserve, power reserve display, beryllium alloy balance, brequet spring, date display and a soft inner case for protection against magnetic fields.


At $18,000 it isn’t cheap, but will definitely turn a few heads.


For female entrepreneurs, Baume & Mercier’s Diamant model is a stunner. Set in polished stainless steel it comes with 11 diamond hour markers, deployment buckle and quartz movement. The screen is scratch resistant sapphire crystal with water resistance up to 30 metres.


The best part – it costs a paltry $3000.





The Fitbit Tracker is a compact wireless device that clips on to a belt, and automatically records data about its user’s fitness activities. It uploads data such as calories burned, sleep quality, steps and distance and exercise intensity levels to a website where that user can track their progress.


The Tracker uses motion sensing technology to gather data, and also measures sleep quality and moment-by-moment physical activity 24 hours a day. Data is displayed on the user’s personal website where they can share progress with other users.


Users can also log weight, nutrition and other health information and create “groups” with other users working towards common goals.


The device, designed to combat an obesity epidemic in the United States, will be available early 2009 and retail for around $US100. While no Australian release date has been confirmed, it is expected Fitbit will be available worldwide next year.





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