Gadgets: can't live with them; can't live without
them. I've often thought that the real thrill of gadgets
was in the hunt and the discovery, not so much in
reducing them to possession. Look in the desk drawers
of any confirmed gadget-head and you are likely to
find many unusual, often quite interesting, gadgets
tossed aside as the search for new gadgets roared
But gadgets are really no longer the realm of gadget
freaks. PDAs are seen as regular, even essential,
business tools, and today's business road warrior
requires any number of tools that might have been
perceived as mere gadgets just a few years ago.
As a result of this trend and the increasing number
of useful items in the "personal productivity
technology" category, there are now a good number
of very friendly and helpful Internet resources that
can help both the longtime gadgeteer and the relative
This is important because standard Web searches just
don't cut it. Try searching Google for a "USB
flash drive" and you will get about 957,000 hits,
most of which have no bearing on the information you
want to find, which is normally, "which of these
devices is the best one for me to get, or do I even
need one?" So, I have put together a toolbox
of gadget resources that should help you find the
one you need. Here are the best of the best gadget
Great Starter Sites
Tech Trends - A great doorway into CNET's immense
collection of articles, reviews, and other information.
This site will give you a good way to keep up with
general trends and find good overview or introductory
Gear - Despite the recent departure of longtime
gadget goddess, Sumi Dass The Fresh Gear TV show and
companion Web site on TechTV.com are excellent starting
points for locating information about gadgets. The
Web site archives tend to cover gadgets by themes,
which can be quite helpful. The information is geared
to a popular audience and you should not find that
you are overwhelmed by technospeak.
- The Gadgets Weblog - No list of Internet resources
is complete these days without a representative blog
on the subject. Gizmodo, with an RSS feed, fills the
bill quite well. Tons of great info, coverage, and
pictures, with fresh daily content. By the way, can
you really be serious about your personal athletic
training unless you have a GPS
Science - Generally strong, interesting coverage
of practical gadgets, handled in plain language. Good
articles, reviews, and lists.
- Sometimes it's best to think of gadgets more in
the sense of tools. Kevin Kelly, formerly of Whole
Earth Review and Wired Magazine, keeps a great collection
of descriptions, mini-reviews, and links to just good
solid tools, some of which definitely fall into the
gadget category. As he describes it, Recomendo contains
"personal reviews of gear, books, and software
that I and others find indispensable." There
is much cool stuff on this site and it will likely
change your way of thinking about gadgets and tools.
For example, I defy you to read the material on the
Mini 8x21 Binoculars and not find yourself deciding
that you need to own a pair. Even better, the site
has an RSS feed to deliver new items to your news
Magazine's Fetish Column - For years, this monthly
collection of cool new gadgets has been a big draw
for Wired readers. It's a highly valuable resource
for helping define the needs you didn't know that
you had until you saw the solution to those needs
in this column. The use of the word "fetish"
in the context of gadgets has always struck me as
right on target.
Top Ten Must-haves - ZDNet.com's editors keep
a list of their favorite gadgets. When you are looking
for a starting point on a certain type of device,
this page can jump start your effort.
Gadget News, Opinions and Reviews
Reviews - This site features reviews, articles,
a section called "first looks," and some
useful guides on different subject matter. With its
shopping comparison features and useful links, DesignTechnica
Reviews is a great review site.
Gadgeteer - Unquestionably, this site is the definitive
site for gadget reviews. It is comprehensive and thorough
and the best source for information on the important
category of gadgets for gadgets. You cannot appreciate
the value of this site until you are looking for something
like a case for your PDA and then find many detailed
reviews of cases.
- See above.
- Future Technology News - A recent discovery
of mine, but this site rocks. Great info and news,
tons of it. It also points you toward online bargains.
A news feed allows you to get the headlines in your
news reader every day.
- A primary resource for news and information related
to PDAs. PDABuzz is especially good at linking to
new reviews and online bargains.
Fresh Gear - See above.
Also, be sure to check through the entire TechTV.com
site for great info.
Magazine's Play Test Column - This useful monthly
column looks at three items in a few gadget categories
and briefly covers the "splurge," the "best
buy," and the "overrated" item in each
category. This column can be very useful in honing
in on the major players in a gadget category and narrowing
- There are so many benefits to Amazon.com that it
is hard to know where to begin. Not only does Amazon
have an amazing variety of gadgets (even though you
can usually do a little better on price), but its
customer reviews and lists can be extraordinarily
helpful in making a decision. Most magazine reviews
are written with a short turnaround and will occasionally
miss details that are important to you. Comments about
usability, durability, and dealing with customer service
are often found on Amazon and can be influential in
making your decisions.
- This site is a personal favorite of mine. You want
bargains? It's got bargains. From handy coupon codes
to online specials, this site has everything the online
bargain hunter needs. The items often will indicate
whether an item is being sold for the lowest price
seen to date. Better yet, you have the option of getting
a daily email newsletter, news feed and/or personalization.
Don't shop online without this site.
- Froogle is a new online shopping search engine from
Google. It will help you find low prices and sources
for buying the cool gadgets that you find and want
Schlemmer - One of the major sources of gadgets.
- Hands down, this site has the coolest domain name
in the gadget world. It reduces one of the key elements
of gadgets down to its bare essence. It's a UK site,
but great for ideas and cool items. Telling your friends
that you paid for your gadget in Euros and had it
shipped from overseas will definitely enhance your
Stuff 4 Less - A great collection of links to
daily online bargains, coupons, and discounts, with
lots of tech stuff. Even better, it has a news feed
and you can get the list of bargains every day in
your news reader.
- A great place to look for "last year's model"
or great buys on refurbished items.
Image - The longtime resource for gadgets for
executives and professionals.
- The "granddaddy" of all tech shopping
sites is still a tremendous resource, especially for
doing comparison shopping.
- Not necessarily the most comprehensive source, ThinkGeek
contains some well-chosen and highly useful gadgets.
Definitely worth a look.
"Best Gadgets" Lists
Staff Gadget List - What do the reviewers like?
This helpful list will direct you to today's coolest
and best gadgets.
Coursey's Best Mobile Gadgets - From the always
useful ZDNet.com Anchordesk, Columnist David Coursey
weighs in with his list of essential mobile gadgets,
with a lot of emphasis on Bluetooth. The comments
to the article are also worth a read.
Schlemmer's Top Ten List - Solid, standard options.
Not much to tempt me, I'm afraid, although the progressive-wakening
alarm clock has given me something to think about
- maybe it's something to put on the list for the
Christmas exchange with my wife's family.
Nine Gadgets You Must Have - A good list of electronic
Workout Tools - No aspect of working out is more
important than gadgets, unless it's clothes or shoes.
Fitness magazine has a nice article on equipping yourself
to work out with inexpensive and effective tools.
Top Ten Gadgets of All Time - An archived thread
of a lengthy discussion prompted by the release of
an article naming the all-time top gadgets. Is a plow
a gadget? This discussion alternates from practical
to philosophical to silly.
List - Another solid reference, this list was
constructed with the IT professional in mind. It covers
a good number of categories and the emphasis is on
List - A useful list of favorites from the staff
at ThinkGeeks.com. For those interested in learning
about Open Source software and licenses, I thoroughly
recommend the "Revolution OS" DVD mentioned
on this list.
Wacky World of Gadgets - Another solid article
on LLRX.com covering a variety of gadgets that might
be useful to librarians in particular. This article
is based on presentation handout materials and gives
you a nice overview of a wide range of gadgets.
Photography Review - A good resource on digital
Gear.com - A great all-around resource for Palm
- A primary resource for news and information related
PC Thoughts - A good resource for Pocket PC info,
especially news and reviews. Ever wanted to find the
best chess games on the Pocket PC platform? See this
article on The
Ultimage Mobile Game: Chess!
Gadgets for Lawyers
Office Computing Magazine - Law Office Computing
has always shined on its coverage of gadgets for lawyers.
From Michael Jimmerson's regular gadget column to
articles by Ross Kodner, Bruce Dorner, and Dan Coolidge
to recent reviews from Brett Burney, LOC is a great
place for info on gadgets from the lawyer's point
- My "go to guy" for legal gadgets is Jeff
Beard. He has unveiled his new blog at LawTechGuru.com,
which will serve, among other things, as a vehicle
for his insights on gadgets in the legal profession.
This site will definitely be an essential one for
- Wouldn't it be cool if there were a site that focused
just on PDAs and related gadgets and software for
lawyers, especially one with articles by lawyers who
actually use the stuff in their practices? Well, there
is one. It's called PDAJD.com and it's a great resource,
essential for your list.
Anderson's Mobile Lawyering Materials (PDF) -
Wells is one of the legal tech consultants to whom
I often turn with my own questions. This set of materials
does a good job of covering mobile gadgetry with a
For the Advanced Gadgeteer
- Hey, the name says it all. You want detailed, technical
info? You got it. Also, the site has an RSS feed and
will pump great info to your news reader on a daily
basis. Want to rule your gadget domain? Start here.
- If a site is running a review of cold cathode fan
lights, I think it definitely falls into the advanced
A Few Interesting RSS Feeds for the Curious
Reviews from PC Magazine
Future Technology News
Stuff 4 Less Bargain Blog
My goal with this column is two-fold. First, I want
to help you assemble an excellent toolbox of Internet
resources on the subject of gadgetry. Second, I want
to provide you with a way to test your own level of
gadget addiction. If you find that you while away
a whole evening or a morning or afternoon at work
tromping through this list of resources, you have
the gadget disease pretty bad and I've done my job.
If you also have a new item on your credit card that
you will probably "forget" to mention to
your spouse, then you know that you definitely have
a gadget problem, but, at least, you are getting the
By the way, after researching this column, I have
a completely new list of impossibly cool gadgets:
Matrix 200A5 - A laptop computer designed by the
world renowned F.A. Porsche design house. F.A. Porsche
is the grandson of the legendary car designer Ferdinand
Porsche. In 1963 F.A. Porsche designed the body of
the Porsche 911 car. Need I say more? If you want
a gadget that will turn heads and make you the center
of attention, this laptop is a great place to start.
On the other hand, my new favorite tool, the Sony
Vaio PCG-Z1AP3 laptop with a Centrino chip, is pretty
awesome and does quite well in the head-turning department.
Video AV320 - The first generation of the mobile
multimedia players is here. Being described as an
iPod on steroids should be more than enough to attract
the attention of consumer electronic gadgeteers. The
device, which uses a Linux operating system, can record,
store, and play back MPEG-4 video, MP3 music, spoken
audio, and JPEG photos. It apparently has a few first-generation
idiosyncrasies, but what a great traveling gadget.
Ambient Orb - This softly-lighted orb changes
color in response to various trends indicated from
data sources. For example, it might glow red if your
stocks go down during the day and green if they go
up. It might glow another color if certain friends
are available for instant messaging.
Chill Room - The picture of this device being
used in an unapproved fashion floating on a lake will
seal the deal, but what could be cooler than your
own little private and comfy sanctuary to retreat
from the world. Perfect for your office and giving
your colleagues one more reason to scratch their heads
about you. My brothers and I grew up using an old
army parachute my great aunt gave us as a tent and
for a zillion other things. The Chill Room evokes
good memories for me.
Drive / MP3 Player Combo Device - From Kanguru.com,
the Micro MP3, which does double duty as a standard
USB "thumb" drive and a small MP3 audio
player. A nice gadget that kills two birds with one
stone. Also, check out the new ink pen and USB
drive combos. Although I tend to disfavor combo
devices, USB drives are very easy to lose and incorporating
them into common items (such as pens or laser pointers)
seems like a good way to make them less losable.
Laser Pointer - I don't even use laser pointers
in my presentations, but now I have a hankering for
one of these green laser pointers. It's new, it's
different and "the green beam itself can be seen
in mid-air in dark conditions, not just the laser
beam dot. This allows the green laser pointer to be
used for pointing to star constellations (skypointing)
and also just generally look cool as hell." (quote
from the Thinkgeek.com review)
Dennis Kennedy (email@example.com)
is a computer lawyer and consultant based in St. Louis,
Missouri. He speaks and writes frequently on legal,
technology, and Internet topics and was named the
2001 TechnoLawyer of the Year by TechnoLawyer.com.
His highly-regarded web site at www.denniskennedy.com
collects many of his articles and is the home of his