Gadgets of Christmas? Past: 10 Years of Cool Yule Tool

Holiday gift ideas from the digital decade

We've dug into our archives to look back at what gadgets got us excited over the past 10 years of doing holiday gift guides at Network World . Have things gotten cooler or have gadgets always been cool gift ideas?

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2000 - Our first holiday gift guide featured the Olympus D-490 Zoom digital camera (2.11 megapixels, $499), the $140 Plantronics DSP-500 digital headset (it used a USB connection instead of normal headset jacks and included a digital signal processor), and the ei Thumbdrive, a USB storage device that featured 16MB of storage for $69.95 – or you could go all the way up to 256MB for $399.95. We also loved the Handspring Visor Deluxe ($249), which included the very cool expansion port for adding things such as a digital camera, modem, backup or extra memory – all standard on smart phones today.

2001

2001 - PDAs still ruled the world, although we started to receive the first inklings of the smartphone revolution. Devices like the HP Jornada 565, the Sony Clie were hot PDAs, but the BlackBerry 957 introduced push e-mail and the Kyocera Smartphone combined a cell phone and a PDA. Also, the Olympus C-3040 digital camera provided a whopping 3.3 megapixels and cost $1,000.

2002 - digital cameras

2002 - Digital camera prices dropped – a 3.3 megapixel HP Photosmart 720 camera cost $300, and the Photosmart 130 mobile printer could print images for $180. On the phone front, we saw a color screen on the LG 5350, the Handspring Treo 300, and a swivel design for the Motorola V70 (how come that never caught on?). And I still wish I had the Turtle Beach Audiotron, a $300 unit that could play MP3 files over your home network to your home stereo.

2003 - Smart phones

2003 - Smartphones continued to improve, with the BlackBerry 7230 ($399) and Handspring Treo 600 ($600) providing e-mail, phone and organizer capabilities. Gateway (really!) made a digital camera, the DC-T50, which offered 5 megapixels for $400. Also, screens and TVs got a lot flatter – the Philips FlatTV LCD TV (17-inch) would set you back $1,000. And we still wish Verbatim made its Digital Vinyl CD-R discs, which makes me think about record albums.

2004

2004 - For about $200, you could get a 4 megapixel digital camera (the Epson PhotoPC L-410), and print them up on their new PictureMate Personal Photo Lab ($200). Kanguru offered its Zipper 2.2GB USB hard drive for $180, and the Maytag Skybox Personal Vending Machine ($500) is still keeping our Diet Cokes cold in the office. Sadly, we don't know where the WowWee Robosapien ($90) has gone off to.

2005 - storage

2005 - With all of these digital photos being taken, we needed better storage. Luckily, the Epson P-2000 Multimedia Viewer ($500) offered 40GB of space and a 3.8-inch color LCD. HP offered up its Photosmart M517 5.1-megapixel digital camera for $200, and we were impressed by the Palm TX (now with Wi-Fi!) and Sprint PPC-6700 (EV-DO access!). But we were really busy listening to music on our new iPod Nano ($250 for 4GB of songs).

2006 - micro PCs

2006 - Before netbooks, the rage in small computing was micro PCs, as witnessed by the Sony Vaio UX (VGN-UX 180P), which offered full Windows XP functionality for $1,800. The BlackBerry was fully in the enterprise, and it moved to consumers with the BlackBerry Pearl (model 8100), which used a trackball for navigation. We also adored the Teac GF-350 ($399), which digitized our old record albums onto a CD – since then, we can now digitize cassettes as well, and record directly to a USB or SD card.

2007 - iphone

2007 - Years from now, historians will record dates as BI and AI (before iPhone and after iPhone). Yes, Apple's iPhone was the gift to get that year – the $400 device changed the game for smartphones and is still going strong. Digital cameras were still hot gifts, though, as witnessed by the Canon PowerShot A650, a $433 camera that offered 12.1 megapixels. Another thing we wish we still had – the Wowwee Alive Elvis ($330), if only to creep out our co-workers.

2008 - PCs

2008 - We were in rock star mode last year, and we saw the beginnings of some very cool all-in-one PCs (the HP TouchSmart PC debuted at $1,200) and netbooks (the Lenovo IdeaPad S1 for $399). But we had the most fun with the ION Drum Rocker ($300), which let us play Rock Band drums a lot better.

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