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Gear up for a high-tech holiday
Watch out for Nokia's N-Gage gaming phone, the new Segway p series and the digital Wallflower.
November 17, 2003: 7:41 AM EST
By Parija Bhatnagar, CNN/Money Staff Writer

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Enough said about the digital cameras, MP3 players and the flatscreen TVs. Consumer technology companies are scrambling to entice consumers with a slew of other innovative gizmos just in time for the holidays.

"There are quite a few new gadgets coming out mid-to-late November," said Scott Cameron, editor of "The all-in-one feature and wireless are the dominant trends in consumer electronics."

Added Cameron, "These are toys that both adults and kids can enjoy and the price points are also coming down. That's why tech gadgets will certainly be the winners again with shoppers this year."

The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) endorsed that opinion as well in its recent 2003 holiday preview, saying that it expects digital electronic products to be front and center at stores and achieve the highest sales growth overall for the retail industry's crucial fourth quarter.

Steve Baker, technology analyst with market research firm NPD Group, said DVD recorders and burners are his top picks for the year. "You can get PC's with DVD burners in them for under $1,000 and DVD recorders for between $350 to $500."

"This is a very exciting time for the industry," Baker said. "The pricing across products looks great. Back-to-school was very strong for the group and I expect the same going into the holidays."

Here's a short-list of what industry watchers are calling "buzzworthy" gadgets:

ZVUE! personal video player: You can see full-length movies, rock videos, TV Shows, cartoons, photographs on the this personal video player from HandHeld Entertainment as well as download and play MP3 files. The ZVUE! has a 2.5-inch color screen and uses SecureDigital (SD) and MultiMediaCards (MMCs) as the media for playing content.

"It's about the size of a deck of playing cards, and the ZVUE! also comes with a USB1.1 port, two earphone jacks and a set of earphones," said Russell Page, spokesman for the company.

The ZVUE! debuts at the end of November, priced at $99. However, the ZVUE! does tie users to the company's video content. Page said the ZCARDS! will be sold alongside the gadget in retail stores.

Vialta Beamer video phone: The phone video station with a 3.5 inch LCD screen connects to any old-fashioned analog telephone line (corded or cordless) and allows callers to see each other for no extra charge.

Fremont, Calif.-based Vialta (VLTA: Research, Estimates) recently released a new version of the device that even uses the TV as a monitor. A pack of two monitors costs $299.99.

"This enables a sort of emotional link to family and friends," said Ken Tenaglia, spokesman for Vialta, who declined to say how many units the company has sold since its launch last year.

Wallflower Plus digital picture frame: Using WiFi wireless networking, this innovative digital picture frame incorporates sound with movie (MPEG movies and flash animation), MP3 playback, e-mail capability so that images can be sent directly to any Internet connected Wallflower around the world.

Using the software, you can compile photo albums on a PC or notebook, and then transfer them to the Wallflower's built-in hard drive. The Wallflower automatically finds the local WiFi network. You can drag and drop images into the Wallflower folder on the desktop using software that is built into Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. Additionally, you can use the frame for slide shows.

The Wallflower Plus has a 14.1 inch screen and is priced at $699.

Sony Clie Handheld UX 50: "Handheld computers like Sony's Clie and HP's iPaq H4350 look better, do more and are more affordable now," said Cameron.

Sony's (SNE: Research, Estimates) Clie UX50 is small and stylish, incorporating a mini laptop-like design with a swivel screen, digital camera and built in keyboard. It also features both WiFi and Bluetooth wireless technologies. The UX -50 model comes with all of the standard Palm OS applications and is priced at $700.

Nokia N-Gage: This is a gaming console with a mobile phone designed for some awkward sidetalking. It includes a built-in digital music player (MP3/AAC), FM radio, and internationally capable mobile phone. Additionally, the N-Gage game deck gives users access to messaging, and information services available with AT&T Wireless service plan.

"Built for hardcore gamers, the N-Gage game deck allows for online, mobile, multiplayer game play," said Steven Knuff, spokesman for Nokia Corp (NOK: Research, Estimates).

The N-Gage is priced at $299 and is currently sold at Gamestop (GME: Research, Estimates), Electronics Boutique (ELBO: Research, Estimates), and through AT&T wireless (AWE: Research, Estimates).

Dish Networks's HD DVR receiver: Industry watchers like this all-in-one set top box that combines the power of Digital Video Recording (DVR) technology with satellite receivers.

"It allow you to watch TV the way you want and when you want," said Steve Caulk, spokesman for Dish Networks.

The device lets you pause live TV, skip through commercials on recorded programs and record up to 180 hours of standard TV programming without a videotape

The DISH Player - DVR 921 will be available this month, priced at $1,000.

Finally, for the person who has everything, you can always count on the new Segway p series, which is the smallest and lightest of the company's HT (human transporter) series, and carries a pricetag of $3,995. The p series is available through Segway dealerships, (AMZN: Research, Estimates) and Brookstone (BKST: Research, Estimates) stores and catalogues.  Top of page

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