The Uber10 Awards select the top 10 gadgets under $500 – just in time for your holiday shopping. Here are our top choices for 2010, sorted by price. Use it to gather gift ideas, or send it to someone to give a few pointers ;). The Ubergizmo team wishes you a great holiday!
Samsung Focus ($49 with a new contract)
Powered by Windows Phone 7, the Samsung Focus is currently the best handset for that operating system. It’s incredibly light, but it is very fast and responsive to user commands – even more so than the iPhone 4, which is no small feat. Windows Phone 7 has built-in support for Facebook, plays nice with Office and features Xbox Live. For music lovers, the best part is the Zune subscription-based music service that lets you access (download or streaming) millions of songs for a
monthly flat-fee. Read our Samsung Focus review, but if you feel more secure with the established players, go iPhone 4 or Droid Incredible. Link to the official page.
Livescribe 4GB Echo Smartpen ($149)
The Echo smartpen can be a great gift for someone who takes a lot of notes. It works like a normal pen, but it also records notes in digital form, along with sound. The really great thing about the Echo pen is that it can replay the sound that was recording at the time of writing. Hit any word in your note and the pen will playback what was said then. Try to do that with old-fashion notes. Oh, and Echo pen notes are much easier to archive, backup and copy too. If you’re on a budget, there’s also an older Livescribe pen that sells for $99. Link to the official page.
TMA-1 Headphones ($199)
Listening to music on the go has become a regular activity – thanks to mobile phones and the iPod. If you have a friend who happens to be an audio aficionado, the TMA-1 by AIAIAI is the perfect gift. Our DJ friend Mrs. Blythe has tested it, and according to her, the sound quality is amazing: crisp and clear. Additionally, AIAIAI paid a special attention to the design, I love the ultra-minimalistic approach with the logo hidden inside the headband, quite the opposite of the current “shiny and bulky” offering in this category – it could go well with the Jawbone JAMBOX’s look (right below). The design process has involved 25 top DJs worldwide who gave their feedback regularly during the product development. The TMA-1 can be used by professional DJs or simply by audiophiles for listening to music on a Mp3 player or on a phone (good in a noisy environment). Alternatives include the V-Moda Crossfade lp, Sennheiser HD 25-1 II and the Beatspro by Dr. Dre. More information in our TMA-1 article and in our review by DJ Mrs Blythe. Link to the official page.
Jawbone Jambox ($199)
Bluetooth is often associated with “dead battery” and “poor audio”, probably because it was mostly used for phones headsets. JawBone’s Jambox might change this perception: it
is surprising to see such a small thing output such a big sound. The JawBone Jambox sound quality is really good for something that is so portable. And the battery life? Well, we didn’t hang around long enough to see it run out, but Jawbone claims a 8-10 hours battery life. As a non-portable alternative, we suggest looking at the very good Philips Fidelio DS8500. Read our JawBone Jambox review. Link to the official page.
Logitech Revue with Google TV ($299)
There’s no doubt that the future of TV is online and Google wants to power smart TVs just like they power smartphones today. That is why Google partnered with Logitech to build the Logitech Revue, which is currently the Google TV hardware platform of choice to “augment” -not replace- your existing cable TV or satellite TV setup (Cable/Sat is not required though). The Logitech Revue comes with a keyboard and trackpad that uses the company’s Harmony technology that powers their universal remotes. Search, change channel, tweak the volume — all from the Logitech Revue. If you don’t use cable or satellite, we recommend looking at the Boxee Box as well. Read our Google TV review with the Logitech Revue. Link to the official page.
Canon PowerShot S95 ($369)
The race for higher pixel count is over. Camera manufacturers have finally understood that “Megapixels” have become an *irrelevant metric* for image quality. To re-ignite sales of pocket cameras, they have started to come back to the roots: image quality. And low-light photo capture is really the next frontier.
After all, don’t we simply want to capture what our eyes see during that cool
party? To get closer to that goal, Canon has build the excellent S95 camera .. It has an f2.0 lens that lets plenty of light come in, to be captured by the highly sensitive sensor. The result is a much better low-light photography capability whenÂ compared to earlier generations of pocket cameras. Link to the official page .
Neato Robotics X11 Vacuum ($399)
VVaccum cleaning is one of the most boring and repetitive tasks, and it’s no surprise that it was among the first things to be “outsourced” to domestic robots. The Neato X11 is part of the newer generation of robotic vaccum cleaners. Yes, it’s not cute and round, but don’t let its looks deceive you: it can vacuum right-angle corners and is smarter than most competing robots. During our test, it did not get trapped in a maze of chairs and furniture — unlike our Roomba. You can program it to clean while you’re away, so that you won’t even have to hear it. Link to the official page .
Xbox 250GB + Kinect ($495)
Motion sensors have captured the imagination of gamers and are key to expand the gaming community, that’s why we recommend looking at the Microsoft Xbox 360 250 with Kinect bundle. Kinect games are mostly designed to have fun right away without the need for investing a lot of time to learn the rules and tactics
– great for having fun with non-hardcore gamers. If the gift recipient already owns a PlayStation 3, the PlayStation Move is the one to get. for tight budgets, the Wii is the console that started it all. Read our Kinect preview @ E3. Link to the official page.
Toshiba’s L635 Kids PC ($499)
When it comes to computers, why should adults get all the fun? “Because a computer is fragile” would be a typical answer, but not anymore. Toshiba has built this Satellite L635 so that kids can have their own learning and entertainment center with DVD playback, casual gaming and internet capabilities. It comes loaded with the KidZui kid-oriented web browser, stronger parental controls and a keyboard that resists to stuff that children might drop onto it (yes, it’s easy to clean). We have only spotted it for a sub-$500 price at Best Buy. Link to the
iPad 16GB WiFi ($499)
The tablet fight has only begun, but almost a year after its announcement, the iPad remains at the top of the hill. It’s bigger, faster and even cheaper than most competitors – it stays below our $500 limit. The WiFi-only (no subscription)Â version is good enough for most people, but if you plan to email a lot on the go, we recommend looking at the 3G version. There is a monthly subscription for 3G, but we found that the data plan is more convenient than trying to use a hotspot with another device. Alternatives include the Kindle for heavy readers or the Galaxy Tab for those who refuse to be in a walled garden. Read our iPad Review. Link to the official page.