Handheld, electronic gadgets are the thing at the moment, and that's not likely to change. It's not only cell phones that are spreading like wildfire, either -- digital organizers, GPS receivers and digital cameras have gone from high-price luxuries to standard equipment for the lay person. Check out the latest in gadgets and the good-old high-tech standbys. See the next page to get started with the first in our list of essential gadgets.
Some people credit the BlackBerry with letting them get out of the office and spend time with friends and family, while others accuse them of allowing work to infiltrate every moment of free time. Learn about the "push" technology at the center of the device's popularity and more with How a BlackBerry Works.
Think of a daily task, any daily task, and it's likely there's a specialized, pocket-sized device designed to help you accomplish it. Unfortunately, you only have so many pockets. A smartphone addresses this issue by handling pretty much everything on its own. It can make phone calls, keep your calendar and address book, entertain you, play your music, give directions, take pictures, check your e-mail, and do countless other things. Learn what makes a cell phone a smartphone, how the idea came about and what you can do with it with How Smartphones Work.
You can use it to watch TV shows and movies, listen to music and flip through digital photos -- all while sitting on an airplane. With a portable media center, you can access nearly all of your digital files on a unit about the size of a paperback novel. Learn all about the latest addition to the mobile-entertainment market with How Portable Media Centers Work.
Not too long ago, you had to wait for your film to be developed before you could see the results of your work. In the digital age, it's snap 'n view. If you want to e-mail pictures to friends, post them on a Web site or do your own editing, digital photography is the way to go. Learn what goes on inside a digital camera and what to look for when buying one with How Digital Cameras Work.
In 2001, Apple introduced the iPod, an MP3 player with the unheard-of storage capacity of 5 gigabytes. Six iPod generations later, the iPod plays songs, movies, games and photo slideshows, and you can store up to 160 GB of any type of file you want. Find out why so many people buy iPod after iPod and see which iPod is right for you with How iPods Work.
A GPS receiver uses signals from satellites to pinpoint its exact location on Earth, any time, anywhere. It's the biggest thing in navigation since the compass! A GPS receiver can tell you where you are, where you've been, where you're going and what time you'll get there. Find out how the Global Positioning System lets you find your way around the globe with How GPS Receivers Work.
Sirius has Howard Stern; XM has Snoop Dogg. At one time, the two were competitors, but have since joined in a corporate merger. Because the two systems are incompatible, Sirius XM broadcasts most channels to XM and Sirius subscribers. Both feature more than 100 channels of music, news, sports and entertainment, and are being factory installed in hundreds of new car models. Take a look at Sirius vs. XM to see more about the merged company and learn about its services.
One man's noise is another man's music, but no matter what your taste, ambient noise is the enemy. Luckily, there's a piece of audio equipment designed especially to maximize your listening experience, keeping ambient noise out without sacrificing your music's sound quality. That piece of equipment is the noise-canceling headphone.
At its most basic level, a tablet PC is a mobile computing device that's larger than a smartphone or personal digital assistant. In general, if the computing device uses an on-screen interface and doesn't include a phone, it's a tablet. They don't necessarily replace the need for a more robust computer, but they create a new space for computing devices.
It's impossible for anyone but the most extreme technophiles and the idle rich to keep up with all of the new cell-phone features and models on an ongoing basis. Let us help. Check out the latest designs and applications with 5 Future Cell Phones.
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Virtual reality makes it easier — and a little more fun — for sick kids to deal with painful medical procedures. Find out more at HowStuffWorks.