SMART TECHNOLOGY


Best of Everything 2010: Tech Gadgets and Deals

Best tech gadgets

Smartest ways to read, phone, view and store.
1. What weighs 8.5 ounces and holds 3,500 books? The Kindle, of course, Amazon's slender e-reader that manages to stay a step ahead of a growing list of competitors. Not only does the latest Kindle feature a higher-contrast screen than its predecessor, it costs less, too: $139 for the Wi-Fi model; $189 for the 3G cellular edition.

2. Data backups don't have to be dull. Iomega's line of eGo Portable Hard Drives bring attitude to your archive. Featuring eye-grabbing cases with funky designs, an eGo drive brings you an extra-large, 500 gigabytes of storage for $120.

3. The Motorola Droid X ($200 with a two-year Verizon Wireless contract) leads in a crowded field with its dazzling 4.3-inch touch screen and excels as a portable media player for Web videos and Verizon's VCast shows. The 8-megapixel camera shoots sharp still shots and high-def videos.

4. Apple's multitalented media player, the iPod Touch (8GB model, $230; 32GB, $300; 64GB, $400), keeps getting better. The latest model adds two cameras: a front-facing one for video chat and a rear-facing eye for shooting HD videos and still pictures.

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Best cell plans, with and without a contract

Wal-Mart Family Mobile is a no-contract plan that's a good deal for families seeking low-cost wireless service, or for individuals who'd rather talk and text than surf the Web. Unlimited calling and texting is $45 a month on T-Mobile's network. New users can download 100 megabytes of data, which can be shared among family members. Additional lines are $25 each.

Some cell-phone plans will “nickel-and-time” you with sneaky usage fees, but Sprint's Simply Everything plan has no surprises. For $70 a month, you get unlimited calling mobile to mobile (and 450 minutes for daytime mobile-to-landline calls), plus unlimited text and data for Web browsing, video streaming and music downloads. The deal requires a two-year contract (naturally). Customers whose phones use Sprint’s new and faster 4G network pay a $10 surcharge for unlimited data with no monthly cap.

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