Technology

2009 Best List: Tech & Gadget

Stay ahead of the tech curve with these gadets.

Best Bargain Digicam

Stills, video and 7.1 megapixels for just $100. The CANON POWERSHOT A470 is a marvel for the price. This 7.1-megapixel model has a 3.4X optical zoom—solid for a low-end shooter—and under good conditions it takes clear photos. The 2.5-inch LCD is bright and large enough for impromptu slide shows at a party. Like other bargain cameras, the A470 shoots video, too, although the quality is only so-so. Still, the PowerShot is a handy alternative when you’ve left the camcorder at home.

Best mp3 player: There’s almost nanothing it can’t do. Can the iPod NANO get any cooler? Apple’s ultra-slim music machine (8GB, $149; 16GB, $179) does a lot more than play tunes. The fifth-generation nano packs a video camera, pedometer and FM tuner into its svelte, aluminum frame. While the nano won’t replace your camcorder, its camera is fine for shooting short clips. Another plus: The FM tuner can pause live radio-hit pause and you can return to a song or talk show later. But deep down the nano remains a music box; the 16GB model holds a generous 4,000 songs.

Best HDTV: The price is right for movie lovers. Best Buy offers a space-saving bargain that’s ideal for movie buffs: the $700 INSIGNIA NS-LBD32X-10A, a 32-inch LCD HDTV with a built-in Blu-ray disc player. The Insignia has a Full HD (1080p) picture and two HDMI inputs for connecting a cable box and another peripheral. The Blu-ray player is built into the side of the TV, so it doesn’t mar the sleek-and-slim aesthetic.

Best cell-phone plan: SPRINT"S ANY MOBILE, ANYTIME is $70 a month for unlimited Web access and messaging, plus 450 minutes of talk time. Call any cell on any mobile network without using minutes.

Best Tool for Home Buyers: Ready to buy? Find motivated sellers via the “price reduction” tool at TRULIA.COM. Enter a home’s zip code to get listings with dates and amounts of price cuts so far.

Best Coupon Web Site: RETAILMENOT>COM provides you with more than 100,000 store coupons, online savings codes and shopping tips. Plus, you can get the hottest deals beamed to you via Twitter.

Best Tech Gadget Guru: Whether he’s discussing Microsoft’s mobile-phone software or praising a cool netbook, HARRY MCCRACKEN doesn’t mince words. His Technologizer site (www.technologizer.com) is a fast and furious way to keep up on the latest tech trends. His blog has quickly become one of the most influential sites for tech news and opinion.

Iphone’s Best Personal Finance Apps

Among smart phones, the iPhone reigns supreme for financial applications. Some you pay for, but we found that the best three personal-finance iPhone apps are free:

For the latest on your own financial situation, Mint.com offers a mobile version of its Web-based personal-finance software. You can use it to track your bank, credit-card, loan and investment balances, keep tabs on your spending, and receive alerts about unusual expenditures or bills that are about to come due.

Bloomberg offers its full lineup of business-news stories in an easy-to-read format that you can customize to your own tastes. The app offers stock quotes, plus the latest readings for the world’s major stock indexes. It also lets you keep track of all your personal stock holdings.

To ensure that you’ll never pay an ATM surcharge again, several major banks, such as Bank of America, Chase and Citibank, have apps that list directions to their ATM locations on a Google map. And MasterCard’s ATM Hunter maps more than one million ATMs in 210 countries, plus it can screen for no-surcharge ATMs.

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