15 great gadgets you can't get in the U.S.

You want 'em? You have to go outside the U.S. -- or to the online gray market -- to get 'em

As Americans, we think it's our birthright to always have the latest computers, phones and electronic gadgets, but the simple fact of life is that there's a whole world of digital devices out there that are off limits to us.

It's ironic in this age of globalization, but it's true: Some of the world's best digital devices stay at home. Regardless of whether the maker is too small for exporting or vendors don't think it will sell overseas, the result is the same: You can't buy it here.

To show you what the world has to offer, we've rounded up our choices for 15 of the coolest (or strangest) bleeding-edge digital devices you can't buy in the U.S. From a germ-proof notebook and super-secret hard drive to do-it-all phones and a variety of environmentally sensitive products, they cover the gamut of today's mobile electronics.

A lighter shade of gray

If you absolutely have to have one of these devices, forget about Best Buy or Circuit City. Your choices are limited: You can either get on a plane with your cash in your pocket or you can try shopping at one of the gray-market Web sites that specialize in ignoring niceties such as international borders.

Be careful, however, because if you go the gray market route, your device may not come with local warranty or service.

There's a thriving trade in gray-market gadgets that were meant for one country but end up being sold in others. Despite what major manufacturers may say, it's neither illegal nor dangerous to buy from them. Just be careful, because you may not be able to use a device or get it serviced at home.

The big thing to make sure of is that the device works where you live. For a phone, that means a compatible network. For a TV receiver, it needs to conform to your country's national broadcast standards. Plus, you'll need to get a power adapter that works with a 110-volt outlet.

And do you think that it's hard now to get tech support? Try getting a device fixed when you bought it overseas. Although some vendors will include their own warranty and send the device back to its manufacturer if necessary, in most cases you're on your own.

Although tapping into the world trade in gadgets can open up new vistas of technology, there's always the danger of getting stuck with a lemon.

Meanwhile, even if we may not be able to tap into the technologies represented by the gadgets in the following pages, we can certainly take note of them -- and hope that they'll be available via American dollars sometime in the near future.

What tech gear are you lusting after? Share your wish list.

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