Beyond iPhone: The top five gadget trends of 2007

Better, cheaper, faster is the order of the day

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Flops or slow movers

Of course, not all hot trends or products make it. Here are four highly touted products or trends in which doubt is starting to creep in.

Palm Foleo

Described by Palm as a smart phone companion, this recently announced Linux device is the size of a small laptop and interacts directly with a smart phone.

"It's a solution in search of a problem," said JupiterResearch's Strother. "It's kind of like disconvergence -- it's one more gadget to put in your bag and bring a power cord for." The device is expected this summer.

Apple TV

Even Steve Jobs is backpedaling on how successful Apple TV will be, recently calling it a "hobby" for the company, not a serious product like its computers or iPods. The idea behind it -- collecting media from computers in the home and the Internet and playing them on TV -- is solid, but it may not yet be time for it.

"There's a lot of moving parts in [the Apple TV] ecosystem," Rubin said. "You need the broadband connection, the network and a lot of other pieces." Plus, downloading video from the Internet hasn't yet caught on the way downloading music has.

Joost

Joost has been a high-profile Web site that says it will offer TV combined with the Internet.

"There isn't enough content yet, not enough reason to go there," said James McQuivey, principal analyst at market research firm Forrester. "Until there's a Joost box connected to my TV that brings me a large selection of video, I don't see what the fuss is all about."

Mobile TV

Cellular carriers are eager to squeeze more revenue out of their networks with television delivered to cell phones. Kerton noted that some of the new mobile TV technologies, most notably Qualcomm's MediaFLO, which Verizon and, soon, AT&T will use, are quite excellent.

"The pictures are clear and beautiful," Kerton said. "But there's a lot more to successful mobile TV than good image quality, and it remains to be seen how successful this will be."

David Haskin is a contributing editor specializing in mobile and wireless issues.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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