Tools of the trade

Review by Tom Dunmore

In the first of a new, regular slot, Tom Dunmore, editor-in-chief of Stuff, checks out the latest must-haves

In the first of a new, regular slot, Tom Dunmore, editor-in-chief of Stuff, checks out the latest must-haves

Gadgets Polaroid
Polaroid Pogo £100
www.polaroid.com 0845 606 0657
In this age of pixellated perfection, prints may seem like an anachronism, but there's something irresistibly tactile about the credit card-sized pictures that Polaroid's new portable printer spits out. The battery-powered Pogo is a little bigger than a pack of playing cards and has no need for ink cartridges or ribbons. Just load it up with special paper, connect your camera by USB and within seconds you'll have a print. It will even print wirelessly from your Bluetooth mobile phone.

Gadgets Sony Reader
Sony Reader £200
www.sony.co.uk/reader
The ‘iPod for books' has finally made it to the UK. Unlike laptops or PDA ebook readers, Sony's Reader uses a special screen technology that requires no backlight and is as easy on the eyes as newsprint. What's more, it only requires power when you change what's on screen, so the battery will last for weeks (7,000 page turns, to be exact). The reader will store about 160 books – you can choose from the 100 free classics that come on disk or buy one of 25,000 titles available at Waterstones.com. Alternatively, you can load the reader with MP3 music, or use it to browse Word documents and PDFs. With Amazon selling its own reader in America, it seems the age of the paperless book could be upon us.

Gadgets Skypephone
3 Skypephone S2 £tba
www.three.co.uk
You would think the mobile phone networks would be doing their best to deny the existence of Voice-over-IP services like Skype, but not 3. Its new Skypephone S2 gives you the option of paying for your mobile phonecalls as usual or pressing the Skype button to talk to your Skype contacts around the world for free. And it also doubles as a speedy HSDPA modem for your Mac or PC, allowing you to take advantage of 3's keenly priced mobile broadband packages.

Gadgets Blackberry
Blackberry Bold 9000 £subject to contract
www.blackberry.co.uk
There are two types of smartphone owner: the media-playing, style-fixated iPhone user and the email-addicted Blackberry junkie. The latest Blackberry tries to find a comfortable middle ground, adding a bunch of multimedia features and wrapping itself in iPhone-baiting black and silver. Fortunately, the sat-nav and superfast HSDPA web browsing don't distract from the core brilliance of Blackberry – the peerless push email service and comfortable QWERTY keyboard.

Gadgets iRiver
iRiver Spinn £150
www.advancedmp3players.co.uk
The iPod hegemony has become so absolute that it's easy to forget that anyone else makes portable media players. Which is why the Spinn is so refreshing: not only does it prove there's life in tenacious MP3 rival iRiver, but it also gamely attempts to redefine the perfect user interface. Instead of copying the iPods or Clickwheel, the Spinn is controlled by twiddling the rotary knob to the right of the screen and prodding the touchscreen. It works well, giving easy access to standard music-and-movie features plus more advanced touches, including Bluetooth music streaming and digital radio. With a 3.3in screen and 25-hour battery life, the Spinn is a perfect travelling companion.

Gadgets Asus
Asus Eee PC 901 £320
uk.asus.com   
It's only a year since Asus unleashed its Eee PC range of small, nicely priced portables, but it has already turned the laptop market on its head. No longer do we have to pay through the nose for ultraportable computing or – thanks to the Eee PC's custom installation of an Xandros Linux – deal with Vista bloat when we only want to go  online. Acer, HP and Sony have launched budget micro-laptops since, but Asus is staying ahead with the latest 901. It boasts 20GB of storage, a 9in screen and a freshly-fabbed 1.6GB Intel Atom processor, all of which help it to last over five hours on a single charge.

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