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Tech blast from the past

Tech blast from the past

December 2014

Do you remember what gifts you were giving—or more importantly, hoping to get—a few years back? Tech devices have long been a holiday favorite, but technology changes fast. The top spots on our own wish lists rarely stay the same day-to-day, let alone year-to-year. So we thought it would be fun to revisit some of the coolest tech gifts of the last 15 years to see what it was we loved about them—and if we still would put them on our wish list today.

1999: BlackBerry
The first version of this business staple was actually a two-way email pager, not the more familiar phone. But the popularity of later models was enough to cause Webster's New World College Dictionary to name "crackberry" its New Word of the Year by 2006 [1].

2000: Garmin GPS
Garmin’s turn-of-the-millennium model was a lightweight, waterproof GPS that lasted up to 22 hours on just two AA batteries, propelling Garmin to 200% annual sales growth by 2007 [2].

2001: iPod
Steve Jobs initiated the digital music takeover with a device that let you “put a 1,000 songs in your pocket” [3]. The venerable iPod Classic wasn’t retired until the introduction of the iPhone 6 this year [4].

2002: iRobot Roomba
The first mass-market robot vacuum navigates autonomously to clean and recharge on its own, bringing The Jetsons to life. So it’s no wonder that the Roomba is more popular than ever—over 10 million units have been sold worldwide [5].

2003: Glowing fish
You could finally add some pizazz to your aquarium with fish genetically engineered to glow green after being injected with a protein extracted from jellyfish [6]. And they’re still available—provided you live in parts of Asia [7].

2004: Nintendo DS
This dual-screen device continued Nintendo’s dominance in the handheld gaming market. And though it’s been replaced in Nintendo’s lineup by the 3DS, it remains the bestselling handheld game console of all time [8].

2005: Slingbox
Proud owners of this gadget could remotely view and control their TV content from anywhere with an internet-connected PC. Now, customers can get Slingbox players for their smartphones as well as their PCs [9].

2006: Sony PlayStation 3 (PS3)
This console competed with the Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii for video game dominance. Like the PS2 before it, the PS3 has given way to the PS4 in our living rooms, if not in our hearts.

2007: Amazon Kindle
It may not have been the first E ink e-book reader to hit the market, but the Kindle was the first to make a major impact, and Amazon continues to update the original with speed and resolution improvements [10].

2008:  Flip Ultra camcorder
Released as the “Pure Digital Point & Shoot” camcorder, the Flip Video Ultra portable HD recorder made high-definition video both incredibly simple and available to the masses.

2009: The Bladeless Fan
Dyson has a talent for making the headlines, and they did it in 2009 with what they called an “air multiplier” [11]. Newer models have improved on the bladeless design by making it quieter as well [12].

2010: Logitech Harmony One Universal Remote
More gadgets didn’t just mean more problems, they also meant more remotes—which this universal remote aimed to consolidate. Logitech now offers the same concept in app form for the smartphone of your choice [13].

2011: Livescribe Echo Smartpen
More mobile devices generated increasing demand for alternative mobile input methods, which this USB pen excelled at providing in the days before touchscreens [14].

2012: Roku Streaming Stick
This small device let you cast personal media from your PC, smartphone or tablet to your TV—fast—helping keep Roku a dominant player in streaming [15].

2013: Nest Protect
The stylish and intelligent smoke detector has at least one big fan—at the beginning of 2014, Google acquired Nest Labs, which also makes the Nest Learning Thermostat, for $3.2 billion [16].

2014: Wearables
From the Pebble to the new Microsoft Band, wearable tech is finally taking off with choices that range from the geeky (the G Watch) to high-fashion (the MB Chronowing, with internals designed by HP).

And what’s wrapped in a box with our name on it this year? If our friends are any good at reading our not-so-subtle hints, it’s definitely the new Sprout so we can check out the future of Blended Reality for ourselves.

[1] Webster's New World® College Dictionary, Info Addicts Are All Thumbs, November 2006.
[2] Garmin, eTrex specifications.
[3] Low End Mac, A History of the iPod: 2000 to 2004, 2010.
[4] Asymco, Turning up the volume: iPhone overtakes iPod, 2010.
[5] iRobot, Company Information: History, 2014.
[6] Time, Best Inventions of 2003: Glowing Fish.
[7] AZoo, Mystery of Life.
[8] Nintendo, Consolidated Sales Transition by Region, 2014.
[9] Sling Media, Slingplayer Apps, 2014.
[10] Amazon, Buy a Kindle, 2014.
[11] The Telegraph, Sir James Dyson explains his bladeless fan, 2009.
[12] HowStuffWorks, How the Dyson Bladeless Fan Works.
[13] Logitech, Logitech Harmony Smart Control, 2014.
[14] Livescribe, Echo overview, 2014.
[15] Roku, Roku Streaming Stick, 2014.
[16] Google, Google to Acquire Nest, 2014.