Gadgets of the decade

17 Dec 2009

Can you remember what you ever did without a mobile phone? Chances are you didn’t start using one regularly until 2000 or 2001. Now most of us have at least two handsets and we’re using them to surf the web, listen to music, get work done and much more.

One of the gadgets of the decade has got to be the smart phone, the most enduring being the BlackBerry, also known as the “Crackberry” because of the addictive properties of email on the go. In fact “Crackberry” was named “New Word of the Year” in 2006, by Webster’s New World College Dictionary.

The other big hitter in the smart-phone world has been the iPhone, coming out of left field from mobile newcomers Apple and introducing us to the wider world of apps or mobile applications.

Want to convert your phone into a handy torchlight? There’s an app for that. Have an urge to check out what constellations you’re standing under? There’s an app for that.

Big Apple

In fact, Apple has somewhat taken over the Noughties in terms of white-hot gadgets: before the iPhone there was the iPod. First launched in 2001, the iPod has been the best-selling portable music device ever.

From music to movement, one of the hottest trends of the middle to late Noughties has been the rise of casual gaming. Nintendo has found its niche here with the Wii games console, a first in terms of motion-sensitive interactive and inclusive gaming.

You might wonder why people have taken to virtual exercise when the traditional forms, ie vacuuming, seem to be dying out. Ushering in an age of domestic robots, the Roomba is one of the first mass-market robots designed to suck up your dirt without bumping into the furniture.

The digital touch

The digital camera, especially the point-and-click digital compact, has become an affordable device as ubiquitous as the mobile phone and just as important for some as the trend towards “life streaming” or constantly documenting your life online grows.

And of course we’d be lost (literally) without the sat-nav device. After all, generally speaking, men don’t like asking for directions and women can’t read maps very well. (I’m not sexist, there is quite a lot of scientific literature to back up the fact that women are not accurate at spatial navigation).

Sat-nav devices from manufacturers such as Garmin and TomTom continue to improve, with crowd sourcing adding to the accuracy.


And selling as well as sat-nav devices for the past couple of years has been the netbook. Smaller, cheaper and far more portable than the average laptop, the netbook craze began in 2007 with the Asus EEE PC 700.

Now most major PC manufacturers, including Dell, Samsung, Toshiba and Sony, have their own versions, all with the web-oriented standards of a 10-inch screen, 250GB of storage and 1GB of memory.

Last but not least has got to be the USB memory stick or flash drive. This little wonder has superseded the Zip disk and the floppy disk as a much smaller in size, yet far bigger in storage, replacement. The USB stick has even been the delivery method over CD for some artist’s albums.

By Marie Boran

Photo: The TomTom sat-nav app on the iPhone 3Gs.