This article is part of the series

Top Holiday Gifts for Music Lovers

By Columns FOXBusiness

What are this year’s hottest and most cutting-edge new electronic items and tech toys? FOX Business Network’s Shibani Joshi will be spotlighting them for you all week long in a special series called “2010 Holiday Gadget Guide.”

While there are thousands of gadgets on the market, we are going to give you a first-hand look at some of the year’s best products made by the industry heavyweights.

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(Check out FOXBusiness.com's full holiday-shopping guide coverage.)

2010 Holiday Gadget Guide: Wednesday’s Featured Tech - Sound Effects

No. 1. Monster Powerbeats by Dre -- $149-$199

Available at: http://beatsbydre.com/products/Products.aspx?pid=B5799&cat=2

In a nutshell: The product line dreamed up by an Interscope Geffen music exec and the follow-up product to the “Beats by Dre” headphone, combines impeccable sound, fashion and star power in an earbud device. If you’re one to shell out on a high-end audio system, computer or music player, your headphones shouldn’t be your weakest link, according to the company’s branding philosophy. Not a must-have item to listen to music but one sure to catch the attention of hipsters.

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Big selling points:
• Ultra durable, high-end ear buds
• Co-designed by NBA star Lebron James
• Technically designed for athletes with over the ear clasps and tight fit, that stays snug even while sweating
• High sound quality
• With Control Talk, you can connect to your favorite music device or answer phone calls

What’s missing:
• In reviews, complaints about bass quality and durability
• Droid users complained of not being able to use Control Talk features
• Some say the cost is too steep

No. 2. SanDisk Fuze -- $29-$85

Available at: http://www.sandisk.com/products/sansa-music-and-video-players/sandisk-sansa-fuze

In a nutshell: Reviewers call this a “great alternative to the iPod,” with a more attractive price. The SanDisk Fuze+ is the successor to last-year’s best-selling MP3 player with a screen under $100. The device doesn’t try to compete against the iPod directly, but has special features like a recordable FM radio, gapless playback and a voice recorder, giving it great bang for your buck. SanDisk is pushing affordable music with slotRadio cards to give users a catalog of music, while also letting you download it.

Big Selling points:
• Price is the star here
•16GB version can hold 4,000 songs or 64 hours of video
•24 hours of audio playback
• SanDisk slotRadio cards give you a collection of songs for an affordable price. The VH1 Classic slotRadio card ($39.99), for example, gives you 1,000 songs from artists like Bon Jovi, David Bowie, Janet Jackson and more for 4 cents a piece
• A good option for parents who are music lovers and intimidated by iPods
• Easy compatibility with most major media formats and computer OS

What’s missing:
• 2.4” screen is much smaller than the Apple counterpart
• Questions of durability arise due to an all-plastic body
• The touchpanel gets mixed reviews
• The interface has been criticized as being “non elegant” compared to iPod

No. 3. Livio Radio -- $149-$199.99

Available at: https://shop.livioradio.com/

In a nutshell: This is called a great gift for traditional radio lovers who are “non geeks.” Livio looks like a normal radio device, but taps into limitless streaming content without any need to access computers or attach music players. Users also get unlimited access to Pandora Internet radio and over 20,000 Internet-only AM/FM global radio stations, all in a retro-looking package.

Big Selling Points:
• Unlimited Access to Pandora Internet radio
• Access to over 20K radio stations including AM, FM, Internet stations
• No access to computer necessary because of built in Wi-Fi connections
• Also works with an Ethernet connection
• Unique design
• Ease of use
• High quality audio
• Portable and mobile

What’s missing:
• Single speaker has its drawbacks
• Must be plugged in, no batteries
• Doesn't support podcasts or streaming music from a PC
• An expensive hardware piece just for internet radio

No. 4. Monster Clarity HD Bluetooth Speakers -- $99

Available at: http://www.monstercable.com/productdisplay.asp?pin=5917

In a nutshell: A high-quality speaker in a compact size that fits in the palm of your hands, which makes it an ideal portable device. It’s priced higher than some of its competitors; but some of its features justify the price differential. (ie Two 35mm drivers with clear sound and videoconference capabilities along with a rechargeable battery.)

Big Selling Points:
Size: 4” long, weighing 2lbs -- one of the smallest in the category
• Directly connects to your Smartphone via blue tooth
• Built in microphone to conduct a conference call anywhere
• 120 cc of acoustic volume
• Runs on rechargeable battery
• Range up to 33 feet

What’s missing:
• 5-hours battery length
• Reviewers claim it needs more bass
• Aesthetic complaints about its design

No. 5. iMainGo X -- $69.95

Available at: http://imaingo.com/imaingo-x/

In a nutshell: These paired inexpensive speakers give great sound while custom fitting most iPods. A protective case keeps your gadget safe while you jam out to music. Great battery life of 12 hours and a reasonable price make this a great gift for someone who is often on the road.

Big selling points:
• Great gift for all iPod users
• Can be used as premium external-stereo-speaker system for any device with a 3.5 mm connection
• Rechargeable lithium-ion battery and plug-in charger
• The look is a big draw to consumers
• Great to travel with
• Battery life up to 12 hours

What’s missing:
• Size is as thick as a paperback novel
• You can’t stretch cable to connect device, device must be small enough to fit in
• No volume control built into the case
• You have to unzip the clear, zippered compartment each time you want to control your device
• Even with the lithium battery, there’s still no method for keeping your device charged up while it’s inside the iMainGo, potentially leaving you suddenly with a dead iPhone battery and no phone

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