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.

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

2010 Holiday Gadget Guide: Friday’s Featured Tech - a mix of practical and not - so - practical 

 

XWAVE($99.99)

Available at:  www.plxwave.com.

In a nutshell:  The XWave is a small device worn over your head similar to any standard headphone device. A novelty item more than anything else that, when the headphones are paired with designated iTunes apps, the duo can help you attempt to control your mind and functions on your iPhone. The company promotes the XWave Tunes app as a good fit for the device, as it uses your brain waves to detect your mood to choose the right song for your iPod. For quirkiness and novelty purposes, the device is interesting, but it comes with a hefty price tag.

Big selling points: 

• Very unique gift

• Will support third-party apps when they come out

• Ideal for people into meditation and mind control

• Runs on AAA batteries and plugs into the iPhone and iPod touch

What’s missing:

• $99 price tag is high for such a novelty item

• It is more for novelty than practical use

• No real apps for this device yet

 

EYE-TV HYBRID ($134-$149)

Available at: http://www.elgato.com/

In a nutshell:  This product brings your favorite TV content to your computer. In a small portable USB-sized device, Eye-TV brings analog and digital cable, even content in HD TV to your MAC or PC and allows you to watch and record basic cable on your computer. In addition to the Eye-TV unit, you need an aerial antenna to find stations through NTSC and an additional third-party IR blaster package to pick up channels off your set-top box. This is definitely not a one-box solution.

Big selling points:

• Receives basic cable TV (unscrambled), both digital and analog

• Receives over-the-air for free digital TV via an antenna, in HD

• Compatible with Mac and PC

• Device is extremely small

• Has DVR functionality and you can schedule recordings

• Easy installation

• DVR features available through the software

What’s missing:

• Made mainly for Macs

• Can be a long set-up time

• Some reviewers have criticized sound quality

• Additional cables/hardware needed to make the device work

 

LIVESCRIBE PEN ($99-$199)

Available at: http://www.livescribe.com/

In a nutshell: An ideal gift for heavy notetakers. The Livescribe pen digitizes notes written on a proprietary note pad and even captures audio with its record feature. You can access your notes either by tapping parts of your notepad or on your computer. It has other features like a calculator and translator that create added value. A useful and practical gift for the copious notetaker.

Big selling points:

• Links your notes and audio together both on your computer

• Software makes you notes fully searchable

• Has a Spanish/English dictionary

• Rechargeable Lithium Battery

• Works with Mac and PC

• Added security features to help keep your content private

What’s missing:

• You have to use the company’s proprietary paper

• The pen is thick and cumbersome for smaller hands

• You have to hold at a certain angle to make sensor work

 

LOOXCIE ($199.99)

Available at: http://www.looxcie.com/

In a nutshell: Named one of TIME Magazine's 50 best inventions for 2010, the Looxcie is a small, light, easy-to-wear camcorder system. Worn similar to a Bluetooth headset over the ear, the Looxcie records everything you see. The device has four hours of continuous run time and 480x320 video resolution. Clips can be viewed wireless on your smartphone and can be emailed to contacts or uploaded to social networks directly. More novel than practical - as one reviewer put: it is a neat helmet-cam replacement

Big selling points:

• Ultra light:  less than 28g

• iPhone and other smartphone connectivity

• Clips are time stamped and stored in your clip register as MP4 files

• Built-in system that lets you email video to contacts or post to social networks

What’s missing:

• No on/off for the record button

• 4 hours of continuous use and 3 hours of instant clips

• Records over old footage if you don’t clear memory

• User friendliness criticized with its small buttons and rigid ear clip

• 480x320 resolution

 

Asus Bamboo series $999

Available at: http://event.asus.com/notebook/bamboo/index2.html

In a nutshell: Asus brings form, functionality and bamboo into its new line of laptops--merging nature and technology. The sleek, user-friendly device has a unique signature look that is also energy efficient. It boasts a battery life of 10 hours and the bamboo reduces the use of plastic material by up to 15%. It also has features such as a 14 inch HD LED backlit display and a USB 3.0 port. The device is slightly larger than the current of lineup lighter devices, weighing 4.5lbs and registering 1.2 inches thick. This device is mean for someone seeing green and individuality within a solid performing laptop.

Big selling points:

• Super Hybrid Engine results in longer battery life of 10 hours

• Bamboo cover gives it a unique look and reduces the use of plastic material by up to 15%

• 1.2-inch thick and weighs 4.5 pounds

• Intel Core-i5-450M Processor

• 14-inch HD LED-backlit display

• HDMI  amd USB 3.0 port

• 500 GB Hard Drive

• Bamboo shell SuperSpeed USB 3.0 charges compatible devices faster and delivers up to 10 times faster

• Intel WiDi HD Wireless Display3 technology makes it easy to wirelessly stream HD content to your TV or external monitor

What’s missing:

• No optical drive

• Additional purchase of a $99 Netgear Push2TV box to be full functional

• Reviewers criticize 1.2 inch thickness and keyboard aesthetic

 

LENOVO WIRELESS REMOTE KEYBOARD ($40)

Available at: http://shop.lenovo.com/SEUILibrary/controller/e/web/LenovoPortal/en_US/catalog.workflow:item.detail?GroupID=38&Code=57Y6336&current-category-id=E9ADAEB6787146E29B78400A33E7FE8A&hide_menu_area=yes

In a nutshell: A practical gift for someone looking for a portable, wireless mini keyboard to use on laptops and desktops. The range of the keyboard is the common thing praised in critical reviews. Not meant to replace a standard computer keyboard, but meant to be a portable device that enables you to type, play video games and surf the web. The device - in the shape of a big “T”- is palm-sized, so buttons can be too small for some users. It can be used one-handed or with both hands.

Big selling points:

• Lightweight and small, fits in the palm of your hand

•  Long-range wireless control

• Works on laptops and desktops

• Battery controlled

What’s missing:

• Buttons can be too small for some users

• No backlight

• Better suited for PCs

• Many reviewers did not like the look of this product

 

MICROSOFT KINECT ($149.99)

Available at: http://store.microsoft.com/category.aspx?catId=310&sort=HTOL

In a nutshell: the gaming console is expected to be the monster seller this holiday season. Case and point: I had a hard time getting the Kinect device to the studio unscathed, I was stopped by a passersby who asked me how I got the device. The Kinect puts a hyped up Webcam into the Xbox experience. It picks up invisible infrared light and tracks 48 points of your body to sense your movement. It allows you to be completely immersed in the game. If you see a ball, spring your leg to kick it. If you want to select a movie to watch, say “Xbox, play” and take advantage of the voice recognition features. You must also have the Microsoft XBOX 360 device to make the Kinect peripheral device work.

Big selling points:

• First real game system without remote control

• Good for all ages

• New games designed to be a video game and give you a workout

• The potential for games in the future is huge

• Features video chat between Xbox Live Gold members

What’s missing:

• Price of $150 is in addition to price of Xbox

• Unlike the Wii, only handles two players at a time

• Games selection isn’t robust yet

• Perpetual lag   

• Many reviews say this isn’t for serious gamers

Shibani Joshi joined FOX Business Network (FBN) in September 2007 as a reporter. Joshi brings experience in investment banking, strategy and business development, as she began her career as an investment banking analyst at Morgan Stanley (MS).  She worked on merger, acquisition and corporate finance deals in the real estate sector for MS.