Megagoods and Beyond

The PopSci editors roll out more than 100 of the year's hottest gadgets, gizmos, and must-have tech

Every month in Popular Science we feature 12 must-have products. The goods might range from skateboards to dental floss to laser televisions, but they all share one thing–a tech innovation that’s never been used in such a way before. Here, we’ve collected over 100 of our top picks.

Launch the gallery for a look at . . . The Goods.


Revive your cellphone’s lithium-ion battery even if you forget the charger. The Xenium is the first phone that you can juice by popping in an AAA battery. It adjusts the current to charge the phone’s main battery for up to three hours of extra talk time.
Philips Xenium 9@9j Price not set;


Never lose a Bluetooth headset again. The Decoy’s earpiece snaps right into a charging dock on its back cover. LG Decoy $180 with two-year contract and rebate;


The first cordless high-definition radio, which offers 1,700 stations and CD-quality sound, runs for five hours off a rechargeable battery. (Previously, HD radio has been available only in a home or car stereo.) It’s even splashproof, so you can tune in poolside. Coby HDR 700 $150;


With a large fiberglass spring beneath its deck, the only two-tiered skateboard smoothes your ride. The suspension absorbs shocks to keep you stable over bumps, steps or other obstacles. SoulArc Board $260;


This floss has 22 microscopic ridges running its length, letting it grab more plaque than an ordinary flat thread. But it slips easily between teeth: The stretchy material thins out to fit in tight spaces. Reach Ultraclean Floss $4;


The i907 replaces a trackball or scroll wheel with the same sensor used in optical mice. An LED illuminates your finger as it slides over the button, and a camera detects the motion to control the cursor onscreen. Samsung i907 Price not set;


This 65-inch rear-projection set uses lasers to display twice the range of colors of other TVs. Software enhances items that need extra color, like a red sportscar, without making people look psychedelic. Mitsubishi LaserTV L65-A90 $7,000;


These goggles have night-vision capabilities similar to a camcorder’s but pack more LEDs to let you see up to 50 feet. The 17 lights bounce infrared rays off objects and onto a camera sensor, which sends the image to a built-in screen. Jakks EyeClops Night Vision $80;


The first digital SLR to shoot video saves five minutes of high-definition footage, or 20 minutes of standard-def, using any Nikon lens. Or shoot 12-megapixel stills at around four per second. [See a full review at] Nikon D90 $1,000;


This cordless screwdriver holds the screw in place, so you have a free hand to steady your project (or yourself). A magnetic arm extends from it and then retracts as the screw enters the wall. Black & Decker SmartDriver LI4000 $40;


Instead of futzing with small camera buttons and possibly missing a shot, you can control this shooter with a simple tap. Rap on the right side to switch the flash on or off, for instance, and an accelerometer detects your move; knock the top to okay the change. Olympus Stylus 1050 SW $300;


Take a cellphone call simply by saying “answer” to the V1, the first headset with voice-recognition software built into its Bluetooth chip. When a call arrives, the headset automatically turns on a mic to listen for your command; otherwise, press its button once to issue orders like “check battery.” BlueAnt V1 $130;


When a networked printer is in another room, you can’t see if it’s low on paper. The ESP 7 uses an optical sensor to measure its stack and sends a message to your computer before it’s empty. Kodak ESP 7 $200;


Lose fewer golf balls to the trees with this reengineered square driver. Two weights in the clubhead’s tail shift its center of mass backward, helping to keep the clubface aligned with the ball to deliver 35 percent straighter shots than this model’s predecessor. Callaway FT-iQ $625;


This GPS unit is the first with its own e-mail address, so you can send it routes straight from Google Maps. Its cellular data modem downloads the directions, along with real-time info from Insignia GPS $600; $100/year after first year;


Most fake logs can’t go in wood stoves, because their high wax content causes them to melt and crumble when stacked. With less wax, these are the first stove-safe artificial logs. Duraflame Stax $10 for three;


Stick EasyBloom in your garden or indoor pot soil, where its sensors save temperature, brightness and soil-moisture measurements to a built-in USB flash drive. Then upload the info to a Web site that recommends the best plants for the conditions. PlantSense EasyBloom $60;


One gadget puts audio and video from your PC on all your TVs. ZvBox converts computer content into a digital cable channel that your set can tune into over your home’s existing coaxial wiring. A radio-frequency remote controls your computer even if it’s in another room. ZeeVee ZvBox $500;


Ditch messy caulk tubes for single-use containers that make laying a bead as simple as squirting ketchup. The top of the packet tears off, leaving an opening of the correct size to ensure that caulk flows out smoothly. GE Caulk Singles $3;


Save hours of fiddling with your TV’s settings. This plasma is one of the first sets developed with audiovisual-lab THX to ensure, right out of the box, accurate colors and smooth motion in action scenes. Panasonic Viera PZ800 series From $2,300;


The first self-heating coffeemaker for the outdoors burns either butane or propane to boil water. A vented enclosure guards the flame from wind. And sensors allow the machine to shut off automatically if it tips over. Brunton BrewFire $100;


By eliminating x-ray-blocking plastic, this briefcase meets pending TSA rules that let you keep your laptop in its bag. Undo a zipper, and a see-through pocket flops to one side for easy scanning. Skooba Design Checkthrough Price not set;


Golfers often misfire because they clench their clubs too tightly. Learn to loosen up with a glove that uses pressure sensors to measure the firmness of tiny air-filled pockets in the fingertips. Beeps signal an overzealous grasp, and an LCD on the wrist shows you which fingers are to blame. SensoGlove $100;


This 17-inch laptop is the first with a built-in color calibrator. Select “screen adjustment” mode, close the lid, and three small camera sensors near the mousepad judge the accuracy of the LCD to make corrections. Lenovo ThinkPad W700 Price not set;


Include yourself in family portraits. Using this camera’s “group timer” mode, you can set it to shoot only when a certain number of faces appear in the frame. Set it for three, say, and it will wait until your mug joins your two pals’. Fujifilm FinePix Z200fd $300;


The headphones on Speedo’s MP3 player are designed to stay in during a fast-paced swim workout, even during flip turns. The player clips to the back of your goggles, ribbed rubbery earbuds fit snugly, and the headphones’ hooks loop around your ears. Speedo AquaBeat $145;


Never miss your favorite broadcasts, with an XM Radio player that can record up to five stations at once. Other portable players save only one channel at a time, but the XMp3 can decode five incoming streams to snag multiple songs whether it’s in the dock or in your pocket. XM Radio XMp3 Price not set;


Type on this wireless keyboard for three years without changing batteries. Logitech conserves electricity by using its own wireless system, which requires fewer power-consuming transmissions than Bluetooth. Logitech diNovo Keyboard for Notebooks $100;


Bored of the movies you have on disc? The first Blu-ray player that can stream movies from the Internet connects to your Netflix Instant Queue, a selection of films you can start playing right away. LG BD300 Network Blu-Ray Disc Player Price not set;


Instead of squeezing hard on a handle, lightly press a lever with your thumb to speed this self-propelled mower up to 3.6 mph. Honda set the lever at an angle that minimizes the force required to pull the clutch cable. Honda HRX with SmartDrive $700;


Use this flashlight as a single handheld or work lamp, or split it into three 20-lumen torches. Connections link the lights when they’re in the dock, so turning on any one fires up the other two. Stanley 3-in-1 Tripod LED Flashlight $30;


Most high-def camcorders store video in the compact AVCHD format, which many computers struggle to decompress or lack the software to edit. This model is the first to shoot in either AVCHD or the easier-to-edit (but bulkier) MPEG-2 format. JVC Everio GZ-HD40 $1,300;


Spray paints are usually made for specific materials: a hard oil-based one for metal; a flexible, crack-proof acrylic for wood. Rust-Oleum’s combination of oil paint with plasticized resins flexes like acrylic but adheres to wood, metal, plastic, concrete and even glass. Rust-Oleum Universal $7; rustoleum


Get pristine tunes from the first dock that passes a digital signal from iPod to stereo. A chip in the dock tells the iPod to leave the analog conversion to your stereo, so a clearer signal reaches your speakers. Wadia iTransport $380;


No more hearing damage from cranking your MP3 player’s volume too high. These earbuds use resistors to reduce voltage to the speakers, lowering volume by 20 decibels. Ultimate Ears LoudEnough $40;


The first foldable helmet lets rock climbers pack more gear into their bags. The sides slide up, and the back flips inward to cut the size in half. When in use, the protective panels lock in place. Edelrid Madillo $150;


Drive this R/C racecar up walls and even across the ceiling. A fan underneath the car sucks in air, causing a drop in pressure that holds it tight. Air Hogs Zero Gravity Mini $30;


Tag photos by location, no GPS receiver required. Using built-in Wi-Fi, this SD card saves the ID of the nearest wireless access point as you shoot. When you upload pics to Eye-Fi’s server, software finds the ID on a map of 45 million networks to locate the shot’s neighborhood. Eye-Fi Explore $130;


The first elliptical machine with a seat works both arms and legs while taking pressure off your joints. Its pedals are on an angle to let your legs extend naturally while you sit. Octane xRide From $3,200;


Time your dive with a stopwatch whose buttons won’t leak even at a 3,300-foot depth. A magnet rests underneath each button. Push down, and it repels another magnet, setting the gears in motion inside the watertight case. Since no knobs breach the case, there’s nowhere for water to come in. Breitling Avenger Seawolf Chronograph $4,380;


This flashlight is as bright as a spotlight and burns for 150 hours on one charge. It extends battery life by running the LEDs at less than their maximum amperage, which produces nearly all the light while saving power. PrincetonTec Amp 5.0 $45;


Most image-stabilizing cameras intentionally cancel out only up-and-down shakes when in a panning mode, letting you create a motion-blurred background. This is the first to do it when held either horizontally or vertically, so you can capture zooming racecars or loping giraffes. Olympus E-520 $600;


Gamers and artists will appreciate a screen that displays one billion colors, 60 times as many as other monitors. HP tuned the voltages that control each pixel to allow finer gradations. (Billion-hue graphics cards are just about to hit the market.) HP Dream Color Display $3,500;


The Navigator’s built-in compass lets the device rotate GPS maps on the screen as you turn, ensuring that maps always face the direction you’re walking. Nokia Navigator 6210 $435;


Eight years in the making, Polaroid’s pocket printer does away with ink. Instead, precise pulses of heat activate dye crystals embedded in the paper. Polaroid PoGo $150;


Press shirts faster with the first spinning ironing board. Button your shirt over it, iron the front, and then flip the board over to the back. It rotates around a central axle on the front when you lift one end off the legs. Homz Revolution 360 $120;


No need to remember a clunky mounting bracket for your GPS. On the first unit with a built-in stand, a suction-cup flips out from the side and swivels in any direction to attach to windshield or dash. TomTom ONE 130 From $200;


The H2GO is the first radio-controlled car to run on hydrogen fuel cells. A solar-powered station splits water to release hydrogen that you pump into the car, where a fuel cell combines it with oxygen from the air to produce electricity. Corgi H2GO $130;


A used Trance sneaker takes up less space in a landfill. Its sturdy foam midsole biodegrades 50 times as fast as others, because its molecules are shaped to let the bacteria in dumps decompose them more easily. From Brooks’s shoes alone, this could eliminate nearly 30 million pounds of waste by 2028. Brooks is also sharing the recipe for use in other products. Brooks Sports Trance 8 $140;


Change your golf driver’s weight and flex on the fly with mix-and-match parts. I-Mix shafts and heads screw together in about 20 seconds with a torque wrench, and their titanium threads don’t easily strip. Callaway Golf I-Mix From $620;


The smallest eight-gigabyte USB memory key measures just over one inch long and an eighth of an inch thick. The maker eliminates the usual casing around individual flash-memory chips and tightly stacks four of them together. Super Talent Pico USB Drive $40;


The iP100 has twice the resolution of other portable printers. Canon shrank the paper-feeding mechanisms from its larger models, so the iP100 can hold sheets steady enough to precisely place 9,600 dots of ink per inch. Canon Pixma iP100 Mobile Printer $250;


This 13-watt compact fluorescent bulb is 30 percent smaller than most, so it fits in almost any shade. It gives off the same glow as bigger bulbs because its light-diffusing coating is applied more uniformly, leaving no thick spots that block rays. Sylvania Micro Mini Twist $10/pair;


Tag Heuer’s night driving glasses, developed for professional racers, adjust for the slight nearsightedness that results when your pupils dilate in the dark. Their tinting reduces haloes around oncoming headlights. Tag Heuer Night Vision Driving Glasses From $430;


Traveling without an adapter to charge your gadgets? This laptop can act as one. Plug it into the wall, and the USB ports transmit electricity even when the computer is in “sleep” mode or completely off. Toshiba Satellite A300 Series From $950;


Find plumbing and wiring problems without tearing up your house. The first digital behind-the-wall camera slips through a three-quarter-inch hole, magnifies objects with a 2x zoom, and displays results on a 2.5-inch LCD. Milwaukee Electric Tool Digital Inspection Camera $270;


This washer stops floods before they start. If a leak drips on sensors in the base or the incoming hose, it triggers the machine to shut off its intake valve and pump out water. Bosch Nexxt From $800;


Trim your hair twice as fast with a clipper that cuts on both backward and forward strokes. Others have scissor-like blades that feed in hair only from the front, but the ShortCut’s blades stand perpendicular to your head and swing in both directions. Remington ShortCut Clipper $30;


Record high-def programs without shackling them to your cable company’s DVR. Hauppauge’s HD PVR takes the analog component-video signal from your cable or satellite box (which, unlike the digital signal, isn’t encrypted), encodes it in a digital format, and passes it on to your computer, where you can save it or transfer it to handheld devices or DVDs. Hauppauge HD PVR $250;

The Little Details

At just 2.6 by 5 inches, Panasonic’s new camcorder is the smallest and lightest that records in ultra-detailed 1920x 1080p resolution. It saves space by combining four circuit boards into one, which also cuts power use and thus extends the battery life. Panasonic HDC-SD9 $800;


This digital camera is made specifically for your telescope. It has no lens of its own and instead attaches directly to your scope—no tricky adapters needed.
Minox Digital Camera Module $450;


Your bagels won’t get stuck inside the Smart Toaster. It raises and lowers bread with an elevator-like motorized platform that provides three times as much force as a mechanical spring.
Breville Smart Toaster $130;


Many sanders trap sawdust only to spill it when you fumble with the clasp to empty the container. The bin on Bosch’s sander twists off smoothly like a bottle cap, so you won’t bang dirt loose.
Bosch 5-Inch Random Orbit Sander $60;


Kids can race their friends to this battery-powered game console, which senses players’ radio-frequency-ID-tagged bracelets to determine the winner. Because its powerful RFID reader can register many bracelets at once, it can judge contests that come down to a tenth of a second. Later, upload your scores to your PC or download new race instructions.
Swinxs Price not set;

Note to Self

Don’t worry if you hear a little voice telling you what to do. It could be this digital calendar, which has a built-in video camera and voice recorder for creating multimedia reminders. Audiovox Digital Message Board $200;


When your visitors admire a photo on this eight-inch digital picture frame, give them a copy on the spot. The first model with a built-in printer creates 4×6 images using compact cartridges that include both paper and ink.
SmartParts SP8PRT $280;


This small circular level lets you judge a golf green’s topography. A bubble at the seven o’clock position, for example, means that a putt goes downhill and breaks right.
Momentus Golf Eez-Read $15;


Electrolux adjusts the output of two separate flame rings to achieve an extremely wide span of temperatures in a single burner. At 18,000 BTUs, it sears your food; at 450 BTUs, it melts chocolate without burning it.
Electrolux Dual Fuel Ranges From $2,400;


When you plug a music phone into speakers, the cell signal creates static. This iPhone dock is the first to use noise-canceling technology to filter out the buzz, instead of metal shielding to block the wireless signal.
Altec Lansing T612 $200;


This printer solves the problem of damp, wrinkly printouts by rolling a full coat of clear ink onto paper as it travels into the machine. Colored ink then bonds chemically to the clear layer instead of soaking unevenly into the paper.
Canon PIXMA MX7600 $400; /


Less than three inches high, this remote-control robot packs two miniature gear-boxes. One contracts and expands the legs for walking; the second pivots the body so that it can move in any of six directions.
Innovation First Hexbug Inchworm $15;


This bag hides a strip of reflective material under a layer of black mesh with a tight weave, so the bag appears inconspicuously dark during the day but glows when headlights hit it at night.
Timbuk2 Covert From $130;


When trying to calculate the fastest route, most GPS units assume that you can drive the maximum speed allowed. For traffic-clogged streets, the Go 730’s maps include data on the average speed that cars have actually traveled on a road over the past year.
TomTom Go 730 $450;

Viewer’s Choice

Any media streamer lets your TV play videos stored on your computer. This is the first that also lets you download additional movies with your remote. The easy-to-use menus make it simple to buy or rent flicks from CinemaNow. MediaSmart Receiver Price not set;

Rain Coat

A sudden storm won’t ruin a fresh coat of this paint. Part of the latex polymer cures twice as fast as regular paint, quickly producing a water-resistant finish. When the paint fully dries, it forms a durable shell. Sherwin-Williams Resilience $45 per gallon;

Talking on Sunshine

Stick the first solar-powered Bluetooth speakerphone in- side your windshield, and get 30 minutes of hands-free talk time for every three hours of sunlight. Cloudy day? Charge it from your car’s lighter. Anycom Bluetooth Solar Car Kit $100;

Clean Start

A clogged vacuum filter can’t trap dust. When you turn on the AeroBlast, it automatically clears its filter with a 15-second shot of air. This forces debris into the dirt cup and cleans the filter more thoroughly than the mechanical scraping method used by other vacuums. Panasonic AeroBlast $700;

Self, Centered

Trying to take a picture of yourself usually results in a crooked, blurry mess. But with the Samsung S860, select the self-portrait mode, and the camera snaps only when its face-detection software determines that you’re centered in the frame. Samsung S860 $180;


You can hold the world’s smallest digital SLR with one hand, just like a point-and-shoot. But like a pro camera, it takes interchangeable lenses, such as this 0.9-inch-thick model.
Olympus E-420 with 25mm lens $700;


Figure out if wireless gadgets such as cordless phones are slowing down your Wi-Fi connection. This antenna plugs into your computer and senses various radio signals. Software displays the traffic on different wireless channels.
MetaGeek Wi-Spy 2.4x $400;

Pocket Hotspot

Share your cellphone’s Internet connection with your laptop—or all the laptops on the bus. This battery-powered Wi-Fi router turns a phone into a wireless hotspot, which you can open to others or password-protect. CradlePoint PHS300 $180;

Decked Out

Re-create the feel of a bona fide cockpit with an LCD instrument panel that displays indicators from your flight-simulator game, such as an altimeter or a fuel gauge. Bonus: It frees up space on your monitor for more virtual sky. Saitek Flight Instrument Panel $100;

Driving Theater

Play along with Tiger. This golf simulator plugs into DVRs equipped with a USB port. Optical sensors in the turf measure the angle and speed of your shot, which is then superimposed on real tournaments you’ve recorded. Golf Launchpad Tour $200;

Wave Goodbye

Hit “snooze” on this phone’s alarm without fumbling for buttons. The camera automatically turns on to detect the wave of your hand as the phone lies on your bedside table. The same trick sends incoming calls to voicemail. Sony Ericsson Z555 Price not set;

A Laptop That Docks Without Wires

The R400 is the first laptop that can connect to any peripheral—printer, monitor, speakers, anything with a USB plug—wirelessly. Just plug them into the docking station. It communicates with the laptop through a new wireless technology called ultra-wideband, which carries video, sound and data faster than Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Signals can travel short distances with nearly the same quality as they would have over cables. $3,700;

Disaster-Proof Your Data

The first fireproof and waterproof hard drive for the home is encased in the same concrete-based material used to insulate safes. Your data and all internal electronics can withstand 24 hours underwater or short bursts of 1,550°F. SentrySafe Fire-Safe/Waterproof Hard Drive (80 GB) $240;

Power is Knowledge

Keep tabs on your energy use with an LCD-equipped surge protector. It displays real-time info on power draw, as measured by a current transformer.
Acoustic Research LCD Surge Protector $85;

Fitted Sheets

This paper shredder prevents jams by strictly enforcing its 15-sheet limit. A tiny optical sensor measures the thickness of the sheaf you insert, and the shredder stops and tells you if you try to overstuff it.
Fellowes SB-89Ci $230;

Network News

Want to know who’s hogging your Wi-Fi? This wireless router uses an LCD screen to display your network speed and how many kilobytes each user is downloading, as well as advice on setup and troubleshooting.
Belkin N1 Vision $200;

Control Your PC from Anywhere

With HP’s new server, you can open applications or files on your home PC from any other computer in the world—without any complicated network know-how. Just type in a personal Web address, and up pops an easy-to-understand interface, based on Microsoft’s new Windows Home Server operating system, that gives you access to anything on the machine. The server can also host a photo Web site, or automatically back up all the computers in the house.
HP Mediasmart Server $600;

Desktop Disco

A big draw of working from home? No need to turn down the music. These mini computer speakers create booty-shaking bass without shaking themselves off your desk. Two speaker cones push low notes out slots on opposite sides of the cabinet, canceling out vibrations that cause some speakers to move around.
Bose Computer MusicMonitor $400;

For the Road: Flash Stash

Don’t worry about losing this flash drive, even if it holds confidential information. Computers can’t access it unless you enter a PIN, which activates a switch that sends power to the drive’s controller.
Corsair Flash Padlock $30;

For the Road: Skull and Phones

This is the only Bluetooth headset to sense your voice entirely from vibrations in your skull bones. Since it lacks a regular microphone, it won’t pick up annoying ambient sounds like traffic or crowd noise.
Invisio Q7 $150;

For the Road: A Precise Peace

The first digital noise-canceling headphones eliminate background din with finely tuned modes for planes, traffic and offices. Instead of trying to cancel out analog sound waves, they convert sound to digital files and use software to excise noise.
Sony MDR-NC500D $400;

For the Road: Diskreet

Using the first 1.3-inch hard drive (iPod Classics use a 1.8-inch), LaCie crams up to 40 gigabytes—equivalent to 36,000 8×10 digital photos or 60 hours of standard-def video—into a glossy box smaller than two packs of gum.
LaCie Little Disk $120 (30GB), $150 (40GB);

For the Road: Pocket Hotspot

When you can’t take being at home any longer, no need to hunt down Wi-Fi. Share your cellphone’s Internet connection with your laptop—or all the laptops on the bus. This battery-powered router turns a phone into a wireless hotspot, which you can open to others or password-protect.
CradlePoint PHS300 $180;


Compute in comfort by adjusting this mouse to the size of your hand. Just pull it to extend it from 5.6 up to 7.8 inches long.
Humanscale Switch Mouse $120;


Keep rocking with the first hearing aid that doubles as a wireless headphone. A pocketable transmitter relays audio from a Bluetooth-equipped phone or MP3 player to the earpiece.
Phonak Exélia From $2,750;


New camcorders store high-def video to SD cards. But then what? Insert the card into a slot on the first TV with a decoder that plays HD video from a memory card. Or use the Ethernet jack to watch YouTube videos.
Panasonic Viera PZ850 plasma series Price not set;


Pour six months’ worth of detergent and softener into this washer, and relax. It automatically dishes out appropriate doses for each wash based on the selected load size, temperature and water hardness.
GE Washing Machine with SmartDispense $1,800;


Mow fume-free with the most powerful cordless lawnmower yet, which has a 60-volt battery (others top out at 36 volts). For tackling thick grass, it’s also the first battery-powered model that can plug into an outlet to boost blade speed.
Remington PowerMower From $400;


Most leather conditioners shine and protect a surface but don’t remove dirt. Turtle Wax’s new formula does it all by combining small amounts of solvents and soap with ultraviolet-light inhibitors and wax. It also works on plastic, metal and carpeting.
Turtle Wax Ice Total Interior Care $8;

Cell Replication

Answer your cellphone even if it’s in the other room. The No Jack base connects to your cell over Bluetooth and sends calls to the two included cordless handsets from across the house. GE No Jack $100;