A Flick Pick. Sink yourself into the enveloping, 3D-like images of high-definition video-on a disk. The RCA HDV5000 HD DVD player ($500) produces detailed pictures, rich surround sound, and more. For example, flexible menus on the new DVDs mean you can turn the director's comments on and off without having to exit to a main menu. More movies are appearing every week on HD DVD, which has the early momentum against its rival Blu-ray. But you still risk half a grand on a format that might lose the battle. And this early version takes a full two minutes to start playing a disk.
Looking Smart. In love and tech, brains alone can be attractive. Now the smartphone is getting good looks, too. Palm is aiming its popular business line at everyday users with the Treo 680, which arrives with bright color casing and a slightly slimmer figure. Pricing is also expected to be consumer-friendly, meaning $200 or so with a wireless contract. And the 680 adds music and video upgrades to the familiar Palm software, which remains the best of hand-helds for calendar and addresses. This Treo does E-mail and Web, though it can't handle the fastest new data networks.
We Say Oui At some point, high-powered video game graphics become irrelevant and what matters more is how much the game-play pulls you into the action. In this regard, the Nintendo Wii ($250) overpowers the more impressive tech specs of its competitors. The Wii's controller is motion-sensitive: Swing your arm in the air, and your character swings his tennis racket on-screen. It's engaging and comfortable, once you get past the self-consciousness of waving your arms at your TV.
With Kenneth Terrell
This story appears in the November 27, 2006 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.