Cool Stuff: Your 2008 Christmas Gift Guide

18 economical, expensive, and just plain weird tech gifts for your friends and family

Over the Top:Sony XEL-1 OLED Digital TV

This may not be the most expensive LED television you can buy. But at US$2,499 retail, the XEL-1 OLED Digital TV from Sony is probably the most expensive LED thin-panel television that you can buy with a screen that's less than 12 inches by 10 inches.

Despite its diminutive size, this newfangled, 11-inch diagonal, OLED (organic light-emitting diode) television -- the first of its kind from Sony -- may be the technology of the future for amazing television images. OLED technology is able to reproduce the color black more correctly, which gives spectacular dark-scene detail compared with previous TV technologies.

The XEL-1 also features jaw-dropping picture quality, with a screen that's just 3mm thick and a 1,000,000:1 contrast that has largely been unseen in previous generations of LED televisions.

The XEL-1 also includes two HDMI inputs, a digital tuner and a memory stick media slot. If you can wait, Sony has promised that it will begin selling larger OLED screen TVs next year -- but expect prices even higher than those for this tiny debut model.

-- Todd R. Weiss

Off the Wall: Mr. Personality

Fess up, now -- you've always had a thing for all those sleazy talk show hosts on late night TV, haven't you? Want one of your own to keep your spirits up when your boss yells at you, or when your monthly credit card bill shows up?

What you need is Mr. Personality, a rolling robot from WowWee who cracks wise, reads your daily fortune and answers your questions about the future. Mr. Personality also makes a great gift for the lonely geek who doesn't want to deal with real people.

He comes equipped with a color LCD screen, which creates the animated "face"; four infrared sensors so it can avoid obstacles (and, hopefully, your pet cat); a built-in microphone so you can make voice memos; 64MB of built-in memory; and an SD memory card slot. You can even change Mr. Personality's personality using the included PC software, and download more from WowWee's Web site.

Mr. Personality isn't a cheap companion -- he lists at US$300 and needs six C batteries in order to tool around your home. But isn't that a small price to pay for your own robotic stand-up comedian?

-- Barbara Krasnoff

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