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Holiday Gadgets and Trends

The radio stations were playing Christmas music even before Thanksgiving, but it's going to take more than a perky soundtrack to shake the blues from the current economic turmoil.

In October, the Consumer Electronics Association estimated that spending for CE products would grow 3.5 percent for the fourth quarter, even as total holiday spending per household declined by 14 percent. But now the CEA has chopped its holiday sales forecast to a barely positive 0.1%, based on the severity and speed of price declines and weakness in consumer demand.

So this year brings even more focus on nesting -- or even cocooning -- close to home. Yet even though this isn't a time for extravagant spending, you will find that today's tech gadgets are more useful than ever, and are more tempting as prices continue under pressure -- to make those winter nights or long trips more pleasant and even enjoyable.

So here's my Holiday Gadgets 2008 annual summary of some interesting new products, highlighting portable devices that also help illustrate developing trends you can look for in the year ahead, and with links to my Galleries and blog postings for more information.

Happy 0.1%!

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