The 20 Best Gadgets of the Decade (2000-2009)

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10. XBox (2002)

The reason the XBox and its 360 update get the nod over the Playstation 3 is for revolutionizing online gaming with the advent of XBox Live in 2002. Never before had you been able to meet foul-mouthed teenagers while playing video games without, you know, going to an arcade. Now if we could just stop those punks from quitting in the middle of a game when I’m beating them at FIFA 2010. Josh Jackson


9. Blackberry (2002)

By mid-decade, this series of smartphones from Canadian company Research in Motion had become known as “crackberries,” and they’d become as indispensable in business as the briefcase used to be. Josh Jackson


8. Slingbox (2005)

This genius device gives viewers access to their cable television programming anywhere with a computer and high-speed internet connection. While initially hailed as a solution for dorm-dwellers without space for a television, the slingbox has become a favorite of travelers who can’t miss their favorite shows or games just because they’re away from home. Kevin Keller


7. iPhone (2007)

When Apple launched it’s portable media player/web browser/gaming console/GPS, the phone application seemed the least of its concerns (after all, it partnered with AT&T for actual reception). But even as a phone, it added visual voicemail. And with new thousands of new apps, it’s the gadget that gets better every day. Josh Jackson


6. Amazon Kindle (2007)

Travelers need no longer preserve their novels’ final chapters for the plane ride home. The online superstore Amazon introduced its peculiar literary instrument in 2007, compacting the book and the bookstore into a single, grayscale device. The Kindle married an unlikely couple: literature and the electronic. It will remain one of the few gadgets to be never criticized for its brain-melting capabilities. And best of all, thanks to digital ink, it reads just like paper. Gage Henry


5. Wii Remote (2006)

All those arguments about video games turning children into lazy, pudgy zombies were met head on by Nintendo with the advent of the Wii, whose handheld controller could sense the boxing punch, tennis volley or basketball shot the player mimicked. Even my octogenarian friend Marty got in on the action, bowling with my nephew on Christmas day. Josh Jackson


4. Vodafone 3G Datacard (2004)

You are your own hotspot. It’s as simple as that. Laptops were meant to be mobile, so the Internet should be, too. When you can whip out your laptop in a moving car, any airport, on the bus, in the woods or in Starbucks (without paying ”$9.99 for an hour”), well, that’s true Internet freedom. Others have since followed, but Vodaphone led the way. Nick Purdy


3. Garmin GPS (2000)

When judging new technologies, you have to remember what they replaced. And is there any vestigial remnant from the 20th century we’ll miss less than the fold-out car map? The first automotive navigation system was developed in the early ‘80s, but it wasn’t until an executive order eliminated the intentional margin of error the military had insisted for commercial use on May 2, 2000, that the dashboard GPS became more accurate and widely available. Now you can navigate with voice directions from Homer Simpson, Gary Busey or Kim Cattrall. And you never have to try to fold those maps again. Josh Jackson


2. TiVo DVR (1999)

That little black-and-silver box revolutionized the television experience, shifting power to the audience in an unprecedented fashion. No longer do you have to plan your schedule around your favorite shows. Had to work late, caught a ballgame or met friends for a drink instead? You can still watch your Lost (or whatever your jam is) when you get home without having to worry about blank VCR tapes. And, of course, you don’t have to suffer all those obnoxious commercial interruptions. But even beyond the more obvious benefits, TiVo inspires a sense of discovery with its recommendations function, learning your tastes based on what you already like, and helping you find great programming you might otherwise have missed. And though some units did ship in 1999, we certainly consider it an artifact of the 2000s. Steve LaBate


1. iPod (2001)

Digital music was already swinging when Apple introduced its signature device in 2001, but the iPod (enabled by its software buddy, iTunes, with its grandma-friendly syncing) mainstreamed and legalized the revolution. Who needed a shelf full of CDs when you could carry all of pop culture—first music, then TV and movies—in your pocket, accessing everything with ridiculous ease? Filling a need we didn’t know we had, the little beveled box hit the sweet spot of form and function. It drove two of the decade’s biggest obsessions: portability and personalization. And there was nothing on it that we didn’t want on it—beauty is in the iPod of the beholder. In its early days, the gadget was an instant icon of cool. Then everybody from the Pope to your dad got one, and those white earbuds were no longer the hip fashion accessory they had been in ’03—the iPod had transitioned from a cult object to an essential accoutrement of modern life. Not having a pod was like not having a microwave: unthinkable. In The Perfect Thing, Steven Levy’s book about how the iPod conquered the world, John Mayer said the device “changed the chemistry of listening.” With the shuffle feature and easy skipping, it’s all one big celestial jukebox. There are no boundaries, only playlists. Five years into the pod’s reign, a research firm polled college students about the top “in thing” on campus. The iPod was #1. Tied for #2? Facebook and beer. Phil Kloer