Merryn's Blog

Forget Apple's iPad, buy these gadgets instead

Apple's iPad is causing a stir among the world's technophiles. But there are plenty of other devices poised to make a splash that have slipped under the media's rader.

Apple reduced a certain section of the male population to the status of dribbling wrecks this week with the release of the "endlessly anticipated" iPad. (Apple iPad: Jobs blows netbooks out of the water). Not quite a laptop. Not quite a phone. The iPad mostly resembles a bigger, shinier version of the iPhone.

Still, it's supposed to be the gadget everyone needs desperately to get their hands on this year.

"Everybody uses a laptop and a smartphone," a straight-faced Steve Jobs declared this week, "the question has arisen, lately, is there room for a device in the middle? We've questioned this for years."

You're not the only one, Steve! I can't tell you how many hours I've spent staring at my computer, then at my phone, trying to imagine what incredible device would come from marrying the two. And failing.

Thankfully, there are people who are far better than me at working out how to profit from tech gadgets.

Like Paul Hill. Last week, Paul wrote about the biggest tech event of the year- the Consumer Electronics Show. This is a mecca for anyone even remotely interested in consumer technology. And while everyone was talking about 3D television after the show, Paul picked seven smash hit gadgets that had escaped the media attention.

There was the AR drone. This flying toy, developed by French firm Parrot (Paris: PARRO), is about the size of a pizza and can hover almost motionlessly, propelled by four rotors and an on-board computer. Users steer the drones with iPhones, which act as remote controllers. A camera mounted on the AR drone sends a live video feed to the iPhone, meaning that you can see what the drone sees.

And the ShowWX Laser Pico Projector from Microvision (Frankfurt: MVI) - a pocket-size device that can connect to mobile phones, MP3-players or computers, and uses lasers to project a high-quality wide-screen image on to any surface. There has been an explosion in online video since the iPhone arrived. This gadget could really tap into that demand.

But perhaps the most exciting trend of the future is robotics, reckons Paul. He recently wrote about the best way to play the rise of the robots in Precision Guided Investments, his investment newsletter.

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