In the internet age it's much easier for far-eastern technology giants to tempt us with their latest goodies than it is for them to ship the blessed things to Blighty. Too often it's too bad: we Brits can read about the latest gadgets, but we have to cross at least one ocean to get them.

The coolest gadgets almost always debut overseas - usually in Asia. Some are mobile phones that double as music players or TVs. Others are supersmall yet powerful notebooks or handheld PCs. And some are just weird, like the world's most disturbing piggy bank.

We'll get them eventually, and we just can't wait.

In some cases you may not be totally shut out when it comes to procuring one. Though these devices aren't officially for sale in the UK, some are available from gray-market importers or on eBay. Just make sure that you can obtain a service plan to support what you buy, if appropriate.

The coolest gadgets almost always debut overseas. But we'll get them eventually, and we can't wait

A tiny, big screen

Panasonic Viera P905i

Think of it as the world's smallest "big-screen" TV. Panasonic's Viera Ketai handset boasts a 3in screen with a contrast ratio of 2000:1 - comparable to that of many full-size LCDs, along with powerful image processing and a tuner for Japan's 1seg ("one seg") mobile broadcasting service.

You can use the Panasonic Viera P905i as a standard vertical flip phone to make calls, or turn it 90 degrees and flip the screen open horizontally to watch TV and play 3D games. High-speed broadband, GPS tracking, and a 5Mp camera complete the package.

Availability: Japan only; distributed by NTT DoCoMo

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The coolest gadgets almost always debut overseas. But we'll get them eventually, and we can't wait

A small, light, XP PC

Raon Everun UMPC

The diminutive Raon - 128mm long and less than 500g in weight - is for travellers who want their laptop to feel not much heavier than a densely woven doily. This Windows XP-based handheld sports a full qwerty keyboard, a 4.8in touchscreen that can shift between portrait and landscape modes, and your choice of either a standard 60GB hard drive or 6GB of energy-saving solid-state storage.

Integrated Wi-Fi lets you log on to the internet; a docking station, a car mount, and an external keyboard are optional. This ultramobile PC (UMPC) earns its name with a battery life rated by the maker at 7 hours for the standard battery and 12 hours for a larger, enhanced unit.

Availability: Korea (but at least the enhanced battery should last through the long flight back)

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The coolest gadgets almost always debut overseas. But we'll get them eventually, and we can't wait

Samsung's got Soul

Samsung 'Soul' SGH U900

Samsung's sleek new mobile phone is thin and rich: The 13mm-thick handset includes a 5Mp camera with 4x digital zoom, image stabilisation, and face detection, plus support for blazingly fast 7.2Mbps data connections.

But the real innovation here is the interface. This slider phone offers both a numeric keypad and a touch screen that vibrates when you press it; meanwhile, the Soul's Thematic user interface displays only the icons relevant to the task at hand.

You can actually get hold of a Samsung 'Soul' SGH U900 in the UK from this month, but it will cost you a mighty £399, which makes the iPhone look cheap!

Availability: Europe, starting this month

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The coolest gadgets almost always debut overseas. But we'll get them eventually, and we can't wait

Shh... silence is golden

NEC ValueStar W

The W in this entertainment PC's name stands for "Water Silence" but "Whisper quiet" would be just as accurate.

The Vista Media Center PC wraps a liquid-cooled hard drive in sound-absorbing material to produce ambient noise of just 25 to 30dB - quieter than a nearby human whisper - so you can hear the movie, not the machine. The ValueStar W comes configured with an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, a 22in LCD, and a combo Blu-ray/HD DVD drive (get 'em while they last).

Availability: only in Japan

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The coolest gadgets almost always debut overseas. But we'll get them eventually, and we can't wait

Robots go botty

Toshiba ApriPoko Robot

As if you needed another reason never to leave the couch. This 28cm (just less than a foot) tall robot - which looks like the love child of a bird Pokemon and the Pillsbury Doughboy - is actually a voice-activated remote control that incorporates artificial intelligence.

If you pick up your TV's remote and start pressing buttons, ApriPoko will ask what you're doing and then memorise the IR codes associated with your actions. The next time around, you can just say "turn on the TV" and ApriPoko will take matters from there. That's the theory, anyway.

Availability: As yet, ApriPoko is nesting in Toshiba's research labs, awaiting its first solo flight

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The coolest gadgets almost always debut overseas. But we'll get them eventually, and we can't wait

Sony goes sleek, not meek

Sony VAIO G2

This superthin laptop comfortably breaks the 1kg barrier with virtually no compromises, thanks to its durable yet lightweight carbon-fibre casing.

Its 12in screen and full keyboard mean that you won't be forced to squint or engage in two-finger typing.

You can choose a 100GB hard drive or a 64GB solid-state drive (SSD). Because they have no moving parts, SSDs are faster, quieter, and more power-efficient (though also much pricier, at least so far). If you and your flight attendant muff a drink exchange, spilling club soda on the drip-proof keyboard, the G2 shuts down automatically before anything gets fried.

Availability: Japan

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The coolest gadgets almost always debut overseas. But we'll get them eventually, and we can't wait

Mobile phone in the bath?

Fujitsu F705i

At last, there's a 3G mobile phone that you can drop into the pool without taking a financial bath.

Fujitsu's F705i is the slimmest, most sophisticated waterproof phone on the market--you can even wash its keypad with water.

But the cool features don't stop at the shoreline. Eight levels of zoom simplify reading email in different lighting conditions, and the F705i's "super clear voice" feature automatically adjusts the volume of incoming calls to a comfortable and audible level based on the amount of ambient noise.

Availability: Japan only

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The coolest gadgets almost always debut overseas. But we'll get them eventually, and we can't wait

Lapteletopvision

Aigo USB Dongle

It's a laptop! No, it's an HDTV!

Actually, it's both - thanks to Aigo's USB Dongle, which uses Legend Silicon's LGS-8GL5 chip set to receive and decode high-definition TV broadcasts on the go. Plug it into any laptop's USB port to receive terrestrial signals from China's new mobile HDTV broadcast network, created specifically for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The dongle is one of dozens of portable high-def receivers that are being installed in buses, taxis, and public venues throughout China.

Availability: China only

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The coolest gadgets almost always debut overseas. But we'll get them eventually, and we can't wait

Three become one

NEC LUI

LUI stands for "Life with Ubiquitous Integrated Solutions" and although we might have expected the acronym to come out as LUIS or maybe LwUIS, the underlying idea is simple: store your digital media on NEC's home server (centre), and then access it wirelessly via a nifty handheld device or a slim lightweight subnotebook.

The server features two high-def tuners and a built-in DVR, and the whole system communicates via WiMax wireless. Just think - if the folks at NEC ever produce a miniaturised version of this setup, they can call it the Shrimp LUI.

Availability: Japan only; NEC plans to roll it out this year

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The coolest gadgets almost always debut overseas. But we'll get them eventually, and we can't wait

Feed the bank

Face Bank

The Face Bank lets you put your money where its mouth is. Wave a coin in front of the bank's eyes (actually light sensors), and it opens wide to swallow your loose change. Afterward, it looks so pleased that you half expect it to emit a contented belch. The thing would be even cooler (and creepier) if it spoke with the voice of Vincent Price - but alas, no.

Created by Japanese designer Takada, the $50 bank is available in eight colours and textures, from lemon yellow to brick red.

Availability: Japan only

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