So far 2008 has been a great year for gadgets. From the first Centrino Atom-based computer and a smartphone from Sharp that will go on sale in Japan this month to Sanyo's new model of its waterproof Xacti digital still camera has even clearer video and includes the ability to follow your friends' faces underwater.

And we can't forget NEC's Lui PC, which combines a PC and digital video recorder that can be accessed over a home network or internet. So there's nothing to stop you logging into the base PC and viewing its desktop or even the recorded programmes.

We also can't overlook research and development either. We've seen the launch the Seiko Epson chip that can support a touchscreen, and means epaper can now be written on digitally. Meanwhile Sony has repeated the jaw-dropping achieved by its super-thin XEL-1 OLED, with a pair of prototype OLED display panels that are just a few tenths of a millimeter thick, which could mean ever thinner TVs in the future.

NEC Lui PC and home media server

NEC has launched a new PC and home media server called Lui. The Lui can tune into digital high-definition TV broadcasts, and stream both live and recorded programs to compatible TVs and computers. It also allows remote Windows desktop access from portable devices. It's akin to a digital video recorder and PC packed together into a single, large case and is intended to sit in the living room next to a television as a central server for multimedia content.

The top-end model has a Blu-ray Disc drive and 1TB of hard-disk storage for video built alongside a fully-fledged computer running Windows Vista Premium and based on a 2GHz Core2Duo processor and with its own 320GB hard disk drive. For this NEC is asking users to pay $3,753(£1,876). The two thin clients dedicated to accessing the Lui are also available. One model looks like a small laptop PC and has a 10.6in screen while a second looks more like an Ultra Mobile PC (UMPC) and comes with a 4.1in screen.

The former will go on sale for $854 (£427) and the latter for $475 (£238). Their use is dependent on a network connection and link back to the home Lui server. NEC has no plans to sell the Lui PC overseas.

The NEC Lui PC and home media server

NEXT PAGE: A waterproof camera and new mobile phones from Samsung and LG

  1. We round-up the coolest gadgets launched this month
  2. A waterproof camera and new mobile phones from Samsung and LG
  3. The Scarlet TV series and razor-thin OLED panels
  4. The Fujitsu wooden laptop

May is proving to be a good month where gadgets are concerned. From waterproof cameras to super-tin TVs and a wooden laptop, there plenty of gadgets guaranteed to get you excited. Here's our pick of the bunch.

Sanyo waterproof Xacti camera

Sanyo's waterproof digital camcorder

Sanyo has improved its waterproof Xacti digital still and movie camera. The DMX-CA8 has an 8MP image sensor and the top still image mode outputs a 4,000 x 3,000 resolution image (an effective 12MP image created using pixel interpolation). On the video side the frame rate has been increased to 60 frames per second (fps), so you get smoother video during normal speed or slow motion. The face detection has also been tweaked and can keep track of up to four people while attempting to keep them in focus. The function also works underwater and can track people wearing all but the largest snorkeling or diving masks, said Sanyo.

The camera is waterproof at a depth of around 1.5 meters, which means it should work well for snorkeling but not for scuba diving. The DMX-CA8 will go on sale in Japan in mid-May for about $475 (£238). It will arrive in other markets around the world later, although precise dates haven't been fixed.

Samsung and LG stylish mobile phones

Samsung and LG have both launched their latest high-design mobile phones: the Samsung's Soul and LG Secret.

The Samsung phone is a slider-type handset that has an eye-catching touch panel under the display. The panel displays navigation icons that change according to the current application being run on the handset. For example, in camera mode, icons such as zoom and brightness appear, while music player functions appear in music mode.

The Samsung Soul is already available in the UK

LG's Secret uses the same form factor as its Chocolate and Viewty phones - a keypad slides out from beneath a touchscreen - and its case is made from carbon fiber. Both support 7.2Mb per second HSDPA downloading. The Soul is already available in the UK and the Secret will be out soon.

The LG secret uses the same form factor as the Chocolate

Willcom/Sharp D4 Centrino Atom PC

Japanese mobile carrier Willcom was first to announce a portable computer based on Intel's Centrino Atom chip. The D4 is being manufactured by Sharp and will be available in June for $395 (£197) with a two-year service plan $20 (£10) per month, taking the total cost to $795 (£437). The plan includes unlimited data. Willcom will not sell the D4 without the network service. It has a 5in widescreen display, 40GB hard disk, a slide-out 64-key keyboard and a monitor that tilts up slightly, making it easier to read when typing on a flat surface. It's perhaps a little bulky for making and receiving many calls so Willcom will also offer a smaller Bluetooth phone handset as an option. It will be targeted at business users and students, although Willcom also hopes it will appeal to more general consumers.

Sharp is manufacturing this portable computer based on Intel's Centrino Atom chip

NEXT PAGE: The Scarlet TV series and razor-thin OLED panels

  1. We round-up the coolest gadgets launched this month
  2. A waterproof camera and new mobile phones from Samsung and LG
  3. The Scarlet TV series and razor-thin OLED panels
  4. The Fujitsu wooden laptop

May is proving to be a good month where gadgets are concerned. From waterproof cameras to super-tin TVs and a wooden laptop, there plenty of gadgets guaranteed to get you excited. Here's our pick of the bunch.

Sony prototype razor-thin OLED panels

Sony's latest razor thin TV

If you thought Sony's 3mm thick XEL-1 organic light emitting diode (OLED) TV was cool then you haven't seen anything yet! The XEL-1 contained a 1.4mm thick panel, but now Sony has managed to slim that down to just 0.3mm. It's also managed to make a 3.5in prototype screen that's just 0.2mm thick. Both screens started out as a normal OLED screen but Sony ground down the glass substrate on which it was made to reduce the thickness.

The razor-thin displays are perhaps some of the most impressive yet shown thanks in equal parts to their thinness and the bright, rich image possible with an OLED screen. The panels aren't Sony's first thin OLED screens. Last year it developed a prototype OLED built onto a plastic substrate, which has the benefit of allowing the screen to be flexible. The latest screens are brittle because they are glass-based. There was no word on when or if the thin OLED screens on show might be commercially available.

LG thin Scarlet TVs

LG Electronics is the latest TV maker to join the thin-TV market with the launch of its Scarlet TV set. The TV is LG's thinnest flat-panel TV yet at just 45mm thick, which isn't thin enough to beat Sharp's X-series LCD TVs that recently went on sale in Japan. The Sharp TVs are 34mm at their thinnest point, and swell slightly to 38mm at the thickest point. The Scarlet are being sold in Europe under the LG6000 name with the 47in model already on sale. It boasts a full high-definition (1,920 pixel x 1,080 pixel) screen and 100Hz fast scanning to provide a smoother image when showing fast motion. Other sets will go on sale soon in markets around the world.

Epaper chip allows annotations

A new electronic paper display could allow users to annotate pages in electronic books, make amendments to documents and erase parts of the page with as much ease as using a real pen and paper. The screen combines a conventional electronic paper display with a touch panel and a newly developed control chip. The chip, from Seiko Epson , can control a screen with up to four times the resolution of current ‘writable’ epaper devices such as iRex Technologies iLiad and also refreshes the display faster, eliminating the slight lag between movement of the stylus and its effect on the screen. The new chip shortens the update time so the screen can be refreshed 50 times per second. That means lines appear on the screen as they are drawn by the user and interpreted by the touch-panel interface. The chip supports a screen of up to 2,048 pixels x 1,536 pixels and will be available commercially from August.

The electronic paper display

NEXT PAGE: The Fujitsu wooden laptop

  1. We round-up the coolest gadgets launched this month
  2. A waterproof camera and new mobile phones from Samsung and LG
  3. The Scarlet TV series and razor-thin OLED panels
  4. The Fujitsu wooden laptop

May is proving to be a good month where gadgets are concerned. From waterproof cameras to super-tin TVs and a wooden laptop, there plenty of gadgets guaranteed to get you excited. Here's our pick of the bunch.

Fujitsu wooden laptop

Could this be the environmentally friendly laptop of the future? Fujitsu has designed a llaptop PC with case manufactured from wood rather than the more traditional plastic or metal. The laptop, which is only a prototype, uses cedar wood for the case and also makes use of bio-plastics for parts. Bio-plastics are plastics produced from renewable sources such as vegetable oil rather than petroleum used in traditional plastics. The laptop PC carries the names of Fujitsu and Monacca, a Japanese design team that specialises in wooden products. The wood PC is only a concept and Fujitsu has no plans to put it on sale.

Fujitsu's wooden laptop

  1. We round-up the coolest gadgets launched this month
  2. A waterproof camera and new mobile phones from Samsung and LG
  3. The Scarlet TV series and razor-thin OLED panels
  4. The Fujitsu wooden laptop