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The iPhone killers: best products of 2007

Is the iPhone really the best product of the year?

Apple's iPhone is now with us, and it's an obvious choice for product of the year. But other trends and products have emerged in the gadget world in 2007 that could have a bigger impact on your life.

Some of the new trends and products will lead to newer, better services, and some provide new ways of interacting with information. And one trend that has long been with us in the technology world - better products for less money - has reached gale force for some types of electronic toys.

Here, then, are some of the trends and products of 2007 that could change your life.

Better phones

Even without the iPhone, the first half of 2007 was a stellar time for new, innovative devices.

"There are some really cool phones coming out, but they're struggling for attention in the shadow of iPhone," said Ross Rubin, director of industry analysis at NPD Group.

Arguably, of course, this glut of excellent devices is in reaction to the iPhone, but that doesn't make them any less attractive. These new phones have either strong built-in music capabilities or a host of other features that consumers will find useful. One such phone is the Nokia N95 (see our Nokia N95 review), which has been available in some parts of the world since late last year but is just now rolling out in the UK. With GPS, Wi-Fi, music, video and a 5Mp camera in one well-designed package, Nokia's N95 iPhone killer does it all.

"I just got an N95, and from a gadget freak's point of view, it's really something," said Neil Strother, an analyst at JupiterResearch. "It has a 5-megapixel camera, which is more than the camera my family uses. If this isn't a glimpse into the future, it's a glimpse into some pretty cool technologies."

Two other phones that have received a lot of attention are the Helio Ocean and the LG Prada.

The Prada went on sale earlier this year in the UK, and immediately drew comparisons to Apple's iPhone because it too has a touchscreen display that takes up most of the front panel. "The Prada looks like iPhone's younger brother," Rubin said.

The Ocean is even more impressive, according to Derek Kerton, principal of The Kerton Group, a telecommunications consulting company.

"It's a great phone with double sliding keyboards," Kerton said. "But one of the coolest things is the easy search. Here's every step in a search: First, open the keyboard. Then type a search word, hit enter, and it immediately launches a search on the [3G] network and responds with a browser with tabs that include Wikipedia, Google and Amazon. Basically, in about eight seconds, you have the answer you want."


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