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Trust us: It’ll make you a better photographer. The simple, intuitive M8.2 demands that you actually turn the aperture ring and shutter-speed dial manually, not just fondle screens. Luddite madness? Or a call for patience and thoughtfulness? The latter, no question. After days of shooting in Vancouver,…

1. The Hercules garnered more envious comments than any other jacket we tested—there’s just something about a sharp-looking soft shell with a fuzz-lined hood that people can’t resist. But less obvious touches—like flap-free drawcords and cuffs that repelled snow and rain without feeling constrictive or bulky—are what ultimately…

Looking for something more sophisticated than your basic cell phone but not crazy about stuffing a mini-computer into your pocket? This slim unit is a perfect middle ground. Because the touchscreen provides feedback—clicking and vibrating with each touch—we found texting, especially when multitasking, easier than with most phones. The…

Who says a classic-looking camera can’t be high-tech? Within the 8.4-megapixel D-Lux 2’s retro-styled exterior is a unique ultrawide sensor—one of the first on the market—that corresponds to the 16:9 aspect ratio of a widescreen TV. Adding to the panoramic feel is a wide-angle (28mm equivalent) lens. At Whistler,…

DEEP-FREEZE FRIEND During a couple of back-to-back days of single-digit chairlift rides in the Alps, the insulated Evo shined. And thanks to a patchwork of supple fabrics—including swaths of breathable, super-stretchy material under the arms—it offers way more mobility than most ski puffies. The combo is perfect for skiing in…

A LIGHTWEIGHT, WALLET-FRIENDLY DSLR A full-featured DSLR can be an awkward load when you’re traveling, especially in cities. Not the D40. I had no problem toting it through the streets of London and Barcelona. At just over a pound, the D40 is one of the lightest interchangeable-lens DSLRs around. But…

EASY PHONE HOME This Belkin number syncs with Skype, the free online-telephony app, making for a simple but truly effective device for those who regularly go abroad or frequently make calls to friends or family overseas. Once you’ve got an account, you can call—and be called by—other Skype users directly.

BELIEVE THE HYPE Yes, actually, the iPhone is all that. First off, it’s sexy. The aluminum-and-glass build gives a nice solid feel, the 3.5-inch touchscreen and Mac OS X make operation fast and intuitive (despite the typing learning curve), and it’s a breeze on the Web. Thanks to its…

Interchangeable lens, done right: Flip open the hinged front gasket, pop in a different lens (it ships with two) and in a matter of seconds you’ve got the right tint for the conditions. carrerasportusa.com…

The G1 is the first phone loaded with Google’s Android operating system. And as you’d expect, it’s all about integration: Android promises to bring the same level of multifunction- ality you expect from Google—search, mail, maps, documents, etc.—to multi­media mobile devices. The interface isn’t quite there yet, but we’ve…

At first glance, the six-megapixel Optio WPi looks no different than any other point-and-shoot. But hidden within the metal exterior are a series of rubber gaskets that seal out water (and dust), rendering this pocket cam completely submersible. Swimming in up to five feet of water and shooting in…

1. A paradigm-shifting camera, the D3 has a new sensor with incredible low-light sensitivity that, with a high-speed shooting rate (nine frames per second) and a new autofocus system that locks on to moving subjects like glue, can make images that were literally impossible to capture before now.

BEST FOR PORTRAITS Are you a people person? What separates this camera from all the other 6-meg point-and-shoots is a sensor that enables it to detect faces in the frame—up to ten at a time—and automatically set the precise focus and exposure for each one. I was skeptical, but at…

WALK, TALK, RUN, ROCK Fitness fanatics, listen up: This audio-focused, 3.3-ounce slider phone is the smallest, lightest device we tested—a stellar running companion. On board you’ll find a two-meg camera and a fitness app that can count steps, gauge speed, and monitor calories burned. Once we swapped out the puny…

With its integrated lens and extensive exposure-control features, the R1 straddles the fence between point-and-shoot and D-SLR. The 10.3-megapixel sensor produces images to rival any top-end SLR, yet with the built-in lens (not interchangeable) the R1 is surprisingly light by SLR standards; it weighs just 37 ounces. And make…

With metallic highlights woven into the strap and a distressed-leather carrying case, the Black Boutique is understatedly badass. For flat coastal light, the new Ignitor lens—taken from Smith’s sunglass line—is among the best we’ve tested. smithoptics.com…

The N96 is a multimedia wizard, and it comes with the same five-meg camera and Zeiss lens that helped make the N95 our 2008 Gear of the Year winner. Unlike most phones, in which the camera feels like a gimmicky add-on, the N96 has the exposure and flash controls…

Before you cry sticker shock, consider this: The 5D’s 12.8-megapixel sensor puts it among the very best digital SLRs available, and last year a comparable resolution would have set you back twice as much. Unlike most D-SLRs, the 5D sports a full-frame sensor that’s the same size as traditional…

LITTLE PARTY ANIMAL The T2 is as much fashion accessory as camera. The all-metal design has a nonprotruding 3x zoom and a 2.7-inch touchscreen that all but eliminates the need for external buttons. In a word, sleek. Pull it out at a soiree—as we did with our lime-green test unit—and…

WEATHERPROOF POCKET CAM Thanks to internal gaskets, the slim Stylus easily fended off steady rain while I was shooting in a storm on the west coast of Vancouver Island—conditions that would have fizzled non-water-resistant cameras in less than a minute. My other favorite feature is its image-stabilized 5x zoom lens…

TOUGH ON THE TRAIL The rubberized 400t was born for serious backcountry time, and you won’t find a more user-friendly or durable handheld GPS. A funky, do-it-all wheel replaces the usual array, making for easy one-hand navigation (non­existent in most handhelds). It’s also tricked out with a three-inch, backlit color…

HARD CHARGER Textile wonks say the Velocity’s Schoeller NanoSphere fabric—which runs across the jacket’s shoulders and back—is inspired by the especially water-repellent leaf of the white lotus. How closely it resembles its natural cousin we can’t say, but the Velocity does shed water better than most soft shells. And because…

The ideal goggle should vanish on your face, and the Crowbar comes pretty close. The extra-wide spherical lens and inverted V-shaped frame combine to provide the best peripheral vision of all the goggles we tested. oakley.com Bonus: Choose from almost 50 different frame/lens combos.

The Bold is more than just a business phone. With a smoother, more intuitive operating system, it’s way more user-friendly than previous Black­Berrys. And it’s ideal for international travelers who want to stay in touch—with Wi-Fi to avoid roaming charges, cellular-assisted GPS, long battery life, and quad-band accessibility. For…

Value never looked so good. The D50 puts a pro-quality digital SLR in reach of ambitious amateurs who want to move beyond snapshots—without shelling out more than they paid for their first car. With the ability to swap out lenses and go manual, it allows utmost creativity. And cutting-edge…

PRO SPECS, AMATEUR PRICE Need proof that technology trickles down? Just a couple of years ago, the 40D’s impressive features—10.1 megs, 6.5-frames-per-second shooting, self-cleaning sensor, nine-point autofocus system—would have set you back a few grand. Despite all that, this camera’s best asset is actually Canon’s latest DIGIC III image-processing engine.

DOUBLES AS A PHOTO ALBUM Sony has recognized the way people use digital cameras today—to show pictures, not just take them—and created a model well suited to the task. The DSC-N2 records each photo twice—once to the memory card and once, at a lower resolution, to an internal 26MB memory.

1. Hi-res still camera and hi-def videocam. Sure, digicams can shoot video. But not like this. Video is recorded through high-quality interchangeable lenses on a full-frame 35mm sensor, providing the type of manual focus and other controls previously available only to Hollywood DOPs. Stunning. And the .mov format makes…

This wrist-top GPS manages a knife-edge feat: It’s equal parts cool and geeky. Sporting the X9i, I launched out on a run from my hotel room in downtown Buenos Aires. Within minutes, the 12-channel GPS receiver had locked on to satellites and was displaying my speed and distance. When…

The Link is the only goggle on the market with a lens that’s both polarized and photochromic. It cuts glare, and, if you drop from a sunny ridgetop into a shady couloir, the tint automatically fades to let in more light. zealoptics.com…

Garmin took a page out of Apple’s book with the Oregon 400t, the first handheld GPS unit with a touchscreen and an icon-based interface. The result is the most user-friendly and intuitive GPS unit we’ve tested. The touchscreen keyboard makes entering info a cinch—something testers really appreciated when temperatures…

Basic navigation is available in everything from cars to phones these days, but Garmin’s palm-size powerhouse GPSmap 60CSx takes a sophisticated GPS—once found only in the hands of explorer-engineers—and puts it in every traveler’s pocket. With the unit’s intuitive interface, Garmin has simplified use for beginners while simultaneously incorporating…

GOOD WITH FACES For photographing family, friends, or a mob of dirtbags, the S12 is a beautifully simple solution. It boasts a 12-meg sensor, a sharp 3x zoom, and an advanced movie mode, but its best feature is a face-recognition function that detects as many as 15 unruly mugs and…

LUXURY FOR LUDDITES Why go back to manual controls in an age of whiz-bang do-everything automatics? Two words: speed and creativity. The 7.5-megapixel Digilux 3 is pricey, but after a few days of street shooting, we found the perfectly-placed controls let us manually frame and expose shots just as fast…

Super-zoom digicams have come into their own. Check out the ten-meg 565’s specs: RAW shooting, exposure lock, built-in image stabilization to reduce image blur, a 20x zoom that stretches from 26mm to a ridiculous 520mm, to name just a few of its SLR-like capabilities. Over a week in Mexico,…

If you thought real GPS navigation was beyond your budget, you haven’t seen the cell-phone-size 210. It’s not the only player in its price range, but it stands out for its internal 22MB memory—essential for digital mapping. The 210 ships with a built-in North American base map that shows…

The lightweight, flexible frame is vented from all sides, and the lens is festooned with no fewer than 18 vents. In other words, it’s practically impossible to fog these goggles up. Plus, it’s available with a prescription insert. adidas.com…

For starters, the interface is almost too much fun, like having a Mac in your hands, and audio integration is a snap with iTunes. Like the first-gen iPhone, the 3G has a 3.5-inch touchscreen that’s almost impossible to scratch—proven on multiple beach trips. Unlike the original, it boasts a…

Sony’s 7.2-megapixel DSC-V3 nabs Gear of the Year by combining the soul of a pro-level SLR with silicon guts capable of punching out truly tack-sharp images. Thanks to a blindingly fast processor, you won’t have to forfeit now-or-never moments to “shutter lag”—that maddening pause between hitting the button and nailing…

A DSLR IN DIGICAM’S CLOTHING The FZ18 sits firmly between two worlds: DSLRs and point-and-shoots. The built-in Leica lens puts it in the point-and-shoot category, yet it’s precisely this lens—a whopping 18x zoom that extends from 28mm to 504mm (film equivalent)—that gives it the shooting flexibility of a DSLR. Image-stabilization…

SIMPLE YET SOPHISTICATED Power low? The A710 can run on regular old AA batteries, which means—if you scrounge around someone’s pack or raid your headlamp—you should never miss a summit shot again. And stop showing your friends fuzzy wildlife shots: Because the A710 has a 6x zoom lens and the…

The LX3 has ended up in the pocket of more than a few pros we know. Why? For starters, it has a hi-res 10.1-meg sensor, can shoot RAW files—the best format for creative post-processing—like a DSLR, and features a tack-sharp Leica lens that zooms out to an ultrawide 24mm…

The great communicator gets better in 2006, with a radio range extended to 14 miles. In case you missed the earlier versions, the Rino is a fully functioning GPS and a two-way radio in one unit. While hiking in the Grand Canyon, we could split up on a whim…

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