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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…

INSULATED CONVERTIBLE Need variable warmth for variable conditions? The two-in-one Apollo, with its removable vest, is your jacket. The vest, insulated with synthetic fill, adds plenty of core warmth, but it snaps in or out in just a few seconds and adds very little bulk, allowing the jacket to fit…

WEATHER BEATERThe Stylus 500 is one of the only cameras out there equipped to handle a downpour: I shot supercrisp photos along B.C.’s Howe Sound Crest trail in rain that would have fried most digis faster than you can say “one-year warranty.” The secret? Tiny rubber gaskets within the all-metal…

HI-DEF, IN HAND The V1253 is a fine still camera, thanks to 23 scene modes that match almost any scenario imaginable, plus a macro mode that can focus as close as two inches. But with its ability to capture HD-quality videos, and in such a minuscule package, this may be…

1. Eliminate extra gadgets: The Crossover is the first unit on the market with outdoor, marine, and advanced vehicle capabilities all crammed into a single lightweight unit. Even with the broad functions, the Crossover is simple to use, thanks to an intuitive, icon-based menu system paired with one of…

Like the podium-topping Canon, the D90 shoots photos and HD video, but at less than one-third the price. Consider it the Corvette to Canon’s Lamborghini—i.e., it’s not the most luxurious, but it’s still one very sweet machine: 4.5-frames-per-second shooting, a 12.3-meg sensor, and a best-in-the-industry, super-hi-res three-inch LCD screen.

With unlimited expandable memory (through an SD-card reader/writer slot) and a market-leading 3.5-inch full-color screen, the XL’s raison d’être is onscreen mapping. After a road trip through the interior of British Columbia—with detailed maps uploaded—it was demoralizing to go back to a smaller screen. When I traveled by bike,…

Got a small noggin or narrow face? The multilayer, face-conforming foam and small frame will fit you right. scottusa.com Bonus: Extra-wide outriggers on the strap ensure a snug fit with or without a helmet.

DAY TRIPPERCanon engineered this 7.1-megapixel, brushed-aluminum jobbie for road warriors. Why? Its retractable, extra-wide, 28–100mm (film equivalent) zoom lens nails broad outdoor landscapes. In Punta de Mita, Mexico, I immortalized sweeping beach vistas—from the locals slicing open fresh coconuts under palapas to the surfers riding the point break—that…

ALL-WEATHER BADASS Digicam designers must not get out much; the 790 SW is one of only two made to scoff at the elements. (The other is Olympus’s even tougher, fancier, pricier 1030 SW.) Rubber gaskets seal out dust and render the camera waterproof to ten feet down—a feature we tested…

BEST FOR BEGINNERS Never used a GPS before? Check out the refreshingly straightforward Venture. On day hikes and quick overnighters around British Columbia’s southern Coast Mountains, testers with limited GPS knowledge found the cell-phone-size Venture’s simple menu system the most intuitive to operate. Its relatively big (1.3-by-1.7-inch), bright color screen…

When it first emerged last year, face-recognition technology seemed hokey and didn’t even work that well. The F60fd changes all that. When we passed it around among amateurs and pros alike, it easily recognized multiple faces, even in full profile, nailing exposure, focus, and color balance every time.

The Atlas MNS is the quickest responder of the bunch. Flip it on and, before you can say “lost,” it locks on to satellites and starts kicking out coordinates. Scroll between pages and the dual processor pulls up weather, altitude, and navigational data almost instantly. Signal acquisition also shines…

BEST FOR BACKCOUNTRY Unlike a lot of windproof soft shells, which rely on an embedded membrane, the Winter Guide’s gale-thwarting abilities come from a supertight weave, enabling it to breathe better than most. During a day of ski touring in Washington’s North Cascades that involved everything from cold descents to…

THE BIG EASYWithin its minimalist design, the 5.1-megapixel R707 packs some sophisticated imaging features. The adaptive light setting helped bring out foreground details in tough-to-expose backlit situations. To wit: I nailed the “Hell, yeah!” expressions of my climbing buddies at the foot of a wall in Skaha Bluffs, B.C.—a detail…

1. Introducing the rare smartphone that earns the title. Most do-it-all devices compromise one system for another, but the N95 shines as both multimedia and communication device, with Wi-Fi, GPS, and FM to boot. And the intuitive setup makes operation a snap: Slide the panel up for the keypad…

ASK MORE FROM YOUR PHONE Some friends and Web sites give great directions; others, not so great. So why not get the info straight from the pros? With a subscription to a third-party GPS application like TeleNav ($10 per month), the 8703e smartphone becomes a full-featured on-road navigator, providing onscreen…

Making the switch from point-and-shoot to DSLR? The 10.2-meg K2000 comes with a 27.5–85mm (35mm-equivalent) zoom lens and a flash for the price of some digicams. Plus, at 20.8 ounces with batteries, it’s one of the lightest and smallest DSLRs on the market. Beginner-friendly features include built-in image stabilization…

Never miss a shot again. With virtually no shutter lag—a luxury previously found only on high-end SLRs—and an almost instantaneous startup, the 6.3-megapixel F10 is ready before you can say “cheese.” This lightning-fast responsiveness, combined with the F10’s small size (slightly larger than a deck of cards, it’s perfect…

BARGAIN PUFFY Good luck finding an equally tricked-out, ski-specific soft shell at this price. In addition to a removable powder skirt and helmet-compatible hood, the Wildcard has everything you need—hidden pass clip, dedicated goggle pocket, and audio-player compartment with earbud port—for an organized day sans backpack. Its low-profile layer of…

FREERIDE FUN Kona keeps upping the ante with its perennial freeride favorite, the Stinky, and this year’s version is the sweetest one yet. Designers added new swingarms to stiffen up the seven-inch rear shock (nice), but the big news is a brand-new rear brake system—dubbed D.O.P.E.—that allows the rear disc…

FOLLOW THAT VOICE Calling HP’s Travel Companion a GPS unit just isn’t fair. The 4.3-inch screen is huge, and 3-D technology means maps can be viewed topographically or at street level—making for foolproof (and fun) navigation. On the road, mate it with a Bluetooth cell phone and it doubles…

WILDERNESS-READY Two unique features make the Onix the year’s best GPS for the backcountry. The first is a layering function that lets you view different kinds of information—compass, waypoints, and map, for example—on the display together, eliminating the need to continually scroll between screens. The second—and even cooler—feature is the…

1. The C905 is the only camera phone we’ve ever felt deserved the name. Its 8.1-megapixel camera features autofocus, a xenon flash, image stabilization, instant Web uploads, a sliding lens cover, and face-detection technology. We printed eight-by-tens that compared favorably with prints from a beginner DSLR. There’s even a…

The 3x-optical-zoom-equipped SP-350 has all the trappings of an SLR—manual exposure controls, an ergonomic grip, and external-flash hot shoe—but without the bulk. During a late-summer trip through Jasper National Park, I tucked this 9.6-ounce black beauty into my jacket pocket and carried it everywhere, even on fast-and-light hikes. The…

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