Obviously i’m not at Macworld SanFran today, and i wasn’t in Las Vegas earlier this week for CES, but that doesn’t mean i’m not drooling from afar at all the hot new shiny avenues for consuming electricity. Granted, i have my own shiny new toys to play with right now, but it’s not too early to start spending for 2006. 🙂 Hot-hot-hot products of the week (that i’ll never ever touch in a non-chained-to-the-table way, natch) are Apple’s new Powerbooks (called MacBook Pro‘s now) and the new iMacs, both sporting dual-core Intel chips. As weird as it is that IBM’s PowerPC chips no longer run the numbers inside the box, the specs on the Intel-flavored machines are excitingly impressive, and Intel is much more involved in the personal computer chip business (obviously) with IBM primarily focusing these days on supplying the 52 Freescale chips required to build a BMW 7-series. Although i’m not totally sold on the name “MacBook” – even with the “Pro” tacked on the end it still lacks a certain professional-tool credibility – the “Power” in PowerBook was a reference to the PowerPC chip, and that obviously needed to be changed. Apple’s trend to stick “i” in front of words when naming products has thus far been reserved for the consumer product lines (and the millions of accessory, peripheral and knock-off manufacturers) so i suppose it makes enough sense that i’ll learn to say it out loud non-awkwardly. And it won’t keep me from losing sleep wanting one… 😉

Taking home the you-won’t-see-this-in-stores category is the iPod DJ, really just an overly-cute stand for your white (or black – Apple’s all about the multiracial music players these days) plastic friend with what looks like integrated speakers. Korean music lovers will likely be enjoying it in their ridiculously high-tech homes by week’s end, but this photo of the prototype from CES is probably as close as an American will ever come to one.

In the “i’m glad to see this market is maturing enough that prices are becoming realistic and the quality of offerings is improving” category (or “IGTOSTMIMETPABRATQOOII” for short), the Jabra BT620s Bluetooth combo headset is actually something i would consider adding to my Christmas wishlist next year. It will pair with more than one device, meaning it could be simultaneously linked with both a Bluetooth phone and an iPod with a BT dongle, pumping stereo tracks wirelessly into your ears and auto-switching to incoming calls. The mic and all the controls needed to accept/reject calls and fiddle with music settings are in the headphones themselves – the only thing they’re really missing is the wires (no tears shed here), and they charge over USB. What’s not to love?

The item i’d buy for my parents right now if i wasn’t still recovering from Christmas is the eStarling Wifi LCD picture frame, an otherwise ordinary LCD frame that adds POP email and Flickr account support, so i could set it up, mail it to them, and seamlessly provide them with new slideshow fodder of my exciting (and often sordid) adventures with absolutely no work for them whatsoever. If the thing supports dialup then it would make a great grandparents gift, too – although my parents are tech-hip enough to have a WiFi network, my geek aura hasn’t yet reached into the extended family. I’m watching the prices.

Finally, my favorite category: things i would love to rock in public if i thought i was cool enough to pull it off. You may remember my foray into this category for 2005, where i actually purchased an item from this theoretically non-purchasable list and i have actually since found one appropriate occasion to “rock it”, and believe me, i did. Out loud. So perhaps this category is more realistic than i thought. Anyway, the only-cool-people-can-pull-this-off item for 2006 is admittedly a little girly anyway (at least in the picture) and would require my owning an iPod Nano (bringing my personal iPod collection to an unnecessary three), but despite that i still find the TuneBuckle ridiculously clever and i’m going to be keeping a mental inventory between now and Christmas of 2006 for friends who meet all the qualifications of wardrobe, iPod selection and coolness rating to receive one of these babies in their stocking. If i can’t buy it for myself, i’m going to buy it for someone.