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The Online Mom provides internet technology advice and information to help parents protect their kids, encourage responsible behavior and safely harness the power of technology in the new digital world. Social networking, photo sharing, video games, IM & texting, internet security, cyberbullying, educational resources, the latest on tech hardware, gadgets and software for kids 3-8, tweens and teens, and more.

Top 10 Gadgets of 2010

It was a year of tremendous innovation and invention, a year when numerous ground-breaking gadgets arrived on the market, changing both the way we live our lives now and our expectations for the future. From the wildly successful iPad to Microsoft’s re-entry into the smartphone market, 2010 was a year to remember.

We take a look back at some of the devices that made the biggest impact in The Online Mom’s top 10 Gadgets of the Year:

1. iPad

Undoubtedly the device of the year, if not the decade. After its much-hyped debut in April, the iPad has actually picked up momentum and forecast sales of 10 million in the first year are now looking extremely conservative. Part workhorse, part media player, part gaming device, the iPad’s cross-generational appeal is what makes it truly different. Look for an even better version early in 2011.

2. Kinect for Xbox 360

The first truly revolutionary gaming device since the Wii arrived in 2006. Kinect does away with traditional handheld devices to make you the controller. Whether you are leaping over obstacles, getting a great workout, or practicing your best dance moves, Kinect gets you on your feet – and brings video gaming to a whole new fan-base of kids and families.

3. Android smartphones

While Apple grabbed the tablet headlines with the iPad, it finally got some serious competition for the iPhone. Smartphones based on Google’s Android operating system arrived fast and furiously throughout the year. From the Droid Incredible to Sprint’s Evo 4G to the Samsung Galaxy S Series, Android phones dominated, picking up millions of fans along the way. By the end of the year, Android phones were outselling the iPhone in the U.S., pushing RIM’s BlackBerry operating system into a distant third place.

4. Nook Color

Barnes & Noble came through with perhaps the biggest surprise of the year, delivering a full-color e-reader that was well designed and easy-to-use. Although Amazon’s Kindle still leads the way, the Nook Color has managed to make it look a little old-fashioned. No doubt the people at Amazon are working hard on their own color version but, for now, Barnes & Noble is right back in the game.

5. Samsung Galaxy Tab

Despite the iPad’s head start, the tablet market is starting to heat up. Dell was the first to respond with the Streak, but Samsung’s Galaxy Tab offers the stiffest competition so far. The 7-inch screen on the Android-powered device is considerably smaller than the iPad, making it more portable but perhaps less impressive when it comes to playing movies and other media. The tablet wars have only just begun!

6. PlayStation Move

Unlike Kinect, the PlayStation Move is an actual controller, using a PlayStation Eye Camera and motion sensors to track a player’s position and movements. Again, Sony hopes that games designed specifically for the Move will get people up off the couch and appeal to families and more casual gamers. With Sony re-focusing on the family, the “gentrification” of video gaming is complete!

7. Apps

What’s driving the huge sales of smartphones and tablets? Apps – those tiny programs that are flooding our lives with games, news, maps, trivia and…stuff! Apple’s App Store now boasts over 300,000 apps, and Google’s Android Market is trying hard to catch up. With companies like Verizon and Samsung setting up their own app stores, there will be even more competition and more choice for consumers.

8. Nintendo DSi XL

Perhaps conscious of the threat posed to handheld gaming devices by the iPad and other tablets, Nintendo did what any electronics company does when faced with increased competition: they went bigger! The twin 4.2-inch screens on the DSi XL are 90% larger than those on the DS Lite, transforming the traditional pocket gaming platform into something quite different. The robust Wi-Fi capability, the dual-camera system, and the voice recorder all have Nintendo’s signature quality, making sure that the DS will continue to appeal to a devoted following.

9. iPhone 4

A thinner iPhone with better resolution, video chat, enhanced game play, and an extended battery life was supposed to cement Apple’s position as the most sought-after smartphone in the world. Instead, everyone focused on poor reception issues, which forced Apple to offer low-tech protective bumpers and had executives scrambling to manage a rare PR setback. While the iPhone 4 is still top-of-class when it comes to smartphones, the android-based competition senses a new vulnerability!

10. Windows Phone 7

Desperate to become relevant again in the intensely competitive smartphone market, Microsoft finally revamped its problematic Windows Mobile operating syatem, introducing Windows Phone 7 and a variety of Windows Phone 7-based handsets. Whether it’s too little too late remains to be seen, but there is sure to be more fall-out in this highly-crowded marketplace.

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