Finding a distinctive gadget to give as a holiday gift shouldn't be a problem this year. You'll find plenty of products that didn't exist a year ago - heck, even a few months ago.

Finding a distinctive gadget to give as a holiday gift shouldn't be a problem this year. You'll find plenty of products that didn't exist a year ago - heck, even a few months ago.

E-Readers

The wireless e-reader category is expected to explode next year. These handheld devices mimic the experience of reading a book page-by-page as you touch a button or swipe your finger across the screen. They can hold hundreds of publications, and typically let you sample materials before you buy.

Amazon's Kindle ($260) used to be a one-of-a-kind product on which books, newspapers, magazines and blogs could be purchased wirelessly over a 3G cell phone network. Within the month, both Sony and bookseller Barnes & Noble will join the fray.

Sony was a pioneer in e-readers that had to be synched to a computer to download your chosen reading materials. Next month they introduce the Daily Edition Reader ($400), which will add the ease of free downloads over a 3G network. Sony's gadget will sport a 7-inch touch screen.

Barnes & Noble will soon introduce their Nook ($260), an e-reader with 3G wireless and WiFi connectivity. This gadget has both a six-inch E-Ink screen for reading and a 3.5-inch color touch screen that helps you navigate through the reading material and take notes.

Smartbooks

Once upon a time, computer buyers only had to choose between a desktop or laptop. In the past year, the smaller netbook - typically costing $400 to $500, weighing three pounds and sporting a full-size keyboard and 10-inch monitor - became popular.

Coming next is the smartbook, a cross between a netbook and a smartphone.

A typical smartbook will have constant 3G and/or WiFi connectivity, will be less than an inch thick, weigh under two pounds, feature all-day battery life, sport an almost-full-size keyboard and 7- to 9-inch screen, include built-in GPS and cost around $200.

Unfortunately, buying this leading-edge gadget today requires a trip to Japan, where you can purchase a Sharp PC-Z1 Netwalker for $480. But Qualcomm's CEO Paul Jacobs will introduce the product in the U.S. during his keynote speech at the International Consumer Electronics Show in January. That speech is expected to be the launching pad for some 15 manufacturers to announce 40 smartbook devices that will be offered for sale in 2010.

LED TVs

The latest, and many say best, flavor of HDTV are LED TVs that use light-emitting diode backlights for richer contrast and faster refresh rates than a typical LCD TV. Available at Best Buy today are a 46-inch Samsung (model UN46B8000) for $2,300 or a cheaper 22-inch Insignia (model NS-22E430A10) for $300.

Wireless charging pads

Eliminate that annoying tangle of wires clogging up your outlets with a single pad capable of charging multiple gadgets simultaneously. Powermat ($100 for a mat and $30-$40 for receivers at Best Buy) uses magnetic induction to recharge your stuff. The Duracell myGrid Cell Phone Starter Kit ($77 at Amazon.com includes a charging pad and power clip.

Camera/projector combo

The Nikon Coolpix S1000pj ($400 at Amazon.com is the first and (thus far) only digital camera that doubles as a palm-sized projector to share the photos in your camera with others. The camera has a 12.1-megapixel sensor and 5x optical zoom, and the projector displays pictures and videos as large as 40 inches and at a distance up to six and a half feet.

Got a gadget question or a high-tech toy to recommend? E-mail gspot@columbusalive.com