You are as smart as the gadget you use. And the defining gadgets of the year are the re-tooled wonders, discovers Serish Nanisetti

We are what gizmos we use, would that be an appropriate definition for homo sapiens in this millennium? Perhaps. A bit of tweaking and a bit of magic with money sufficing for abracadabra were the defining features of 2009. As we bid adios to WorldSpace, we have to fine tune our WiFi powered Internet radio that catches the best of New York Philharmonic, BBC, Moscow Radio and even our Vividh Bharati.

This was the year in which Apple embedded a magnetic compass in its touchphone which made you wonder how the heck did they do it. “Can I hear the needle shake if I shake the phone and put it to my ear?” This was also the year smartphone market came of age with a range of Android devices that are getting racier by the day. The yearender catalogue of before-and-after is usually cooked up by journalists. In reality, all the tools we use are a continuum of stuff that was always there. How else do you explain the rise of LED TVs? The much touted LED TVs are nothing more than LCD screens with the backlighting source being an LED lamp. But we all want to have the latest abbreviated wonders. And we are willing to shell out big bucks for them.

Netbooks got lighter, smarter, faster and cheaper. The cheapest one is now available for Rs. 15,000 with Linux OS. Next year we will see the Chrome OS, that promises a boot-up as fast as a TV, and because it comes free from Google, expect the prices to dip further.

The other thing that we can look forward to next year is the Apple's iSlate or iTablet or iWhatever, that promises to be a cross between a colour book reader and a touchscreen notebook that can play movies.

Don't think the gizmos listed here or being talked about are for drooling on online sites. This year, half-a-dozen electronics malls were inaugurated in Hyderabad and you can walk in and drool there if you don't have the money. The software/hardware divide is getting increasingly thinner as can be seen in the rise of twitter. You don't need a computer anymore to make your voice heard. SMS and your word is online for the world to see and hear. Even the humble USB drive is helping transform the way information spreads. You can find the USB drive on your latest TV as well as on the DVD player. Copying songs from the player to the USB drive? That's as easy as cheese.

Cameras changed across the spectrum. If the higher-end ones brought down the prices or beefed up the specs, at the lower end they added bells and whistles and a bit of jargon to con you out of that money. More is not merrier with megapixels as their individual size varies. There we are.

If you believe that we are not what gizmos we use, then you have to listen to this modern fable where a couple got lost in wilderness for three days as they followed the directions of their SUV's GPS.

Then, their cellphone sprang to life and the GPS saved them. If only another man in a helicopter was carrying a GPS device…

Oh Lord, next year

Give our telecom operator 3G spectrum so that we can browse at lightening speed.

Give our telecom operator the sense to reduce the pricing for data and not just calls.

Give us an online retailer who will sell us stuff and not just show it to us.

Give us the confidence to buy online without fear of hackers vamoosing with our money.

Give us manuals for gizmos that we can understand.