We're happy to admit that some tech just doesn't fit into any other category. That's what the Vodafone Pocket-lint Gadget Awards Best Gadget section is all about. In many ways these devices are gadgets in their purest sense. They're objects with a clever little function to help make our lives that bit easier. Well, either that or they're pure novelty.
It's a huge and diverse part of what we write about here at Pocket-lint, so make sure to shout out below which ones we've missed and which you think deserves a nomination for this most coveted of awards.
Home & Kitchen
Before newfangled mobile phones and when it was all fields round here, the original gadgets were kept mostly for the home, and it's here where we'll begin our tour. iRobot has continued to bring housework into the 21st century with the launch of the latest hoover droid, the iRobot Roomba 500. These bots are all very well when at the ground level but in Korea this year, civilisation has taken a great leap forward with the arrival of the self-cleaning toilet seat. It's sadly not available outside the country, but any Korean nationals who own one, please do feel free to tell us what it's like.
Another automaton to come to the rescue in 2009 has been the ChefStack Pancake machine that will churn out 200 fried batter slabs per hour and the lardiest family ever seen. The year has also seen the return of a 1960s favourite that is the Swann Teasmade - perfect for that jerk of nostalgia and timely morning cuppa. In the kitchen itself, we've the pleasure of a double barrelled wine cooler to consider as well as a future toaster from Morphy Richards. Who doesn't like their future crispy?
Moving down to the hall we've finally got the benefit of the Dragon's Den success that is the TrueCall nuissance blocker to keep unwanted numbers from ringing in and the fire extinguisher phone for nothing more than pure giggles.
As we head upstairs, there's some decisions to be made on the bedside table with the excellent looking roll of film clock, the really well-crafted HANNspree photo alarm and the same kind of device built specially for Sony Ericsson lovers. All that leaves us to do is to turn off the geek chic ESC and DEL lights. If the company did ALT too then it would definitely be time to shutdown. Time to tuck yourself into your Tauntaun sleeping bag and count electric sheep.
The work and computer area is another favourite for gadgets and trinkets of all kinds. For just plain silliness - or if you happen to live in the swamps of the Deep South - then you'll probably be rooting for the Fly Goodbye vacuum gun. For a more serious and rather ingenious windy solution, this time for your cooling needs, Mr Dyson has done it again with the Dyson Air Multiplier bladeless fan, providing you can afford one that is.
Cablox will organise your total mess of leads that you try to ignore and Cyber Clean goo is now helping to de-crumb the keyboards of messy eaters the world over. Combine that lot with the Scratch and Scroll mouse matt that eliminates the need for notepaper, along with the Livescribe pen and Chumby's arrival in the UK and you've got yourself the perfect work area.
There are so many millions of these trinkets brought out each year that they need a sub-section all of their own. We've done our best to whittle them down to the genuinely funny and marginally useful but let us know if we've cut any real corkers.
Probably the most ingenious of the lot is the Easy Bloom USB soil measuring device as shown off at CES 2009. Sadly, it only supplies a database for the States but it's impressive nonetheless. The USB Light Tube, USB Combo Lock and Duracell in-car USB charger all harbour secret ambitions to serve a useful purpose but, for some real high-end novelty tat, make sure to fill stockings with the Hand Grenade flash drive, Skull USB hub and the Calvin Klein USB sun glasses. The most fun tech nonsense can get.
Perhaps the one redeeming gadget for this lot was the biodegradable Hoshiho USB memory stick - just so long as it doesn't biodegrade too quickly.
Mercifully a moment of sanity comes in this category courtesy of the eBook readers. The big news of the year was that the Amazon Kindle is finally available outside the US. The bad news for Amazon is that there's already some well-established and thriving competition.
The most serious rival at the high end has to be Sony at the moment and the release of both the Pocket and Touch Editions, which proved that the company is a force to be reckoned with in this field. iRex has got plenty to offer to the discerning consumer too and indeed both the Samsung SNE 50K and the Cybook Opus are both looking very impressive now that they've finally arrived. At the more affordable end, there's kind of re-badging which PC World would be proud of with the Foxit eSlick and COOL-ER readers probably the pick of the new crop for the year.
If all you want to read is Wikipedia - and it's all too easy to get lost in those pages from time to time - then there's the far cheaper Wikireader to weigh up, but perhaps the most individual of all is the Blackwells Espresso book printer, which comes at the problem from an entirely different angle - tailor made, hard copy volumes hot off the press.
For the full run down of all things camera, then check out the Best Camera 2009 category but that won't include this lensless lot with plenty to offer.
Photoframes have proved as popular as ever. While the Kodak Easyshare S730 is a fine example of a fairly standard take on the paradigm, the AGFA AF8070 adds the whole digital album. The Film 2 SD negative scanner does what it says on the tin, taking the digitisation of older prints to that next level of convenience and the HP Photosmart printer is one of the finest we've seen in 2009 if you want to start making copies for the wall.
The RC Photo Rig is an insanely specialised waste of money while also being the best gadget money can buy - so long as you can actually fly the thing, or for some considerably lower tech shots you can use the Petcam from Firebox, which will give you an insight as to what it is to be your dog. One of the biggest cheers, though, should be reserved for the Eye-Fi wireless connected SD memory card which has finally made it to our shores. Well done.
2009 has been all about the watchphone with both LG and the IWOOT sWap getting in on the action. The BlackBerry timepiece has also been another welcome addition to the cult that is - even if it doesn't quite have that same level of functionality. If you don't need to use the thing as a mobile phone, then the Garmin Forerunner 310XT is a fantastic device with, of course, GPS built in, but if it's all about looks then go no further than the modern classic in the suave shape of the Tissot SEA Touch or the wrist-candy that is the urbane Timex Widescreen WS4.
With more and more gadgets comes a greater fear of battery life and there's been a strong undercurrent in 2009 of novel ways of dealing with that very fact. One of the hits of CES 2009 was the Powermatt magnetic induction charger, very recently brought out for sale, but there are also several other solutions also worthy of note.
The Gear4 PowerPad does a similar trick but focuses solely on the iPhone, while both Kodak and Freeloader have continued to invest in the power of the sun to supply all our energy needs. But, if you can't do it differently, then just do it tidily with the Messless charger also well worth a nomination shout.
There are some gadgets that don't even fit into a category within a category specialising in misfits. So, before the polling booths close and the judges come in, spare a thought for the likes of the impressive Leyio social sharing device, the Vuzix Wrap personal TV goggles, the i2i Stream, which made all our audio wireless at CES, the MSI foldable Bluetooth keyboard, the too good to be true Why Cry baby analyser and the incredibly niche Metal Detector Sandles. What a wonderfully diverse world we live in.
What do you think?
But these are just some of the fantastic choices our readers have had in 2009. What would you like to see held aloft as the winner of Pocket-lint Best Gadget 2009? What have we missed out? Which are your unsung heroes and of those we've already mentioned, which would get your vote? Let us know in the comments below and you can help our panel decide which make the shortlist of nominees to be announced here on Pocket-lint on 16 November. We'll have all out coverage of the Vodafone Pocket-lint awards 2009 right here. Don't miss a minute of it.