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The Best the Webbys Have to Offer

November 17, 2009
By Henry Kenyon

Each day, millions of people use the Internet for purposes of work and play. Each year, the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences-a 550-member body composed of leading Web experts, business figures and others-distributes Webby awards for the best Web sites in a variety of categories. All of the nearly 70 categories include two prizes-the Webby Award and the People's Choice Award, voted for by the online community. The groupings include one for Consumer Electronics, which features some very creative work.

TomTom Secret Services
This Webby Award winner in the Consumer Electronics category invites site visitors into secrets about the TomTom navigation tool. Users can choose to view the site content in English, French, Spanish, Italian, German or Norwegian. After a language is selected, a manual opens, first instructing readers to keep the information as "our little secret" and then turning the page to reveal nifty tricks for getting the most out of one's device. Offerings include content about how to obtain information regarding traffic conditions, points of interest, voice recording, iPod control and deletion of recent points of interest or buddies. Also included are instructions for how to use special features such as TomTom Map Share and TomTom HOME, a content-sharing platform. The manual write-ups take a tongue-in-cheek approach to sharing instructions, keeping site viewers amused as well as informed.

Wired.com: Gadget Lab
As the tag line puts it, this winner of the People's Choice Award features "hardware that rocks your world." The site-actually a blog section of Wired.com-has an abundance of information regarding electronic devices. Most of the Web page is devoted to write-ups and videos about common and uncommon electronics ranging from items as original as homemade security robots to mass-produced, famous-name products. The blog also posts Do-It-Yourself information such as how to ruggedize and waterproof personal gadgets. The right-hand column includes a list of links to Gadget Lab videos as well as product reviews, recent entries, popular tags and more.

Samsung Music
The nominated Samsung Mobile Music site is an experience for the eyes and the ears as colored bars pulsate in time with music to demonstrate the value of Samsung's Mobile Music phones. The Soundscapes created on the Web site calm visitors with the pastel shades and silky melody while demonstrating the products Samsung is pitching. Site users can explore different features of the two cell phones featured as well as create their own music. Choosing the "Create your own Soundscape" option takes visitors to a virtual music production studio where they can choose different sounds connected to various shapes. After creating the sound of their choice, amateur composers can save their work and share it through e-mail or by posting directly to a blog page. The site's music gallery allows users to scroll through Soundscapes created and saved by previous site visitors. Users can even rate the posted compositions.

Virtual Kitchen Tour
This site by Electrolux enables visitors to obtain a close-up look at the appliances in the company's latest collection without ever leaving their chairs. Television star Kelly Ripa hosts the tour of the nominated Web site, which features a wall oven, refrigerator, dishwasher, induction hybrid cooktop and always-necessary European-style wine tower. Users can watch demonstrations of several features on each device to learn how the appliances will benefit them. When site visitors choose an appliance, the screen zooms in on the chosen tool located in what appears to be a luxury apartment before listing the available demonstrations. Foodies and non-foodies alike should enjoy the tour of the state-of-the-art kitchen. The Virtual Kitchen Tour site also includes links to appliances organized by category and not featured on the tour.

1000 Awesome Things
This Web site actually won the Webby for the best Cultural/Personal blog. The final nominee in the Consumer Electronics category is a site called Epsonality; however, it has been the victim of the economic downturn, according to officials with the company. To fill in the blank, readers should visit 1000 Awesome Things even though it falls outside of the electronics realm. The site is a countdown of 1,000 awesome things updated every weekday. Every item already cited on the homepage can be found listed in countdown order using the "Top 1000" link. The right side of the page offers more resources such as the last five comments posted, top posts, contact information and a blogroll.

When visiting new Web sites, please use proper Internet security procedures.

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