The great thing about gadgets is they ain't the markets.

It's not like we don't know what's going to happen: It simply takes too long for electronics to go from the lab to the store for there to be many surprises.

The trick with gadgets is keeping track of it all: Intel ( INTC) is making movies. Cisco ( CSCO) is making desk phones. Microsoft ( MSFT) is making video games, and a million other companies are making a million other whatevers. It is devilishly easy, particularly when you are spending real money, to lose track of what's what.

The secret is to plan ahead.

Here, then, is my list of the top tech things you will do -- and will not do -- in 2007.

1. You will never step foot in a big-box retailer again.

This is the uber-trend for shoppers of means in the coming year.

Blissfully, we are seeing the limits of mega-retailers in electronics. Circuit City ( CC), Wal-Mart ( WMT), Best Buy ( BBY) and other large-box stores are getting their businesses hammered by thin margins on displays and other gadgets. And the much-beleaguered manufacturer's brand is looking to take advantage of the big-box woes.

Taking their cue from Apple Computer's ( AAPL) eponymous store, most major electronics brands now have their own retail presences both online and off. These are marvelous places to shop for gadgets.

Just check out the SonyStyle store, the Samsung store, the Bose store, Nintendo World and the Bang & Olufsen store, to name a few.

Though you probably won't find the lowest prices at these shops, you will find something more important: real service. Since the sales staff is hired by the manufacturer, they actually know what they're selling. You will be stunned.

These days, I don't shop anywhere else. And neither should you.

2. You will covet an electric car.

Finally, the electric automobile is making up for the head start internal combustion engines got at the turn of the century. Electric cars will be so downright sexy in 2007, you will actually want one.

A company called Tesla Motors is bringing its new Roadster to market next year.

The Tesla Roadster

The car, which is already sold out for 2007, will cost about $100,000, excluding premiums and other fees. And it's easy to see why people are willing to pay that kind of money: The Roadster looks fabulous, like a one-off race design from Ferrari or Bentley.

It goes from 0 to 60 miles per hour in around four seconds, the company says. And it has a decent 250-mile range.

The Tesla will also have some competition. French company Venturi is already shipping its stylish electric car called the Fetish.

It supposedly lists at $575,000. But all I am going to say is that it is French; good luck actually getting ahold of one.

3. Your next TV will be a PC.

Finally, 2007 be the year you put a networked television in your home.

These displays will sit on your home network, just like any other personal computer or printer, except they will show movies and other media and will require an attached computer.

You can expect most major computer makers, such as Dell ( DELL), Apple and Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ) to make ever-more-sophisticated media PCs. Apple in particular will be in the pole position here. Its integrated Macs and Minis make great media computers. And be sure to bone up on the new hip media functions in Microsoft's coming Vista OS and new operating code from Apple.

In general, these new networked TVs will be welcome relief from the mindless channel surfing that digital cable and satellite television have devolved into. With a networked TV, you will watch everything -- except the NFL on Fox, of course -- when you want, how you want. It is simply a must-do.

But there will be a casualty: quality.

Personal computers are not pristine environments for audio and video quite yet. Media PCs are noisy, and they can be hard on content. Most movies and music on a PC look like they are running off of a preschool cam. Unwatchable, at times.

The answer will be higher-end digital content systems. These digital units deliver movies and music anywhere in the home, with no sacrifice in quality. Two new media servers that have caught my eye are the Sooloos (starting at $12,000) and the Philips Wireless Music Center WAC3500 (price TBA).

Both will give you utter control of your content without sacrificing quality.

4. Your sound system won't look like a nerd's treehouse.

I know, I'm a fool for audio.

Nothing makes my heart go pitter-patter like the thought of spending $250,000 on a new two-channel audio system. But even I have to admit most stereos look like the wood-paneled version of the obelisk from 2001: A Space Odyssey: big, blunt and scary.

That will change in 2007. In-wall audio, which can be hidden inside the walls and ceilings of your home, is going to get downright fabulous this year.

Led by a great little speaker from Joseph Audio called The Insider, there is a wave of great-sounding in-wall audio equipment heading to the market.

Among noteworthy units are the RCC 600 in-wall subwoofer ($2,000) from Artison and the Directed SoundField ceiling-mount loudspeakers ($490) from Niles Audio, which opens even the smallest room to quality sound.

How cool would it be to have hi-fi in your closet?

5. You'll spend real money on a backup power generator.

My last and most important tip for the new year is that you will finally say sayonara, auf Wiedersehen and bye-bye to our miserable excuse of a power grid.

Exhausted by rolling blackouts, poor service and high energy prices, you will install a high-quality backup power generator in your home.

GridPoint Generator

Generators make all the power you will ever need, and better units come with automatic interruption-free backup modes and other features. Modern generators such as units from Kohler (starting at $3,500) can run on traditional fuels.

Or you can switch on one of the new alternative generators, like the latest from GridPoint (price TBA). These innovative systems combine multiple sources for a single-box backup product.

Either way, when the next winter storm or heat wave rolls through and takes the power with it, think how sweet will it be to have the neighbors over for a drink or a movie.

You'll be the one with power.

Enjoy the Good Life? Email us with what you'd like to see in future articles.

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Jonathan Blum is an independent technology writer and analyst living in Westchester, N.Y. He has written for The Associated Press and Popular Science and appeared on FoxNews and The WB.

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