December 8, 2004 11:48 AM PST

Remember Roomba? Holiday shoppers do

Robots can fight wars, explore space and clean up nuclear waste.

And, of course, sweep the floor.

The Roomba, a robotic vacuum cleaner that uses sensors to keep a house clean, has almost earned a cult following among its users. Burlington, Mass.-based iRobot launched a new version this summer, and the product has garnered the No. 4 spot at Amazon.com's Kitchen & Housewares store.

The vacuums, which launched a few years ago, are now making a comeback, said Michael Trebony, general manager at Best Buy in West Patterson, N.J.

"It came out, and we did a lot of displays had some interest, then it waned," he said. "Now it's making a comeback. That's what usually happens with new tech items, people get nervous. But now people are giving it a second shot, saying, 'Is this going to change my life?'

The roaming robot vacuum is among the popular gadgets that have helped make consumer electronics a big seller this season. Consumer electronics is the top sales category at Amazon this year, bumping books and music out of the top spot for the online retailer.

Amazon is expecting digital cameras, photo printers and Apple's iPod Photo to be big sellers.

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Consumer electronics are topping many wish lists this season.

Best Buy's Trebony said the iPod in any format was "the biggest gift of the year."

Digital memory cards and DVD players topped the list of top-selling electronics at Amazon during November, while "Halo 2" and the Game Boy Advance led the video games and players category.

The Nintendo DS system is also a hot seller this year. The Japanese game giant reported this month that more than 90 percent of available units were purchased the week after they went on sale.

"While Apple is the one to buy, Nintendo is the one you're going to have to fight for," Trebony said. "We had been sold out, but the next shipment is coming in very soon. I have a lot of parents calling every morning."

 

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