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I'm looking for a word that isn't tacky like gadget, but that describes interesting and novel technological items.

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thingamajig, doohickey, frammis, whatchamcallit, whojigger, whatsis, etc. –  John Lawler Feb 11 '13 at 14:55
    
@John, sure, but for sophisticated, go with gizmo, one of the many synonyms of thingy. –  jwpat7 Feb 11 '13 at 14:59
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I'd tempted to suggest widget, but, without knowing why you think gadget is "tacky", it's hard to suggest alternate words. As it stands now, there's no way to know whether or not widget is even tackier than gadget. –  J.R. Feb 11 '13 at 15:26
    
Yes, interesting and novel technological items and tacky don't belong in the same referential universe. People who can perceive one normally can't perceive the other. –  John Lawler Feb 11 '13 at 16:42
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closed as not constructive by Matt Эллен, tchrist, MετάEd, Bravo, choster Feb 11 '13 at 17:29

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3 Answers

"Device" or "Apparatus"

Definition of "Device":

  1. A thing made or adapted for a particular task, esp. a mechanism or electronic instrument.

Synonyms: appliance - gadget - contrivance - apparatus - gear


Definition of "Apparatus":

  1. The equipment needed for a particular activity or purpose.

Definitions from dictionary.com

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The term widget is widely used and well-accepted in its software sense (“a reusable element of a graphical user interface”, per wikipedia), but it also has a sense “A placeholder name for an unnamed, unspecified, or hypothetical manufactured good or product” that may apply in the current context. Widget is only slightly more “sophisticated” than gadget, if at all, but the weight of acceptance of widget in the software context lends it some cachet.

However, an “interesting and novel technological item” is perhaps slightly more likely to be referred to as a marvel.

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An often misused, but perhaps suitable word, is utility. It is used often in a technological context, but more often about little useful GUI-driven pieces of software rather than devices. I've still heard it in conversation about devices, at least. It certainly sounds less sort of...child-like... than gadget.

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