Well it would appear that just like every year, Christmas is creeping up on us again. Since my opinion about technology is always going to be better than most of yours, I figured I should help some people out and show you some stuff that is pretty cool. Some of this stuff you may know, some of it you maybe seeing for the first time. With that, here’s a small list of some picks I have personally made. Perhaps some of you dudes can’t figure out a romantic gift, or you chicks just don’t know tech from a hole in the ground.
This is merely one example of the digital photo frames out there. I went with this one (the Kodak Easyshare SV-710 7-Inch Digital Picture Frame) because it has a very basic, classic look. It will accept basically any memory card that is out there these days (which is not true for all of them, another reason I went with this one). I have a feeling this should fall under the category of “he gives to her.” I’m sure by now most of you have an impressive collection of pictures on your phone, online, stashed on the computer… remember having a picture of something on your desk? Well this is certainly a nice middle ground for throwing up somewhere outside of the computer realm. It plays MP3s if for some reason you want to play music or a slide-show. I’d have say that this is most definitely a winner to anyone you give it to. You should be able to find this out there for about $100.
Here we have a creative little gadget. Did you ever drop your hand under a faucet only to discover that the water isn’t exactly the temperature you were expecting? Developed by Sector Labs, this nifty little doo-hickey (called the H2Glow) affixes to your faucet and will change color depending on the water temperature, red for hot and blue for cold (duh). Is this greatest invention of the 21st Century? No, far from it, but hey for $25 you can’t really go wrong and its pretty nifty. Probably likely to brighten up someone’s day a little and reign as one of the more unique gifts of the season.
I know what you must be saying. I’m serious! The Zune in my eyes has turned over a new leaf completely. The software is excellent, the firmware is great. This is easily the first device that ever displayed any real competition for the iPod. There are a lot of advantages to the Zune now as well. It can sync wirelessly to your library. This means you don’t need to use another USB port up. You can manually set the Zune to sync mode, or while being charged, it will automatically go into sync mode, allowing you to add/remove without any (here comes a bad pun) strings attached. I think this works as a nice alternative to the new iPod Nano, which clearly people aren’t thrilled with thanks to it’s “fat” form-factor. Of course the pink colors is the sell to the females, since as we all know, girls inherently like pink. It’s important to note that the screen size you’re giving up versus the Nano is only 0.2 inches. I think it’s a worthwhile sacrifice to walk away with a sleeker product. As for the Urge music store, not only is it receiving raves as well, but the music is also being offered up DRM free. You can track down the 4GB and 8GB at $150 and $200 respectively.
A product that is somewhat in the family of the digital photo frames, simply put, this little thing is pretty cool. The Coby DP-151 a cute little 1.5 inch picture frame on a key-chain. I know what some of you are probably thinking, “Coby?” Truth be told, Coby is typically known as a budget brand, however they have banged out some merchandise in the last few years that frankly were unanswered by the competition, such as the first portable DVD players that also had a TV tuner. Moving right along, this neat little thing connects to the computer via USB and allows you to load on something like 60 pictures. It is Windows and Mac compatible and can read the majority of popular file formats out there. It runs on a rechargeable battery which is powered by the USB cable. It’s advertised to have 4 hours of viewing time, probably more than enough for 60 pictures on a 1.5 inch screen. I think this is a great little stocking stuffer to get just about anyone, of all ages.
Time for a heavy hitter. I know I know, a TV? Isn’t that a little heavy for a gift? Well some of you maybe looking for a decent TV to make the HDTV leap, some of you maybe really excited about getting a TV for a family member because you know they’ll be into it once it is in front of them. The Sharp LC-32D43U is a extremely high quality LCD flat panel TV at a very nice price. Although this is a 720p TV, at 32 inches it barely matters, 1080p is hardly noticeable at this size. Paying the higher price-tag for the 1080p version is really unnecessary. You should be able to find this just about anywhere nowadays for under $800. Sure there are other TVs 32 inches and cheaper, but the quality of this unit is almost unsurpassed. The only LCD I would rank above this one would be (other than the higher resolution Sharps of the same size) would be the Sony. Frankly, at a price almost two hundred dollars more, I wouldn’t bother. I don’t feel the quality increase is worth that amount. This TV is stylish, has a nice array of connectivity and most importantly an extremely nice picture.
Okay, you may think this is a really tacky looking camcorder at a glance (and hopefully are aware there are two in this picture). This is in fact a still camera with some better video recording capabilities than most still cameras. The Canon TX1 is a 7 Megapixel camera with a 10x optical zoom. I’ll tell you what, I’m sold on the optical zoom by itself, with the normal 3x or 4x you get with most these days it’s a breath of fresh air. Like most of the point and shoot cameras Canon makes these days, it has some nice features including Face Detection, MyColors, and Macro mode. Now, here’s the big hook… the video camera portion is capable of recording at a resolution of 1280 x 720 at 30 frames per second. What does this mean? It records video at HD resolution! That’s amazing for a camera this small, which doubles as a still camera! Obviously this is going to be taxing on a memory card (the camera’s only method of storage) so stock up on your SD cards. A 4GB card will allow you to record 14 minutes of the highest quality HD video. You should be able to track this baby down for about $450.
I think this maybe my personal favorite for the holiday picks. This is the VUDU. This device (simplified) is a video-on-demand box, minus any cable. It connects to the outside world via the internet and enables you to rent and watch movies on demand. Movies are streamed to you over the network and played on your TV. It is capable of playing full 1080p movies as well. Apparently the people at VUDU did good and made friends with many of the movie studios in Hollywood as they have a nice selection. It has a plethora of connections, such as HDMI and optical audio out. It also supports Dolby 5.1 surround sound. The VUDU also sports USB ports for adding storage capacity. The remote you get allows for motion and gesturing (if you have a Wii this will be an easy concept to master). You need at least a 1.5 Mbps to use this device, so check what kind of download speeds you get (check speedtest.net for that information). 1.5 Mbps will get you viewing after a few minute of downloading, or 3 Mbps will allow for instant viewing. There are no activation or subscription fees. Rentals will run you from 99¢ to $3.99. You can also purchase movies for between $4.99 and $19.99. The VUDU is currently $400, and can be found on the VUDU Website or scattered about the internet.