Nothin’ honors those ever-soworthy kith and kin on your shopping list each holiday season like gadgets — handheld, hi-def, mobile-on-the-go, ergonomic, rechargeable, solarpowered, or just plain noisy and cool. Green shoots are for suckers — the economy is still in the tank, and there’s no better way to keep us all distracted from that unfortunate reality than plug ’n’ play gizmo swag.
Here are a few ideas to keep stimulating the economy, your local retailer and the lithion battery denizens from Planet Electronica.
Price: About $200 — the usual contract terms apply w/Verizon
Take that, Steve Jobs. Hands down the hottest phone of the season is the new Motorola Droid, the unappealingly named phone/PDA device that, according to reviewers, more or less thrusts the iPhone into so-last-year oblivion. Powered by Google’s Android operating system, sporting 16GB memory and built-in navigation, a 5MP camera with built-in flash, embedded Facebook app, swapable batteries, onboard Google maps, full qwerty keyboard and a slew of other goodies too numerous to list here. The Droid is a responsive and lethally slick little toy, at a lot less than the troubled first-generation iPhones. Practically walks the dog for ya.
Also check out: BlackBerry Bold 9700 (T-Mobile, ~$200), HTC Hero ~$180
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Price: $60, give or take.
One of the most anticipated video games in recent memory, CoD:MW2 is a lauded sequel to the hugely successful warenvironment video game of last year.
Frighteningly realistic environments, special gameplay modes and enough flying lead to keep you looking over your shoulder, this is the premiere Xbox 360 title of the year.
Also check out: Assassin’s Creed II Xbox 360/PC ($50), Dragon Age: Origins Xbox 360/PC, ($50)
Price: About $650, depending on accessories. Drop in to visit Mike’s Camera.
We’ll confess to dropping some hints at Santa for one of these. Kind of a newermodel hybrid of the very successful D60 and D90 digital SLRs, the D5000 sports a 12MP sensor, a tilt/swivel LED screen, 24 frames/sec movie mode and a broader ISO range (better low-light shooting) and longer battery life than its predecessors. We say it every year, but it’s still true — if you (or your gift recipients) love to take pictures, life’s too short not to own a Nikon at least once. This one’s a beauty.
Also check out:
Panasonic Lumix DMC- ZS3 (12mp, ~$300), Sony Cyber-shot DSC- W290 (12mp, about $200)
Toshiba mini NB205-N325BL
Price: About $400
The netbook is quietly but assuredly chewing its way through the small-PC market, primarily for those ultra-mobile users who grow weary of lugging around mediaspectacular laptops everywhere, or moderate power-users who need a decent second computer. This Toshiba model has a 10.1” screen, a single-core 1.6GHz processor, 1GB Ram, 160GB storage and Windows 7 Starter. The guys at CNET like this model a lot (plan to use headphones, as the audio isn’t very good). Perfect for the student or as a second, travel-friendly companion.
Flip Video MiniHD (2 nd Generation)
Price: About $225
The followup to Flip Video’s original HD mini video recorder, the newer version features same HD picture quality (720p), enough memory for about two hours of HD video recording and enough battery for the same two hours between charges, a brushed metal case and completely damnfoolproof ease of use. Great for a vacation gizmo (as long as you can periodically download the video), taking it to the game or just horsing around … impressive image quality and easy enough for anyone to use. YouTube awaits.
Also check out: Pure Digital Flip HD (~$200), Creative Vado ($175)
A few “under the tree” ideas:
Digital Photo Frames: We got one of these (a “name” brand) a couple of years ago, and it quit after about six months. Then we picked up an offbrand, and it’s still running great after two years. Go figure, right? The Sony DPF-V900 9” photo frame has 512MB onboard memory and will run you about $200. Recommendation: Get a decent-sized screen for a large room, and the wood frames (even the faux wood) look nicer than the plastic ones.
Device chargers: Swimming through a pasta-bowl of wires to keep your phone and iPod charged? Might want to look into a Powermat, which charges handheld devices wirelessly. Just drop your gadget onto the mat … and zap. About $100 — be sure your device is supported (most are) at www.powermat.com.
Kindle: Someone decided that turning pages was too much work, hence the sudden infusion of wireless reading devices … Amazon’s Kindle ($259) being the flagship model. Download and read literally thousands of books from Amazon, at discount prices … adjustable font size, online book browsing, wireless access to Wikipedia. Call us skeptical, but a lot of people are saying this is the future of books. Plenty of competitors out there, also check out Barnes and Noble’s nook.
A few ideas for:
The PC junkie: Flash drives (no one uses 1.4MB disks anymore), blank DVDs, external hard drives for media storage, upgrade PC speakers
The music junkie: Apple iPod Touch (16GB), high-performance earbuds.
The game junkie: Rechargable Wii controllers, Guitar Hero World Tour guitar controller, Spore (Mac or PC)
The photo junkie: Mini tripod, infrared light, large-capacity memory cards.
Have a stylin’ holiday season! Ho ho ho.