Even though the economy’s in the dumps, consumer electronics will still top many gift lists this holiday season.
If you’re shopping for a gadget hound, the thousands of choices can be downright baffling. Here are a few that should make you a hit with friends and family.
By Chris Morris, Special to CNBC.com
Posted 20 Nov 2009
Apple’s smartphone is king of the hill for a reason. It has more functionality than any competitor, its operating system isn’t intimidating to newcomers and with over 100,000 apps available, it’s customizable to pretty much any need you can imagine. (It can even act as a TV remote and start your car.) The AT&T 3G network is a constant source of aggravation, but it’s a price worth paying.
The iPod gets all the press, but Microsoft’s portable media player is actually a better device for people whose interests are focused on music and video. Sure you don’t have access to the app store, but the music selection is vast and the Zune HD’s LED-lit screen is the best to be found on any portable device – bar none.
3M’s newest miniature projector has obvious uses for the corporate road warrior. It’s lightweight, connects to virtually any device and is an effective way to show your powerpoint presentation to a large group of people. It’s just as effective for casual travelers, though, as it projects crisp, clear images from your DVD player or handheld gaming console, giving you an alternative to the hotel’s pay-per-view options.
It’s all too easy to forget to plug in your phone after a long day. The Powermat makes charging your electronic devices easier. Just lay them down on the mat and the device will begin charging the battery wirelessly. Sounds like magic, but it works – on everything from Blackberries and iPhones to the Nintendo DS gaming system.
JVC was late to the pocket camcorder market, but the delay gave it time to study what others were doing. The Picsio records in 1080p HD, captures 8MP still images and has a HDMI outlet. The compact design fits in any pocket. The only drawback is the buttons, which are set a little too deep into the system, making them occasionally hard to press.
Firing off a message on that Blackberry or sending a text on your cell in the dead of winter has traditionally been tough. Gloves make the process impossible, but exposing your hands to the elements can be painful. Freehands solves the problem by putting flip-back tips on these gloves’ thumb and index finger. It might sound a little dorky, but they’re actually quite… handy.
This HD video decoder can handle just about anything you throw at it – and it’s the perfect way to watch video files stored on your PC or Mac on your living room television. HD output, whether 720p or 1080p, is seamless and the system even remembers where you left off watching, eliminating the need to fast forward to that spot. It is worth noting, however, that the interface is ugly, although easy to navigate.
The speaker on the iPhone and iPod Touch is fine for "apps," but not great for music. This speaker set allows the music to be played in a sound quality you’d expect from a portable music player – and recharges the devices at the same time. It also works with other iPhones and has an auxiliary input for other MP3 players.
It’s easy to access your pictures and music via your home network, but how do you share them with friends and family? The Stora holds 1TB of data and can be accessed anywhere. Sure there are online solutions, but would you rather trust your data to an unknown third-party or keep it safe at home?
This top-of-the-line GPS does a lot more than tell you how to find your way around town. It offers real-time traffic updates, fuel prices, local search (via Google) and even the ability to access restaurant reviews.