High-Tech Gadgets Top Many Wish Lists
If you are looking for a Christmas gift for someone special this year, you can forget ties and pajamas.
What most people want are gadgets and gizmos. In a recent Consumer Electronics Association survey, four of the top 10 items on adults' holiday wish lists were electronic items. Computers, iPads, e-book readers and video game systems all appeared in the top 10.
Apple's new iPad tablet-type PC is sure to be wildly popular this year. If you want to have the latest and greatest gadget, by all means, buy an iPad.
However, if you do, you should be aware that the next version of the iPad, which should appear in the next few months, will most probably be quite a bit more capable than the first version. Also, know that many competitors are poised to bring out their competing tablet-type PC products in the next few months.
This year, electronic books are also on a lot of wish lists. Amazon is the front runner with its Kindle e-book reader, but many others are now available, including the Sony reader and the Barnes & Noble Nook. The Apple iPad is also an e-book reader.
There are at least a dozen other manufacturers who have also jumped on the e-book bandwagon so there is a wide selection of readers available.
My personal favorite is the Amazon Kindle, but several of the others are also good. There are a few things to check out when buying an e-book reader. First is the clarity of the screen, and second is the type of books that can be used and how they are downloaded to the e-book.
There are actually about 15 different e-book formats in use right now. Not all e-books will play all formats. Most are not interchangeable, and many have Digital Rights Management software built in, which restricts purchased e-books to a particular reader.
For instance, if you buy a Kindle, you will purchase books from the Amazon Kindle store. If you buy a Nook, you will purchase books from Barnes & Noble. Amazon books cannot be read on a Nook. There are plenty of free e-books available online, especially older classics, but you have to check to make sure that the e-book reader you choose will allow you to read them on that particular device.
The way a reader downloads books is also important. Some e-readers, such as the 3G version of the Kindle, let you download books without a computer, while others do not. With e-books, other features may also be important. For instance, if you are purchasing a reader for someone with aging eyes, make sure that the text is adjustable to a large size.
Other popular products this holiday season will include smart phones and gaming consoles. Motion-based accessories for video game systems, such as Sony's Move and Microsoft's Kinect, are sure to be snapped up quickly. These devices let you move your body to interact with a game on your television when using a Sony PlayStation or a Microsoft Xbox. This is the next generation of gaming, which was all started by the Nintendo Wii, and is still a popular choice.
If you are looking for a gaming device for your television, the best way to decide which one to choose is to look at the games and choose the one with the games that appeal to you the most.
Gaming devices, however, can also do double duty. For instance, the Sony Play Station is also a Blu-Ray player, and the Wii can hook up to your wireless home network and be used to play Netflix movies on your television.
The hidden treasure in consumer electronics this year may well be the digital picture frame. Everyone from Kodak to Pandigital has picture frames available in a wide range of prices. There are even very inexpensive key chain devices that can display photos.
All of the full-sized digital picture frames can display your own photos in a slide show. Most allow you to simply insert a memory card with the pictures on it, and they then display those photos with interesting transitions. Some will even play music to accompany the photos.
This makes a perfect digital brag book for any parent, grandparent or great-grandparent. They don't even need a computer. You simply provide the pictures on a memory card, and when you have new pictures, the photo display can be updated by simply sending your loved one a new memory card to insert into the frame.
Of course, other digital devices and accessories will also make excellent gifts this year. A portable hard drive that can be used as a computer backup device would be great for any PC owner. A hands-free car speaker system would be a welcome safety device for anyone who likes to talk on their mobile phone while driving.
A tripod makes a great present for a digital camera owner. A pair of good headphones or earbuds will be welcomed by anyone who listens to their MP3 player on the go.
The choices are endless. So enjoy your shopping this year, and get them something they really want!
Send your computer-related questions for publication in this column to Sandy Berger at Computer Living Corp., P.O. Box 5895, Pinehurst NC 28374; or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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