Monday, December 15, 2008

Holiday Gift Suggestions - A feast for the eyes and ears!

Last week and again this week I am suggesting some electronic items that you might consider giving to that special person this holiday who likes all things digital. Last week we looked at items for the camera buff. This week let’s look at some audio and video devices that you might consider.

Bluetooth™ devices are all the rage nowadays. For those who don’t recognize the term Bluetooth™, it refers to the technology that allows devices to connect without wires over very short distances. For example, Bluetooth™ technology is used by various earpieces that wirelessly connect to a cell phone. So you don’t get tangled up in a web of wires while driving down I-75.

There are many Bluetooth™ cell phone earpieces starting at about $40. Remember the earpiece also serves as the cell phone microphone. The big differences in the various models comes in the area of battery life and physical size. Smaller is better.

Another inexpensive suggestion for those on your list who use an iPod® or any other digital music device is an upgrade to the ear buds. Ear buds are those small headphones that fit in the right and left ear and serve as speakers. While all ear buds may look to be the same on the outside, their ability to reproduce various audio frequencies, especially the low end bass notes, are vastly different. In most cases, the more expensive the better. It may seem like a lot of money to pay more than $60 for two small plastic buds with thin wires, but for the music aficionado it is not. If you want one of the very best, go for the Bose™ model priced at about $90.

With more and more people wanting to play their iPod® music in the car, there are several adapters that allow a simple connection , either hard wired or via the existing FM radio receiver. Peripheral's PXAMGA Media Gateway lets you add iPod control and HD Radio to your compatible satellite-ready factory stereo. Go to and see if your car radio is compatible. Prices start at about $160. A less expensive alternative is the Radioplay 300 for $60 or the Incarplay from Monster, Inc at $35. Both will wirelessly connect your iPod® to your FM car radio. Both are available at Best Buy and other electronics retailers

With Digital and HDTV all the rage, there are several inexpensive ways to turn a computer (desktop or laptop) into a digital TV receiver and recorder. Some are very small devices about the size of a memory stick and plug into the USB port of the computer. Since most often the screen on a computer is already able to display superior pictures than are found on regular TV, using one of these devices makes a lot of sense. My pick for use in a desktop computer is the Hauppauge WinTV HVR-1600. It even comes with a handheld remote control. For use on a laptop consider the WinTV-HVR-950. It plugs into the laptop like any USB device and it also has a neat remote control. Both of these adapters can be purchased for about $100 at most computer retailers or online. They both allow the recording and playback of digital TV programs.

Finally, a neat stocking stuffer from It is perfect for those who use their laptop computer in darkened areas. For $20 you can purchase a small gooseneck light that plugs into the USB port and shines a low intensity light on the keyboard. For those who give lots of computer-based presentations in darkened conference rooms and auditoriums this is a great inexpensive and very useful gift.

I hope these provide some helpful ideas. Happy Holidays.

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