Monday, December 13, 2010

Gift Ideas of the Electronic Kind

Each year about this time I devote a couple of columns to what is hot for gift giving. This week and next I will give you some ideas for gifts for that person who likes anything with a plug attached or battery installed. This week we will look at some fairly expensive options. Next week I’ll suggest some stocking stuffers.

Flat Screen HD TVs are always a big hit. In years past I suggested that you wait to buy a large flat screen TV till after the Super Bowl. (Oops, I mean the “The Big Game.” I didn’t pay the NFL the fee to use the term Super Bowl…sorry Ollie.) This year go ahead. There is no reason to wait since there are some great deals. There is an over supply and most likely the prices will not fall much in the first quarter of 2011.

There are so many choices and sizes to choose from. Staying with a name brand like Sony, Samsung or Panasonic is always a good idea. It is true that the display screens are all made in the same factories but many of the components and features are indeed better in the name brands. I still have a Sony in my basement that we bought when we first got married…that was more than a few years ago.

There are several small screen TVs for the kitchen or camper now available. Many are battery operated and can be used on your deck, boat or camper. They are also useful when Duke’s hamsters go on strike. If the 3D feature is available for not much more money go for it, but 3D programming is still slow to take off and paying a premium is not worth it for most of us.

Other very popular items this year are e-readers. Once the province of only the geekiest among us, e-readers have taken the market by storm. There are several brands each with different features. leads the pack with the Kindle, but Sony, Barnes and Noble and other have models as well.

My suggestion is to choose one that uses e-ink technology. Most electronic devices that require a viewing screen use a system that has some type of back light. Reading from a back lit screen for long periods can be tiring. Also reading in bright sunlight is very difficult. E-ink creates an image that is very much like the printed page and obtains its contrast by reflecting light off the page just like a book.

By far the has the most titles available for the Kindle. On all of the
e-readers the books are loaded via the Internet using either a wifi or 3G connection. Unless you travel extensively, if you have access to wifi you don’t need the 3G option. Most e-readers can hold more than two thousand books. A good e-reader can be purchased for less than $200. A newly released best seller will cost about 10 bucks.

Next week I will concentrate of some items under $35.


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