Never mind the planning, scheduling, and awkward family gatherings—figuring out what to buy a tech enthusiast can be the biggest holiday challenge. Here are a few gift ideas to help make your holiday gift giving a bit easier.
The iPod is here to stay. More importantly, carrying thousands of songs in the palm of your hand has become a way of life for many, and Apple’s iPod line is still your best bet.
iPod Shuffle $49 to $69
Available in five different colors and two different storage capacities, 1GB and 2GB, the iPod shuffle is a great gift even for those who already have an iPod. It’s the most stripped down iPod in Apple’s music player line, and that may be its greatest feature. It’s lightweight, has a 12-hour battery life, and is a gem for gym rats.
iPod Nano $149.99 to $199.99
The cheapest grown-up in the iPod family, the Nano also comes in several vibrant colors. The reason you should consider it? It does it all. Sure, it can store anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 songs, display and store photos, and has the ability to play video, but the best feature is the accelerometer inside the new Nano. With it, the Nano is now a game console, too. And simply shaking it will tell your Nano to find a new song. The 8GB model gives users eight hours of video playback and the 16GB version will give you 16 hours.
Xbox 360 Arcade $199
Not just for gamers, the Xbox 360 is positioning itself to replace all other gadgets in your home theater. The Xbox 360 can now stream video from Netflix and with additional software it will allow you to stream video from Internet sites like Hulu and YouTube. But, the Xbox can also organize and give you access to music and videos stored on your computer.
TiVo Series2™ DT DVR $149.99
It might seem like it’s been around forever, but TiVo is still shaking things up. Not just a device that allows you to record TV shows, TiVo now offers more services for the digitally diverse. You can download thousands of movies and TV shows from Amazon Video On Demand™, utilize the Rhapsody music service, transfer your favorite TV shows to your laptop or iPod using your PC or Mac, and stream Netflix.
Camcorders have come a long way. They’re more affordable and about the size of a cell phone.
Kodak’s Zi6 Pocket Video Camera retails for $179.99 and records in High Definition (720p at 60 fps with 16:9 aspect ratio). The expandable SD/SDHC card slot supports up to 32 GB of storage, and the camera is easily attached to HDTVs with included cables.
If that’s a little too steep, consider the Creative Vado Pocket Video CAM, which sells for $79.99 through Amazon. It has two hours of video capacity, 2x zoom and good low-light performance. Like the Flip Mino and the Zi6, it has a handy USB plug that pops out from the side to make plugging it into your computer easy.
For those of us who have to deal with multiple gizmos (cell phones, iPods, PDAs) we know what a pain it is keeping all of those devices charged while not getting tangled in a web of cables and chargers.
Solution: A charging station can accommodate three items at a time, keeping wires organized while concealing unsightly power cords.
KangaRoom Bamboo 3 Pod Charging Station  $45: With three built-in slots to hold your cell phone, PDA, mp3 player or camera, this accessory prevents devices’ charging cords from becoming an eyesore.
Kangaroom Cell Phone Charging Station,  $25: Not as pretty as the Bamboo model but just as effective when it comes hiding the clutter, this model will keep four devices neatly organized. Just remember to buy a power strip, as neither station comes with one.
If you’re looking for a high-end gift at a more affordable price, consider refurbished electronics. What constitutes a refurbished item? Customer returns, floor models, open boxes, items returned to the manufacturer for repair, and even overstocked products. Manufacturers make sure such products work and look like new, but they charge much less. For instance, an iPod Shuffle costs $39.99 refurbished and an older generation Nano costs $99.99.
By Lon Koontz of Maintreet.com