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PC Perspective's 2006 Holiday Shopping Guide

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: General
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Slogging through the line-ups.

Storage

Honestly one of the gifts that keep on giving has got to be a super portable storage device. They're so convenient to use in nearly any situation whether it be in the office, at a friend's house, or at a public terminal. You can get "thumb" style drives in capacities up to 8GB now like the 8GB Corsair Voyager. These devices are amazingly versatile and rather inexpensive to give away this December.

 


 

How about the gift of near infinite capacity? Then look no further than the LaCie 2TB external hard drive applianace! At a nominal 50 cents / GB, this external drive should give everyone enough space to store all their files.  There are cheaper solutions from Western Digital and Maxtor, but you don't get the 2TB as with the LaCie.

 




Cameras and Gear

No doubt cameras are hot and they're often a real popular gift this time of year, but what do you get that creative person who needs to have the right tools? For them it is no doubt the Nikon D80 or the Canon Rebel XTi (aka. the 400D). Nikon and Canon have a long established line of digital SLR cameras and a great selection of lenses. They're a bit more expensive than the competition, but they're worth every penny.

 




If a digital SLR is a bit too advanced, then the new Fujifilm F-31 looks very impressive. It has a lot of different shooting modes and great image quality. The price is excellent and best of all it's super compact.

 




To complement these cameras, you may want to consider this unique tripod by Joby. It's a flexible mini tripod that resembles a gorilla paw (not to be mistaken for a monkey paw... that's a completely different thing!) and can grip and hang where other tripods fear to tread.

 




Of course you need a decent bag to carry all your stuff, so why not consider a Kata Rucksack R-103? It's a great practical bag with lots of pockets and compartments. In my testing, I've found it to be extremely comfortable when loaded up. The R-103 is made by a company that makes military body armor, so you know this bag will be able to withstand the rigors of daily and frequent travel. The R-103 even has a tripod pouch, and an expandable system for extra bag attachments.

 



 
Digital Audio

This year the digital audio section of this buyer guide will be iPod free! We know what the iPod is all about, so let's look at some of the other devices out there.

 

The Panasonic SV-SD100 MP3 player caught my eye as being a small MP3 player with both built-in memory and the ability to use SD cards. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to be on the market just yet, so keep your eyes peeled. Of course there's the Zune player that made a splash a few weeks back as Microspft's answer to Apple's iPod. The Zune has a lot of potential and a lot of extra features not found on the iPod, so it's definitely worth looking at!

 


Of course half the fun of owning a portable music device are all the accessories you can buy for it and headphones being the most important accessory you can invest in. Shure headphones have won great reviews around the web for being both upscale and functional. Their noise reduction technology is proven and is worth looking at if you find yourself with volume levels much too high to be considered safe.  :)

 


 

Bluetooth isn't just for mobile phones or laptops anymore! I have a pair of wireless headphones for my MP3 player and it's incredibly liberating to be not tangled up by wires, especially if you find yourself carrying a bag or running around. The Logitech wireless headphones using Bluetooth fits the bill, but there are many other models worth considering.

 



Geek Toys


 

Any of you remember those old TV programs from the 50's where they boldly proclaimed that by the year 2000 we'd all be driving flying cars and our meals will be instantly cooked by adding water to a pellet? Well ramen is pretty close to an instant meal, but flying cars seems to be quite a ways off. So while we're all waiting for that, why not take advantage of some cool technology today?

 

The TrackStick GPS data logger is one I've been lusting after for quite some time now, but I can never justify the price of it. It's a handy thumb-drive sized GPS tracker that saves your locations into a CSV file so you can use that information to plot yourself on Google Earth or integrate it with blogs or websites like Flickr. You can find the TrackStick at various online retailers including ThinkGeek and ebay.

 


 

You've probably seen the infomercials or seen it on the shelf in the store... maybe you've even had a dream about it? Well, I can't possibly be the only one could I? I'm talking about the Roomba Scooba floor washing robot. If you have hardwood floors, ceramic, or any kind of stone, then the Roomba Scooba will make quick work of that back-breaking washing you have to do. iRobot has been making these cleaning robots for years now and the technology is proven to work, so why not look into getting one of these?



 

If you're like me, you got a half-dozen remotes in the livingroom. While you may know what each one does, the people you try to teach just never seem to learn! (ahem, significant others and friends :). So why not make it simple and give them (and you) a gift of harmony... a Harmony remote that is. With these universal remotes you can control all whole host of devices from a distance. Newer devices have better range and intelligence, but older models are almost as good and a lot cheaper.

 

Perhaps the ultimate in geek warfare is the Striker II USB Laser-Guided missile. You control the pitch, rotation, and tilt via a computer's USB port and launch them at unsuspecting targets. My mind reels at the possibilities of having these in the office or controlled remotely over the 'net to punish pets who are chewing on the leather sofa.

 

Finally USB has some useful accessories! I'm not talking about a mouse or even a beverage warmer, I'm talking about USB rechargeable batteries! They're AA standard batteries that have a USB connection under a flip-top so you can plug them into your USB port to charge. This is an excellent idea for those of you who travel with wireless mice, cameras, or other devices.

Games + consoles

The big story this holiday is of course the new consoles. All the waiting is over, you can now get your grubby little paws on the latest units from Nintendo and Sony and the two products can't be any more opposite. On one hand, the Wii is cheap and uses older technology, while the PS3 is expensive but uses bleeding edge parts. Whatever the reason and whichever console you get, I think it will be hard for you not to like it. The "console war" aside, I suspect all three console companies have made sure you enjoy the purchase you do make, so why worry about the other platform while the one you have keeps you perfectly happy?

 

If you're an Xbox 360 owner it's definitely Gears of War this season. As far as graphics are concerned, we haven't seen anything like this before on the 360. There's also Burnout: Revenge which is a great game to play with friends, or The Elder Scrolls IV if you're looking for something more epic. Got all that already? Then go all out with a Koolance watercooler kit for your Xbox 360.... it's a bit excessive, but you never know. ;)

 


 

The big game this season for the PS2 is definitely Final Fantasy XII. For an aging platform and being eclipsed by its successor, the PS2 shows that it still has what it takes to entertain you. If you're sticking with Sony, the PS3 will shock and amaze everyone... assuming you can find a PS3 on the shelf. If you know someone who plans on owning one, why not get them Resistance: Fall of Man or Marvel: Ultimate Alliance?

 


 

From Nintendo it's definitely the Wii and Zelda: Twilight Princess. The best thing about the Wii is that it's not too expensive and the availability is excellent which makes it a superb Christmas gift. If the Wii is out of your league, then perhaps something like the Nintendo DS with the New Super Mario Bros. Then follow that up with a protective case or a 18K gold stylus and you're going to be the coolest gift giver around... well, maybe not.

 


 

Finally

 

The products we mentioned here today is just the tip of the iceberg this year. I think when it comes to buying tech gifts it pays to be a bit creative and give something truely unique and useful. It's been a great year for technology and we can't wait to see what's in store for us next year.

 

If you're still stumped for ideas, why not use our PriceGrabber service to do your gift hunting? It's a lot easier than trying to find a parking spot at the mall. :)

 

Happy Holidays everyone!

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