Here are some ideas for high-tech holiday gifts
It's that time of the year once again. People are scratching their heads trying to determine what gadget or gizmo will bring joy to a loved one. Perhaps I can make your "gifting" easier with these suggestions:
» Digital photo frame: Has your computer become a digital shoebox? Surveys show that most digital photos rarely see the light of day.
One of the best ways to display those shots is with a high-tech photo frame. These look like traditional photo frames except they have an LCD screen with a special slot where you can slip in your compact flash. This allows you to view those shots on a regular basis as they cycle through like a slide show.
There are different models available that will also display your camera's video files or combine your slide shows with music from your MP3 files. Some models are even designed to utilize your home's wireless networks so that photo files can be accessed from a computer.
One of the best rated models is Kodak's Easyshare EX-811 Digital Picture, which offers the option of wireless connectivity. It has slots for your compact flash, if you don't choose to go the Wi-Fi route, and it has a USB port so that you have a third option to connect directly to your computer. The 8-inch diagonal display frame has a wide-screen LCD, with 800 x 480 resolution and small speakers that will play MP3 files.
» Camcorders: Here are some recommendations of camcorders that offer great features and the best bang for the buck in their class.
* The Panasonic SDR-H18 , priced as low as $430 online, has the option of recording with a 30GB drive or a removable SD/SDHC flash memory card. With a decent zoom and image quality, it's more than adequate for home or YouTube applications.
The Canon HV20 Mini DV/HDV camcorder uses MiniDV tape or MiniSD flash memory card media and features excellent video quality at a price that starts around $800, if you purchase it online. The HV20 provides near-professional-quality video.
Moving up the ladder, the Sony Handycam HDR-SR7 is a high-definition model which packs excellent photo quality and performance along with decent audio. This model uses a hard drive to store the data and features a very usable set of manual controls. It's priced at around $1,000.
» Bluetooth headsets: It seems like everyone in this town is talking story on their cell phones in traffic these days and it scares me. My Christmas safety tip, which is good for the entire year, is to get a wireless headset that will allow you hands-free chatting. A few of the more highly rated units include the Aliph Jawbone Bluetooth Headset, which is both tres chic and comfortable ($90); the Plantronic Discovery 655 Headset ($80), which is also comfortable and has excellent audio quality; and, the Samsung SBH170 ($120) with the advantage of wrapping into a ball so that it fits into a minuscule carrying case.