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Posted by Mark Hine at 4:06PM   |  Add a comment
Gift Box

Put down that remote controlled helicopter. It's time for my third installment of what's hot in holiday digital gear. But first a re-cap - year one, reporting from the Apple Store in NYC, the launch of the new iPhone. Year two, from Indianapolis, the big draw - e-readers of all shapes and sizes. It's now 2010 and as they say, the past is the past - but not really. Top trends continue to be found in the e-reader market and the good news is they've come down in price significantly. The bad news is the lower priced models have smaller screens and may or may not include a 3G connection. Still, e-readers are for everyone - young, old and in between.

The real news is the iPad and the shameless family of look-a-likes now flooding the market. The iPad is an e-reader of course and a mini-entertainment platform. If you can swallow the $499 it's a go from this power user's perspective. Netbooks are either underpowered or underwhelming - nothing new on the horizon.

Another trend this season is the Internet connected TV box - Apple TV, Roku, Boxee and of course the various game systems that connect you to Netflix and other services. While certainly not new, many of these devices have been redesigned or relaunched with extended capabilities that leverage your broadband connection to deliver streaming video to your television. Look for good sized hard drives (if equipped), HDMI connections and digital audio. Of course, the experience is only as good as your television - which leads me to the hype vehicle of the season - 3DTV. My advice is to wait another season. The number of 3D movies on the market doesn't justify the extra $2000 you might spend on a 3DTV. I predict that by Christmas 2011 we'll see lower prices and more movie choices. And here's a new term if you haven't caught up on your 3D lingo - autostereoscopic - 3DTV without the glasses - coming soon!

Great ideas under $100

Ultra Portable Video Camera.
The Flip Video Ultra is available this season for $99. This video camera takes excellent quality footage, has built in memory for an hour (or two with the more expensive model) and built in software for basic editing and uploading. The HD version is now $129.

Portable GPS.
Sure you've got it on your phone - but try reading that screen and driving (a NY no no). Check out the $99 TomTom line. Great brand. High reliability and accuracy. Check out the reviews on CNET for more info.

Satellite Radio.
Now that XM and Sirius are one and the same you'd think prices would rise. However, the satellite radio combo is still clamoring for subscribers. Look for deals on-line for the first year of service at an absolute bargain. The radios range from $35 to $100.

MP-3 Player
If you're looking for value, check out the iPod Shuffle- under $50 for the 2GB model (about 500 songs). There are also a few quality MP-3/video players like SONY's NWZ Walkman - at around $80, this sleek device plays MP-3s and video. It also includes an FM radio.

and my personal favorite...

The Digital Pen
These devices write like a pen and record your scribbles on internal flash memory. Some models also record audio, like the Livescribe 2 GB Pulse Smartpen which retails for about $99. While digital pens have lagged in popular appeal their accuracy has improved. A novel idea for the college student or for those who like the feel of actually writing.

Have a safe and happy holiday. Look for me in the electronics section! (it's between shoes and luggage)







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