A Holiday Gift Guide for the Self-Proclaimed Geeks in Your Life2
By Bridgett Michele Lawrence
Well, it’s that time of year again. The holiday season is officially here. The tree has been trimmed. The stockings have been hung, and it’s time for Santa to make his rounds. There is just one problem. Santa had to make a few cutbacks at the North Pole and won’t be visiting as many homes this year. And Rudolf? Well, let’s just say the loveable red-nosed reindeer’s job wasn’t as secure as he thought. So, that leaves you with the daunting task of having to brave the crowds at your local mall or spend time at home clicking away in panic as you try to find gifts online. So, you’ve made your list and checked it twice, but you still can’t figure out the perfect gift for the geeks in your life. What do you give geeks who have every gadget, gizmo, whatchamacallit and thingamajigy imaginable? Luckily, our good friends at Apple, Microsoft, Boxee, Roku, Sony and Vizio, just to name a few, have unleashed a slew of new gadgets, gizmos and whatchamacallits just in time for you to wrap it up and get it under the tree. Check out these hot new tech toys the geeks in your life are sure to love.
Apple iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G
If the self-proclaimed geeks in your life have yet to hitch a ride on the iPad Express, they will be glad they waited. Apple recently released the new iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G which enables the user to access the web and send and review email even when there are no Wi-Fi hotspots available. The 3G iPad offers no-contract data service through AT&T. This flexibility allows the subscriber to use the service only when they need it and cancel it when they don’t. They can also subscribe, check data usage, manage their account and even cancel their service conveniently from their iPad. Currently AT&T offers a 250 MB data plan for $14.99 per month and a 2GB data plan for $25 per month. The iPad 3G still offers all the features Apple consumers have come to love including the 9.7 inch high resolution screen, convenient split-screen email view, iPod, iTunes and access to more than 300,000 apps in the Apps Store. The Apple iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G is available in three sizes: 16GB for $629, 32GB for $729 and 64GB for $829.
Apple MacBook Air
The MacBook Air, the latest installment from Apple, is the thinnest and most lightweight of the Apple family of notebooks. But don’t let the size fool you. What it lacks in girth it more than makes up for in features. Inspired by the ever-popular iPad, the MacBook Air utilizes the same flash storage technology already available on the iPad, iPhone and iPod. Flash storage allows access to data quickly and more efficiently and gives the MacBook Air the remarkable ability to stay in standby mode for up to thirty days. The MacBook Air also features a multi-touch track pad, allowing the user to scroll in any direction, pinch to zoom in and out of photos, swipe back and forth to navigate through windows or rotate and drag items across the screen. As if that weren’t enough, the MacBook Air also has an increased battery life of up to 5 hours on the 11-inch model and up to 7 hours on the 13-inch model and comes with the super thin Face Time Camera that even rivals the camera on the iPhone 4. The best part is that Apple offers all this starting at just $999.
Dell Inspiron Duo
Not to be outdone by the Apple juggernaut, Dell has introduced a unique new laptop that is as convenient as an iPad and as functional as a MacBook. As its name suggests, the Dell Inspiron Duo is, in fact, two in one. This nifty gadget introduces a flip hinge design which allows the user to convert the device from a touch screen tablet, where they can access their favorite music, photos, read books and watch movies on its 10-inch HD display, to a fully functional laptop with keyboard and all the amenities you would expect from a Dell PC. Whether you prefer to touch or type, Dell provides the best of both worlds starting at $549.
Microsoft Windows Phone
Sure to be a hot ticket item this holiday season, the Microsoft Windows Phone features live tiles on the start screen which are constantly updated wirelessly through the web, keeping the user abreast of pending messages, Facebook statuses, news, weather or any other information the user chooses. They just simply pin the app to the start menu, and it’s at their fingertips! The Microsoft Windows phone also makes it easy to take and upload pictures to Facebook, listen to music, synced wirelessly from their pc, and watch TV, movies or personal videos. The Windows Phone is also the only phone to feature a live gaming option. Players can choose from a wide variety of games to play alone or use with Xbox Live to compete against friends. They can work as hard as they play with the Windows Phone mobile versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Plus, with SharePoint Workspace Mobile they can collaborate with co-workers without ever having to set foot in the office. Microsoft Windows Phones are currently available from AT&T, T-Mobile and Dell.
Vizio Internet-Enabled TV
Via HDTV, Vizio’s internet-enabled TV, is so much more than just a television set. The Via offers users the opportunity to not only watch their favorite programming as they would on any regular TV, but they can also access some of their favorite web applications such as Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo right on the screen. Via features integrated Wi-Fi and a very well-equipped remote control. On first glance, the Bluetooth remote looks like any other except it has a slide out QWERTY keyboard that makes it easy for the user to type as they would on their smart phone. Although full web browsing is not yet available, any geek is sure to love being able to see their tweets in hi-definition. The 42-inch Via HDTV is available for $999.
* The Sixth Wall, and KoldCast TV, will be available on VIZIO VIA on or before December 15, 2010.
Rovio Robotic Webcam
Every geek has dreamed of owning a pet robot. Now, they can. The Rovio Robotic Webcam is a Wi-Fi enabled mobile webcam that allows the owner to see and interact with the robot’s environment through streaming video and audio. This well-equipped robot can be remotely controlled through any web-enabled device including a PC, Mac, smartphone or even video game console. The Rovio Robotic Webcam features USB and Wi-Fi connectivity, an LED headlight for easy navigation through dimly lit areas, a head-mounted camera allowing the owner to see and hear exactly what the Rovio sees and hears, 3 omni-directional wheels, rechargeable NiMH batteries and a speaker and microphone for two-way communication. The Rovio is a great way to feel close to friends and family no matter where they are for only $179.
Rubik’s Touch Cube
The Touch Screen Rubik’s Cube, also known as the Touch Cube, is the new millennium remix to the classic eighties puzzle game that had many of us, geeks and non-geeks alike, stumped for years. Everyone remembers the agony of trying for hours to solve the Rubik’s Cube only to have some genius pry it from our hands and solve it in a matter of minutes after only a few twists and turns. The Touch Cube offers a computerized version that allows the player to move the colors by merely swiping their finger across the cube in a straight line or in an L-shaped pattern. Built in memory stores the game while the battery recharges itself when the game is placed on its stand. The best feature is likely the game’s ability to solve itself right before the player’s eyes and even give a step by step tutorial on how to solve the puzzle. The Touch Cube retails for around $150 dollars.
The third generation of the Amazon Kindle features noteworthy improvements from previous models. The Kindle 3 offers increased battery life, up to four weeks rather than two, improved screen quality, with higher contrast and faster page turning capability, and is lighter and costs less than previous models. It also features built-in 3G wireless, Wi-Fi and a built-in keyboard for notes. With its 4GB of memory, the Kindle 3 stores up to 3,500 e-books, displays image files, plays MP3 and AAC audio. The Kindle with Wi-Fi and 3G wireless retails for $189. The Kindle with Wi-Fi sells for only $139.
Streaming Media Players: Roku & The Boxee Box
Starting at the unbelievable price of just $59.99, the Roku streaming media player is the perfect gift for the entertainment geek. The media player allows you to stream your favorite movies and TV shows from Netflix, Hulu Plus, KoldCast TV and Amazon Video On Demand directly to your television. You can also stream your favorite songs from Pandora or watch the latest sporting events. The best part is it’s all available to you quickly and conveniently. You don’t even need a PC! The Roku streaming player connects to the internet wirelessly. Roku’s super small size, approximately 1 X 5 inches, makes it easy to fit in even the tiniest of spaces. Plus, the Roku Streaming Media Player works in conjunction with a subscriber’s existing subscriptions so there are no extra bills to worry about.
Similarly, The Boxee Box plugs into the television, using an HDMI cable, allowing a TV viewer to download movies and TV shows from the internet and play them on their TV. Setting it apart from Roku, Boxee is also a social networking platform that allows users to share content with other users. It comes, however, with a much heftier price tag than does Roku. The Boxee Box currently costs $199. That said, with a much heftier library of channels and more comprehensive array of web programming, The Box may be perfect for those that prefer to snack on Internet-born content.
*KoldCast TV is available on both Roku and Boxee.
Call of Duty: Black Ops
Sure to be high on the wish list of many gamers this holiday season is the latest installment in the Call of Duty series. Call of Duty: Black Ops is a high octane, adrenaline rush designed to place the player on the frontlines of the battlefield as a soldier in an elite Black Ops task force. The game transports players across the globe where they can execute top secret missions, engage in covert warfare and fight hostile enemies all from the comfort of their home. New game features include Theater Mode, which allows the player to edit and upload gameplay videos to show off their combat skills, customizable soldiers and Call of Duty game points which can be used to purchase equipment. Call of Duty: Black Ops is available for Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii and PlayStation 3 for around $60 bucks.
Xbox 360 Kinect
The future of gaming is here! The Xbox 360 Kinect, Microsoft’s answer to the success and popularity of the Nintendo Wii, features controller-free motion gaming. How do they do it? The Kinect utilizes a full-body motion sensor, a camera that is placed in front of or on top of the television. The camera senses the player’s movements and emulates them on screen, leaving the player’s hands free rather than holding onto a pesky controller. Move over, Nintendo! Wii wants to Kinect! Kinect also features voice command and comes with the game Kinect Adventures all for a reasonable $150 bucks. Don’t already have an Xbox 360? The Xbox 360 Kinect bundle, which includes a 250GB Xbox console, is available for around $400 bucks.
Motorola Droid X
The self-proclaimed smartest of smart phones, the Motorola Droid X, is a virtual home theater that fits into the palm of your hand. With its 720 pixel resolution HD camcorder, 8 megapixel camera, 4.3 inch high resolution display and HDMI port for connecting to any HD TV, your favorite geek can take stunning pictures and video and share them easily. Google’s Android Market puts thousands of apps and widgets at their fingertips while Primetime2go makes it possible to download and watch their favorite TV shows away from home. They’ll never miss the Star Trek marathon again! The Droid X also helps keep them in touch with their social network via posts, pics, status updates and tweets streamed directly to their phone as they happen. Plus, the Droid X also functions as a 3G mobile hotspot, allowing them to share their wireless connection with up to five other Wi-Fi enabled devices. Oh yeah, and it can be used to make phone calls too. The Droid X is available at Verizon retailers.
Bridgett Michele Lawrence is a Los Angeles based screenwriter. She earned her BFA in Dramatic Writing from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, a degree which she holds near and dear to her heart although it has yet to earn her the multi-million dollar script deal that she anticipated. She fully intends to file a complaint with the alumni association. Bridgett writes for television, film and the web and enjoys spending quality time with her TiVo. In 2009, her award-winning pilot, The Value of Ex, garnered the attention of Executives at the CW and Overbrook Entertainment. Bridgett is also the co-creator, co-producer and co-star of Valley Girls, a comedic web series following the antics of three unemployed friends determined to turn their Hollywood Dreams into reality – by any means necessary. Although the show is loosely based on the experiences of herself and her two friends, she denies having any relation to her character. She is not a deranged screenwriter. She just plays one on Web TV.