EDGE Holiday Gift Guide :: Gadgets
I love gadgets. Of all of the gift guides that I write or supervise each year, this one’s my favorite. Picking a dozen (or so) tech items from among the hundreds of new products available is never easy, but once we choose, playing with them is a blast!
If you know someone who stood in line for the iPhone (twice), got the Nintendo Wii the first week it came out, and who always knows about the latest, hottest, and most advanced gadget or gizmo, this guide’s for you. Whether your lucky recipient is a guy or gal, if you pick something from this list you’re guaranteed to win them over.
And maybe they’ll even let you borrow their new toy!
Turn your Mac into the best TV in the house
TiVo is great, but it’s far from perfect. Sure, it lets you record your favorite shows, but you’re pretty limited as to what you can do with them. If you’ve got a DVD burner you can make discs, but that’s about it. You can rip them to your computer’s hard drive, convert the file, and then watch them on your laptop or iPhone, but after all that work you’d probably need a vacation- and an assistant.
The EyeTV 250 Plus from Elgato has changed all that, and I’ve got one thing to say about it: it’s about time!
The Eye250 Plus is the best hybrid TV tuner of its kind, thanks to its flexibility and ease of use. It lets you watch and record TV (including analog, digital, and HD), and then translate those files into formats that you can watch on your iPod, iPhone or Apple TV. The VHS Assistant also allows you to convert videos from VHS tape to DVD-video (guiding you through the step-by-step process), which are compressed into small files, and the included Toast program lets you burn shows to DVD.
For people who travel a lot, have long commutes on a train or bus, and parents looking for a way to distract their kids on long road trips, the EyeTV 250 Plus makes a fantastic gift. $180 at www.Elgato.com
Straight from Star Trek...
Without a doubt one of my favorite gadgets this year, the Solo Plus from Myvu connects to your media player- iPod, iPhone, portable DVD player, etc.- and displays the video inside a pair of futuristic looking glasses, which appears to the viewer as if they’re watching the video on a large screen TV from six feet away. Basically, it’s like having a huge home theatre in your pocket! As a frequent traveler, the Solo Plus has become my best friend on planes and in airports- I can’t tell you how much better it is than trying to watch Hancock on the screen of an iPhone! (Hint: If you’re in an airport, find a somewhat private corner somewhere or be prepared to answer a ton of questions from everyone around you; the glasses are too cool to not attract attention.)
Using the Solo Plus is as easy as putting on a pair of sunglasses and earphones; and the ones attached are noise-cancelling earbuds from Ultimate Ears, which are perfect for airplanes and also provide incredible bass. The unit comes with a 4-hour battery that recharges by plugging into your computer’s USB port.
Available for $130 at www.Myvu.com and Amazon.com.
TiVo to go (put it in your pocket!)
So now you can take your favorite TV shows and movies with you and watch them en-route via the Solo Plus, but what about once you get where you’re going? If you travel for work -like me- you’re probably sick of watching MSNBC, the BBC, and CNN International (as much as I love Richard Quest!). Luckily, you don’t have to.
The HAVA allows you to watch TV programs and movies from your TiVo, and even live TV, anywhere you go; your hotel room in Taipei, the airport in Stockholm, even the back of a cab in NYC! As long as you’ve got a WiFi connection, you’ll never be without your favorite shows!
Once you setup the box and plug it into your home theatre system, the HAVA lets you watch your DVD player, TV, or TiVo in real time, from your laptop or any handheld device with Windows Media Center. It can also stream video to multiple locations in your home network, so you can play your favorite programs or movies in various rooms around your house. It’s perfect for the Superbowl- or more likely with EDGE readers, the VMAs! Like TiVo, the HAVA lets you record, pause, and rewind live TV, works as a virtual tuner, and has Wi-Fi and HD capabilities.
From $100 at www.MyHAVA.com
Simplify your surfing
We had originally planned to include URC’s Digital R50 Universal Remote in the gift guide for Dads (since they’re the ones who always seem to have dibs on the remotes), but after testing it out and realizing how fantastic it is, we decided that we needed to share the love with everyone!
Like most universal remotes, the R50 allows you to control your TV, DVD player, VCR (do those still exist?), receiver, cable or satellite box, and even iPod docks, all on one remote. Unlike most others however, the R50 doesn’t require you to have an advanced degree in both computer programming in order to program it. In fact, setting up this universal remote is simple, easy, and fast, because you do it entirely on the unit’s color LCD screen- no PC or internet connection needed. In fact, the remote actually uses an intuitive setup wizard that guides you step-by-step on the unit’s two-inch screen.
Once programmed, the remote is extremely easy to use (our grandmother had no problem with it), comfortable to hold, and perhaps best of all, affordable. It can control up to 18 home theater components, displays options on the screen, and when new technology comes out down the road, the R50 can "learn" functions and commands to make sure that it never becomes obsolete! Now if it only made popcorn and brought you a martini...
The URC Digital R50 is available at Best Buy, www.BestBuy.com and other major retailers for $150.