You need gifts? We've got gifts! We bring you 80 of the hottest, weirdest, and most exciting tech gadgets to give (or get) this holiday season.
Visions of iPods will probably dance in more heads than sugarplums this holiday season. But while once upon a time it was enough for an audio player to play MP3 files, the visions are bigger this year -- this year's players do FM, satellite radio, and even Internet phone calls.
If you want to give somebody something totally unexpected this year, give them a Sony mylo personal communicator ($350). The mylo is a Wi-Fi phone; a pocket e-mail, IM, and text-messaging device a la BlackBerry; and even an MP3 player. Forget that it looks like it came out of a McDonald's Happy Meal. Think of it as an iPod with a Web browser.
Sony mylo Click image for image gallery.
To play with one for five minutes is to want it forever. Yes, it's pricey, but it's the perfect gift for anyone who's in that stage of life when time is measured in semesters -- or their parents. There are a few minuses: the headset connector isn't standard, for one, and it only takes the Sony Memory Stick Duo memory cards, not the more easily found, less-expensive SD cards.
Apple iPod Shuffle
You might want to remind the intended recipient a couple of times before Christmas that good things come in small packages, because the new iPod Shuffle ($79) is so small it will barely make a bump in the toe of their stocking. It's the closest thing to jewelry yet in Apple's line of jewel-like iPods, and it's gotta be the cutest gift on the planet this year.
The tiny iPod Shuffle is just big enough to find between quarters in your pocket, but it holds 1 Gbyte of music, plays for as much as 12 hours, and it won't break your gift budget. It won't matter if you give one of these to somebody who already has an iPod. They need one anyway, the same way yachts need little lifeboats.
Ultrasone Edition 9 Headphones
If you have a price-is-no-object person on your gift list this season, here's the gift to give them. The specs on the Ultrasone Edition 9 headphones ($1,499) are definitely high-end -- closed-back design with a frequency range of 8 Hz to 35,000 Hz through 40mm titanium-mylar drivers -- and so is the price.
The Edition 9 design uses speaker placement to create a natural surround-sound effect without additional electronic processing. The headphones include Mu metal shielding to protect the wearer against low-frequency magnetic fields. The ear pads and headband pad are made from Ethiopian hair sheep leather and handmade in Germany. Of course.
Blue Ant X5 Bluetooth Stereo Headset
If you're juggling an audio player and a cell phone, here's a combination that can bring them together. The X5 Bluetooth Stereo Headset ($140) works simultaneously with your Bluetooth-equipped cell phone and any audio player, switching from tunes to talk when you get a call, and back when you hang up. It connects directly to audio devices that support Bluetooth's A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile), and for those that don't, there's a Bluetooth transmitter module that connects through the player's headphone jack. (It also works with a PC for wireless stereo and Skype calls.) The headset microphone is removable, and the headset and transmitter both recharge through a USB port or AC. A marriage made in technology heaven.
Honorable Mention: wiREVO Bluetooth Wireless Headset Pak
The wiREVO Bluetooth Wireless Headset ($169) works with an audio player or a cell phone, just like the Blue Ant X5 set, but in a different form factor. The headphones don't have a headband, but clip to your ears. This may not work as well for you, but the Bluetooth transmitter, which is designed specifically to connect to the docking port of an iPod, may work better. An earbud version is available as well.
Altec Lansing inMotion im11
This portable speaker unit for iPods isn't the biggest, bassiest box in the world, but then, it isn't the size and shape of a beach ball, either. Altec Lansing's inMotion im11 ($100) is small enough to carry with you (with the iPod dock closed, it's 8.5 x 4.3 x 1.4 inches, plus an external AC adapter) and big enough for life's boom-box moments. It weighs 14 ounces and runs on four AA batteries (or, of course, AC), and comes with a travel bag. The point of having a portable player, after all, is to keep it portable, isn't it?
Altec Lansing inMotion im11 Click image for image gallery.
Sirius Stiletto SL100
There's a contradiction inherent in satellite radio. While it seems like it should set you free, loads of channel choices everywhere, it also ties you to the receiver, which may work only in your car, or only on a desk near a window. For Sirius satellite radio customers, the Stiletto SL100 ($350) means liberation.
You can carry it with you like an audio player, because it stores programming recorded off the air or downloaded from a PC. This newest model captures up to 100 hours worth of Sirius programming and plays downloaded MP3 and WMA files. And indoors, where satellite signals don't penetrate, you can use the Stiletto 100's built-in Wi-Fi to connect to the Internet. Optional car and home adapters connect the Stiletto to speaker systems and recharge it.
If you need some stocking stuffers for your audio-loving fellow cubicle dwellers, there are several that would be suit. The Macally FM Cup ($60) fits in your car's cup holder and provides a dock connector for your iPod. Connect the cord to the cigarette lighter socket to power the FM Cup (and recharge your iPod while it plays). Do you somebody who has to take their iPod everywhere? The H2O Audio for iPod ($90)
is the perfect gift. It's waterproofed for long walks in the rain -- and with optional waterproof earphones it can even submerge to 10 feet. Other housings are available to fit other iPod models. And you can save your loved ones the 10 minutes a day they spend untangling their earbud cords with the Cordgo (two for $10) -- just snap this plastic spool around the cord, and reel and unreel it with one hand.
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