The Sony PLAYSTATION 3 is build around the company’s much-hyped Cell processor, a 3.2-GHz chip that packs some serious processing power. The cell is what powers the PS3’s 1080p True HD output, alongside a 500-MHz nVidia graphics processor. The more expensive version also packs in WiFi, multimedia card readers, and silver trim. The SIXAXIS controller has a new input interface that is rotation and acceleration sensitive, allowing you to control games through movement (but without force-feedback.) Lastly, the PS3 has Blu-Ray built-in, so with the purchase you also get a high definition video player as well. Sure, at $600 USD it sounds expensive, but compare that to a $1000+ standalone Blu-Ray player, and the PS3 doesn’t look so bad after all.
Price: $600 (Compare Prices)
The newest Squeezebox has a bright LED screen along with a nice, metallic console, and is the perfect gift for any audiophile. Hook this thing up to a stereo system using it’s digital outputs, and you are in for a treat. The Squeezebox supports just about any format out there (but not iTunes DRM), and can even stream from services like Rhapsody. There are third-party plug-ins that let you change fonts, and even use the display as a caller ID. Our favorite part, though, is the fact that it can stream Internet radio without needed a PC to be powered on.
The Buffalo LinkTheater Wireless A/G Media Player is new in town, but looks to be a winner. The device allows you to stream just about any video or audio format you can think of from your PC to your home theater system. This new model even has a few optimization specifically targetted toward Intel Viiv PCs, so if you have one of those, it’s a plus (though it’s not required.) The device is even compatible with DRM movie downloads from the likes of CinemaNow and MovieLink. Definitely worth it if you store a bunch of multimedia content on your PC, and you want an easy way to get that to your HDTV.
Here at Gear Live HQ, we are pretty keen on hard drive-based camcorders. If you aren’t shooting any major productions, these cameras are great in situations where a handheld camera is appropriate. The Sony DCR-SR1000 is a great tapeless camcorder, holding about 7.3 hours of high quality footage on it’s internal drive. You can change the quality of your recording in order to squeeze out over 20 hours of recording capacity from the camcorder. Low light performance is better than other cameras of similar size, as it sports a Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T lens. It also have an onboard mic that records in four directions, allowing you to record in Dolby 5.1 surround sound. The only downside we could find to this one is that it’s a tad on the heavy side at 22.4 ounces.
The recently overhauled iPod nano is almost a splitting image of the old-school iPod mini. You know, the anodized-aluminum casing that is available in multiple colors? Yeah, that’s the one. The new casing is much more scratch-resistant than the original nano, and features a brighter screen along with better battery life (26 hours!) and a thinner shell, if you can believe that. The new iPod nano also features updated software which includes a nice search interface. What you aren’t getting, though, is the ability to play movies or the new iPod games that are available in iTunes - however, we think that most people on the lookout to purchase a nano aren’t necessarily the gaming type. Plus, who would want to play Zuma on a screen this tiny? Still, for a flash-based portable music player, we give the nod to the iPod nano. Hey, you can even get the RED nano and help in the fight against AIDS. Feel free to check out our iPod nano unboxing video.
With Wii, Nintendo seems to be poised to be the talk of the videogame town once again. Wii (pronounced “wee”) doesn’t match up to the PLAYSTATION 3 or Xbox 360 in terms of processing power, but makes up for it by boasting the best library of classic games on the planet, along with what many consider to be the most user-friendly controller ever to grace a home console. The Wii Remote (or Wiimote as it’s affectionately known) has a built-in accelerometer that works with a sensor bar that sits above or below your television. It senses movement and tilt in three dimensions, and even has a speaker for audible feedback directly out of the controller itself along with force feedback. Throw in built-in WiFi, and you have a console that is ready to download classic games from the 80s and 90s, as well as interacting with other Wii owners around the globe.
Alright, so if you want Blu-Ray playback this holiday season without the hassle of trying to find a PS3, then you are gonna want to look at the Samsung BD-P1000. This player delivers on all the promises of the Blu-Ray format, including great shadow detail, vibrant colors, and deep blacks. The sound is uncompressed and goes up to 7.1, and is fantastic. The BD-P1000 will also upscale standard DVDs as well as digital images to a high definition progressive scan signal. The bad side? Load times when you first pop in a Blu-Ray movie are a bit slow, averaging about 30 seconds. Still, this one supports 1080p outpout and has both component and HDMI outs - and for $1,000, it’s probably cheaper than you will find the PLAYSTATION 3 selling for on eBay.
If you are looking for a full-fledged smartphone that lacks bulk, look the way of the Motorola Q. The Q packs in Bluetooth, a 1.3-megapoxel camera, and a QWERTY keyboard into a freaking thin 4.3 x 2.5 x 0.5-inch handset. The Motorola Q weighs just 4.1 ounces, so carrying this phone around is very comfy. The Q also sports a scroll wheel on the side, reminding us of the BlackBerry mainstay, and it works nicely on the Windows Mobile 5 OS. The screen is a 2.4-inch 320x240 display, but we wish the font size could be bumped down a few notches to fit more text without having to scroll. The Q can also do multimedia, which can be access on Verizon’s EV-DO network, or locally by packing your content onto a miniSD card.
You can watch our full Motorola Q video review for more information.
Price: $300 with two-year contract
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The 30D is an evolutionary upgrade from the EOS 20D and shares many of the same components/features such as the 8.19-megapixel CMOS sensor, shutter speed (1/8000), and autofocus system. New to the 30D is the 2.5” LCD with a greatly increased viewing angle as compared to the 1.8” LCD on the 20D. A deeper burst depth allows you to take more pictures in rapid succession before the camera writes to memory and is a welcome improvement when shooting in RAW mode. ISO speed is now adjustable while looking through the viewfinder and should make shooting with changing light conditions a much easier task.
If you are a videophile and want a neat device you can use to watch video on the go, without breaking the bank, you may want to consider the Toshiba Gigabeat MES30VX. This Gigabeat packs 30 GB of hard drive space into a package that is a bit smaller and lighter than the standard iPod. While the screen is only 320x240 resolution, the colors, tone, and lighting are spot on. The Gigabeat MES30VX screen is the man when it comes to accurate video representation. Of course, it does all the usual stuff as well, that being playing digital audio (it’s Urge compatible) and the like. Even better though, it’s compatible with TiVo To Go out of the box, as well as the Vongo video service, which means you have your video hook-up here as well - the total package.
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