We are kicking off our 2009 Holiday Gift Guide with the Roku HD-XR player. Why? Well, we think that it’s the perfect time to introduce someone to the new hotness that is TV, delivered over the web, and right into the living room. Sure, Netflix has come to the Xbox 360, but if you want streaming access to the Netflix service and don’t own a game console, this is your cheapest barrier to entry. The HD-XR model also gives you access to the Amazon Unbox catalogue, as well as the entire MLB game service as well, if you are subscribed.
Definitely a great gift for movie buffs, the Roku HD-XR player is able to stream over 12,000 movies and television shows from the Netflix Watch Instantly catalogue, and over 45,000 from Amazon Video on Demand. It connects to your home network through an ethernet port, or over Wi-Fi, connecting at up to 802.11n if you have it. There’s also a USB port on back, which Roku says is for future use. Our guess is that they’ll be allowing the device to read from an external USB drive, which would be stellar.
The actual device is tiny, so it takes up barely any space, and setup takes just a couple of minutes - very simple. Of course, a Netflix subscription is required, but once you have that, everything else is a piece of cake.
Honorable Mention: If you want all the features of the Roku HD-XR, but don’t need the USB port or 802.11n wireless speeds, you can grab the Roku HD Player for $99!
Read More | Roku HD-XR
If you, or someone you love, is a big movie buff with an HDTV, we have to recommend the VUDU Christmas Special that is going on right now. The VUDU set-top box normally sells for $299, but for a limited time it can be had for just $99. Now, you also have to buy $50 in movie credits, so the total cost would be $149, but that $50 is would go towards rentals and purchases of VUDU content, including their fantastic HDX 1080p movies. Rentals cost from $1-4 dollars, and purchases are obviously higher.
We recently reported on a lot of the Internet content that has also just made its way to the VUDU service, so all in all, we think this would make a nice gift - either for someone else, or for yourself. Our only complaint with VUDU remains that their speeds are limited, which provides a very, very poor experience if you want to rent HDX content. No matter how fast your Internet connection is, VUDU caps downloads at 4.0 Mbps. That means that my super fast 50.0 Mbps FiOS connection means absolutely nothing, and I still have to wait hours before I can watch an HDX flick. If they got rid of that, it would unleash HDX, their flagship offering. A personal niggle for sure, though. If you don’t care, pick one up!
If you miss the sale, you can typically find some nice VUDU deals on Amazon.
Read More | VUDU Store
We typically reserve the Holiday Gift Guide for items that you should be able to get your hands on throughout the shopping season, but we felt that this Lost Season 1-3 DVD deal on Amazon was way too good to pass up. For today only, you can get the first three seasons of Lost on DVD for just $58.99. That is a savings of 67%, or $120.98 off the regular price of $179.97. That is ridiculous. Ridiculously delicious, that is. If you Lost as much as we do, you’ll know that this is a true bargain.
Read More | Lost Season 1-3 Amazon Sale
Sure, Netflix has come to the Xbox 360, but if you want streaming access to the Netflix service and don’t own a game console, this is your cheapest barrier to entry. Definitely a great gift for movie buffs, the Roku Netflix player is able to stream over 12,000 movies and television shows from the Netflix Watch Instantly catalogue. The set-top box currently outputs at 480p (DVD quality), but we know that high definition streaming is on the way. The box is tiny, so it takes up barely any space, and setup takes just a couple of minutes - very simple. Of course, a Netflix subscription is required, but once you have that, everything else is a piece of cake.
Read More | Roku
Once again, Elmo is here to take over the holiday, causing parking lot brawls between otherwise-normal parents. Back in 1996, Tickle Me Elmo flew off store shelves. 12 years later, Elmo Live tells jokes, sings songs, plays games, and tells stories. Oh, and he still laughs too. The biggest change, though, is thatElmo’s mouth actually moves when he talks, along with the rest of his body. He also moves his arms, nods his head, stands up, sits down, among other things, all with a squeeze of his foot. I was at Target the other day, and almost every shopping cart with a kid in it had one, and at one moment, I literally heard 7 of these things going at once, simply due to the carts being in close proximity. This is one of the big toy gifts this year. Elmo Live sells for $65.99, but we found it on Amazon for 9% off, at $59.88.
Yeah, we know that the iPhone is probably a little rich to purchase for someone during the holidays, plus there’s the whole activtion conundrum. Instead, focus on the people who already own the iPhone 3G, and get them an accessory that we absolutely love. The Mophie Juice Pack for iPhone 3G gives the iPhone more than double the battery life that it has on its own. That means you get up to 250 hours standby time, 6 hours talk time (or 12 hours if on EDGE), 28 hours audio playback, and 8 hours video playback. The cost on this one is $99.95, and is totally worth it for iPhone road warriors.
Read More | Mophie Juice Pack
If you got a do-it-yourselfer who is also into photography, we think we’ve found something that you might want to get them for the holidays. The Unibind Photobook Creator features about twelve new holiday-themed covers for their photo-binding system, each available for between $4-8 each. The actual Unibind System itself allows one to create a nice hardcover photo book, and includes layout software, a thermal binding machine, and a 3mm linen hardcover, with windowed front. The finished product looks nice and professional.
Read More | Photobook Creator
Here’s the cool thing about Hasbro’s Lazer Tag Multiplayer Battle System - you can play and shoot each other in a group, running around as you normally would during a game of Laser Tag, which is always fun - or you can go it along with the television attachment, which turns the system into a one-player video game where you shoot the bad guys on the TV. The set includes the TV attachment, two tag guns, and two pump-action shot blast attachments. When your hit, a rumble pack makes it obvious, you’ve got a manual reload button to refill your shots after every ten that you fire, and a shield button. The set retails for $79.99, but we found it for 13% less on Amazon, at $69.96.
The Altec Lansing UHS306 earbuds are, in our opinion, the best pair of wired earbuds that you can get for the iPhone in the under-$100 price range. You’ll find cloth wires that will greatly reduce instances of tangling (which is almost like two gifts in one!) The UHS306 also incorporates both an in-line microphone and in-line volume controls, which means you can use these to listen to your music and for taking phone calls. A switch hook, lapel clip, and mute controls round out these $89.95 earbuds. Even better? We’ve found them for $56.99.
Be sure to check out more suggestions in our Holiday Gift Guide!