Growing up the way I did - barely getting by, fully understanding what hard times meant, and dealing with some messed up family stuff - we never really made Christmas a big deal. At least, it never really was to me. For example, one year we couldn’t afford a Christmas tree (but when we did, we kept that thing for like a decade), my mom made us get some fallen twigs outside our apartment and she delicately wrapped them up in tin foil. We put it in a green vase and I think my sister actually tried decorating it by coloring the tin foil red and green. Ah, youth. Well, I couldn’t totally blame her for her attempts to make something bad into something good, afterall, she had a perm and actually thought it looked cool. But, heck, it was the mid-80s, so the poor choice made by my nine-year-old sibling could be forgiven in retrospect.
In all honesty, the last Christmas I remembered before this particular one I’m about to tell you about when I was eleven, was when I was five. I got a whole bunch of Micronauts and this huge plastic Spider-Man doll that had a grappling hook, which was supposedly a web that he could “climb.” Mind you, I don’t blame my parents for any of this lack of remembering several years in between as they always did their best, God bless their hearts, and I’m glad my sister was always in the Christmas spirit, but I knew what was up. Okay sure, I was a Holden Caufield without knowing I was at the time, but whatever. I dealt with it. You couldn’t fool me, I tell ya.
But, this particular Christmas, I got fooled.
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.
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Yeah, we know, the Time Capsule is a router and backup device. Not that exciting, right? Well, not all gifts are meant to spur excitement - this one is practical and functional. If you know someone who owns a Mac, and doesn’t take advantage of Time Machine, then they need a Time Capsule - especially if they use a MacBook or MacBook Pro. The Time Machine sports either a 500GB or 1TB hard drive, and is a combination wired/wireless network attached storage device. Even better, it doubles as an 802.11n/g router as well. The 500GB Time Capsule sells for $299, while the 1TB version will run you $499.
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If you want to pick up a camera for your loved one that is as much a fashion statement as it is a photography device, you’ve gotta consider the fashionista-friendly Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-T700. It’s not all about the looks, though, because this camera packs in a bunch of features. Like what? How about anti-blink and Smile Shutter technology? It also features a 3.5-inch ultra-high resolution touchscreen display, shoots at up to 10.1 megapixels, and includes 4GB of internal memory. It also includes the Picture Motion Browser software package, but seriously, who’s gonna use that? The Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-T700 retails for $399.99, but on Amazon we were able to find substantial discounts, depending on which color you were interested in:
- Grey DSC-T700 for $339.99
- Pink DSC-T700 for $366.47
- Silver DSC-T700 for $375.64
- Red DSC-T700 for $375.64
There’s also a gold version, but we didn’t include that one since there was no discount available on it. Definitely a good gift for the woman in your life.
We know, you’re wondering why on Earth we’d be recommending a surge protector as a gift, right? Well, the Belkin Conserve line is actually pretty cool. In the interest of being green, we are recommending a power strip that is great for the eco-concious folks in your life. You’re able to turn off all connected devices with one switch. Outlets are spaced out to support those unsightly bulky ones, and there is even a remote you can use to control the flow of power. Since electronics pull power, even when powered off, that means you’re wasting electricity constantly unless you unplug your devices when you are done using them. The Belkin Concserve fixes that. They retail for $49.99, but we were able to find them for 24% less - $38.24 at Amazon.
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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.
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If you are looking for a great gift for the coffee fan in your life that isn’t terribly expensive, you should consider the Hamilton Beach Ensemble 12-Cup. This is a product that might make even those who have switched to lattes give drip coffee another look. Don’t let the shiny exterior and low price fool you - the Ensemble 12-Cup hits you with rich, smooth brew. It it also compatible with an optional water filter, which costs $10, for those who want to make sure their water is clean. It’s available in both black and red. These retail for $49.99, but you can find them cheaper by shopping around.
Read More | Hamilton Beach Ensemble on Amazon
The BD-P1200 from Samsung is a nice step up from last year’s BD-P1000 player. It offers more features at a lower cost. There are nice bookmarking features, DVD upconverting, and a nice backlit remote control. There’s also an Ethernet port, which allows for simple firmware updates. Of course, the fact that it takes 20 seconds to load a disc is no fun, but that is typical of Blu-ray and HD DVD players across the board.
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Here’s a quick news bite for anyone looking for a holiday gift for that entertainment junkie in their life (or, for that matter, for themselves) - Amazon is selling the TiVo HD unit at $249.99. That’s $50 off the regular price of $299.99, or a smooth 17% off. Sure, it’s no Series 3, we know, but still, it is TiVo in all it’s HD goodness. We aren’t sure how long this one is going to last, so jump on it quick if you want it.<
Read More | TiVo HD Amazon Deal
It looks like Sony may have learned from it’s mistakes based on it’s first foray into the personal navigation market and have come back swinging for a second round of competition with the NV-U71. What features did Sony throw into this one to make us so impressed? Well, for starters, the Sony NV-U71 has a nifty Gesture Command interface that allows you to make Plam Graffitti-ish type gestures with your finger or stylus right on the screen. Different gestures tell the GPS to do different things - for example, give it an upside-down V shape, and it will navigate your right back to your front door. No need to take your eyes off the road and go through pesky menus. Of course, it also is small and has a 3D map interface featuring a birds-eye view, but they all have that nowadays, don’t they?