Okay, let's keep it real for a moment with this next entry in our 2010 Holiday Gift Guide. We know more and more people are using DVRs these days, whether it's something like a TiVo, or one of the ones leased from a cable company. The one thing that we hear time and time again is that the hard drives inside these things are simply too small to hold any substantial amount of programming, especially when dealing with HD programming. That's where the My Book AV DVR Expander comes in. You simply connect this bad boy to your DVR (it supports a ton of them from TiVo, DirecTV, Dish, Scientific Atlanta, Motorola, and the list goes on) and give it a few minutes to get calibrated, and you've instantly added 150 hours of high definition storage to your setup. If you know any TV buffs, we'd recommend something like this for the holidays.
The Western Digital My Book AV DVR Expander usually sells for $127.60, but Amazon's got it for $119 right now, a savings of 7%.
Microsoft's been hyping up Kinect for over a year now, and the motion sensing Xbox peripheral has finally arrived. Our verdict? We love it, and it feels like the future. If you know anyone with an Xbox 360 console who doesn't have Kinect, then we'd recommend putting this one on your gift list. The Kinect sensor costs $149.99, and includes Kinect Adventures, a disc full of mini-games that let you try out a bunch of Kinect's features. You can also do video chat with other Kinect users and Windows Live users as well, and you get voice control over your Xbox 360. Seriously, this is the video game accessory to have this holiday season--especially during your holiday parties with friends and family around.
Aside from the sensor itself, here are a few Kinect games that we think are worth picking up as well:
Read More | Kinect
Casio rocks it this year with the Exilim Zoom EX-Z280 digital camera, and we like it enough that we are recommending it in this years gift guide. It sports a dedicated Easy Mode, making it easy enough for pretty much anyone who enjoys pressing buttons to operate, while still maintaining the advanced features for more experienced pros, including ones that you don’t typically find on budget-priced digital cameras. One such feature is mechanical (instead of digital) image stabilization, giving you nice clear shots while you stumble around during a holiday party after one-too-many eggnogs, as well as a 4x optical zoom lens. In addition, it shoots video in 720p, so it can even take the place of your Flip-style camcorder. You can grab one now for $173 on Amazon.
Read More | Casio Exilim
We must say, one device we were excited about this year was the Zune HD, and as evidenced in our Zune HD review, Microsoft came through with a superb device with a fantastic service behind it to match. In fact, we’ve said it many time that, in our opinion, for someone that truly loves music, Zune is the best deal around. Coupled with the $15 per month Zune Pass (which isn’t a requirement,) you get a top-notch portable media player with an OLED screen, HD Radio, and web browser with the advantage of being able to listen to pretty much any song you can think of at a moments notice.
The Zune HD retails for $289 for the 32GB model, and $219 for the 16GB model - however, Amazon’s got a great sale on the Zune HD that’ll put the 32GB model into your hands for $269 ($21 off,) while the 16GB model will run you $189 ($30 off.)
Read More | Zune on Amazon
We love how inexpensive it’s gotten for people to attain the ability to record high definition video, and we think this category is set to explode this holiday season. Based on this, and you know how much we love video, we’ve got to recommend the Kodak Zi8 handheld camera. Why? Well, the Kodak Zi8 records full 1080p HD video at 30 fps, and can also take 5 megapixel still images. It incorporates image stabilization as well, which helps avoid that whole Blair Witch shaky cam effect that none of us enjoy, and in a rare move, it even has a microphone jack so you can connect a nice, high quality audio device, if you so choose.
It’s definitely a great value for such a small device that packs a nice punch. The Kodak Zi8 typically sells for $179, but you can find it on Amazon for a little less than that.
Flip Mino: It isn’t HD, but it’s about $60 cheaper than the Kodak Zi8.
Read More | Kodak Zi8 pocket video camera
Ever since the HP DreamScreen arrived on the scene, generic digital photo frames have seemed so passe. I mean, the DreamScreen is a digital photo frame on crack, essentially. It’s available in 10- and 13-inch sizes, and aside from simply displaying your digital photos, it can stream Pandora (or up to 10,000 Internet radio stations,) set alarms, display your calendar, show you a five-day weather forecast, and even give you a look at your Facebook account so you can see what’s up with your peeps. Plus, it incorporates touch into the bezel, and we like touch.
The HP DreamScreen typicalls sells for $250, but Amazon currently has it for $205, a full 18% off.
Read More | HP DreamScreen 100 on Amazon
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
Here’s one that the kids are sure to love - Kota the Triceratops is a rideable dinosaur. Did you catch that? A life-sized baby dinosaur to be exact, Kota is 40-inches long, and has a spring-loaded seat and handle. He also sports a smile on his face, which should mean that children won’t be scared of him. Kota has 11 sensores, so it reacts intelligently to sound as well as touch. He will react by turning his head, tail, horns, or even by roaring. You can also feed him some leaves, which will cause the dino to make a munching sound. The best part? Kota sells for $299 - but Amazon is currently selling him for just $150 - that is 50% off! Better hurry though, no telling how long that deal will last.
Read More | Kota the Triceratops 50% off
If you want an inexpensive camcorder that gives you a bit more quality than what you’d find with a Kodak ZI6 or Flip Video camera, we think the Samsung SC-MX20 would be up your alley. This camera offers some nice features that the other low-end cams just don’t have, like image stabilization, face detection, and a 24x optical zoom. It accepts SD and MMC cards up to 32GB, and has an internal battery life of 3 hours. The Samsung SC-MX20 retails for $250, but we found it on Amazon for 15% off at $212.
Oh, and for those of you who just have to have the high definition version, the Samsung SC-MX20C can be had for 30% off on Amazon, for $592.60.
Read More | Samsung SC-MX20
If you wanna pick up a YouTube-ready video camera for Mom, we are hard pressed to find something as good as the Kodak ZI6, for the price. This little camera shoots in 720p high-definition at 60 frames per second, and can also take regular old still images as well. Other cameras, like the Flip Mino can’t do that. It supports SD cards in sizes up to 32GB, which basically means you’ll be able to shoot video until your (rechargeable) battery dies, as opposed to worrying about how much space you have left. You can pick them up from Kodak for $153, they’re available in pink, as well as black. Get it quick though, because they are on sale now. After 12/15, they go back up to their normal price of $179.
Read More | Kodak ZI6 product page