Technology is always moving forward, and yesterday’s hot gift is tomorrow’s Apple Newton. Thankfully, the Georgia Straight’s annual gift guide is here to make sure you’re not going to be buying anything with dodgy handwriting recognition for the gadget lovers in your life.
Computers and accessories
Apple iPad 2
($519 to $879, depending on connectivity and memory; Apple Store, Best Buy, Future Shop, Simply Computing, WestWorld Computers)
Every month, there seems to be a prospective iPad killer hitting the market. Yet Apple’s tablet remains the king of the crop, winning with better features, better hardware, better pricing, and being a model of how computers should work. In fact, the only iPad killer released this past year was Apple’s second generation of the device, which manages to be thinner, faster, and lighter while maintaining fantastic battery life. With an ever-increasing catalogue of applications to expand its functionality, the iPad 2 is a great mobile computer.
($109; amazon.ca )
The Kindle remains the best digital reader on the market, backed by the best digital bookstore around. Each year brings a new, slightly improved Kindle, and this year is no different. While the touchscreen Kindle Fire, which is not yet available in Canada, might be getting the attention, Amazon’s entry-level reader is the one that’s worth checking out. After years of improvements, and losing the rather pointless keyboard, it’s a slimmed-down reading experience that’ll tempt even the most dedicated paper lover. The addition of the ability to lend and take books out of digital libraries is another reason to consider a Kindle.
Twelve South PlugBug
($34.95; Apple Store)
For those on your list who tend to pack both their MacBook and either an iPhone or an iPad around, this is a great solution. Fitting on the top of a standard MacBook power adapter, this red bit of plastic provides a USB port that allows both the laptop and iOS device to charge from a single outlet without adding much in the way of bulk to an already overcrowded bag.
($99.95; Apple Store)
While it might look like you’re showing your support for one charity or another with this brightly coloured band around your wrist, you’ll actually be monitoring your own life. Along with an iPhone application, the Up wristband helps to track your health and activity, monitoring how much you move and eat, and even how well you sleep. As an aid for weight-loss or just achieving a healthier lifestyle, it’s the perfect way to subtly call your loved one either fat or lazy while still getting them a really cool gift.
LG Optimus 7
(free with three-year contract, $499.99 with no contract; Telus)
Although it’s good to be aware that a cellphone makes kind of a crumby gift—since you’re essentially giving someone a $100 monthly bill along with the new bit of hardware—the fact is some people like giving their loved ones sadness and misery. If you insist on not going the iPhone route, the next best thing is a Windows phone. Yes, that’s right. Even though nobody seems to be buying them, Microsoft has quietly gone about making the second-best mobile operating system on the market, easily surpassing those found on BlackBerry or Android phones.
Pocket Projector for iPhone 4
(US$229.99; brookstone.com )
Brookstone has been busy filling the Shaper Image’s shoes as the store with a lot of really expensive and yet oddly cheap-looking gadgets and travel-size neck pillows. Every so often, alongside the air moisturizers and snoring cures, they have something really cool, the latest example being the Pocket Projector. An iPhone 4 case that doubles as a battery add-on, it also has a built-in projector, allowing it to project pictures and videos from an iPhone onto any nearby surface. If that doesn’t excite you, Brookstone also has a remote-controlled camera tank.
Olympus PEN E-P3
($899.99; Best Buy, Kerrisdale Cameras, Future Shop)
There might be a lot of talk about how cellphone cameras are getting so good that you don’t need a stand-alone camera, and though your phone might be perfect for that impromptu photo-op, no serious photography nut is going to be handing in their camera bag any time soon. Still, size does matter and the Olympus PEN manages to pack a lot of camera into a fairly small body. Fast auto-focus and sharp pictures in challenging lighting conditions make this a great all-around camera. The throwback styling adds charm.
Sharp Aquos Quattron 3D LCD TV
($1,799.99 and up, depending on size; Best Buy, Future Shop)
3-D televisions are always on the verge of being the next big thing. While it’s hard to know when or if they’ll finally break through to being the must-have living-room centrepiece, if you’re shopping for someone who is looking for a new TV, it’s well worth taking a glance at the newer technology.