My favorite techie things: holiday shopping guide 2006

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It’s the Holidays again! And you’re scrambling around trying to find the latest and greatest things for those techie geeks on your list. For those of you who have trouble with all the technology options out there, I’m here to help with some of my favorite techie things. I love these and I know your family and friends will too. Here goes…

The BlackBerry Pearl

BlackBerry has been known as the business solution for corporate email for years now. Their devices have historically been bulky and lacking the many modern conveniences of other mobile devices such as the Treo. NOT so with the first gadget on my list! The BlackBerry Pearl is RIM’s attempt to break into the consumer market. It is VERY light and extremely thin weighing 3.16 oz. and measuring 2” x 4.2” x 0.6." The new device uses a tiny little pearl in the middle of the device for navigation (a change from all other BlackBerry devices which used a side trackwheel in the past). This device does it all – calendar, contacts, email (up to 10 email accounts and setup is easy via T-Mobile’s Web site), music player, camera, expandable memory using MicroSD cards (for more music and pictures), online Web browsing through the fast EDGE network, voice activated dialing, IM/Chat capability, BlackBerry Map (think Google Maps for BlackBerry), Bluetooth, and many other amazing features. The keyboard is small and compact (two letters on each key to save room) and uses a software recognition program called SureType to “guess” the words you are typing – it works really well but takes some time getting used to. This device does it all! It is available exclusively through T-Mobile and retails for $349 but can be obtained much cheaper ($199 or less) with contracts and rebates. Tip – get the unlimited data plan with your device – that way you can surf and email to your heart’s content! More detailed information is available at http://www.blackberrypearl.com.

Apple’s iPod
For those of you who have been living under a rock for the past five years and haven’t seen or used an iPod, get with the program! Besides being the biggest pop culture device of the century, the iPod continues to improve and amaze me. Still available in three levels with various sizes and various colors, there is an iPod for everyone. The iPod shuffle (1GB or 240 songs) is a little bigger than a postage stamp now and perfect for the gym and running with a clip to attach to your clothing. The ultra-thin and compact iPod Nano (available in 2GB, 4GB, or 8GB sizes and 500, 1000 and 2000 songs respectively) is small and compact with a small color screen for viewing the songs and album covers of the songs you’re playing. There is also a full size iPod (30GB and 80GB for 7500 or 20,000 songs respectively), which plays music as well as full length movies and music videos. The videos are clear and bright and great for those people who travel and need entertainment on planes, trains and automobiles. Movies and music are available through the iTunes program, which comes with the iPod and is compatible with Macs and PCs. Prices ($79 to $349) and more information are available at http://www.apple.com/.  

Apple’s MacBook
It still amazes me that everyone isn’t a Mac user. After working on a PC all day at work, I can’t wait to come home and get on my Mac. The new MacBook line is the fastest, most beautiful (it comes in white and black) and well-designed consumer level laptop made right now. The new MacBooks have Intel Core 2 Duo processors up to 2GHz (don’t worry what that means – it’s fast), memory starting at 512 MB and upgradeable to 2 GBs (memory makes your computer programs run faster – the more memory the faster your programs will run). I suggest at least 1GB of memory for maximum performance. The 13” screen is glossy and bright and has a built in camera for video chat. It comes loaded with the whole suite of Mac products that make pictures, movies, Web page design, and burning DVDs easy. Prices range from $1099 to $1499 for the high-end black model. More details are available at the Apple Web site, http://www.apple.com/.

Canon PowerShot SD550 and SD800IS Digital Elph Cameras
This is my favorite point-and-shoot digital camera this year. I have the SD550 and my vacation pictures this year were just breathtaking. The image quality on this camera is really amazing. Digital cameras have come so far in the past few years. Both models have 7.1 megapixels that would allow you to print almost any size picture (even up to poster sizes), both have a huge 2.5” display, and various shooting modes for any situation. The only difference between the two models is that the SD800 IS has an Image Stabilizer that keeps pictures in focus even if you move. The prices differ greatly from store to store (MSRP is $399 on both) but some good deals (as low as $249) can be found on the SD550 model right now (it is likely being phased out by the SD800 model). More information can be found at http://www.usa.canon.com/consumer.

Canon DC100 DVD Camcorder
I never realized that I would use a camcorder until I got this one. All those little tapes were such a pain and hard to keep up with. This uses mini DVDs (3” DVDs) to record video that you can just pop into your DVD player and watch after recording. The DC100 will record in widescreen format for the newer widescreen televisions. It has a huge 2.7” screen that rotates for easy viewing from any angle and the same Image Stabilizer that is available in Canon’s digital camera line. This is a HUGE feature with video because it is really difficult to remain still and steady while recording video. The DC100 is the intro level camcorder in Canon’s line. There are also models with built in digital cameras (which is convenient if you don’t feel like carrying a digital camera and a camcorder). The MSRP on the DC100 is $449 but deals are to be had as low as $350 online. More information can be found at http://www.usa.canon.com/consumer.