I just finished shooting "Shelly Palmer's High Tech Holiday Gift Guide" for Fox 5 here in New York. It's going to air November 19th and December 10th at 10:30pm on Fox 5 and My9. I cover all kinds of great tech gifts in the show, from HDTV to toys. Here's a quick overview of some small, reasonably priced gifts for almost everyone on your list.
Pocket HD Camcorders
There are lots of great video cameras on the market today, but for a reasonably priced, great holiday gift, nothing beats a Pocket HD Camcorder. Everybody likes to call them flipcams, but that's a brand name. The Flip video MinoHD is one of my favorites, all you do is point and shoot. -- If you're a video purest and have to have a Sony, the Sony Bloggie is also a good choice -- For me, the Kodak Playsport is a standout. It's waterproof up to 30 feet, so you can take it to the beach, use it with little kids, drop it, spill stuff on it and it will still work. It does a nice job making HD video and uploading -- like every Pocket HD camcorder is as easy as plugging it into a computer. These cameras are perfect for shooting something quick and uploading it to YouTube or Facebook. But remember, an iPhone 4 or an iPod Touch 4 also takes and edits HD video and if you're on a budget and can only afford one great holiday video device, an iPhone or iPod Touch may be the right choice for you.
Point & Shoot Cameras
There are so many great point & shoot cameras, how can you choose? Here's a quick way to think about it. If you mostly take pictures and upload them to Facebook, Flickr or other websites, you can buy just about anything. Any model from a major manufacturer will do fine. Find a camera that fits your budget and enjoy. If you need to make paper prints for scrap books or photo albums, or if you like to crop or edit your photos, you'll want a camera that shoots higher resolution. They cost more and they're worth it. But, here's the most important thing. If you want a point & shoot camera, make sure it's small enough for you to always carry with you. You can't shoot pictures if you leave your camera at home. If you shoot little kids doing cute stuff or bigger kids playing sports, you'll want to make sure the camera has a fast refresh rate - there's nothing more annoying than waiting for the camera between shots. What's best? Any camera you will keep in your pocket and use everyday!
Digital Picture Frames
Digital picture frames are a great gift, they come in lots of sizes and they are priced to fit any budget. Now, if you want to make a digital picture frame the perfect gift, get one that can be connected to the Internet via WiFi, like the Kodak Pulse WiFi. Wireless picture frames have one magical feature, you can send pictures to them over the Internet. Why is this magic? You take a picture and upload it to Facebook, just like you do everyday. Then, as if by magic, the picture automatically shows up on the Digital Picture Frame, no matter where it is. So, set it up at Grandma's house and she can see the latest pictures of the grandkids without even touching the technology. And, because the frames are connected to the Internet, this will work anywhere across the globe, as long as there's WiFi. One last thing, all digital picture frames require electricity and that means there's a power cord, and you'll need a power outlet close by. Bring someone you love closer with a WiFi Digital Picture Frame.
Personal Entertainment Systems and MP3 Players
If you've got a music lover on your list, think about an mp3 player or a personal entertainment system. You can't go wrong with an iPod Touch. It's basically an iPhone 4 without the phone. It plays audio, video and games and, of course it runs apps. If you're just looking for a music player, consider the smaller, iPod Nano or the super small, very colorful, iPod Shuffle. Believe it or not, Apple is not the only game in town. If you're into gaming, Sony's PSP is a great for games, music and video too. The PSP can do it all, and it's really fun. Xbox 360 lovers may like Microsoft's feature rich, Zune. Now, if you're looking for a great gift for about $50, think about Sandisk's Sansa Fuse it plays music and videos and has a built-in FM radio. For the more budget conscious, have a look at the Sansa Clip +, which is a great mp3 player and FM radio combo to use while working out or on the go. For great gifts, you can't go wrong with personal entertainment.
If you want to really research any of this stuff, cnet.com will have tech reviews to your heart's content. Just remember, there is no "best" in any of these categories, just what's best for you. I'll have more holiday tech gift giving ideas for you over the next few weeks.
Shelly Palmer is the host of MediaBytes with Shelly Palmer, a daily show featuring news you can use about technology, media & entertainment. He is the author of Television Disrupted: The Transition from Network to Networked TV (2008, New York House Press) and the upcoming, Get Digital: Reinventing Yourself and Your Career for the 21st Century Economy. (2009, Lake House Press). Shelly is also President of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, NY (the organization that bestows the coveted Emmy Awards). For information about Get Digital Classes, visit http://www.shellypalmer.com/seminars. Watch Digital Life with Shelly Palmer Tuesdays at 10p ET on WNBC's NY Nonstop http://www.shellypalmer.com/digitallife.
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