The Best Tech Gifts of 2007
All those "wow-cool" commercials did a phenomenal job of hyping the iPhone — an awesome piece of technology — but we found the text on Web pages too small for our 40-something eyes, and entering text messages slow and annoying. And though the price cut helped, this gizmo is still expensive, especially given its storage capacity. Only for someone who was really, really good this year — and really, really wants it. $399; apple.com/iphone.
The best way to dull the pain of an "I-know-this-is-good-for-me" powerwalk (or a run, for the truly ambitious) is this teensy MP3 player — just clip it to a sweatshirt, whip on the headphones, and head out. Color choices include sleek black, candy apple red, hot pink, and ice blue. This microgadget comes in either 1- or 2-gigabyte models, your choice. There's also an FM radio receiver and built-in voice recorder. $40 (1 GB black), $60 (2 GB colors); sandisk.com.
Dell Inspiron 1420
Laptops have gotten so cheap that it hardly makes sense not to have one — but which to choose can be a headache. Beyond screen size and how much RAM each has, color could seal the deal. Why settle for blah gray when you can go with blue, red, or any of six other zippy hues? Pick one, then further customize the Dell Inspiron 1420 to suit your needs and budget. $599 and up; dell.com.
The next step up from a point-and shoot camera is an SLR — a semipro model that doesn't have that aggravating time lapse between shutter-click and image-capture. We like the Nikon D40 kit, which includes the camera body, zoom lens, and a rechargeable battery. Instead of snapping only the "ta-da" at the end of your daughter's cartwheel, this cam will catch her in motion. $600; nikon.com.
Our family owns four cell phones, several handheld gaming devices, a couple of PDAs, and numerous MP3 players — and low-battery-warnings used to send us scrambling to find the right charger the way ER docs rush for a defibrillator. Now we have a Chargepod with plugs that fit every gadget in the house. $50 and up; callpod.com.
Sony DVDirect VRD-MC5
As we evolved from VCRs to DVD players, tapes of our kids' first steps and family vacations became clutter. Enter the Sony DVDirect — connect it to a VCR, pop in an old tape, and press a button to transfer up to six hours of video to a DVD. Or plug in a memory card filled with digital photos and create a slide show set to music. The one thing the DVDirect can't do is convert commercial tapes, which have built-in copy-protection. $230; sonystyle.com.
Garmin Nuvi 200
Trust us: Having the Garmin Nuvi 200 GPS in the car is enough to keep a directionally challenged couple happily married. Stick it on your dashboard, plug in to your lighter, press a button, and presto — your location pops up on a 3-D map. Just type in your destination and go. $375; garmin.com.
SONY HDR-SR5 Handycam
For the truly video-centric, it's time to say goodbye to grainy footage on obsolete tapes and go state-of-the-art. The Sony HDR-SR5 High-Definition Hard Disc Drive Handycam Camcorder stores footage directly to an internal 40-gigabyte hard drive, so you can keep shooting for up to 15 hours. Yes, it's a big splurge, but you'll thank yourself for the memories. $1,000; sonystyle.com.
Pandigital Photo Frame
When we swapped our film cameras for digital ones, the era of the picture-filled cardboard box ended. Then our photos ended up inside another box — our computer. The Pandigital Digital Photo Frame gives us an alternative. Connect it to your computer with a USB cable to transfer roughly 300, 2-megapixel photos to the frame's 256 MB of internal memory, or just plug in a memory card. From $180; pandigital.net.
Anycom Bluetooth Keyboard
As any mom or dad can attest, parenthood involves a lot of waiting around — in doctors' offices, outside the piano teacher's house, whatever. You can reclaim those hours without hauling around a laptop if you tote Anycom's Bluetooth Keyboard BFK-200 and just about any Bluetooth-enabled cell phone or PDA. Folded, the keyboard is smaller than the average makeup bag. $130; anycom.com.
HP Touch-Smart IQ775
We've spent years looking for a computer sized right to fit in our kitchen, so we could ditch all the notes on our refrigerator door. Hail the HP TouchSmart IQ775, a design marvel that sits neatly between the countertop and cabinet. Its 19-inch-wide display doubles as a touch screen, so with a few taps we can access the HP SmartCenter calendar to see who's where. The built-in webcam lets us leave each other video messages, and we can even dash off an e-mail while dinner cooks. Hot stuff. $1,599; hpshopping.com.
Toshiba TDP-PX10U Mobile Projector
Given our distaste for monster TVs that consume entire living rooms, we were intrigued by the Toshiba PX10U: This little dynamo throws an image up to 300 inches wide. That means you can set the projector on a coffee table and enjoy a huge display on your wall, then put it away. Projectors this portable and affordable are rare. $1,200, toshibadirect.com.
There's nothing uglier — or potentially more dangerous — than that rat's nest of power cables snarled behind your home theater system. Belkin's Conceal safely cleans up the mess and prevents damage from power surges. Plug in up to 11 three-prong devices, plus phone, coaxial, and network cables, then close the case. Instead of a dozen black cords snaking along the baseboard, you get one highly insulated white cord, plugged into a single outlet. $60; belkin.com.
Copyright © 2007. Used with permission from the December 2007 issue of Family Circle magazine.