Grinch or no grinch, tis the season to be shopping. In some sectors, the next 30 days represent more sales than the entire rest of the year combined. I’ve decided to put together the first of at least one posts on what stuff I’d recommend buying this year (although the best recommendation I could possibly make is donating gift money to charity instead of buying more stuff we don’t actually need). I’ll give a major disclaimer by saying some of the products here I have a personal affiliation with (which shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, as I tend to get involved with things I like).
Most Versatile Gift: Flip MinoHD ($229 on Amazon).
With the massive surge in personal video creation and HDTV, having an inexpensive, reliable, easy-to-use personal HD recorder just makes sense. The Flip is a great product, works exactly as advertised, and is probably new to most people you’d buy it for (here’s a hint: if the recipient sends you a lot of HD videos already, don’t buy this for them). You can also customize it with your own picture/design!
Most Practical Gift: External USB hard drive (numerous options).
With every passing year your likelihood of losing data to a hard drive crash increases. If you know anyone who is not doing regular backups, shell out $99 (or less) and fix that problem. Backup ain’t exciting, but losing data is just dumb.
For a Music-Lover: TuneUp Media for iTunes ($19.95)
Anyone who spends hours making playlists or using their iPhone at the gym, on the bus, etc, has dealt with the issue of missing or incorrect song information. TuneUp fixes it, pure and simple. Note: I have a professional relationship with TuneUp.
Simple Sleek, Sexy Storage is a Smart Stocking Stuffer: SuperTalent Pico USB Flash Drives (more info here)
Yeah, it’s hard to make a flash drive “sexy” but this as close as they come (plus check out that awesome alliteration!). Check it out in 12 seconds:
For Your Programmer Friend: Bug Labs’ BUGbundle ($629)
If you have someone in your life who spends their days (and probably nights) coding, introduce them to the BUG. Think of it as a Heathkit on Steroids (maybe Congress should investigate that one?). Note: I have a professional relationship with Bug Labs.
For anyone living in a disaster-prone region: Medis Powerpack ($33.95 – you may need to buy more tips)
This is a fuel cell system good for charging your cell phone. My wife and I have one in our emergency kit, and it seems like something virtually everyone should have available in times of need. Here’s a quick video intro to it:
For those of us exhausted by acting as tech support for our parents: Macbooks or Mac Minis (good Black Friday item)
I’ve lost almost 2 hours of my life trying to get my dad on Skype with his webcam. My mom still has issues with simple photo sharing. I’m pretty sure that if I were to add up my billable rate against the time I’ve spent debugging stupid technology issues that are all related to driver issues, I could’ve bought them both Macs and still showed a profit on it.
For a Gamer: Astro Gaming A40 Headset ($199)
When I was a teenager, my mom bought me Reebok Pump shoes to help me get better at basketball. Needless to say, it was a poor investment. With more and more video gamers turning their hobbies into potential careers, there’s actually some equipment that could help make the difference. These headphones are crazy good, and have a lot of extra features for those who taking their gaming seriously.
For an Internet Video Maniac: Boxee on AppleTV ($250)
boxee.tv is a “social” media center (imagine Windows Media Center meets Facebook, only with less throwing sheep). AppleTV is an underperforming media center device that hooks up to your HDTV. boxee.tv + AppleTV is pure joy, but requires a fairly complex hack. Not anymore, these guys’ll do it for you, and just send you a preconfigured unit. Note: I have a professional relationship with boxee.tv (and I can get you invites).
Weirdest Gadget I can find that someone might actually like: Orbitsound T3 (not sure if they ship to US directly)
The company calls it a Mobile Stereo Speaker, I think it’s the modern boombox (notebuying something someone already has. Happy shopping, and don’t forget to check out the sales this Friday!