Sunday, December 9, 2007
Tech Gifts for Dummies
Alright, so Christmas is upon us. Yes, that oh so amazing time when something magical in the air actually exists. For some reason having random people show up to your house singing is no reason to call the cops anymore. Lights on your house is no longer tacky. Listening to Jazz isn't just for the old folks anymore. And buying stuff for yourself is no longer the greatest joy - giving them is.
Or at least giving the right gift is.
The biggest problem I find in gift giving is that usually the gifts we give people are awesome in our mind - but not so much in their mind. And that usually happens most with gifts where the receiver is way more knowledgeable than the giver. This is especially true for little girls and boys who are into technology.
The problem with technology is that there's a huge range of products with a huge range of quality and buying the wrong one can actually have a bad effect. Take for example the XBOX 360. A while ago, I think a year or so, the XBOX 360 came in several flavours (as it does now), but one of those flavours didn't have an HDMI port - the ideal connection for video output. If I got the XBOX360 for christmas without the HDMI port, I'd be happy, but a little disappointed.
See the problem with tech gifts is that they're usually major purchases - and if the wrong one is given - it prevents the receiver from purchasing the one they actually want. Take the XBOX360 example - if I got the one without the HDMI port - there's no way I'd buy the one with it.
Some will say - then give them a gift receipt. True - but wouldn't it be awesome to give them the one they wanted in the first place? To be the one who knew them so well to actually get it right? But then it's the thought that counts right? Yeah - but this way you put that much more thought into the gift. Wouldn't that be awesome?
Well you've stumbled onto the right blog entry then. I'm gonna attempt to give some help to those of the giving end, because I know what I'd like to receive on the other end.
Alright, so my first thought is that there are really two types of technology you can buy your person. Gifts that matter what kind you buy, and ones that don't.
Category A: Gifts that don't matter what kind you buy
This is really for givers who don't feel like doing a whole lot of research but want to get their tech receiver a good gift.
Hard Drives - If you receiver is into tech stuff, chances are he/she will have a computer. And one thing you can never have too much of is hard drive space. It's like toilet paper now. You'll always need it - or at least you'll always be able to use it. The nice thing too is that hard drives come in so many flavours nowadays that are all useable. Any hard drive you buy for your receiver - chances are, they'll be able to use it. The only question is price, physical size, and amount of storage. I'd say anything 120GB or over is a good gift. The really nice gifts are the small Western Digital and LaCie external hard drives. Really sweet. Or you can go crazy and buy your receiver a 1TB drive - always useful.
Video Games - Video Games are nice in the sense that they're like buying movies for people- it's not like you can buy the wrong version or whatever that would hinder them from getting one they really want. It's just a nice bonus whatever game you buy them. The only thing is to make sure they don't already have it and that it's a decent game. How do you do that- just hop over to any game site (www.ign.com / www.gamespot.com) and look for the highest rated games.
USB Flash Drives - you really can't go wrong on these ones. If your receiver doesn't own one of these yet, or has a small capacity one, you can't really buy a USB flash drive that's bad. The smaller physical size the better, and the bigger the capacity the better. I'd say anything over 1GB in capacity is good - and if they can attach to their keychain, that's good too.
Nintendo Wii - If for some amazing reason you can find one of these, and your receiver plays video games, no question - pick it up. Unlike the XBOX360 and PS3, the Wii only comes in one configuration, so again, you can't screw it up. Not only that - it's such an amazingly hard product to find.
Category B: Gifts that matter what kind you buy
Playstation 3 - Alright, so this is one hot-ticket item this year, but there are some things you want to understand about it before getting one. Although it'll work with any TV, the full potential of the PS3 isn't unleashed unless it's hooked up to a High-Definition TV. However, because a HDTV can always be bought down the road, a PS3 is still a good gift for those who don't have a HDTV. What's important is understand the difference between the two currently available models. There's the PS3 40GB model and the 80GB model. The most apparent difference is the Hard Drive size. If your receiver wants to store lots of photos, music, movies, trailers, and more - then the 80GB model is the way to go. However, 40GB is a lot already. A typical game will take 1-2 GB of storage for saved games, a typical music collection would be anywhere between 10-30 GB. However, this isn't exactly the biggest determining factor because the PS3 has a hard drive that's easy to replace. What you should consider is the differences that are permanent. As it stands now, the 40GB model is not backwards compatible with PS2 games. So if your receiver also wants to do this, the 80GB model is the way to go. The second major difference is that the 40GB model doesn't feature the multi-card reader - which is essentially a bunch of slots that you can plug memory cards into. Cards such as those used for digital cameras. So you could take photos and plug that card into the PS3 to view them. However, note - that the 40GB model still has USB slots - so you can still view your photos that way. Basically - for most purposes, the 40GB model is pretty much sufficient. It won't be a huge problem. I'd say, if price dictates, the 40GB model is fine. But if you can afford it, the 80GB model's got some nice bells and whistles. (The only other major difference is that the 40GB model only has 2 USB ports vs. 4 on the 80GB model, and currently, the 40GB model ships with Spider-man 3 on Blu-ray, whereas the 80GB model ships with the Motorstorm game).
HDTV - If your receiver is lucky enough to be getting a High Definition TV this christmas, there's a lot you should consider. If you really want to get the top notch TVs - you want to be getting a TV that has a 1080p resolution. Basically, HDTVs come in 2 major flavours - 720p/1080i and 1080p. What this refers to is the number of lines of resolution. The more lines of resolution, the sharper the picture. Now, 720p/1080i are still considered high-defiintion, but they won't look as good as 1080p TVs. If price dictates, 720p is still nice, and at <40-inches, it may be hard to tell the difference. If you are again going for top notch TVs - another feature you want to look for is 120Hz refresh rate. This basically means how often the screen refreshes when displaying video- this basically makes motion look smoother, and sharper. The last thing you want to look for is the number of HDMI ports. The more the better. There's actually quite a bit more to consider. But if you get a 1080p TV with 2 or more HDMI ports, with 120Hz refresh rate, chances are, the rest is good.
Let's pause for a second.
I just realized I could go on and on about as many products as I want, but this will start to get long.
So, I'm just gonna list my top picks for gifts and if you have anymore questions, just leave a comment. (It's probably 'cause I'm just getting tired and lazy:))
Top Picks (all prices in CDN)
-Western Digital Passport Portable External 2.5" Hard Drive 320GB ($229.99)
-LaCie Big Disk Extreme w/ Triple Interface 1TB ($341.99)
-Crucial 4GB Gizmo Jr. ($50.00)
-Guitar Hero III Bundle for XBOX360 or PS3 ($99.99)
-Playstation 3 40GB ($399.99)
-Sony 46" Bravia LCD 1080p TV V3000 ($1799.99 on sale)
-Sony 46" XBR TV XBR4 ($3299.99)
-iMac 20-inch ($1299.99)
Thanks for reading.