Thursday, December 22, 2011

Guest Post -- Three High Tech Gifts for Less–By: Stephanie Larson


It's almost that time of year, when we start to panic because we haven't found the perfect gift for everyone in our lives. Relax. If you know a gadget loving guy, your shopping list couldn't be simpler, and you don’t have to spend a fortune to get the hottest electronics either. Here are three high-tech gifts that are both affordable, and on everyone's wish list.

Apple TV

When Apple TV first came out, it cost more than $200. Now, it's only $99. It's like that with most high-tech gadgets—they're more expensive when they're first released, and the price eventually goes down. The other advantage to waiting a while to buy is that the early adopters will be the ones to encounter and report all the bugs, so by the time the price drops, they've been fixed, and you get an optimally functioning electronic device, at a lower price. Smart.

Apple TV allows you to rent high-definition TV shows, commercial-free, for just $.99 each. Once you've rented a show, you have 30 days to start watching it, and 48 hours to finish once you start. You can also watch them more than once during this period. You'll also find more than 7,000 movies, with many new releases available at the same time the DVDs come out. Netflix, MLB.TV and YouTube are all accessible, as well as music and videos found on iTunes. That's just a sample of what's available via Apple TV. It truly is a gift that keeps on giving.

Xbox 360
$199 to $449

Everyone has a favorite gaming console, but it's hard not to like the Xbox 360, Microsoft's contribution to the world of video games. The game graphics are fantastic,  online gaming is easy to use and seamless, and you get access to so much more than games. With the Xbox and an Xbox Live annual membership, you can watch movies and TV from Netflix and Zune, see movie trailers, try out game demos, or simply play DVDs right from the console.

But wait—there's more.  Last year, Microsoft added the Kinect Sensor. When attached to the Xbox 360, and with the right games, players' movements are sensed and interpreted into corresponding game avatars and characters. Whatever you do, your avatar does. It brought a whole new dimension to home video games, not to mention, got people off the couch and moving. You can buy the console alone for just $99, or you can get a bundle that comes with various combinations of the console, Kinect, games, controllers, and special edition sets, too. Stores like Target and Walmart offer these sets for up to $449, but you can get an Xbox bundle for less by using Walmart coupon codes.

Nook Simple Touch Reader

Barnes and Noble's Nook has been giving's Kindle quite a run for its money, especially the Nook Color. The Kindle offers only a black and white screen, which isn't that big of a deal. The real drawback is that because of Amazon's digital rights management (DRM) policy, it only works with materials purchased from Amazon (other than some file formats like .jpg and .doc, etc.). The Nook, on the other hand, is open to materials from other sources, including public libraries, thus making it much easier, and less expensive to read more books and magazines.

However, the Nook Color is a bit pricey at $249, As a result, B&N recently came out with a new model, called the Nook Simple Touch Reader ,which will cost you just $139. It's black and white like the Kindle, but, is getting rave reviews for being the best e-ink reader on the market. It boasts a battery life of two months on one charge, and weighs just 7.5 ounces. Amazon's response was to release a new, lighter and less expensive Kindle, but, there's still that limitation on materials. So, the Nook is definitely worth considering.

The point is, you don't have to fall back on the usual guy gifts, like ties and slippers this holiday season. You can get some great high-tech gifts, without going into debt. The guy in your life will thank you, and so will your bank account.

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