Archive for the ‘Girlfriend Gift Ideas’ Category
Breville makes high end appliances. This tea kettle is no exception. The Variable Temperature kettle looks modern and stylish. It is made of brushed aluminum and feels sturdy. There is no plastic in the boiling area.
The kettle has 5 temperature pre-sets for serious tea lovers. Heat your water to 175F for Green Tea; 185F for White Tea; 195F for Oolong Tea; 200F for French Press and 212F for boiling and black tea. It takes 5 minutes to bring a full pot to a boil. When the water reaches the desirable temperature, the kettle beeps and will keep the water at that temperature for 20 minutes.
CNET editors unveiled a list of top 5 MP3 players. Here it is in all its glory.
- Sony X-Series Walkman
This MP3 player supports MP3, WMA, ACC and L-PCM audio formats; AVC(H.264/AVC), MPEG-4, and WMV DRM video formats; JPEG image files. The sound is very good. You can operate the Walkman using both “touch panel” and buttons. The button design makes it easy to navigate without even looking at your player. The user interface is easy and intuitive. It works with Rhapsody To Go subscription or Napster. It sports a wi-fi connection, integration with YouTube, etc.
Sony X-Series Walkman is an excellent choice for audio files, 3 inch OLED touch screen and loads of features. It comes in 32GB and 16GB versions.
- SanDisk Sansa Clip Plus
SanDisk Sansa Cip Plus has five colors to choose from. It is lightweight with good sound. And with its smart design, you can clip your Sansa Clip player to your bag, pants or sleeves. It has built-in microphone for spontaneous recording. Transfer your files to your PC later through a USB connection. The Sansa Clip player plays MP3, WMA, secure WMA and Audible file formats.
Overall, this small capacity durable take-it-everywhere music player is a good choice for a mobile user. And, unlike others in its category, it has good sound quality and a screen.
- Zune HD
We have reviewed Zune HD on this blog. Our verdict: the best music player out there. The bottom line, Zune HD design is beautiful. The player has an OLED display, HD raido and outputs HD video to your TV. It lacks apps and games, but it is one of the best music and video experiences you can buy.
- Apple iPod Nano
iPod Nano is a portable player with a larger screen. Nano is packed with features. It includes an FM radio player, a video camera, and a pedometer. Video camera is more of a toy, however. There are two new features – iTunes Tagging and Live Pause. The new Genius Mixes feature acts as your personal DJ.
- Apple iPod Touch
Apple iPod Touch is the 3rd generation of its kind. 3.5-inch widescreen Multi-Touch display with 480 x 320 pixel resolution makes watching videos a great experience. It has integrated bluetooth, shake-to shuffle, Genius playlists, wi-fi, voice control, and is easy to use. One absolutely unique feature that no other mp3 player has – iTunes app store.
If you are a fan of mobile computing but picky. You find a notebook to be too small and a full size laptop – too big. You want a thin computer that has great battery power to do basic stuff, nothing like creating or editing video. You are in luck – check out Asus UL30A thin and light laptop.
Thin & Lights are between notebooks and full-size laptops. They run ultra-low voltage processors and often have compromised performance in exchange for a slim form. But that is not true in the case of UL30A which delivers what you are looking for in thin and light.
UL30A comes with a 500G SATA Hard Drive and 4G of RAM. The processor inside is 1.3GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Ultra Low Voltage processor. UL30A measures 12.9 x 9.3 x 1 inches and weighs 3.7 pounds. It is a little less than 1 inch thin and feels really solid and compact. The back of the laptop is covered with aluminum. The keyboard has a little bit of flex, but feels nice and comfortable to type on.
The 13.3 HD LED LCD backlit display is nice and bright. HD video looks great on it. Like in all thin and light laptops, there is no optical drive. But there are plenty of ports and connections for your periferals: HDMI, USB, SD card slot, 802.11n as well as bluetooth..
The multi-gesture touchpad is made of the same glossy plastic material as the rest of the palm rest. Even though it is a little dimpled for your fingers, it does not provide as much traction as other touchpads.
The battery life is fantastic: allows for 6-7 hours of playing videos. Asus claims you can get up to 11 hours. UL30A comes with Vista Home Premium (32 bit) but you can upgrade to Windows 7.
Get Asus UL30A on Amazon for $889.99
The Altec Lansing iMT620 inMotion Classic is a very attractive portable stereo system. It is iPod and iPhone compatible and also includes digital FM radio (no AM radio). It has a battery that will give you 5 hours of music if you take the system on the road.
The angular design of the speakers is quite modern. Silver plastic runs around the edges. The quality is very good – there is no flexing or creaking. There are large buttons on top of the system to control playback, volume, and for chosing audio source. High-contrast LCD shows the song and artist information. It is clear enough to read from afar. However, you might find that you don’t use the LCD display very often.
The system comes with a remote control which is very well-designed. It repeats the controls from the top of the speaker and has additional buttons to navigate your iPod and for 4 radio presets. Unfortunately, there is no button to jump to the next album/artist. Do not try to use the remote from too far away – does not work very well. The remote itself is quite small and might not be very comfortable to use for some people with bigger hands.
Kick-stand folds up or down and will work as a handle. It is quite sturdy, but don’t use it with your iPod: there is nothing to prevent it falling out of the dock. When you swing the handle under the speakers, it will prevent the system from turning on accidentally.
The iMT620 system utilizes Expanded Sound Stage technology. At the touch of a button you can widen the sound field. The sound is clear and rich. Don’t look for a strong baseline however. It is a portable system, after all. The good news is that there is a wide range of volume. Radio pickup is quite good too. Interestingly, when you put your iPod into the speakers, it immediately starts playing a random song. I am not a big fan of this spontaneous entertainment.
All in all, it is a great system. But its power and sonic range makes it better for a bedroom or a kitchen, not a family room. Rechargable battery makes it easy to take the speakers anywhere you want to go and get 5 hours of music. Customers complained that the performance is spotty with iPod Touch. Another oddity is that if you are using your iPhone with the speakers and your iPhone auto locks, you will not be able to use the remote to navigate through menus: the remote is not all-powerful afterall, and will not unock your iPhone. I’d call it a work-out feature because you have to get up and manually unlock your iPhone to empower the remote control to navigate your iPhone. It does not look like that iPods got this work-out feature.
Get yours for $112.39 on Amazon.
HTC Hero is another great-looking Android phone coming to the neighborhood near you in a couple of days. It is very sleek-looking; made of metal. Like many other phones, it has touch screen and virtual keyboard. The absence of real keyboard makes it thinner than the predecessor. The phone is 0.57 inches thick. The virtual keyboard itself is pretty intuitive. The phone display has the usual 320×480 HVGA resolution.
What is exciting about HTC Hero is customization on steroids. You can customize your home screen with all kinds of widgets which you can see at a glance. Good bye bulky menus. But don’t stop there! Personalize the widgets themselves selecting size and design that fits your personality. If you are giving it as a gift, personalize it to fit the person you are giving it to and be sarcastic or romantic.
The phone has a new profile feature – Scenes. With Scenes, you can create personalized profiles and switch between them depending on your mood. Who needs a mood ring if you can have a mood phone, which also can ring depending on your mood?
Change the perspective you look at things. In your inbox view all your conversations, collections of notes and documents (including email attachments). Your photo album connects to Facebook and Flickr.
All your social networking connections are integrated, of course. It plays music (dah!), and has a web browser. The feature integration is seemless and simple. HTC Hero consolidates all different ways you communicate into one display when you view people: you see different ways to get in touch as well as all your interactions. It is a breeze to check for social network updates and event notices as well as the latest pictures your friends uploaded to a photo sharing sites.
Dialing is simplified. Dial a number or first few letters of their name. Search will look through everything – even your Twitter posts. The phone has stereo Bluetooth, Windows Mobile, built-in Google maps, GPS, wi-fi.
The camera is a little underpowered – 5mpx. The trackball in the middle of the phone serves like the sutter. When using a phone camera, you have to have a finger on the trackball to take a picture. It is a little uncomfortable and results in camera shakes.
All in all, the phone is very modern-looking and fast. User interface is fantastic. The phone is packed with great features. It is pricey unlocked: $669.91 in black and $621.10 in white on Amazon. It looks like it will be $179 on Sprint with a contract.
HTC Hero Android G3 A6262 Smartphone will be available on October 11.
This is an awesome present for a person who enjoys watching movies. Roku Player is a tiny box. It works with any TV, unless it is a family earloom. Installation is very simple – connect it to your television via cable (HDMI or component) or wi-fi and you are good to go. You have to have an internet connection too, of course, because Roku box will use it to stream video directly to your television.
You need at least 1.2 Mbps to watch movies instantly on the Roku digital video player with decent quality. The faster your connection, the better the quality (although this rule-of-thumb peaks out at about 5mbps). Roku will automatically detect your bandwidth speed and adjust the streaming so there are no interruptions. The experience is like watching a DVD: you can watch, play, fast-forward, rewind, pause and resume play later.
Roku Player integrates with Amazon Video on Demand as well as Netflix. If you have a Netflix account you can watch Instant View movies. Any movie you can buy or rent on Amazon, you can buy or rent on Roku. If you buy a movie on Amazon, it is always in your library and you can watch it at any time on your Roku. Selection? 50,000+ movies and TV shows.
You have 3 buttons: Netflix, Amazon, and Major League Baseball. Yes, for $20 (currently) you can watch any game, even when the game is over. You can fastforward, rewind, or watch the game live. The unique feature though is that you can pick play-by-play announcers too – home team or away team. That is something a true fan can appreciate. And if you have enough bandwidth on your internet, you can watch games in high definition. Roku supports all HD formats except 1080.
The Wall Street Journal, CNET, WIRED, and other publications rave about Roku player. Roku plans to add video podcasts in the future. The box is PC and Mac compatible, but you knew that already becase you do not need to connect it to a computer at all. And they have great customer service, from what I hear.
If you have a Netflix account, it is no-brainer.
You can get one on Amazon for $99.00. There is $118 package that includes cables
- Networking: Wi-Fi (802.11b/g) with WEP, WPA, and WPA2 support; 10/100 Ethernet (RJ-45)
- Video Outputs: Composite video, S-Video, Component video (Y/Pb/Pr), HDMI
- Video Modes: 16:9 HD (720p), 16:9 anamorphic (480p), 4:3 standard (480i)
- Audio Output: Stereo (L/R RCA), Digital Optical (Toslink), Digital over HDMI
- Remote Control: NEC protocol, supported by various universal remotes
- Power Input: 5V, 1.5A provided by included AC adapter
- Power Consumption: 5 watts peak, 3 watts in standby
- Size: 5 x 5 x 1.75 inches (130 x 130 x 41 mm)
- Weight: 11 oz (300 grams)
This is a very modern-looking hard drive. It has piano black glossy finish. The LCD is always on and displays a personalized drive name and available free space – even when disconnected. You can rename the drive easily from your computer. All info is updated every time you connect or disconnect it from a PC or Mac.
InSight hard drive is small enough to carry around in your brief case. It is also faster than a lot of similar drives and supports both USB 1.1 and USB 2.0 at 5400 RPM. You have to be proficient in Drag-and-Drop technology to use it. Nero backup software is pre-installed and easy to use if you plan to back up files. Of course, you don’t really need it for backup, but it is nice to have if you prefer simplicity.
Get yours on Amazon.com:
The original Kindle was very unattractive. In my personal opinion, it is still not as sleek-looking as a Sony Reader. But the design improved significantly. And the navigation changed. Now you have a 5 positin joystick. Using the joystick, you can navigate the cursor to any word on the page and a dictionary definition will show at the bottom. But it still takes a while to get there. I wish they had a track ball or something similar.
I wish the screen had a better contrast, I wish it was in color. Some people wish it had a backlight. Lack of the backlight does not bother me in the least. If necessary, you can always attach a book light to your device. I wish the navigation was better for the periodicals – at least as good as for books.
The advantage over books is that you can make your text larger. It is cool that you can buy and download a book from Amazon store in seconds over Amazon’s wi-fi. It is not cool that they still use proprietary document format and you cannot just transfer a text or a PDF file from your computer to your Kindle. You still need to send a document to a Kindle email address to get converted. And it will cost you too. With Sony it is way easier to transfer a document to a Reader.
Now, Kindle added text-to-speech capability. After a huge debate with Writers Guild who did not like that, Amazon allows the writers to turn off that capability on their books, if they wish. Silly. The computer-generated voice is never going to run audio books out of business. But be aware, that not all the books will be read to you.
Another handy feature is that if you have an iPhone, there is a free Kindle app available which will allow you to read any book you purchased through a Kindle store. You don’t even need to have a Kindle. But if you do, iPhone will get synchronized with your Kindle. So, if you are in the middle of reading a book on your Kindle, and then switched to iPhone to continue to read it, the iPhone will move to the spot where you left off. There is also a way to make annotations on it and save them to your web Kindle account as notes. Sweet!
A bigger, more expensive Kindle is available: Kindle DX: Amazon’s 9.7″ Wireless Reading Device. But really, why get this one? I think, it is too much money for what you are getting.
Jabra Halo Headset is a pretty cool new gadget from Jabra. It is very modern-looking and folds to save space and to turn it off. When you unfold the headset, push on the hinge on each side to secure the headset and turn it on. The headset does not have on/off switch.
The headphones are over-the-ear and very comfortable. Some reviews mentioned that the base could be better. But if you do not care for a lot of base, you will like them because the sound quality is excellent. The best part is that they also have dual microphones on both sides. And you can pair the headset with 2 bluetooth devices at the same time. Listen to your music and when a call comes in, the music fades and you can take the call. There are controls on the sides of the headset – you can not only adjust the volume, but control forward/back functions. Yes, it supports both A2DP and AVRCP.
Buy Jabra Halo Headset. Price: $129.99.
Sony unveiled 3 new ebook readers last month: Reader Touch Edition, Reader Pocket Edition, and Reader Daily Edition (available later this year). These products are considered to be direct competitors to Amazon Kindle – you will be able to buy books directly on the device from Sony Book Store. Daily Edition will have 3G from AT&T (available in the US only). All new ebook readers from Sony will be available for purchase worldwide.
Sony claims that it will have better book selection. They are partnering with libraries and allow library members to borrow books directly from their ebook reader. These library partnerships can make every single book available for download to the device in the partner libraries.
Sony is also partnering with Google to get public domain books. Those books are already available on the internet free of charge, but the convenience factor is huge.
The main question, however, remains – can you get the books you want? It does not matter, how many books are available as long as you can bet best sellers and popular titles.
Currently, the Sony Book Store is impressive. The prices are quite reasonable. Borrowing books is definitely a great feature that would differentiate Sony Reader from Kindle. Another Reader feature that is not available on Kindle, is touch screen. Sony uses it to change pages with a flick.
Of course, true to the tradition, Sony is unveiling their new proprietary epub format. It would be interesting to see if Amazon will start selling epub ebooks in their store.
E Ink® Vizplex paper-like screen technology makes reading easy, even in direct sunlight. Reader Pocket has elegant, lightweight design with 5″ display. Carry up to 350 of your favorite books at a time.
This model does not have touch screen. Comes in blue, grey, and pink.
Reader Touch Edition™ lets you access up to 350 (or more with memory expansion card slots) of your favorite books from anywhere. It has 6″ display with touch screen navigation, freehand highlighting and annotation.
Get books from Sony eBook Store and over one million free public domain titles from Google Books.
This model comes in black, grey, and red.
Thin and light, Kindle is as easy to hold and use as a book. Kindles page-turning buttons are located on both sides, allowing you to read and turn pages comfortably with one hand. Kindle has a new easy-to-use 5-way controller, enabling precise on-screen navigation for selecting text to highlight or looking up words. Kindle is completely wireless and ready to use right out of the box–no setup, no cables, no computer required. You can read on a single charge for up to 4 days with wireless on. Turn wireless off and read for up to 2 weeks. Battery life will vary based on wireless usage, such as shopping the Kindle Store and downloading content. Whispernet utilizes Amazons optimized technology plus Sprints national high-speed (3G) data network to enable you to wirelessly search, discover, and download content on the go. Your books and periodicals are delivered via Whispernet in less than 60 seconds. And unlike WiFi, you never have to hunt for a hotspot.
Auto-Rotating Screen: Display auto-rotates from portrait to landscape as you turn the device so you can view full-width maps, graphs, tables, and Web pages.
Built-In PDF Reader: Native PDF support allows you to carry and read all of your personal and professional documents on the go.
MSI Wind U100-641US is a beautiful 10 inch notebook. 9 cell battery promises 15 hours of life on a single charge. Quick specs: Intel Atom 1.6 GHz Processor, 160 GB SATA Hard Drive, Windows XP Home Edition, etc. Weighs 4.3 pounds.