Gift Guide 2013 – Part 1

Gift Guide 2013 – Part 1

This year, give the gift of technology. This series of gift selections is selected for people who live with technology. This is not a list of obvious technology items – those items people feel they have to live with – but items most people don’t know they need and whose lives would be enriched possessing such things.

Because it’s the Christmas season, I’m going to try to make as many of these options available with Amazon Prime shipping (free 2-day shipping). Amazon has been crushing it lately with delivery speeds. Every time I order from a site that isn’t Amazon I always get frustrated with how long it takes to arrive. For this reason, the first gift idea should be obvious.

Amazon Prime – $79/yr
Amazon is now offering Prime memberships for sale as gifts. If the recipient is already a Prime subscriber, the membership can be exchanged for an Amazon gift card. This gift membership does not automatically renew.

On top of free two-day shipping on most items, Amazon Prime also comes with instant streaming of thousands of movies and TV programs, and a free Kindle book rental each month.

Amazon Prime is one service you think of as being a bit too expensive to be worth it, but once you have it you can’t go back – might as well end your Costco membership while you’re at it because ordering from Amazon Prime is often times cheaper and you get the item at your doorstep before you actually have time to go to Costco.

Google Chromecast HDMI Streaming Media Player – $32.88

It’s a stocking stuffer for just about anyone. Chromecast works with Android or Apple iOS delivering wireless video streams direct to the HDTV. Compatible apps include Hulu Plus, Pandora internet radio, YouTube, Netflix and HBO Go. More than that, the Chromecast can share any open Chrome browser tab on a mobile device, tablet, laptop or desktop computer, including those foreign streams of whatever live sporting event you don’t have from Comcast.

It’s not as fully featured as an Apple TV or Roku, but for the price it’s hard to beat. The Chromecast can even be easily taken on the road and used in hotels with game console hook ups (and reliable Wi-Fi).

Nuforce NE-600M-RED High-Efficiency In-Ear Headphones with Inline Microphone – $29.95
If you have someone who loves music but still listens with the ear buds that came with the phone, give them an upgrade. These Nuforce in-ear headphones will give them a whole new appreciation for their music. The flat oxygen-free copper cord comes with an inline microphone for phone conversations, and the silicone ear tips come in small medium and large size, and they’re washable to keep the earwax at bay. Select the right size tip, insert in the ear properly, and these headphones provide great sound isolation, punchy bass response, and clear mid range and treble. Forget multiple-hundred-dollar Beats headphones, these inexpensive Nuforce ‘phones are every bit as good.

Audioengine A2 Powered Desktop Speakers – $199
It seems like desktop computing is going the way of the dodo, and a pair of speakers seems out of place at the dining room table, but for those who do have a desk – be in in the home or office – upgrade the audio experience with a pair of high-quality speakers. Until you’ve lived with a good pair of speakers, you don’t know what you’re missing. These Audio Engine A2 speakers are slightly larger than a can of soda each, and are designed for near field listening (ears within a meter of the speakers), but positioned just right they will provide a visceral listening experience providing spatial stereo imagining, solid bass, and, most importantly, a feeling like you’ve rediscovered all your favorite music. The recipient of this gift will spend hours pouring through their music library listening to their favorite songs with new ears.

More than just desktop speakers, these are also good as portable speakers to pair with an iPod or phone. Just plug it into the 3.5mm input on the back and have a party wherever you are.

The benefits aren’t just for music either; when watching Hulu on your laptop, the dialog and soundtrack will finally sound realistic. The benefits of good audio with TV and movies cannot be overstated.

More handpicked gift ideas are forthcoming.

About Steven Kippel

Steven Kippel has worked as a systems designer for a leading high-end audio/video custom integrator in Southern California since 2003. He is responsible for researching new technologies and integrating them into existing systems and new construction projects. He has designed several high-profile systems for discriminating clients on the cutting-edge of technology. When he is not hard at work, Steven is spending time with his wife, playing with his band or promoting concerts and bands in the Inland Empire. His favorite bands include The Cure, U2, Eisley, Living Sacrifice and DragonForce.

View all posts by Steven Kippel →

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