Tribune Print Share Text

Title

Tech gifts for the holidays

Created date

November 24th, 2009
MN_1209_PluggedIn
MN_1209_PluggedIn

This holiday season, go tech when you go shopping for gifts. Here are just a handful of the most exciting an highly anticipated tech gadgets, games, and toys available this season. The iPod Nano with Video ($149 for 8GB / $179 for 16GB) Weighing only 1.28 ounces, the new iPod Nano also doubles as a video camera in addition to being an MP3 and video player. The video screen is only 2.2 inches, but its clear display shows video at 640 by 480 pixels and offers a variety of special effects. Additional features include an FM radio transmitter and a pedometer that tracks walking and exercise. Don t expect this to take standard pictures though as there is no regular camera in the Nano. RockBand / Guitar Hero / DJ Hero ($59.99 for game / $140 to $250 for game with instruments) These extremely popular games are available for all the major gaming systems, including the Wii, Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and Playstation 2. ' The concept is simple you play along with the music using different instruments; the full package includes a drum set, a guitar, and a microphone. The latest release is The Beatles RockBand, featuring 45 classic Beatles songs. In addition to the original music, you can watch computer-animated versions of the Fab Four playing in the background of the game. U.B. Funkeys ' ($7 to $22 for starter kit / 2 to 4 pack figure sets - $7 to $12) U.B. Funkeys is part of a new wave of kids' games that involve two classic children s activities: collecting small toy figures and playing with them in a fantasy online world. To get started, you need to buy a "starter set" which comes with two figures, a U.B. Hub, and a USB cable that plugs into your home computer and lets you play the game online. Once the U.B. Hub is hooked up to the computer, plug one of the Funkey figures plugs into the hub. Then go online to ubfunkeys.com. The hub communicates with the Funkeys website to unlock different parts of an online virtual world, where the Funkey characters embark on various adventures. The website is expertly animated and instantly engaging. Nintendo Wii Fit Plus ($99.99 with balance board / $19.99 game software only) If you think all video games are for couch potatoes, you probably haven t heard of Wii Fit Plus. ' This interactive video game engages players in physical exercise like yoga, aerobics, strength training, and balance all within the comfort of their own living room. Wii Fit Plus offers a new feature called The Locker Room which gives users a number of options to personalize their workout routine. ' Here, users can select an area of the body they wish to focus on as well as create routines from scratch by combining any activities from the game they choose. Vtech toys for all ages ($6 - $80 depending on toy) If you ve been to a toy store lately, you most likely walked past a large section of handheld electronic devices and gadgets made by Vtech. Vtech has been creating Electronic Learning Products for 32 years and their devices are both fun and educational. Vtech s electronic devices enable children of all ages to play interactive learning games. Many of the characters for the games are Disney characters or famous comic book characters. Toys include handheld devices, electronic books, pens, notebooks, cameras, interactive play tables, figures, and even phones. Parents can create an account online at the Vtech.com website where they can chart progress and compare to education milestones at different ages. Sony PSP GO ($249) Sony debuted its brand-new handheld gaming device PSP Go on October 1, 2009. With its pocket-friendly look, PSP Go may look like a visual upgrade to the previous PSP (Playstation Portable) versions (43% smaller according to the Sony website). In reality, the new gaming device includes many innovative features, such as disc-free gaming; Wi-Fi access to the online PlayStation Store where you can download games, demos, movies, and TV shows directly into its 16GB internal flash memory (can be extended to 32GB via additional flash drive); PS3 (console); and PC integration to manage and facilitate game/media downloads. But that s not all. PSP Go also includes Skype text/voice chat integration, Internet browser and radio via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0 for wireless headset connectivity, and an optional TV-out feature that allows you to view/play your games or media on your TV. PSP Go also comes with applications such as a photo/video browser and a music player where you can store your favorite media to share with friends on the go. A large clock and calendar also come in handy and help make the PSP Go one of the best handheld gaming/media devices out on the market. ' The Mattel Mindflex / Star Wars Science Force Trainer ($80 / $130) This may seem like science fiction, but Mattel Findflex measures your brainwave activity to control the levitation of a small ball just by concentrating on it. Brainwave activity is measured and when the person wearing the headset concentrates on the foam ball, an air stream in the Mindflex base increases causing the ball to levitate. If the concentration is relaxed, the ball will decline. A controller knob allows you to guide the foam ball through an obstacle course. If your loved one is a fan of Star Wars, the Star Wars Science Force Trainer is the same idea. Although they both offer the same amount of wow factor, the MindFlex seems to have more of an obstacle course than the Force Trainer, which is only a tower where the foam ball can be lowered and raised. Tony Hawk Ride ($120) If your gift recipient likes skateboarding and skateboarding games, and has a Playstation 3, Nintendo Wii, or Xbox 360, you ll score big points with the newest Tony Hawk Ride. There have been many Tony Hawk skateboarding games in the past, but Activision s latest game offers a new skateboarding game using a lifelike, full-sized skateboard that uses feet instead of the typical handheld video game controller. This new peripheral uses body movements through the use of a pair of accelerometers similar to the Wii Fit balance board. The accelerometer can register simple movements to elaborate movements, from a sharp tilt required to do a jump or "ollie," to more-protracted moves, such as full 360-degree rotation. The controller looks like the deck of a real skateboard, but there are no wheels to worry about and there are sensors along the side for advanced grab moves. To move the rider, you kick your foot like you would an actual skateboard and watch your rider on screen take off down the pavement. If you tilt your body, your rider will do the same, letting you steer. If you haven't skateboarded in real life before, the controls take a little getting used to, but it also has settings for novice users. ' This game is perfect for any skateboard enthusiast, especially during cold, inclement weather. In addition to keeping an eye on your local Sunday paper circulars, the Internet is always a great resource to find deals, especially when using comparative shopping sites like PriceGrabber.com. For most of the products above, the manufacturer websites offer a great depth of detailed information, videos, and screenshots.

Comments