10 (Really) Early Digital Holiday Gift Ideas12:08 PM EST Fri. Oct. 10, 2008
Ok, so the holidays aren't right around the corner, but it's never too early to start thinking about what to get someone who has everything. Whether it's for mom, dad, sis or bro or a friend or coworker, the right gift makes a big difference -- and why not have it be something a little out of the ordinary?
At this year's ShowStoppers Digital Holidays at the Millennium Hotel in New York City, dozens of consumer electronics vendors showed off their new wares. Here are 10 digital gifts that are sure to earn praise, or maybe even a kiss under the mistletoe if that's what you desire.
With some airlines starting to offer Wi-Fi in the sky, it was only due time until someone brought it back down to the ground and created a way to take wireless Internet on the road.
Just in time for the holidays, Autonet Mobile is offering in-vehicle Internet service that brings Wi-Fi connectivity to the family vehicle. Keep the kids or grandpa busy surfing the Web in the back seat while you navigate the road ahead. Autonet Mobile offers in-car Wi-Fi that lets users bring laptops, Macs, PSPs and other Wi-Fi devices so they can live the digital life on the go.
Autonet does caution though, that users shouldn't surf and drive. Duh.
The Autonet Mobile system can be installed in any new or existing vehicle for a suggested $499 per unit and service starts at $29 per month.
Once used just to track packages and high-dollar medical equipment, RFID is now becoming more commonplace in everyday life. And tikitag wants to make it even more of a fixture telling users to "build your Internet of things."
Essentially, tikitag lets users associate objects with Internet applications and access those applications via one touch. Basically, a tikitag smart sticker is attached to an object and when that sticker is tapped to the USB reader the computer brings up a Web site or application linked to the sticker. For example, affixing a tikitag smart sticker to an animal toy and touching the sticker to the USB reader can bring up the live Webcam feed of the zoo if the user configures it to do so.
To get started, users just select an application, customize the contents of the application (e.g. link) and place the sticker on the USB reader. From there, the sticker will forever be associated with that specific app.
The tikitag starter package includes one reader and 10 smart stickers for just under $50. That includes access to the tikitag Website and to tikitag applications. Boxes of additional stickers can be purchased separately.
The iWave Cube from iCubed International may not be the most technologically savvy gadget out there, but danged if it isn't useful. The iWave Cube is a one-cubic-foot-sized personal, portable microwave that can be moved from room to room for those small jobs like reheating that morning cup of joe without leaving the bedroom or for pampering yourself with heated towel after a shower. With a built-in handle, the Cube can also be carried along to tailgate parties.
The iWave Cube, which runs just under $150, comes in at 10 inches by 10.5 inches by 12 inches and weighs 12 points. It plugs in anywhere with an input of 800 Watts.
While the iWave Cube can keep things hot, the RC Cooler from Interactive Toy Concepts is the gift to give someone who likes to keep things cold -- ice cold. The RC Cooler is exactly what it sounds like, a radio controlled cooler designed for relaxing poolside, tailgating or hanging out on the patio. The RC Cooler can deliver drinks within a 30-foot range and can hold more than a dozen drinks, eliminating the need to actually get up and grab one. The fridge on wheels can move forward, backward, left and right. The RC Cooler features a bottle cap-influenced remote design and a closeable lid. It will be available this fall for just under $70.
Digital picture frames were on many holiday wish lists last year. This year, Giant International is taking the concept one step further with the debut of the Intouch Wireless Internet Frame IT7150, a digital photo frame that wraps in Wi-Fi and a host of multimedia capabilities.
Key features of the Intouch include a 7" color digital display with touch operation and a full on-screen QWERTY keyboard; Wi-Fi connectivity through 802.11 b/g; a USB cable to connect with a PC; a wireless RSS 2.0 feed reader; live Internet radio and TV capabilities for 11,000 radio- and Internet-only stations and more than 800 Web TV stations; video, audio and photo playback; stereo speakers; support for several memory formats like SD cards, CF cards, memory stick and more; 128 MB of internal memory; a clock, calendar and alarm; and a rechargeable battery with 1.5 hours of battery life.
The Intouch frame also integrates with a host of Web tools to manage digital content, including Facebook, Flickr, Webshots, Picasa and more. Users can also view FrameChannel, which offers more than 400 news, weather, traffic and sports channels that can be delivered directly to the frame.
The Intouch IT7150 is available for a suggest price of $349.
At ShowStoppers, Ceiva also unveiled a new digital picture frame, for tech enthusiasts looking to show off their favorite snapshots. The CEIVAlife frame offers a host of connectivity options, including traditional phone line, Wi-Fi or optional broadband. It offers a high-resolution 8-inch display, a built-in memory card reader, a Wi-Fi adapter, on-screen menus and interchangeable faceplates for any dcor.
The CEIVAlife also comes with a three-month PicturePlan membership, which enables new photos to be automatically delivered to any Ceiva frame, updated through a traditional phone line or through a broadband or wireless home network. Ceiva members can also invite friends and family to send photos for free, online or directly from a camera phone to any frame in seconds. Any member can also store an unlimited number of personal photos on Ceiva's Web site and select their favorites for automatic display.
Know someone who always wanted to capture the information on a business card but was bound by the ties of a PC? Fret no more. Just in time for gift-giving season, CardScan unveiled its Executive for Mac system to capture, organize and sync contact information on Mac OS X Leopard. CardScan for Mac software features an automatic synchronization to Address Book, letting users keep data the same across devices and applications.
The system includes a sleek color business card scanner that reads cards in color at a 20-card per minute rate. Users can also build a contact database by highlighting signature information in an email or other Mac document and dropping into CardScan software.
Additional management functions let users assign multiple categories to a contact for searching and sorting; create, vie and print customer contact lists; import and export vcards; vie images of business cards in image view; map contact information, or access Web sites direct from contact data; and print to envelopes, labels and other templates.
The CardScan for Mac system retails for $259.99.
Someone you know needs a new printer. Why not snap them out of the past with Lexmark's new X7675, an all-in-one wireless printer with fax and Ethernet capabilities. The printer uses 802.11 b/g and is also compatible with 802.11n. The X7675 can be shared among multiple computers and can connect wirelessly or via USB or Ethernet.
The printer is fast, offering up to 32 pages-per-minute with in black ink and 27 pages-per-minute color. It also offers two-side printing.
The device also acts as a copier, a scanner and a fax machine and is equipped to print photo quality.
The X7675 retails for $199. Another version, the X4950 is available for $20 less, but does not include fax and Ethernet capabilities.
A deadbolt lock controlled by a cell phone? No way! One of the more practical digital gift ideas to come out of ShowStoppers was Schlage's Web -- and mobile phone -- controlled door locks, the Schlage LINK. The fusing of home security and automation with mobility, the deadbolts and locks give homeowners the ability to remotely control and monitor access to their home 24.7 with any Web-enabled device or computer. The locks also offer keyless entry through 4-digit access codes that can be entered, activated, deleted or disabled on the lock's 11-key push button keypad or via the Schlage LINK Web portal or mobile application.
Know someone who never wants to carry a bunch of keys, but also wants to be able to let in the kids if they get locked out? This is the gift for them. Through the portal, homeowners can control the days and times the door unlocks and also receive text or email notifications when certain codes are used. The locks integrate with the wireless Z-Wave Bridge, which plugs into an Ethernet port on the home router.
The Schlage LINK also integrates with other Z-Wave enabled devices like lighting and temperature controls and uses SSL protection to encrypt RF signals. The product is powered with regular batteries. The starter kit runs $299 and includes one deadbolt or lock, a wireless Z-Wave Bridge and a compatible light module. Additional deadbolts and locks will cost $199. The Schlage LINK online portal and mobile applications require a $12.99 subscription fee.
Slacker Inc. wants to go head-to-head with the Apple iPod this holiday season, unveiling its ultra-portable Slacker G2, a personal radio player that lets users carry personalized Slacker radio stations anywhere they go, regardless of a network connection.
Slacker Personal Radio lets listeners personalize more than 100 programmed stations to create, edit and share their own Personal Radio stations while also having access to artist profiles, album reviews and cover art.
The G2 promises CD quality personal radio everywhere. Music is delivered automatically without having to manage playlists or deal with software. Slacker does all the work -- just plug in the headphones and listen. With no subscription fees, Slacker G2 owners can access the extensive online music library of millions of songs. The device also features buttons to let users flag their favorite songs or ban ones they don't like.
Slacker stations can be refreshed over Wi-Fi or USB. The device features a 2.4-inch color screen; customer EQ and volume normalization options; and up to 15 hours of battery life. The device is available in both 25 and 40 station capacities for $199.99 and $249.99, respectively, and can play existing MP3 and WMA