Give the Gift of Tech

December 8th, 2012 · 2 Comments · 3D HDTV, Audio, Blu-ray Discs, Connected TVs, Digital Media Receivers, Headphones, Plasma

Not all of us can give the gift of a crappy car covered in a giant, over-sized, red bow. What most of us can do, though, is give the gift of tech.

From big-screen TVs to tiny media streamers, there’s a cool gadget for every wallet. If you’re searching for some last-minute gift ideas, this is just for you.

Apple TV Digital Media Streamer

It’s tiny. It’s simple, and it’s awesome. Stream movies via Netflix, or buy Movies and TV shows via the iTunes Store. I use mine mostly to stream music from my computer to my home theater system. I can’t think of any reason not to buy one.

The Apple TV is $89 on Amazon.

Roku HD Digital Media Streamer

Ok, so maybe you’re not an Apple person. Maybe you like Amazon’s Instant Video service better. Maybe you just like the idea of an open system with lots of apps. Or maybe you just want to save a few bucks. No problem, the excellent Roku HD is only $50. Yes, it’s “only” 720p, but so is the vast majority of streaming content.

The Roku HD is $50 on Amazon.

Oppo BDP-103 Blu-ray Player

Oppo BDP-103Last year we reviewed the BDP-93, an excellent high-end Blu-ray player, with incredible audio and video performance. The latest Oppo, the BDP-103 keeps the price the same but adds WiFi, MHL, and a bunch of other improvements. Pretty much the ultimate disc player, and probably the last one you’ll ever need to buy.

The Oppo BDP-103 is $500 on Amazon.

If you don’t need the BDP-103’s excellent DACs and scalers, check out Panasonic’s $99 DMP-BDT220.

Amazon’s Holiday Sale Continues

LED HDTVs for Under $500

Save On The Best Selling HDTVs

Blu-ray Deals

Best Selling Blu-ray Players

Disney World of Wonder Blu-ray

Every TV needs careful, though fairly straightforward, setup to look its best. You can get it close just using your eye, but to really get the settings correct, you need a setup disc. Disney’s World of Wonder Blu-ray has great tutorials to introduce you to concepts like contrast and brightness, but it also has excellent test patterns I use myself when reviewing TVs. That’s quite a range. A must-have for anyone with a TV.

Disney’s WoW disc is $18 on Amazon.

Tivo Premiere XL4 Personal Video Recorder

Cable boxes are built by the lowest bidder, and “feature” some of the worst build quality, energy efficiency, and user-unfriendliness you can find in consumer electronics. Mostly this is because you are not the target for the cable box manufacturer, the cable companies are. It just needs to be cheap, and work just enough so you don’t call and complain. Dump it, and get a TiVo. They’re Apple-like in their ease of use, and have way more features than any cable box.

The TiVo Premiere XL4 is $365 on Amazon.

Panasonic Real Pro massage chair

Need to relax after a long day? Who doesn’t? Gary’s a big fan of the Panasonic Real Pro massage chairs. They’ll massage your back, legs, and feet. Amusingly, Amazon currently lists the price per ounce. So… it’s quite a bargain for $1.16/oz!

The Real Pro massage chair is $4,000 on Amazon.

Panasonic TC-P55ST50 55-Inch Plasma HDTV

In a year where many manufacturers stagnated, or even slipped backwards, with picture quality, Panasonic had some of the best looking and best reviewed flat panels available. The 55ST50 is a Smart TV, has 3D, and looks brilliant. For $1,200 it’s also a ridiculously good deal. The step-up 55GT50 is $1,349, and adds THX Certification and a little better picture quality.

The TC-P55ST50 is $1200 on Amazon and includes free shipping when ordered from Amazon direct

Bose QC15 Noise Cancelling headphones

There are dozens of noise cancelling headphones on the market. To be honest, there are better sounding ones than the Bose (the PSB M4U 2 come to mind). But in terms of sheer noise reducing power, the Bose are hard to beat. If you travel a lot, or just like some peace and quiet, the QC15s are worth every penny. Gary loves the slightly cheaper, $189 Sony MDR-NC500D.

The Bose QC15s are $299 on Amazon.

 

Geoff Morrison @TechWriterGeoff
Geoff’s book is now in paperback (and, ahem, also makes a great gift!)

 

Have a question for the HD Guru?
HD GURU|Email

Copyright ©2012 HD Guru Inc. All rights reserved. HDGURU is a registered trademark.

Tags:

2 Comments so far ↓

  • Joel

    I love my Tivo, so much so that I’m having a hard time justifying a streamer box since it does all I need. I cut the cable a while ago and the Tivo has two tuners for over-the-air, records with its DVR functionality, supports Netflix, and even allows me to stream content from my PC or Mac. I like new tech as much as the next person, and the list of additional channels Roku provides sound interesting, but can’t figure out what I’m missing with my current setup. My only Tivo gripe is the monthly or annual fee you have to pay but none of the streamer solutions would provide all of those functions to enable me to dump it. Boxee sound like it may get there, but not yet, so…I wait.

  • Brian

    Interesting you mention Tivo. I have Comcast’s box and I’m debating getting a Tivo, but I can’t justify paying several hundred dollars AND a monthly fee when Comcast gives me a box at no upfront cost and charges me a monthly fee. I truly believe Tivo has a much better interface, but $300 bucks for a better interface? I don’t think I can do that. I honestly can’t believe they’re still in business.

Leave a Comment