My Tech Gadget Holiday List For 2011

I’m a little worried. My husband has been silent about Christmas gifts this year. In other words, he hasn’t asked for any guidance at all. Which could mean something really good. Or really not.

Everyone can benefit from a little advice now and then, and maybe he might take a peek over here in the Studio, so I thought I would give him the subtle clue of a list of awesome tech toys I wouldn’t mind seeing under my little Christmas / Hanukkah shrub. Here goes:

1. Wacom Inkling

I love art-related gadgets and this one promises to be the best combination of tech and craft – simply clip the receiver to your regular paper or sketchbook, use the special pen and record your every stroke so that you can upload into your computer for storage or further refinement. While I love my Wacom tablets, the Inkling promises greater freedom of movement akin to actual sketching, so that you are less hampered by the medium and able to better express the art. Stores hundreds of images in the receiver before you have to upload to your computer. Export your sketches with layers directly from the Inkling Sketch Manager software into Adobe® Photoshop, Illustrator(CS3+), Autodesk Sketchbook Pro (2011+) or Autodesk Sketchbook Designer. Or save your artwork in PG, BMP, TIFF, PNG, SVG & PDF. At $199, its almost affordable. Can’t wait to sketch up some caricatures with this baby.

2. Sonos Wireless HiFi

An oldie, but a goodie that I have been eyeing for a few years. The Sonos system allows you to wireless stream music all over your home. The system is zoned, so that you can play different music in different zones or spaces. With the Zoneplayers and Controllers, you can set up your music any way you want, attaching the player to traditional speakers and amps as a replacement to your traditional audio media players or serving as a standalone media / speaker system. With the wireless, remote Controller, you can then walk around your home and make changes to the music in any space in which you have access to a Zoneplayer. Stream your stored music or access one of the streaming music services like Spotify, Pandora, Napster, Rhapsody, or MOG. Endless music. So cool! Now my kids can listen to Bruno Mars downstairs while I rock some Charlie Parker upstairs. Prices range, depending on your set up. But you can get Zoneplayers starting below $300 and controllers starting below $200.

3. Kindle Fire

Yes, I know it’s the poor cousin to the noble iPad, but I have to admit, I’m intrigued. At 7 inches, it is easy to grab and store, but big enough to make your media look good. And that is what Fire’s all about – media. Read your Kindle books, watch Amazon Prime Movies, browse through digital magazines, and listen to your Amazon Music library. Plus, it has a snappy Amazon-crafted Silk browser and a neat UI based loosely on Android. Grab email and load up some apps – while you can’t easily get access to the entire Android Market, you can get a nice selection via the Amazon App Store. Full color, touchscreen, fast dual core processor, games, free cloud storage, document management and a book lending library. That’s a lot for $199 – a VERY competitive price. Think of it as 8 hardcover books – same price, much lighter and able to carry a whole lot more than that! Yup. The Fire would make a lovely stocking stuffer indeed.

4. Livescribe Echo Smartpen

This is also not such a new product, but a great update on a old standby. And, as you can tell, I have a fondness for digital writing implements. The Echo smartpen is more about note taking than scribbling. The uber-cool pen records both audio and handwritten notes in real-time and can link the two together so that you can easily retrieve the audio at a particular point in the written notes. You have to use Livescribe’s proprietary notebooks, but you also get a 3.5mm headphone jack for listening in, password protection for security, and an OLED display to show name of the Smartpen and definitions of the hand written words via built in applications. USB connector, built in microphone and speaker, and up to 4 or 8 GB of built in memory. That’s a lot of notes. You also get the Livescribe software, a digital text conversion program, and online storage space for notes. Customize your pen with a horde of apps, running the gamut of games to productivity. Prices start at $150.

5. Fuji Finepix X100

Anyone who knows me knows that I love to shoot film, first and foremost. With the declining supply of decent film cameras and places to develop the stuff, I have had to migrate over to digital, defaulting to the camera that is always with me – my iPhone. But I seriously drool over this gorgeous, retro-looking but advanced-feature laden beauty, the Fuji Finepix X100. Perhaps it is because it looks and feels so much like the film cameras of yore, perhaps it is its unique dual viewfinder (both optical and electronic), its crystal clear lens and manual and automatic shooting modes, or the clear quality of feel when you heft it. Or maybe it is the stunning image quality this beauty reproduces. There is no doubt that the X100 is for me – classic film camera style with modern cutting edge results. Can be had for under $1,200.

6. Asus EEE Pad Transformer TF101

It’s a tablet, no, it’s a laptop, no it’s a tablet! When you can’t decide whether you want the efficiency of a tablet or the functionality of a laptop’s full keyboard, check out the EEE Pad Transformer. It’s two gadgets in one. More of a high end Android-powered offering, this pad has a great feature set and excellent flexibility. Big Tegra 2 1.0GHz dual-core CPU and Android 3.2 Honeycomb O.S. with 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich upgradability. And, for you iPad haters, Adobe Flash 10.2 support. Here’s the gimmick – a full QWERTY keyboard as well as touchpad input with Polaris Office. Extra long 16 hours of battery life, web storage, two USB ports, SD and Micro SD card readers and 3D stereo. Dock your mobile keyboard and it looks and feels just like a laptop. Or drop the keyboard and go tablet-style. Why choose? The Transformer looks and feels great. It knocks a Benjamin off the basic iPad as well – more money for apps. Starting at under $400 for the 16GB model.

7. Galaxy Nexus Smartphone

I really can’t complain. I have a couple of great smartphones already – the iPhone 4 and the LG G2x. But I have to admit, the recently released Galaxy Nexus is more than a little tempting. With the cleanest, purest version of Google’s latest mobile operating system, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, and a sleek hardware package care of Samsung, this phone is a beauty. The Galaxy Nexus has an HD Contour display, Super AMOLED 4.6 inch 720p screen, a 1.3MP front camera, a 5MP low-light optimized rear camera with flash. A 1.2 GHz dual core processor keeps things moving along. I admit, as a user of two fantastic phones, the Nexus’ greatest appeal is the pure Ice Cream Sandwich experience. If you are similarly interested, you can pick up a Galaxy Nexus from Verizon for $300.

8. VuPoint Magic Wand Portable Scanner

Moving into the realm of practical, I love the idea of paperless and a nifty gadget like the Magic Wand scanner can get you there. This portable bar allows you to scan by simply passing the reader over the desired paper and to store the image on the onboard Micro SD card. Format is JPEG and interface is USB 2.0. Selectable scan widths up to 8.5″ and color or B&W selectable. Available in small, regular size and Bluetooth-enabled. The little display shows your settings, number of stored scans, capacity of your card, battery life, and resolution. There are scan and error lights as well. There is also a Microsoft file stitching program on board for larger documents. And, best of all, it comes in colors! Make mine red. All that and under $100. Hard to beat – it fits nicely in that stocking.

9. B&W C5 In-Ear Headphones

My wish list would not be complete without something from my favorite speaker makers, Bowers & Wilkins. This year, they released these gorgeous C5 earbuds and I wouldn’t mind a pair of my own. Noise-isolating, comfortable and sonically awesome. Hands-free on your iPhone. These are the phones for critical listening – I wouldn’t recommend them to the heavy rap or processed pop crowd. Balanced and beautiful. Feel good and sound good, the B&W way. Consider these a replacement for those diamond studs – they will set you back around $200.


10. AppleMacBook Air (and throw in an iPad 2 while you’re at it)

Hey, it’s a wish list, right? Why can’t I have my aluminum and glass cake and eat it too? I love my first gen iPad and year+ old MacBook Pro, but who wouldn’t want the latest and greatest the finest consumer gadget design firm ever has to offer? Sign me up for a 13.3 inch MacBook air and a 32 GB WiFi / 3G iPad 2, please? I promise I will be good for the next 12 months!

Well, that’s it. Not too bad, right? It could have been worse. I could have asked for my own private island, a Premier League football team or a pony. It’s all about the perspective. Happy holidays from the Studio – hope your season is filled with happiness, joy, light and fellowship. And a few shiny new gadgets. Peace out!

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The 2009 Holiday Wish List

Last year, I posted my holiday wish list in the hopes that my husband someone reading this blog would take note and respond accordingly. Readers who have slogged it out here on the Studio for more than a year may recall that my list for 2008 included a Flip Mino HD, an iPhone 3G, a 30″ Gateway monitor, the Wacom Cintiq tablet, the Livescribe Pulse Smartpen, the B & W Zeppelin iPhone / iPod speaker dock, the Plastic Logic eReader (still not out and available for the 2009 holiday season), the WildCharge wireless charging pad for small electronics, the Sentry Safe hard drive, and the Canon EOS 50D.

So maybe I was a wee bit ambitious. The list of “haves” versus “have nots” is decidedly skewed in favor of the latter. I did get a Bose Sounddock, which is pretty cool. And right after Christmas, I bought myself the iPhone as a present. Later in the year, I got a serviceable Fuji digital camera, opted to forego the Flip in favor of an upgrade to the iPhone 3GS, and still gaze longingly at the other gadgets whenever I get the chance.

So in the spirit of “if-at-first-you-don’t-succeed-try-try-again,” I am going to put my 2009 list right out there. Who knows? Maybe Santa is a Studio reader.

Here it is, Martha’s WishList for 2009:

1.  Apple MacBook Pro

Yep, it isn’t cheap. But it sure is pretty. I have finally come around to realizing that I really need two completely different systems running herein the house. Perhaps it is the fact that I have fallen for the iPhone’s beautiful simplicity and design chops and am looking for a similar experience in my desktop / laptop. Not that there is ANYTHING wrong with my slick Lenovo. I just feel that I should experience all worlds in order to make a completely informed decision on the perennial geek question: who makes the better system? The 13-inch would be just fine for me.

2.  LG BD390 BluRay Player

As I spend pretty much all of my limited visual down-time watching movies, I have been getting more and more interested in BluRay players. From my research, this bad boy packs in an awful lot of features into its sleek black box. Streaming Netflix, YouTube and CinemaNow video (ondemand new release movies) wirelessly, and magically able to sniff out any visual media on your own home network, there is little this player can’t do. You can find it online for well under $300, which in my book seems a pretty cool deal. You listening, Santa? It’s cool AND cost conscious!

3.  Sony Bravia XBR KDL-40XBR6 40″ 1080p TV

If you are going to hook up a fancy player like the LG, you really need to have the proper viewing device. This slim profile 40″ set is the maximize size I can fit into my allotted TV screen space. I went to Best Buy to look at these sets and I can tell you that, to my eye, Sony has the most nature, best picture with the least artifacts. This particular set probably has more on it than I need, but this is a WISH list after all. I can’t wait to watch The Matrix in BluRay on this cool surface! Until the OLED’s get large and reasonably-priced enough, this one will do just fine.

4.  PowerMat Wireless Charging Station

Last year, it was the Wildcharge, this year it’s the PowerMat. You lay out the mat, equip your devices with the appropriate case, battery door or dock and simply place the device on the mat and voila! wireless charging! It comes in either a Home/Office or Portable version for charging on the go. Losing all of those proprietary chargers and cords littering my kitchen countertop is a beautiful dream and the PowerMat charger can get me there!

5. Plastic Logic Que

I still want this, and now it has a name: Que. Sleek, lightweight, with a gesture-based interface, Que is going to be sold through Barnes & Noble’s e-store. It will have 3G and Wi-Fi capabtility (at least as rumored). It is really being marketed as a business-savvy document reader, but that won’t stop me from downloading the recent best seller from B & N to view on its sexy “shatterproof” capacitance based touch-screen. Now, it just needs to come OUT onto the market. C’mon 2010!

6.  Motorola Droid

I am definitely a tech groupie so it doesn’t bother me this current darling of the mobile computing world to my list. I would love to check out Droid’s Google-y goodness, particularly Google Maps Navigation, despite all that macho male marketing bull-crap (yes, I just said “bull-crap” on my respectable legal tech blog). I like its looks and have been dying to try Android. I only wish I could justify a second personal phone on a completely different carrier, but maybe Santa can work a little Christmas magic!

7.  Microsoft Windows 7

I have been having a bit of a disagreement with my husband IT guy about upgrading our Windows-based computers to Windows 7. I really would love to do it, and not just because I like being a tech guinea pig. It’s faster, lighter, and more stable than its predecessors and I have heard nothing but good things from people I trust on this subject about the new system’s chops. I hear upgrading it can be a bear, though. Maybe I should just replace every computer in the house with pre-installed Windows 7 systems! What a concept!

8.  Touch Sensitive Rubik’s Cube

You know the famous line “All Work And No Play ….” etc. I have no interest in being dull, so I am throwing in this highly awesome touch sensitive Rubik’s Cube. I was a huge fan of the original low-tech version back in high school and used to be able to solve the thing in under 3 minutes (I have since lost my chops most likely due to the excessive amount of other less fun content crowding my overtasked brain cells). I think I could spend way too much time on this, but I do need something to fill my stocking.

So that’s it for this years modest list. Happy Holidays to all and to all a good gadget!

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