Guide To A Merry Techie Xmas

Alison Young
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December 02, 2005
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With Christmas right around the corner, I just thought I’d share a few of my gift ideas:

Xbox 360 Is Here!
Yes, after so much hype, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 is finally here! That is, if you can get your hands on one. If you were smart enough to pre-order it or stood hours and hours in line to wait for one, then consider yourself lucky.

It’s the hottest thing on the block this Christmas. More than 25 Xbox 360 games are available for the holiday season, and, of course, new ones will keep popping up in the near future. Don’t get rid of your old Xbox games because you can play those on the 360 too.

The Xbox 360 can also be used as a complete digital media source. It can play DVDs, music, view pictures and play other video media. You can plug your iPod into it and listen to your favorite songs. You can also copy songs over to your 360’s 20GB hard drive. If you have a Windows Media Center PC, you can stream video/movies and televisions shows to your 360. The wireless controller makes it convenient to navigate through all of this with your lazy okole on the couch.


The Xbox 360 retails for $399. Hopefully you will be able to find one at one of the following: CompUSA, GameStop, Kmart, Circuit City, Wal-Mart, Sears or Best Buy. If you’re really, really desperate, cannot find one anywhere and have lots of money to burn, amazon.com has them available for an insane $1,500.

Logitech Harmony 880 - A Smart Remote Control.
With all the electronics I have in my house, I don’t enjoy having to keep track of a million remote controls floating around. I just need one remote to control everything. The Logitech Harmony 880 is the perfect solution for people like me who need remote control management.

The 880 can be programmed to match all your advanced audio-video equipment, and anything in

your house that uses a remote control, including your Xbox or PlayStation 2. All you need to do is plug it into your computer and the web wizard walks you step-by-step through a setup procedure that allows you to enter in model numbers for your components. The Harmony Remote database is constantly updated, but if your device isn’t available for some reason, you can manually program the 880 to learn from your device’s remote. If you don’t understand the remote or your entertainment system, there’s a convenient HELP button to get you through it, and it’s so simple that just about any age level can use it. You can program up to eight custom controls on the bright color LCD screen, and the remote has the capability to track the current state of 15 devices simultaneously.


One of my favorite things about the 880 is that it uses rechargeable lithium ion batteries (replaceable when worn out) and comes with a docking station. I can’t stand it when a remote runs out of juice, and you have hunt down replacement batteries. Depending on how much you use it, the batteries will last about one week from one charge. If you just keep it on the charging dock, you don’t have to worry about it, plus you will always know where the remote is. The buttons on the 880 are flat and therefore more difficult to chew on for my parrot. It is also equipped with a motion sensor, so when you move the remote it automatically turns on.

Last year Logitech acquired Intrigue Technologies, the manufacturer of Harmony universal remotes. The 880 is the first Harmony remote fully designed by Logitech, and the first to feature a color screen and a builtin rechargeable battery with a docking station.

To get the perfect remote for your loved one, the 880 is available for $250 at CompUSA, Best Buy or www.logitech.com. It’s a bit pricey, but well worth it for a high-end remote.

Leapfrog FLY Pentop Computer.
The Leapfrog FLY Pentop Computer is the perfect educational toy for the keiki in your life. It is aimed at ages 8-13, but regardless, I had fun playing with it at the store.

The FLY is a leading edge computing platform that is designed to bring together computer interactivity with pen and paper. It combines a scanner, computer and a pen so that it sees what you write and responds appropriately. This is the first consumer device that gives real-time audio feedback as you draw on the special FLY paper. If you draw a piano keyboard, tap the keys and a small speaker in the FLY will playback the correct sounds. If you draw a calculator on the paper, tap the numbers and you can actually use it from what you drew.

FLY could be considered a pocket tutor. It helps keiki through guided instruction and practice with math, science, social studies and spelling, and has a pocket translator. Additionally it offers quizzes for these topics.

The basic package comes with learning tools and games that can also be entertaining for adults. Add-on cartridges and games extend the FLY’s capability, making it excellent for study and play. The

Leapfrog’s FLY Pentop Computer is available at Wal-Mart, Toys R Us, Best Buy or Circuit City for about $100. Accessories and applications (FLYware) range from about $5 to $35. For more information, log onto www.leapfrog.com

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