Our Annual 12 Suggested Xmas Techie Toy Gifts for the last minute shopper.
Dec. 7th, 2005, by Angel Lee and Keith Benicek - Editor

It’s December and you like most others, are just beginning to shop for your Holiday gifts for your favorite techie. The market is flooded with great new gadgets and serious goodies that you would want and will make someone special very happy to receive.

We’ve been very busy checking out a lot of new technologies from the hottest market segments, where sales and media visibility has been at its highest. While we have in the past included a small amount of coverage for the gamer enthusiast, this year we have decided to look at personal digital music devices instead. The new Microsoft XBox 360 has had some controversial coverage after it’s release and the Sony PSP has been covered already to death. The PSP is certainly a great choice as it continues to evolve into more than a gaming device too.

So then, lets reach into our Santa’s bag of goodies for our Annual 12 Suggested Xmas Techie Toys, for you or someone else.

Oh, you can click on most images for Zoomed versions

 First Toy of Xmas - everyone wants one.....

Kodak EasyShare P880
Price: $599.99 Retail

The Kodak EasyShare P880 is the top of the line digital for Kodak’s “P” model series. It is an Electronic ViewFinder type SLR and an exceptionally well endowed camera for the price.

The review LCD is giant

2.5-inches, it carries a fixed 24-140mm (equivalent) Schneider-Kreuznach 5.8x optical zoom lens and internally is a 8 MegaPixel 1/1.8-inch CCD and Kodak Color Science Chip. Kodak has always been a leader in the design and manufacture of high-end commercial and consumer CCD’s used in science, industry and consumer electronics.
Physically, the Kodak P880 is impressive to hold and placed next to a Nikon S70, it looks like a _ scale version. Image quality is quite good in most lighting conditions, although we saw slight AEC compensation issues in overcast outdoor lighting. Color recording is excellent, with reds represented quite accurately. The Kodak P880 has added RAW file support, as well as TIFF and JPG.

The Kodak P880 uses conventional SD/MMC digital flash card devices and as common now with digital camera these days, the very long life LiON battery is proprietary. Also available for the P880 is the Kodak P20 Zoom Flash ($149. List) which can automatically match its zoomed flash zone to the zoomed setting of the camera. In tests, it lit up a 25 ft wide by 45 ft deep room completely and evenly, very cool.

 Second Toy of Xmas -
Oregon Scientific BAA182HG
Digital Weather Forecaster Price: $18.99 Street

Are you sick and tired of the local TV “weather person” never having the local forecast for your area right? But they do always have a great tan or nifty clothes!

Be your on weather department for up-to-date local

weather info with this inexpensive and wireless indicator. While it’s “Forecast” mode may not be long range or even that accurate, the other indicators let you make your own “Eye Witless News and Weather” guesses for the immediate future. Features include:

Temperature, humidity, and pressure trend indicators. Accepts readings from up to 3 remote thermo-hygrometers. Digital clock with dual alarms; 12-month warranty. Shows 24-hour weather forecast with graphical icons. Displays indoor/outdoor temperature and humidity; records minimum/maximum values.

 Third Toy(s) of Xmas -
Mac audio/video software that’s crucial. We have a grab bag of software that Mac OS X users should not be without, depending on your interests of course.

Roxio’s brand new Toast 7 Titanium (Price $78.99 street) which is a feature upgrade from the benchmark creation and burning application for Mac. While Toast 7 for the most part looks

the same as Toast 6, new features such as better backup capabilities that include Data Spanning and Roxio Restore, Roxio’s Popcorn for Dual-Layer DVD copying, a new MPEG-2 encoder, DV file to DivX formatting and numerous Audio burning capabilities that includes native support for open-source Ogg Vorbis and lossless FLAC.A very neat slide-out draw allows access to all your saved media files from one location.
Roxio Popcorn (Price: $42.99 Street), helps you easily make high quality copies of your non-encrypted DVD movies.
Roxio’s Popcorn compression technology gives you the flexibility to copy even the largest 9 GB dual-layer movies to a single DVD disc. Popcorn also supports multi-channel audio, such as Dolby Digital 5.1.
Roxio’s The Boom Box (Price: $29.99 Street), is a suite of applications from Roxio that is aimed towards iPod or iTunes users. It includes MusicMagic Mixer for building "intelligent" mixes,Audio Hijack which
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will capture any streaming audio while acting sort of like a TiVo, CD Spin Doctor for converting those old discs and tapes to MP3, iPodderX which is a Podcast browser, and iSpeak It for turning text-based news and documents into spoken-word MP3, bookmarkable AAC, WAV, AIFF, or Apple Lossless audio files. We think it is a very cool package to have, even it you don’t have an iPod.

Fourth Toy of Xmas
Symantec Norton AntiVirus 10.0 for Mac – Mac OS X software that is Critical! (Price: $55.95 Street) Don’t you believe all the Mac media people that say you don’t need an AV package for your Mac!

There are afew viruses that trickle into the world each month, nothing compared to numbers for Windows and pure UNIX, but the real threat is that your Mac can and will become a PC Virus/Trojan/Worm Typhoid Mary.

Virus and Malware writers have become very smart and they’re learned that a great way to spread some nasties is through friends and family members that use naively use unprotected Macs. The Viruses are written to be carried harmlessly on a Mac and then when you trade files, music or even video, you pass along the Virus or other Trojan like malware. Be a good computer user and have safe computing. Norton AntiVirus 10.0 for Mac OS X is all-new and still the best choice for the careful Mac user. See our full review here.

  Fifth Toy(s) of Xmas
Windows Software for the Pro and Prosumer. We can’t leave out our two new favorites for the media-creation savvy Windows user. Whether you are just simply backing up data and making simple music CD’s to a professional that is creating multimedia and video productions, everyone is familiar with the names Sonic and Roxio. They are now the same company and it has turned out to be the best company marriage yet.

Roxio Easy Media Creator 8 Suite (Price: $87.95 Street) is a complete user interface redesign from the recent previous versions. “EMC” versions 7 and 7.5 weren’t bad, in fact quite good; but perhaps a bit confusing for the
very new or lite Windows user. Some of the many component applications within EMC 7 and 7.5 started and ran a little too slow for our tastes. However, this new version has eliminated all of our speed concerns and the new interface is wonderfully easy to navigate. It really leaves Nero’s latest version in the dust.

EMC 8 has all of what was included in v7.5 plus some new goodies that include - DVD Compilation, Pocket Photo Editor, Plug and Burn for digital video camcorders right to disk and an updated Music Disc Creator. The original components, which are plentiful, have also gone over some major refit and refinement. This is the very best version in the evolution of Easy CD Creator since Roxio was spun-off from Adaptec years ago. It is very fast now, we could find no bugs and it is a delight to use. This suite is for home to professional user.

Sonic DVDit Pro 6 (Price: $ $399.99) We couldn’t say it better than the Sonic web site states: “DVDit Pro 6 is professional DVD authoring software from Sonic Solutions - - the world's leading provider of DVD creation tools.
Powerful Studio-caliber DVD authoring with an intuitive, customizable user interface and Sonic's exclusive eDVD web content integrator”.

DVDit Pro 6 is clearly the most advanced version of this professional users DVD creation application yet and the market is raving about it. With Hollywood level quality production of video navigation, professional menu creation and effects, none is better.

Sonic has also added eDVD® 4, for rich studio DVD inspired web-linked interactivity for the viewer. Sonics eDVD® 4 has won many richly deserved accolades from the media and it’s included with the package. DVDit Pro supports essential professional mastering features such as VBR transcoding; 5.1 Dolby Digital; output to DVD, DVD-9 and DLT; region coding and copy protection.

If you’re on a budget and perhaps just interested in a more consumer version, Sonic also has DVDit 6 for $279.95. It has a “limited edition” of eDVD LE.

Sixth, Seventh & Eighth Toys -
Here’s another trifecta or goodies for the Windows crowd that will make any custom system builder very happy in Christmas morning.
AMD MX64-3500+ / 512KB Cache / 2000 MHz FSB / Socket 939 / Processor ($272.99 Street) Increase your performance by up to 80% with the AMD Athlon™ 64 X2 dual core processor. Built on the AMD 64-bit

architecture, the AMD Athlon™ 64 processor  is designed to deliver outstanding levels of performance and customer-focused innovation to home and business users alike.

AMD64 technology is AMD’s approach to 64-bit computing which doubles the number of processor registers and increases the addressable memory space well beyond 4GB for increased performance and new, cinematic-computing experiences. Processors with AMD64 technology offer leading-edge performance on today’s software applications while enabling a seamless migration to future 64-bit computing.

ASUS GeForce 7800 GTX PCI Express x16 Video Card (Price: $ 520.27) -
The very hot ASUS EN7800GTX version NVIDIA’s GeForce 7800 GTX engine, features the world's most powerful graphic processor in its class. Equipped with the newest generation GeForce 7800 GTX GPU and fastest 1.6ns DDR3 , users can fully exploit innovative graphics technologies such as NVIDIA CineFX 4.0 engine, nView, UltraShadow II technologies from NVIDIA; and bring today's hottest new games to a whole new sensual level.
GeForce 7800 GTX includes on-chip video processor to meet today's demanding top-notch DVD playback, television encoding and decoding, and support for high-definition television formats from your PC. We like the reliability and cost of the ASUS version of this NVIDIA monster graphics engine. ATI has nothing, we fell, that is comparable at this time.

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