For my Holiday gift list I got all sorts of selfish. Everything on here blends utility with fun in one way or another that relates directly to … you guessed it, MY daily life. If you’re into music, Macs, and the elusive balance between power and efficiency, you might just gleam some gift ideas from what follows. If not, well, that’s why we’ve got a whole herd of Buffalo doing individual gift lists this year! Enjoy, and may you all give and receive the gifts of peace, prosperity and happiness this year, whatever you celebrate.
Money is No Object
BMW 335d Diesel Sedan
Before I became a tech blogger I read tech blogs for fun. Now that I cover gadgets all day, I read auto blogs and magazines for fun. So naturally I was going to pick a car for my price is no object gift. I’m interested in cars that are fun to drive but also at least try to go easy (easier) on the environment. If Tesla’s Model S sedan was actually shipping, it might have taken the top spot. But it’s not, so I’ll “settle” for BMW’s 335d, the lone oil burning 3er available in North America. An M3 may take the 335d off the line, but the diesel makes so much torque across virtually the entire powerband, who cares about 0-60 times? And, oh yeah, it’s the most fuel efficient car in BMW’s lineup. I’ll take mine used, please, so I can earn a few extra karma points by way of the, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” mantra. Now if only they’d offer a 3-series wagon with a diesel engine stateside.
Gifts Under $2,000
Apple MacBook Air 13.3″
When I joined TechnoBuffalo I was issued a company computer. I chose the then-new 11″ MacBook Air powered by a 1.6Ghz Intel Core2Duo CPU. At CES I fell in love with the machine’s incredibly lightweight and small but usable display that actually offered more pixels than my 13″ MacBook Pro. But a few months later at MWC the romance fizzled as I developed some issues in my left hand related to my typing posture when using the tiny laptop (the keyboard is almost full-sized but the palm rests are cut down). The latest MBA refresh is a huge one, with Intel Core i5 and i7 CPUs offering major performance bumps across the line without impacting battery life. Also: Backlit keyboards! As much as I love the 11″ machine’s form factor, I’ll take the slightly larger 13″ model this time around. Purchase from Amazon
Gifts Under $500
Sonos Play:5 + Bridge Music System
Once exclusively the domain of the wealthy, Sonos’ new Play:5 and Play:3 wireless Hi-Fi units have lowered the bar to entry on their simple, smooth, perfectly synced multiroom music systems. The five-speaker Play:5 unit is powerful enough to fill an average-size room with clean, crisp music from local or Internet-based sources, while the Bridge box provides the link between your Net connection and Sonos’ proprietary mesh network. No need to spend on a dedicated remote anymore, either, as free apps turn your smartphone/tablet into a touchscreen controller. Start with one Play:5 for a single zone setup and build from there as your addiction to wireless music grows.
Verizon 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot MiFi 4510L
Your mileage may vary depending on who’s wireless data coverage is best in your neck of the woods, but out here in the Bay Area I’ve been blown away by VZW’s 4G LTE service. As such, I want to give – and receive! – the gift of mobile data by way of a MiFi portable hotspot. Verizon’s prepaid data costs more than its on-contract equivalent, but allows the flexibility of turning the network on in increments as small as one day, pay-as-you-go style. Big spenders could opt to give the luxurious gift of a full 24 month’s worth of mobile data, which will run $1250 + taxes/fees, minimum.
Gifts Under $250
Etymotic Research ER-4T Pro Earphones
Years and years ago, the cashier at a bookstore in Brooklyn told me “you gotta check the Etys, man.” He meant Etymotic Research’s line of in-ear earphones (aka canalphones). I did. And I thank him from afar every time I listen to music. Which is pretty much every day.
One Year Subscription to MOG
I never thought the day would come when I’d embrace renting music over buying it. But how can you argue with access to millions upon millions of songs available via computer, smartphone, and fancy wireless music system (see Sonos, above) for just ten bucks a month? MOG, Rdio, Spotify and others all offer worthy ways to get your streaming audio on. Currently I prefer MOG’s user interface to the others, so I’ll go with them.
Gifts Under $50
Animal iPhone 4 Case
This case is not built to last, let alone offer very much protection for your iPhone. I know because the company rep who gave it to me said so. And I know because in the months since then, mine has fallen apart. But it’s got Animal on the back. Animal from The Muppets! Drumz 4EVA!
Puerto Rico HD iPad App
I’d never played the board game Puerto Rico before checking out the iPad version. Now I’m totally hooked. Pure strategy plus the convenience of having it on a tablet and the ability to play against the computer, in-person opponents, or online via Game Center? The perfect gift for the iPad-toting board game fiend in your life.