Techie Christmas list

christmas_listAside from wishing for peace on Earth and goodwill to all, what might techies be looking for in their Christmas stockings?

Among the categories of portable electronics, high-definition monitors, and devices to help cut the cable cord, the possibilities are endless.

To narrow it down a bit, here’s a look at a tree-bedecking list of potential gadget gift ideas, any one of which this writer would be happy to receive.

Hint, hint.

Fantom Gforce3 4TB USB 3.0 External Hard Drive

We’ve written previously in this space about the importance of backing up critical data—irreplaceable digital documents, applications, music, movies, calendars, and contact information. gforce_external_drive

We store a lot of this priceless data on our computers, and computer drives fail at what seems like the most inopportune moments. It’s usually because people have been tempting fate for too long without backing up.

The Fantom Gforce3 is one of the highest rated external drives on Amazon. It is available in 4, 3, 2 and 1 terabyte capacities, and given the quality, the cost/capacity ratio is perhaps the best on the market currently.

The USB 3.0 external drive works with both Windows and Mac computers, and is backward compatible to USB 2.0, as well.

The 4GB model is $159, but lower capacities are cheaper. To enhance the package, Amazon adds a two-year warranty option ($8.19), as well as a data recovery service ($9.99) in case the drive ever fails. With an external backup drive like this, combined with these add-ons, you or your loved one’s data will be secure.

Black & Decker Lithium Ion Flex vacuum cleaner

Perhaps it’s a bit curious a vacuum cleaner would be included in this column, but remember that technology can come in all shapes and sizes, and can solve all kinds of problems.

B-n-D-vacuumAs someone who maintains and works in a home office many hours a week, I can’t count the number of times I’ve wished for a portable vacuum cleaner. I eat lunch in the office, open packages, and track in dirt from outside (try as might to avoid this). And just on its own, dust likes to collect there.

A handy vacuum cleaner would really help. Battery-driven, lightweight and powerful, the Black & Decker Lithium Ion Flex fits the bill. Powered by a rechargeable 20-volt lithium ion battery, highly-rated, and reasonably priced at $70.99, this unit finds a spot on my wish list.

BenQ BL3200PT CAD/CAM WQHD 32-Inch Screen LED-Lit Monitor

benq_monitorExtraordinary screen resolution (2560×1440 pixels) and real estate (32 inches diagonally), and a reasonable price ($675), the BenQ BL3200PT monitor is an excellent choice for graphic artists, photographers and videographers, gamers, and, oh yeah, bloggers.

In fact, owners of any modern computer with an advanced video card can benefit from a high definition monitor like the BenQ.

As I wrote a few months back, I purchased a MacBook Pro with 13-inch Retina display. The video card in this portable Mac is more than adequate to power all the pixels in the BenQ.

Jawbone Mini Jambox Wireless Bluetooth Speaker 

The trend started with portable music players, most notably the iPod, and more recently with smartphones, enabling us to carry with us and listen to vast music collections on the go. But what if we wanted to listen out loud—at the beach, on the back deck, in a conference room, wherever an amplified soundtrack would add to the experience?

jawbone_jamboxThe Jawbone Mini JamBox offers surprisingly big stereo sound from a tiny box. The unit is powered by a rechargeable lithium battery, offering approximately 10 hours playback.

At a little over $100, the highly-rated Bluetooth 4.0 speaker is not cheap, but compared, say, to the Bose SoundLink Mini at $199, the JAMBOX looks like a bargain.

Although the Mini Jambox shines best when connected wirelessly to a smartphone or other device via Bluetooth, it also can be connected with a standard headphone-style stereo adapter cable, which is included.

Roku 3500R Streaming Stick

For cord cutters or those among you who never signed up for cable, the Roku 3500R connects to an HDMI port on the back of a flatscreen TV, and enables users to stream movies and other Internet programming from their smartphones or tablets to their TVs.

Roku_stream_stickThe Roku 3500R competes in the same space as Google’s Chromecast and Amazon’s recently-announced Fire Stick. In comparison, the Roku provides the most channels (approx. 1800), including Netflix, HBO GO, Hulu Plus, Pandora, and Amazon.

Although users cannot access Apple’s iTunes Store through the Roku device, virtually all channels available on the Apple TV are available on the Roku. For purchasing and streaming recent movies, users can access either the Google Play store or Amazon’s Instant Video service.

At $39, the Roku device is virtually a risk-free purchase.

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