2011 Sun Advocate Youth Holiday Gift Guide
Everyone remembers at least one cliche movie scene (because there many) in which an adolescent child tears into a package on Christmas morning only to frown with disappointment as he or she pulls forth Grandma's yearly Christmas sweater. Now, one could argue that the kid is an ingrate; however, the individual who chooses this side of the debate probably never got that hot and itchy sweater every holiday season. What most seem to miss in the equation is that the sweet elderly woman, who seems to love barbwire like wool, never meant to give a disappointing gift. Everyone who braves a holiday shopping season filled with mace-carrying psychos in overcrowded stores definitely deserves a smile and a hug on Christmas morning. The Sun Advocate's Youth Gift Guide is here to insure that everyone gets something great for the child, grandchild or even great-grandchild on your list.
The E Five: Listed here are five electronic gifts sure to please this holiday season.
In my exhaustive shopping this season, Beats Headphones courtesy of the good Dr. Dre seem to be everywhere. Not only are these high end headsets sold almost everywhere but they seem to be in limitless quantity as well. The price does seem a bit high coming in between $399 and $199 at various retailers, however, the item's creator does seem to feel that the sound quality is worth the cash.
"People aren't hearing all the music. Artists and producers work hard in the studio perfecting their sound. But people can't really hear it with normal headphones. Most headphones can't handle the bass, the detail, the dynamics. Bottom line, the music doesn't move you. With Beats, people are going to hear what the artists hear, and listen to the music the way they should: the way I do," said Dr. Dre in a product review on amazon.com.
In this humble writer's opinion, the phones are more of a fashion and status statement than an audiophile's dream. The sound quality provided by all Beats headsets I tried recently was very good but not as good as similar products provided by Able Planet or Grado. The high ticket price seems to be more about style, comfort and a large array of extras including a carrying case, separate phone cord and cleaning cloth.
Next up are heavily discounted gaming systems and games from Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo. If that youngster on your shopping list happens to have any one (or more) of the three systems listed above, classic games can be purchased at several location for as little as $20. One season special had Wii games being sold for as little as $5 during Black Friday's dash. Don't be surprised to see this type of special resurface as the big day approaches. As for gaming systems go, major retailers are taking a big chunk off the asking price of formerly high priced systems like the PS3 and X-Box Kinect. Again, one recent local deal saw the Kinect go for $199 plus a $50 gift card; be on the lookout for home-run deals as the 25th grows near.
If you are on the market for more of a toy this Christmas, Hexbugs might be just what you are looking for. According to the owners of the company, Hexbugs, which are small robotic insects, were created to "give children a positive experience with robotics at a young age." The small life-like robots came onto the scene in 2007 and have become incredibly popular. The range of bugs now include a spider, inchworm, nano, ant, crab and many others, some of which can be controlled with a remote. The bugs range in cost from $8 to $30 depending on which bug you prefer; habitats are also available. As a side note, the Hexbugs also are great for messing with small children and pets as they respond to movement all on their own. Good times.
Moving back into the arena of higher end electronics, tablets have become a major force in the computer market ever since Apple and Amazon released their iPad and Kindle products. While the iPad remains at the top of the tablet PC universe, many lower priced Android based models are available for consumption this holiday season. Both Motorola and Samsung have currently have popular products on the market this Christmas. The Samsung Galaxy can be found for as little $199 and is supported by a wide array of cell phone carriers which can provide web service literally everywhere. The Motorola Xoom is closer to $299 but also packs quite a lot of punch for the price. Both machines carry front and rear facing cameras and are loaded with a limitless supply of potential applications. For those in the e-reader market, this season's Kindle Fire is a great choice, providing color and many extras to the Kindle fan. Going a slightly different direction in the tablet market, the Wacom Bamboo tablets, which allow the user to create their own experience with a stylus pen. The Wacom is computer accessory rather than a computer itself. According to the company's site, "the pen is central to the (Wacom) Bamboo experience. It's everything you can do on your computer with a pen, as compared to a mouse or track pad, which sets this new experience apart. Precise, natural, and so much more comfortable than other input methods, the pen is the ideal tool to use when annotating, drawing or photo editing.
"You can even erase mistakes with the pen's digital eraser. When combined with multi-touch, found in Bamboo Capture and Bamboo Create models, the pen becomes a natural extension to the whole input process, providing you with an enjoyable computer solution for work and play."
Last but certainly not least, I would feel remiss if I did not include a little cash on this list of products. I know that money isn't quite electronic, but fear not; in this day an age, even old fashioned green backs have gone digital. This Christmas consider gift cards, which can be purchased at just about any store around. Once thought of as an impersonal gift, cards can be quite loving as the giver can stipulate that the gifted only spend the card when in the company of the giver. If you don't want to lock down that certain someone at a particular store, pre-paid credit cards are always a great gift as they can be redeemed even if lost and the allow the gifted to shop most anywhere they desire.
Do remember that time spent looking for these gifts is an important part of any holiday season, and time spent with those you love is even more valuable. In fact the bratty kid we discussed in the first paragraph of this article was most likely less mad about they sweater than the fact that granny or aunty had no idea who he was and spent no time considering what he might like. Remember, a 50 cent gift that comes from a place of love and remembrance says "I know what you love and I love you," and it blows away a $100 buy-off any day.