9 smart buys for techie wish lists - and one to skip
The Washington Post's consumer technology expert finds nine things to add to your wish list - and one to skip.
1 Apple iPad: After years of failed experiments in tablet computing, Apple's $499-and-up line of touch-screen devices put this category on consumer wish lists. The iPhone's big brother has since spawned its own growing selection of iPad apps that take advantage of its roomy, 9.7-inch screen. The only catch: It's probably due for an update, which a lot of people expect will add a webcam for FaceTime videoconferencing.
2 iPhone 4: Apple's other big product launch this year brought a much sharper screen and FaceTime videoconferencing to Apple's smartphone line. It also had a few weeks in the headlines for an antenna-reception issue that many users never saw. But its biggest flaw isn't "antennagate" but AT&T's continued monopoly on the device in the United States. Maybe the new year will bring other choices.
3 A good Android phone. Google's Android software now appears on phones from every carrier and in almost every smartphone size imaginable. Verizon's Motorola Droid 2 is among the best current examples of what the Android can do, with its slide-out keyboard and fast processor; Sprint's Samsung Epic offers the same hardware formula with the addition of faster 4G WiMax data service.
4 Roku HD: Apple's relaunched Apple TV has been in the headlines more, but this Web-media receiver is even cheaper, at just $59.99, and connects to far more Web video, audio and photo sources. It's not good at playing media from your own computer and can't play Apple's iTunes rentals, but Roku's frequent additions to its Channel Store help make up for those omissions.
5 Xbox Kinect: Microsoft's Xbox 360 game console seems new again with this $149.99 add-on, which lets you control the action in games by just waving your arms and legs around and making simple gestures in the air. Just make sure your living room has enough space for it.