The Multimedia Junkie
Chauncey, a thirtysomething guy who knows how to combine his twin passions for music and technology, is listening to music in his kitchen on a recent fall evening. The music is parked on a computer in the basement, which is connected wirelessly to a laptop in the living room, which is plugged into his stereo, which is wired to speakers in his kitchen.
Chauncey's renovated townhouse on Capitol Hill is decorated with framed album covers and concert posters of the Beatles and Miles Davis. When he's out and about, he can access and listen to music from his 180-gigabyte music collection on his WiFi-connected handheld computer anywhere he can find wireless Internet access.
There are six computers parked around the place, though some of them are pretty obsolete, he says -- old gear doesn't get thrown out; it gets repurposed as a storage device or as a spare CD burner. Chauncey doesn't buy the latest flashy gizmo; in other words, he's more a guy who likes to get every last bit of functionality out of the toys he already owns.
For all his gadgets, Chauncey admits that he might be evidence that people tend to specialize when it comes to their tech toys. Though he knows everything about streaming media wirelessly across his home, he's in the market for a new digital camera but isn't sure which one to get.
He's also tempted to get a TiVo, but he prefers to wait until shows he's interested in come out on DVD so he can check them out from Netflix.
With a new baby in the family, a better purchase might be a digital camera or digital camcorder.
Gift suggestions for the multimedia junkie on your list
$ iTunes gift card -- Apple's iTunes Music Store (available on both Windows and Mac computers) is easy to use and includes a large selection of songs at 99 cents each. Cards are available in Apple stores or online at www.apple.com. Also consider gift cards or subscriptions from Napster, Rhapsody and others.
$$ Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS Notebook card -- The card plugs into the side PCI port in a laptop to deliver high-quality sound. Plug speakers or headphones into the card for a great movie-watching, game-playing, music-listening experience. $99. Also consider: Thumb drive -- These miniature USB drives, which come in many shapes, colors and brands, are fast replacing floppy disks as a way to move documents, music, photos and more from one computer to another. A one-gigabyte drive, which plugs into a USB port, holds about as much data as about 70 floppy disks. $60 and up.
$$$ DVD recorder with TiVo -- Never miss an important show with TiVo. Better yet, burn that show to a blank DVD and watch it on the bedroom TV, on the car's built-in DVD system or on a portable player during a cross-country flight. $299.
$$$$ Digital camera -- The prices are down, the resolutions are up and the choices are plentiful. Hobbyists should look for three megapixel or better. $300 and up. Also consider: a digital camcorder. Tapes are being replaced with small recordable DVDs for quick camcorder-to-DVD-player viewing. $500 and up.
TiVo DVD lets users make DVDs of recorded TV shows.