Saturday, November 28, 2009

Digital Down Low 2009 Holiday Gift Suggestions

Snowflake Gift Wrap
This post contains a few suggestions for holiday gift ideas for teens (I'm trying to include some different ideas beyond iPods, gaming consoles, computer games, etc). You'll see that I don't reference any software at all - instead of purchasing software, I would advise that you consider making use of the many equally powerful, but free, open source options. Software can now be the most expensive portion of a computer purchase-so why not save your money for the cool items below?  Click here to view a listing of the many free and open source software titles that are available for Mac, Windows and Linux.

2009 Digital Down Low Educational Technology Gift Giving Suggesions for Teens: 
Livescribe Pen - This is a powerful, relatively low cost tool that may be quite useful for many students. The pen syncs audio with written notes that may be reviewed on a computer. The audio enhanced notes may also be shared at the Livescribe online community. We've been experimenting with the Livescribe Pen at Castilleja and I wrote about my initial thoughts back in October. Works with both Mac and Windows. Amazon offers the 4 GB pen for $186.

Flip Video Camcorder - I'm a fan of the Flip Ultra HD model, which records up to two hours of high definition video. This particular model comes with a rechargeable battery pack, but it also operates on two AA batteries as well. The ultra HD lists at $199 at the Flip site, but may be purchased online at Amazon for $152. The Sanyo Xacti HD camcorder is another similarly priced option.

Kindle or Nook eReader- I understand that the Nook from Barnes and Noble will not be shipping until early January, but it does have some tantalizing features. The one that I'm quite intrigued by is the ability to share books with friends (this is cool and mimics one of my favorite things about reading, which is lending out books with friends). I like the Kindle experience as well, but I'm disappointed in their highly locked down, proprietary book model. Kindle does have PC and iPhone apps which allow reading of purchased books on other devices, but I still find the Kindle to be a bit too closed.  I wrote about reading a book on my iPhone kindle app in December of 2008.

Netbook Computer - There are so many options to choose from in the netbook category. Enough, in fact, to make you dizzy. The HP 311 with an 11.6" screen and a six cell battery is definitely one to consider. With the six cell battery this laptop should be able to make it through an entire school day on a single charge. At 11.6", the screen size is a bit larger than the typical 10.1" screen on most netbooks these days. This particular configuration at Amazon features Windows 7, 2 Gigs of RAM, and a 250 GB hard disk for $480. While I like the HP stuff, I'm equally impressed by the Acer Aspire series and the Asus netbooks. Whatever your choice might be, consider upgrading to a six cell battery and 2 GB of RAM if possible.

Apple Macbook Laptop Computer - you can't go wrong with an Apple laptop.

Integrated USB Headset and Mic from Logitech - Great for skype calls, audio recording, etc.

Eye-Fi Geo SD Camera Storage Card - This card is designed to geotag your photos as you shoot them (ie-data regarding the specific location of each photo is added to the photo properties). It also supports wireless uploading of photos from your camera to your computer. It appears that this device works with both Mac and Windows, but I'm not totally certain. I have no personal experience with this product, but if it does everything as advertised, I'm eager to try it out. Check to make certain that your camera is compatible prior to purchasing.
Sony UX71 MP3 Voice Recorder - This is a great little recording tool. I'm a big fan of the fact that it records in the mp3 format. It also has an integrated USB port, which makes it really easy to transfer files to your computer. This is available at Amazon for less than $80.
A Flickr Pro Account - for $25 annually, this gives your teen unlimited photo storage at one of the best online photo storage spaces on the Internet. I love all the special interest groups that you can join to share your photos with as well. Picassa Web is another great service and offers 80 GB of storage for $20 annually.

What am I missing here? Please offer any other suggestions in the form of a comment.
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  1. Matt, I gave my son an eye-fi card last year, and he loves it. I haven't tried it myself, but based on his comments, I may have to buy myself a present.

  2. The following comment was sent to me via David Cardinal. The commenting feature on this blog flaked out yesterday.

    "Matt--We got a netbook for my work and for Annie to borrow and so far it has been great. Awesome battery life, okay performance, size can't be beat. We have an ASUS with 2GB & removeable battery.

    You might also want to add webcam, as they are great for both short videos & for conferencing.--David Cardinal"