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Christmas Gift Guide: Gift Ideas For Your Wife/Girlfriend/Mother | 2013 Edition

I put together a list of gifts for the women in your life, from electronics to jewelry to stuff for the kitchen.  Of course it tends to be slanted towards stuff that Wendy likes but hopefully it gives you some ideas as well.  I know of one guy that just gives his wife a watch every single year.  It doesn’t matter how nice of a watch it is, after a decade of watches, you need to show some creativity.

Take a look around and if you have any better ideas, let me know in the comments.  You can see all of the other Christmas Gift and Idea Guides here.

Technology

Tablets continue to be big and if she is thinking of upgrading her laptop, check out these tablets by Amazon, Apple, and Google.

Kindle Fire HDX

Kindle Fire HDX

The 7-inch Kindle Fire HDX packs a 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, 2GB of RAM, and a 1,920-by-1,200 IPS LCD display for quick response and sharp images. One of the more interesting features is "Mayday," a tech support system where a live Amazon employee appears in a video window on your tablet.

The 7-inch Kindle Fire HDX earned four-out-of-five stars in PCMag’s review, gaining points for its sharp screen, fast processor, and ease of use.  If you are shopping for a reader or a person who loves to online shop, this is a great choice.

  • Purchase from Amazon.com | $254

    Nexus 7

    2013 Google Nexus 7

    Google’s flagship tablet, this year’s version is thinner, lighter, and faster – Nexus 7 brings you the perfect mix of power and portability and features the world’s sharpest 7" tablet screen – putting over 2.3 million pixels in the palm of your hand.  With 323 pixels packed into every inch, you can read text that’s sharper than the printed page, see images more vivid than the highest quality photo magazine, and watch videos come to life in vibrant 1080p HD.

    Nexus 7 is made by ASUS and packs a serious punch. With a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon™ S4 Pro processor and 2GB of RAM, everything runs faster (or at least faster than the Kindle Fire HDX)

  • Purchase from Google | $229

    iPad Mini 2 (now with Retina display)

    iPod Mini 2

    iPad Mini 2 features a beautiful 7.9-inch display (now with retina display), iSight and FaceTime cameras, the A7 chip, ultrafast wireless, and up to 10 hours of battery life. And over 300,000 apps on the App Store made for iPad also work with iPad Mini. So it’s an iPad in every way, shape, and slightly smaller form.

    If she is an iPhone or Mac user, the integration with iMessage makes the iPad purchase a no-brainer.

  • Purchase from Apple | $329

    Amazon Kindle

    Amazon KindleIf you are just looking for an e-reader, check out the basic. Amazon Kindle ($69).  At only $69, it has an e-ink screen, works well outside, and the battery lasts forever (mine lasts for weeks).  It doesn’t have any of the bells and whistles of a tablet but you can’t beat it for reading.  Not everyone has a desire to be online 24/7 which is why you still see Kindles all over campus and on commutes.

  • Purchase Amazon Kindle from Amazon.com | $69

    Kitchen

    Griddle

    Family Sized Griddle

    Wendy wanted one of these a couple of years ago and I was told not to get her one by some cooks that I know.  They said she would only use it for cooking up eggs, sausage, and pancakes and that is exactly what she wanted one for.  Since getting her one, she uses it several times a week and has become one of her favorite kitchen tools and has made cooking a lot easier.  She doesn’t know how she has gone without one.  Even at the cabin, where space is at a premium, Wendy bought one for up there. 

    If space is a concern, check out this compact apartment sized griddle from Presto.

  • Purchase family sized griddle from Amazon.com | $30
  • Purchase compact griddle from Amazon.com | $25

    Music

    iPod Nano | iPod Classic

    Apple iPod ClassicBoth the 16 gig and 160 gig versions hold thousands of songs and videos and can be taken everywhere.  I gave Wendy a 16 gig iPod Nano and she uses it all of the time.  It now has a larger, 2.5-inch Multi-Touch display as well as FM radio.  You can also watch movies and widescreen videos on the bigger screen. A perfect workout partner, iPod Nano tracks your steps, your runs, and burned calories and syncs to the Nike+ website to challenge friends. And with built-in Bluetooth technology, you can wirelessly connect to speakers, headphones, or car stereos.

    The new iPod classic comes with 160GB of storage in the same compact size, making it the take-everything-everywhere iPod. It’s available in quintessential silver or striking black. iPod classic also has plenty of battery life (up to 36 hours of audio playback or 6 hours of video playback), good looks (a sleek, anodized aluminum design), and other great features (Cover Flow and Genius playlists for creating perfect playlists). You can even rent a movie from iTunes and watch it on the go.

    Purchase iPod Nano from Amazon

  • Purchase iPod Classic from Amazon | $249
  • Purchase iPod Nano from Amazon | $169

    JVC Xtreme Xplosive headphones

    JVC’s Xplosive Xtreme headphonesWhile headphones from Monster, Skull Candy, and Beats by Dre get a lot of attention, you may want to check out these excellent JVC’s Xplosive Xtreme headphones.   $16 gets you an attractive bass booming set of in ear headphones that are great for everyday use.  Both Wendy and I have a pair and they get used all of the time with our iPod’s and provide a great sound at a price that is affordable.

  • Purchase from Amazon.com | $16

    Sony MDR ZX300 Headphones

    Sony MDR ZX300 headphones Boasting 30mm drivers, the Sony MDR ZX300 headphones are designed for use in and out of the studio. These MDR-ZX300 ZX Series stereo headphones feature high-quality audio components; pressure-relieving, urethane-cushioned earpads for greater comfort and a noise-reducing, supra-aural design.

    We have three pairs of these in the house and they get used for everything from chilling out to music to editing podcasts.  They are comfortable, inexpensive, and they look good.

    They aren’t on par with Beats Solo or Bose AE2 but they are about $80 cheaper than either one of those (excellent) options while still giving you excellent sound quality.

  • Purchase from Amazon.com | $23

    Bose Wave Music

    Bose Wave Music System

    The famous Wave music system still sets the standard for quality audio and ease of use among one-piece, table top stereos.  It looks great and will upgrade any home stereo system.  If your wife or girlfriend is a music lover, this is gift you are looking for.

    Its bold, detailed sound remains exceptional for a system of its size. Now, there’s even more to like. An advanced FM/AM tuner displays useful information like song titles and artists. Touch-top on/off/snooze controls and dual alarms make waking up a little easier–for both of you. You’ll appreciate these welcome additions, plus the same jaw-dropping sound, elegant finish and easy operation you’ve come to expect from this system.

  • Purchase from Amazon.com | $500

    X-Mini MAX II Portable Capsule Speakers

    X-Mini MAX II Portable Capsule Speakers

    Developed in Singapore, the X-mini™ MAX II Capsule Speaker™ is expertly designed to be ultraportable and precisely engineered to deliver a superior sound. With a simple twist and lift, the avant garde capsule-shaped design unveils a pair of stereo speakers. These stylish speakers, which can also be used individually, pop open to reveal the patented accordion-like Bass Xpansion System™ (BXS™) which successfully mimics the resonance of a sub woofer.

    The logical choice for the itinerant music aficionado, the powerful yet compact X-mini™ MAX II Capsule Speaker™produces high-fidelity sound at any pitch or volume and is perfect in all environments, be it the boardroom or kitchen.

    Purchase from Amazon.com | $40


    Lifestyle

    Timex Women’s Ironman Watch

    Timex Women’s Ironman Watch Built to handle extreme activities, this timepiece is designed with a completely unique white resin design that’s wide at the case and narrow at the strap. The Ironman has everything you need: an easy-to-use 24-hour countdown timer countdown/stop (CS) and countdown/repeat; a one-hour chronograph with lap or split option; a daily/weekday/weekend alarm with five-minute backup; a 30-lap memory recall for workout review; a 99-lap counter. The oval dial has a white digital display with day/date/month calendar, an Indiglo night light, Night-Mode features, and two time zone settings. Powered by precise quartz movement, this Timex is water resistant to 330 feet (100 M).

  • Purchase from Amazon.com | $35

    Wenger® Women’s Battalion II Diver Swiss WatchWenger® Women’s Battalion II Diver Swiss Watch

    Stylish enough for everyday professional wear, the Wenger Battalion II Diver stainless steel women’s watch is also rugged enough for extreme snow sports and scuba diving–thanks to its water resistance to 200 meters (660 feet). The mid-sized, round silver watch case is topped by a blue-plated unidirectional rotating bezel with elapsed time markings and a luminous marker at the zero position. The shimmery royal blue dial face is complemented by luminous markers and hands (with red seconds hand), small minute indexes around the outer edge, and a date window between 4 and 5 o’clock. Other features include a handsome triple-link stainless steel bracelet, knurled screw-down crown, classic Swiss Army insignia at 12 o’clock, a scratch-resistant mineral crystal, and precise Swiss quartz movement.

    Purchase from Amazon.com | $200


    Fujifim JX600 Point and Shoot Camera

    Why not upgrade her camera this Christmas with a Fujifilm JX600?  It is a slim, stylish digital camera built to let you capture the moments that bring a smile to your face. With a 5x zoom, this 14MP camera has a CCD sensor to take crisp, clear images every time. Thin enough to pop in your pocket, it boasts advanced filter functions, takes stunning motion panoramas and records HD videos to preserve special moments long after they’ve happened.

    Fujifim JX600 Point and Shoot Camera

  • Purchase from Best Buy | $80

  • Bodum Tea Press

    Bodum Tea PressA lovely way to brew tea to your exact preference, the Bodum Shin Cha tea press combines elegant shaping with crafty functionality. The spherical glass pot features a stainless-steel plunge infuser inside and a stainless-steel lid. Fill the infuser with loose leaf or tea bags, add hot water, wait the desired amount of steeping time, then plunge. The plunger pushes the tea below the infuser holes, so brewing stops on a dime and tea does not over steep to the point of bitterness. To clean up, the unit goes safely in the dishwasher.

  • Purchase from Amazon | $67


  • Canon Rebel T5i Digital SLR Camera and 18-55mm Lens Kit

    Canon Rebel T5i Digital SLR Camera and 18-55mm Lens Kit

    Photo enthusiasts rejoice! The new flagship of the spectacular Rebel Line, the EOS Rebel T5i, is here to renew your artistic side with amazing imaging features and full-featured functionality. Users will be impressed at how simple and intuitive it is to create breathtaking photos with ease.

    The incredible image quality and performance starts with an 18.0 Megapixel CMOS (APS-C) sensor and Canon’s superb DIGIC 5 Image Processor. Combined with an extensive ISO range of 100–12800 (expandable to 25600 in H mode), the EOS Rebel T5i boasts crisp, detailed images, even in low-light situations. A continuous shooting speed of up to 5.0 fps allows for fast action capture. 9 cross-type AF focus points help ensure crisp focus throughout the frame, and the Hybrid CMOS AF system enables speedy and accurate autofocus when shooting in Live View mode. In addition, the camera is compatible with Canon STM lenses for smooth, quiet AF performance.

    The performance doesn’t stop with photos. EOS Full HD Movie mode with Movie Servo AF makes shooting high quality movies easy, and the brilliant Vari-angle Touch Screen 3.0-inch Clear View LCD monitor II makes composing fun. Seven Creative Filters, now viewable in real time, puts composition control directly in your hands and is just one of the many features of the EOS Rebel T5i that is sure to renew your special person’s creative soul.

    If cost is a factor, check out Canon’s still capable Canon EOS Rebel T3i for $599.

  • Purchase from Amazon.com | $799
  • Sign up for a free terabyte of space for photos and video at Flickr.

    Detroit from ORK mapsOrk Posters

    If you or the target of your affections lives in Toronto, Vancouver, Boston,BrooklynLos Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, and Seattle among others.  They are $22 a poster which makes them a pretty cool value.  Of course they don’t have one of either Brandon, Manitoba or Georgetown, Guyana which makes them pretty much useless for Wendy but maybe you will have some better luck.


    MEC Shoulder Bag

    MEC Shoulder BagWendy has had three different versions of one of MECs most popular bags.  The latest version has the vintage look of aged canvas, plus pockets and a slot for your iPad® or e-reader loaded with the complete works of Jack Kerouac.

    • Front flap has pocket.
    • Side pocket has Velcro® flap and a drain hole for your umbrella.
    • An outer pocket has a snap closure, one is zippered and has pen holder and inside pocket, the slot for iPad or e-book reader closes with Velcro.
    • Padded back.
    • Adjustable shoulder strap.

    This could be the coolest version yet.


    Christmas Gift Guides and IdeasAm I missing anything?  Do you have some great ideas I should be thinking of?  Let me know in the comments.

    You can also find all of the rest of the 2013 Christmas Gift Guides online here.  There is a lot of great ideas for all of the important people in your life.  Good luck with your shopping and have a great holiday season!

  • The Touch-Screen Generation

    Young children—even toddlers—are spending more and more time with digital technology. What will it mean for their development?

    In 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics updated its policy on very young children and media. In 1999, the group had discouraged television viewing for children younger than 2, citing research on brain development that showed this age group’s critical need for “direct interactions with parents and other significant care givers.” The updated report began by acknowledging that things had changed significantly since then. In 2006, 90 percent of parents said that their children younger than 2 consumed some form of electronic media. Nonetheless, the group took largely the same approach it did in 1999, uniformly discouraging passive media use, on any type of screen, for these kids. (For older children, the academy noted, “high-quality programs” could have “educational benefits.”) The 2011 report mentioned “smart cell phone” and “new screen” technologies, but did not address interactive apps. Nor did it broach the possibility that has likely occurred to those 90 percent of American parents, queasy though they might be: that some good might come from those little swiping fingers.

    I had come to the developers’ conference partly because I hoped that this particular set of parents, enthusiastic as they were about interactive media, might help me out of this conundrum, that they might offer some guiding principle for American parents who are clearly never going to meet the academy’s ideals, and at some level do not want to. Perhaps this group would be able to articulate some benefits of the new technology that the more cautious pediatricians weren’t ready to address. I nurtured this hope until about lunchtime, when the developers gathering in the dining hall ceased being visionaries and reverted to being ordinary parents, trying to settle their toddlers in high chairs and get them to eat something besides bread.

    I fell into conversation with a woman who had helped develop Montessori Letter Sounds, an app that teaches preschoolers the Montessori methods of spelling.

    She was a former Montessori teacher and a mother of four. I myself have three children who are all fans of the touch screen. What games did her kids like to play?, I asked, hoping for suggestions I could take home.

    “They don’t play all that much.”

    Really? Why not?

    “Because I don’t allow it. We have a rule of no screen time during the week,” unless it’s clearly educational.

    No screen time? None at all? That seems at the outer edge of restrictive, even by the standards of my overcontrolling parenting set.

    “On the weekends, they can play. I give them a limit of half an hour and then stop. Enough. It can be too addictive, too stimulating for the brain.”

    CSR Racing

    I am not much of a gamer but I have been playing CSR Racing on my Mac lately.  It’s a simple drag racing game where you have beat “crews” to move up.  To do that you need to win some races where you win cash and then you have to upgrade your car.  Most cars need four levels of upgrades to win and there is a bit of skill involves in it as well.

    The fun part of the game is that you can only race as long as you have gas and you can easily run out of gas.  To get more gas, you can pay but I am too cheap to do that or you can wait an hour to two hours for your tank can fill.  The game is free and they depend on people more impatient than cheap but for me it is great as I can play it for 10 minutes, be done and then pick it up later.  It’s like gaming designed for those of us with short attention spans.

    As you can see, I started the game with a Mini Cooper S, moved to a Mustang GT, then a BMW M3 Coupe, and now a Corvette ZR1 (which is underpowered compared to the other cars in the tier and getting beat a lot).  And yes I seem to like the colour red.

    Screenshot 2013 02 03 17 10 41

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    Screenshot 2013 02 18 15 05 27

    It’s a fun game to play and it’s free to try (and keep playing).  If you have a iPod Touch, iPhone, or iPad, you can play it on each either one of those devices.

    Christmas Gift Guide: Gift Ideas for your Wife / Mother / Girlfriend (all of the women in your life) | 2012 Edition

    I put together a list of gifts for the women in your life, from electronics to jewellery to stuff for the kitchen.  Of course it tends to be slanted towards stuff that Wendy likes but hopefully it gives you some ideas as well.  I know of one guy that just gives his wife a watch every single year.  It doesn’t matter how nice of a watch it is, after a decade of watches, you need to show some creativity.

    Take a look around and if you have any better ideas, let me know in the comments.  You can see all of the other Christmas Gift and Idea Guides here.

    Electronics

    According to Apple, the 7 inch tablet market is targeted towards female users.  I am not sure about that but Wendy does love her Kobo Vox (especially after it came with a firmware update that included Google Play) and so I thought I would start by highlighting some 7 inch tablets.

    Kindle Fire HD at Amazon.comKindle Fire HD ($199) | It features:

    • 1280×800 HD display with polarizing filter and anti-glare technology for rich color and deep contrast from any viewing angle
    • Exclusive Dolby audio and dual-driver stereo speakers for immersive, virtual surround sound
    • World’s first tablet with dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi for 40% faster downloads and streaming (compared to iPad 3)
    • High performance 1.2 Ghz dual-core processor with Imagination PowerVR 3D graphics core for fast and fluid performance
    • Integrated support for Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo! and more, as well as Exchange calendar, contacts, and email
    • Front-facing HD camera for taking photos or making video calls using Skype, Facebook, and other apps

    All of that and $100 less than the iPad Mini.

    Google Nexus 7 ($199) | Same kind of features as the Kindle Fire HD.  Of course with the Amazon Kindle app you can read your Kindle books on your Nexus 7.  Nexus 7 was designed with gaming in mind. With heart pounding quad-core performance, a vibrant 1280-by-800 high-resolution display, and sensors like a gyroscope and accelerometer – do a barrel roll then tilt, touch and tap your way to the top of the leaderboards while exploring over 700,000 apps and games on Google Play.  In other words it’s faster than the Kindle Fire

    iPad MiniiPad Mini ($329) | At $129 more, you get two cameras, the fastest processor, and access to the amazing Apple app store.  The bad news is that it has the lowest resolution screen of all of them.  While the technical elite are complaining about the lower screen resolution and the tablet not shipping with a Retina Display, it won’t make that big of a difference on a 7 inch screen.  Again if you are moving from a Kindle, just download the Kindle app and you will have a seamless transition

    If you are just looking for an e-reader, check out the basic Amazon Kindle ($69).  At only $69, it has an e-ink screen, works well outside, and the battery lasts forever.  It doesn’t have any of the bells and whistles of a tablet but you can’t beat it for reading.  Not everyone has a desire to be online 24/7 which is why you still see Kindles all over campus and on a commute.  An even smaller option is the Kobo Mini ($99).  All I know is my friends love their Kindles.

    The Washington Post puts all of the mini tablets through their paces here.  Read and pick the right one for you.

    Kitchen

    Griddle ($40) | Wendy wanted one of these a couple of years ago and I was told not to get her one by some cooks that I know.  They said she would only use it for cooking up eggs, sausage, and pancakes and that is exactly what she wanted one for.  Doh!

    Frozen Yogurt, Sorbet, & Ice Cream Maker ($75) | This fully automatic small appliance makes frozen yogurt, sorbet, and homemade ice cream in as little as 25 minutes. The frozen-dessert maker features a heavy-duty motor and a double-insulated freezer bowl that holds up to 2 quarts of frozen dessert at a time. Simply add ingredients, turn the machine on, and frozen drinks and desserts are ready in minutes. Its large ingredient spout allows for easily adding favourite mix-ins, and an instruction book and recipes come included.

    Cuisinart Convection Toaster OvenCuisinart Convection Toaster Oven ($80) | If your loved one loves to cook and entertain, you would be surprised what a good convection toaster oven can do to make her life easier.  Cuisinart’s custom toaster oven broiler is large enough and smart enough to present a full range of menu options. Toast 4 bagel halves, bake an 11-inch pizza, or broil two big open-faced sandwiches. When the cooking is done, its easy clean with reflective non-stick coating on oven’s interior that wipes clean in seconds, which enhances heat efficiency and ensures even toasting.

     Adagio Teas Electric 32-Ounce Tea MakerAdagio Teas Tea Maker ($88) If you are looking for a tea maker that does steep the tea, check out the Adagio Teas Electric 32-Ounce Tea Maker. This maker does it all – heats water, steeps leaves, and keeps tea warm so you may enjoy it all day long. Variable timer and temperature control lets you adjust the strength of an infusion, ensuring a perfect cup of tea each time. Works well with all tea varieties.

    Wolfgang Puck 6-Qt. Electric Gourmet Wok with Tempered Glass Lid and Steaming Tray ($90) | The unit’s curved cooking interior promotes proper stir-frying, while its wide top and narrow bottom allow for frying with less oil than with a straight-sided pan. Simply heat the oil; add any favourite combination of fresh vegetables, tofu, or meat; then keep things moving with a long-handled wooden spatula. The countertop appliance works well not only for stir-frying, but also for braising, sautéing, and more. Choose from a variety of temperature settings: sear, high, medium, keep warm, minimum, and everything in between. Other highlights include a generous 6-quart capacity with a 14-inch diameter and a 4-1/2-inch depth, a tempered-glass lid with a stay-cool knob, a steaming tray for seafood or veggies, a temperature probe with a quick-release lever, and heat-resistant side handles for safe, comfortable transport.

    For more kitchen ideas, check out Wendy’s Christmas Gift Guide for the Cook at The Cooking Blog.

    Music

    iPod NanoiPod Nano ($149) | Apple has reinvented the iPod Nano, making it larger physically and expanding it’s capacity to 16 gb.  It now has a larger, 2.5-inch Multi-Touch display. Play your favourite songs, browse music by genre, or listen to Genius playlists and FM radio. Or watch movies and widescreen videos on the bigger screen. A perfect workout partner, iPod nano tracks your steps, your runs, and burned calories and syncs to the Nike+ website to challenge friends. And with built-in Bluetooth technology, you can wirelessly connect to speakers, headphones, or car stereos.

    If you are looking for something more advanced, check out the new iPod Touch ($299) | iPod touch features a 6-mm ultrathin design and brilliant, 4-inch Retina display. The 5-megapixel iSight camera lets you take stunning photos, even in panorama, or record 1080p video. Discover music, movies, and more from the iTunes Store, or browse apps and games from the App Store. And with iOS 6—the world’s most advanced mobile operating system—you get Siri, iMessage, Facebook integration, FaceTime, Game Center, and more. Now that sounds fun.

    Beats by Dre Tour headphonesBeats by Dre Tour in ear headphones ($149) | Made to stream the soundtrack of your life with perfect, clear sound. Tour headphones were made to stream your favourite music. Seven pairs of different-sized ear tips ensure snug fitting buds. Accurate speaker design plays music back loud and full of detail.  Now if you don’t want to pay $149 for a pair of premium headphones, check out JVC’s Xtreme Xplosive headphones ($16) which are getting excellent reviews on Amazon and across the web.

    Bose Wave Music System $499 | The famous Wave music system still sets the standard for quality audio and ease of use among one-piece, table top stereos. Its award-winning design adds a touch of distinction to almost any room. No wonder so many people use it as their main home entertainment system.  Numerous reviews speak of the Bose Wave’s clarity and amazing room filling sound.  If you are looking for the best all in one unit, this is the one you are looking for.

    Bose Wave Music System

    Sangean Model WR-11 AM/FM Table Top RadioIf you want to go old school, make sure you check out this Sangean Tabletop Radio ($85) | Elegant simplicity combined with state-of-the-art performance sets the Sangean Model WR-11 AM/FM Table Top Radio head and shoulders above the competition. In true Sangean tradition, AM/FM reception is excellent providing clear and static free listening. Rotary dials adjust the volume, selects AM/FM bands, and precisely tunes your station selection displayed in a softly lighted analog display. An LED tuning eye assures you’re achieving the best reception for your selected station. In addition, a stereo headphone jack and provision for an external AM and FM antenna is also provided. An AUX-In jack for playing your favourite MP3 music from your portable devices is available as well as a Record-Out jack for routing to your recording equipment or external devices.

    Lifestyle

    Timex Women’s Ironman Watch

    Timex Women’s Ironman Watch ($37) | Built to handle extreme activities, this timepiece is designed with a completely unique white resin design that’s wide at the case and narrow at the strap. The Ironman has everything you need: an easy-to-use 24-hour countdown timer countdown/stop (CS) and countdown/repeat (CR); a one-hour chronograph with lap or split option; a daily/weekday/weekend alarm with five-minute backup; a 30-lap memory recall for workout review; a 99-lap counter. The oval dial has a white digital display with day/date/month calendar, an Indiglo night light, Night-Mode features, and two time zone settings. Powered by precise quartz movement, this Timex is water resistant to 330 feet (100 M).

    Canon Powershot A2300 Digital Camera Canon Powershot A2300 Digital Camera ($99) | The Canon PowerShot A2300 16MP Compact Digital Camera, is simple and stylish. This compact camera is packed with advancements that make it easy to get a great shot every time. Smart AUTO recognizes 32 predefined shooting situations then automatically picks the proper camera settings for you. Saving memories in breathtakingly realistic 720p HD is as easy as pressing the dedicated movie button. You will see extraordinary resolution and fast performance with the 16.0 Megapixel Image Sensor and DIGIC 4 Image Processor, and capture more dynamic, exciting images with the 5x Optical Zoom with 28mm Wide-Angle lens. Digital IS greatly reduces blur by recognizing the main subject and applying the best camera shake correction.  

    All of this really means that you will be able to take great photos when you want.  Sure she has a camera on her phone but do you want to trust your phone to take a great photo when conditions are less than ideal?  If you have moments that matter, you will want this camera.

    Cross Bailey Fountain Pen ($38)

    Cross Bailey Fountain Pen

    If the women you are shopping for is a writer (or wants to be), how about a great looking fountain pen?  While you are at it, check out this suede journal ($29) from Indigo or this ruled Moleskine ($13)

    Cabela's Multi-toolCabela’s Multi-tool ($13) | Despite it’s low price, Cabela’s has put together a great multi-tool.  Wendy has had one for a year and carries it everywhere.  A handy and affordable compact tool with devices you need for quick fixes and repairs. Stainless steel construction with an assortment of attached tools that includes flat-nose pliers, wire-stripper, knife, Phillips and flat-head screwdrivers, saw, bottle opener and scissors. Nylon sheath included

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    I haven’t forgotten jewellery.  If you are looking for a nice necklace, check out this key to my heart diamond cut 14 karat gold pendent ($190) .

    While you are at it, check out this sherpa blanket ($52).  I gave one to Wendy this fall and she loves it.  If you are lucky and well behaved, your loved one will even share it with you.  For a different look, check out this Hudson Bay Blanket fleece blanket ($35)  It has the look of the historic Hudson Bay blanket but without the itchy wool.

    There is also this great aromatherapy gift set ($40) with this black oil warmer ($6).  A tealight gently warms your favorite scented oil for a delicately fragrant glow!

    Christmas Gift Ideas and Guides at JordonCooper.comIf I missed anything or if my suggestion made you think I was absolutely crazy, let me know in the comments. You can access the current edition and previous years list of Christmas gift guides here.

    Christmas Gift Guide: Gift Ideas for your Husband / Father / Boyfriend (all of the men in your life) | 2012 Edition

    It’s Wendy again and I am pretty lucky as Jordon does all of the Christmas shopping in our family and over the years he has created some incredible Christmas gift guides for his website which have generated a loyal following.  I traditionally write the Gift Guide husbands/boyfriends/fathers and here it is.  Hopefully I don’t disappoint and as always if you have good ideas, leave them in the comments below.  For the entire list of Christmas gift guides, click here.

    Tablets

    I bought Jordon an iPad last Christmas and has has loved it.  Now he is an Apple person (iPod, iPad, iPhone, and a MacBook) but not everyone is.  The good news is that there are some amazing tablets on the market for both Android, Apple, and even Blackberry users.

    When you are looking for a tablet, make sure you understand how the person is going to use it.  I bought Jordon a 16gb iPad because Jordon is going to use it for some writing (using Pages, the occasional Keynote presentation) and surf the web.  He had no intention on putting his music on his iPad because he uses his iPod for that task.  If he was going to use it as a all-in-one machine, I would have gone out and got him a 64gb version.

    Also, some have bought them with the idea that they will replace their laptop or computer.  They really don’t for most of our friends (although as I was typing this, Jordon points out that he has never seen Saskatoon City Councillor Charlie Clark use anything but his iPad and his Logitech keyboard/case).

    Whatever your preference,  I have listed tablets from all operating systems below.

    Google Nexus 10Android | Nexus 10 ($409) and Nexus 7 ($209) from Google.  Both offer world class speed and design and in a lot of ways are designed and produced to set the standard for Android devices running on tablets in the same way Google designed the Nexus phone to do for smartphones.

    Android | Kindle Fire 8.9 ($299) and Kindle Fire HD($199)  Amazon introduced the Kindle Fire to mediocre reviews last year but has stepped up their game with the Kindle Fire 8.9 inch tablet and the Kindle Fire HD which offers retina level display on an Android device.  If you surf the web a lot, the Kindle Fire has the fastest wifi of any tablet out there.

    kindle-fire-hd-89

    iPad MiniApple | iPad ($499)) and iPad Mini ($329) | While more expensive then the Kindle Fire HD, it has the advantage of the most spectacular collection of apps out there.  Also it offers fantastic integration between your iPhone and Mac.  Like I said  before, Jordon has an iPad 2 and loves it.

    Blackberry PlaybookBlackberry Playbook ($194 for a 32gb model) | I include this here because I know there is still a passionate community of Blackberry users out there.  It’s a good value for the price but it doesn’t have a lot of apps for it.  It’s one of those things that I would get for a guy who knew what he was getting and still really wanted.  When I asked Jordon, he said there are those out that that still live and die on Blackberry Messenger and it has that… kind of.  Maybe you should just get any Blackberry lovers on your list, a new phone.

    Music

    iPod Classic ($249) | iPod Nano ($149) | iPod Touch($299)

    iPod ClassiciPod TouchiPod Nano

    Depending on the person you are shopping for, they are going to have different demands on what they want out of a iPod or MP3 player.  Some people want all of their music at their fingertips all of the time, some want something to work out with, and some want to be connected to all of their apps while they are listening to their music.  Whatever kind of person you are shopping for, there is an iPod for them.

    Sony WalkmanIf the person you are shopping for isn’t an Apple fan, look at a Sony Walkman ($110).  While the design and features look amazing, I am a little surprised it only comes in a 8 gb version, of which 1.25 gb is used by the software.  So if you are looking for a 6.75 gb MP3 player in a great design package and a good price, here it is.  It is slightly smaller than the Apple iPod Nano but has a lot of the same features.  While MP3 quality is lacking, with Sony you know you are getting something that is quality made and designed.

    41mxVSz7SkLWhatever MP3 player you get, you will want to upgrade the headphones.  JVC’s Xplosive Xtreme ($17) headphones are much loved at an affordable price.  The series feature a bass port for outstanding bass reproduction, a durable rubber protector for impact protection and to help withstand heavy use, and a gold-plated 3.5mm stereo plug.  The Xplosive Xtreme also comes with a handy carrying case. 2.6mm-thick and robust 1.2m pure copper cable (Y-type) Special hard carrying case included S/M/L silicone ear-pieces included Gold-plated 3.5mm stereo straight plug iPod, iphone and iPad compatible.

    If you aren’t sure the person you are shopping for would appreciate a MP3 player, why not pick up a Polaroid 8 gb MP3 player ($40)?  It may not have the features of the iPod or Walkman but it does offer a really good value and is expandable with a SDHC card.

    iHome Rechargeable Mini Speakers ($45) | These are incredible speakers that provide a rich sound.  They have a carrying case which means that they get taken with us everywhere, just like our iPods.

    iHome Rechargable Mini Speakers

    They work great with our iPods, netbooks, and our portable DVD player.

    Tivoli Model One ($149) | Old school AM/FM in a timelessly sleek design. I bought Jordon one a couple of years ago and he loves it.  We actually went and bought a second one for the cabin.  It gets great reception in the middle of nowhere and on a hot summer day when the Saskatchewan Roughriders are playing, it’s a great way to listen on the deck with all of your friends.  The Tivoli Model One has a rich, full sound thanks to sound pioneer Henry Kloss, and the radio has come to be a modern design must-have. This gift is perfect for a desk, in the kitchen- anywhere he can listen to the baseball game, CBC Radio One, or the oldies station.  Another tabletop option worth considering is the classic Sangean WR-11 radio.  Different design but same classic look.

    Office

    Cross Bailey Fountain Pen ($38)

    Cross Bailey Fountain Pen

    Every guy needs a nice pen and this fountain pen is both affordable enough to give a nice gift but if high enough quality to last for decades.  If you aren’t sure the person on your list would appreciate a fountain pen, you won’t go wrong with a Parker IM rollerball pen($19).

    Parker IM Rollerball Pen

    Tabletop fountain ($49) | It depends on the office environment that your husband works in.  At The Lighthouse, Jordon’s office was both too hot and too dry.  A tabletop fountain added some humidity into the air and cooled it down a bit.  Just make sure you get him a plug in version, not one that runs on batteries.  It’s one of those things that once the batteries run out, it never gets used again.

    Wrapped leather journalOf course he will need something to write down his profound thoughts in so why not give him a leather wrapped journal for Christmas?  Chapters/Indigo has an amazing one for $45.  While you are at it, check out this $15 5 inch globe.

    Video and Camera

    71cqBTpP-3L._AA1500_GoPro HD Hero 2 ($199) | Born from a passion to capture your love of life from your perspective, this camera is a feat of engineering. Wearable and gear mountable, waterproof to 197′ (60M) and boasting an immersive 170° wide-angle lens, the HD HERO2 has ushered in a new era of image capture. Professional quality 30 fps 1080p and 60 fps 720p video, combined with 11 megapixel still photo capture that has landed magazine covers.  It’s a great camera and a lot of fun for the entire family.    With this grab bag of mounts, you can hook it up to almost anything.

    Sony Bloggie ($69) | Jordon has a Kodak Zi8 for years and has loved it.  We gave Lee a Flip camera a year ago and even Mark has one.  While you cell phone can record HD video, it doesn’t have the same kind of quality than a dedicated video camera gives you and it is a lot easier to deal with a SD card than trying to get a video off your iPhone.  If the guy you are shopping for is one that loves to take video, make sure you check this camera out.

    Fuji Fine Pix XP50 ($150) | For years we have been fans of Fuji point and shoot cameras and the XP50 is no exception.   It’s waterproof to a depth of 5m and can capture both movies and still images underwater. The camera’s casing will withstand shocks or drops from a height of 1.5m, while cold environments are also no problem for this rough and ready device. The FinePix XP50 can withstand temperatures down to -10°C and dust is never a problem, with all the camera’s access points specially sealed for ultimate protection.

    If the guy you are shopping for loves audio or is a podcaster, consider getting him a Blue Snowball ($60)or Yeti USB ($109) microphone.  Both provide amazing clear sound and are a significant upgrade over the internal microphone in a laptop.

    Home

    31531_lBlack and Decker Thermal Carafe Coffee Maker ($48) | Jordon is a coffee connoisseur and while the ultimate way to make a cup of coffee is with a French Press or a Aeropress coffee maker ($25), he doesn’t always have time.  For times when he needs 8 cups of coffee relatively quick and wants it to stay fresh for a while, there is this thermal coffee maker from Black and Decker.  With a stylish design and durable stainless steel carafe, this 8-cup coffeemaker is perfect for home, office or practically anywhere you want hot, fresh coffee at the touch of a button. All this, plus an easy-clean control panel and dishwasher-safe removable parts for effortless clean up.  The advantage of the carafe is that you won’t be stuck with hot burnt coffee in case you don’t get it off the maker in time.  The coffee will be as hot and fresh later as it is right now.

    Atari Flashback ($50)| Over 75 Atari 2600 games all in one console.  Jordon laments the exclusion of Pac-Man but you can get Missile Command, Asteroids, and Combat all on console.  Let him relive his childhood at the same time making him a subject of mockery of any child in the family.

    PlayStation 3 ($269) | Yes it’s a game console but it’s also a Blu-Ray and DVD player, a Netflix player (which works way better than the Wii), and allows the family to play online.  We use it all of the time to watch Netflix, movies, and also we still play a fair amount of games.  While it’s not something that we would ever consider essential to our family life, it’s hard to imagine doing without.

    Leatherman Skelatool ($42) or the Gerber Suspension Multitool ($26) | Both are amazing multi-tools and life is just better for men when they know they have a great multi-tool within reach.  If the guy you are shopping for needs something even smaller, then check out the Cabela’s multi-tool.  A great tool in a small package.

    While the guys I know aren’t big on jewellery, they do appreciate a nice watch.  If the guy you are shopping for loves a nice watch, check out the Timex Expedition Rugged Field Watch ($46), the Timex Expedition Digital/Analog watch ($44.96) or the rather classic Timex Atlantis 100 ($31).

    Parrot AR Drone 2.0

    Finally don’t forget probably the most wanted gift of the season, the Parrot AR Drone 2.0 ($300) The Parrot AR.Drone is the first quadricopter that can be controlled by a smartphone or tablet. By tilting your device, you control the direction of your AR.Drone, and by releasing it, the AR.Drone is instantly stabilized. Thanks to the AR.Drone’s autopilot feature, anyone can be an expert as the AR.Drone allows for an easy take-off and landing.  It’s about as amazing and as much found as it sounds.

    Christmas Gift Ideas and Gift GuidesIf I missed anything or if my suggestion made you think I was absolutely crazy, let me know in the comments. You can access the current edition and previous years list of Christmas gift guides here.

    My setup

    I was asked a while ago about the gear I use around the office and at home.  Here it is in the nutshell.

    I use a HP 6910p laptop running Windows Vista as my main machine now.  I use it at home and at work and keep my files sync’d using Windows Live Mesh.  I don’t use a mouse and while the computer has a trackpoint, I tend to use the touch pad for the first time in my life.    I tried to use ObjectDock because I really love the dock but it causes all sorts of problems for my applications so I just use a basic Windows setup.

    I keep my music on my iPod.  When my office mate is in the office, I plug them into some Sony MDR-ZX100 headphones.  When she is gone, I tend to plug it into my iStereo dock.

    Most of my writing is done in Libre Office.  I have a copy and a license of Microsoft Office but I am ready to give it up.  Libre Office hasn’t caused me any problems and it works for me.

    My office rig is pretty basic.  It have a HP dc7800  It’s powered by a 3.00 Ghz Intel core duo and is hooked to a 32 inch display with 2 gigs of RAM.  Hooked up to a it is a cheap generic webcam and 5.1 channel surround sound speakers.  It runs Windows 7

    I use Gimpshop. Picasa, MediaImpression, Libre Office, and Windows Live Writer and not a lot else

    My desk is actually an old boardroom table that has been converted into a desk.  My office has seven chairs in it and I just grab whatever is closest to me.   Yesterday there were only five chairs in here but every time there is a meeting in here, people bring extra desk chairs.

    My phone is a Samsung Galaxy Ace which goes with me everywhere and I have an iPad 2.  Despite seeing how well the Logitech keyboard works for some of Saskatoon’s city council, I went with the Apple Bluetooth keyboard that works really well.  I have Numbers and Keynote but I generally only use Pages and Evernote.

    As for application.  My day starts and ends in Evernote, Google Calendar, Google Contacts, and Gmail.  Google Calendar, Evernote, and Google Contacts all sync with my phone, iPod Touch, and my iPad, and are available on my notebook and desktop.  Having a centralized place for all of my information is huge for me and really makes any device I am on work the same across all platforms.   I really need to use the cloud to store my iPod and iPad docs but I haven’t gotten around to it yet.

    I tend not to use PowerPoint when I speak as I think speaking is a lost art but if I really need to, I use Libre Impress.  The only program that I really miss here is AbiWord which got buggy a couple of releases ago and hasn’t really gotten fixed.

    So there you go, Android, Windows, and two different Apple devices.  It all seems to work.

    Christmas 2011

    I hope everyone had a great Christmas.  After a daring battery run to Walmart on Saturday morning, we met up with the Sieberts for coffee/tea and to exchange gifts and Christmas cheer.  After that we headed out to Warman to Lee and Brittany’s place for Christmas Eve dinner to open gifts.  Wendy talked about the evening over at her blog but I was got some great gifts from Lee and Brittany including some DVDs and When the Gods Changed by Peter C. Newman, an iPad from Wendy, a Denver Broncos hat from Oliver, some big bear head slippers from the dogs, the Steve Jobs biography from Mark, along with a stocking full of fun stuff.  Oh right, Wendy gave Mark, Oliver, and myself a Snuggie for Christmas.  We aren’t happy about it.

    On Christmas we went over to the Reimers where I got a really cool book by Gloria’s great uncle Heinz Guderian who was a Panzer commander and later became the Chief of the General Staff during WWII.  He wrote several important books on armoured tactics and I was thrilled to get a copy of one.  It also confirms my belief that if Gloria hadn’t married Jerry, she would be leading a war against a rival country.   Kristy gave me a gift certificate for Indigo! instead of trying to figure out what to get me.  Instead of getting a book to read, I went to Indigo! today and got a big one to write in.  While we were there, we walked over to Best Buy and looked at iPad cases.  We found one that  works for now but I am planning to add a keyboard in the future but they were all out of stock.

    Tonight we are chilling out, listening to Moxy Fruvous while taking down the Christmas tree and decorations.  In a couple of hours we will be ready for New Years.

    Christmas Gift Guide: Gift Ideas for the Road Warrior / World Traveller | 2010 Edition

    It’s just about time for every radio station to start playing holiday music, so that makes it a good time to be thinking about gifts for that special road warrior in your life.  In case you don’t find what you are looking for, check out the other 2010 Christmas Gift Guides.

    Apple iPad |  If your loved on spends a lot of time travelling, waiting, improvising, problem solving, and then some more travelling, you will want to get them an iPad to allow them to work on the plan, the road, in line, in their hotel, and everywhere in between.

    From $529 at Amazon or from $499 at the Apple Store

    If they don’t want an iPad, you can also pick up some Android Tablets pretty inexpensively like this one from Walgreens for only $129.

    JanSport Antics Wheeled Backpack :: If you are like me, you have your laptop, PSP, iPod, a book, magazine, and a drink or two with you when you go on the plane.  While none of them weigh that much together, they do add up.  Your loved one could carry all of that with them but believe me, a wheeled backpack is a wonderful thing to have as you stand in line at the counter, stand in line at security, stand in line at Starbucks, and stand in line while waiting to board.  Travelling can be enough of a mental and physical workout without having to heave your luggage around or have to worry about your laptop.  $71.25 from Amazon

    Nightwave Sleep Aid | Many road warriors have spent many nights trying to fall to sleep for a variety of reasons.  Different bed, time zone issues and the stress of a big meeting tomorrow.  The Nightwave is designed to help you find that needed sleep naturally.  Nightwave silently guides you in a pre-sleep relaxation session in the privacy of your own bedroom. it’s like having your own personal sleep coach.  Nightwave projects a soft blue light into your darkened bedroom. the “luminance” of the light slowly rises and falls.  You lie with eyes open and synchronize your breathing with the wave of soft light as its movement becomes slower and slower. after a short time, Nightwave shuts off and you roll over and fall asleep. and unlike sound machines, the soft light does not disturb others.  Why does Nightwave work? Nightwave works so well because it quiets the mind and relaxes the body. With Nightwave, a gentle focus on an external cue gives you an escape from the overactive mind. $33.75 from Amazon

    Pelican Micro Case :: Are you going to trust the airline to keep your loved ones iPod, cell phone, or Blackberry safe?  I wouldn’t either.  Toss them in one of these Pelican Micro Cases and while the airline may destroy their bag, they will at least be able to phone and complain.

    Keeping these portable devices charged is a tough task when you’re always on the go, and that’s why we recommend the Energizer Energi To Go XP4000. The XP4000 is a portable rechargeable power pack which can charge anything with a USB connection, whether it be an iPod, iPhone, or a digital camera. The power pack comes with various tips including mini-USB, micro-USB, iPod dock connector, and others used for a slew of smartphone manufacturers such as Motorola and Nokia. The Energi To Go XP4000 can be purchased from Amazon.com for around $60 with free shipping.

    Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones :: I still remember the first time I flew and turned on my fairly inexpensive noise cancelling headphones.  The engine noise disappeared, the voices around me became audible and I was far more refreshed as I stopped off the plane.  It also made it much easier to sleep.  While Bose sets the standard for noise cancelling headphones, you can pick up some Sony noise cancelling headphones for quite a bit less money.

    If their computer’s webcam leaves something to be desired, how about getting them one of Microsoft Lifecam HD webcams. This webcam, delivers smooth, detailed 16:9 video in full 720p HD quality. Optimized for Windows Live, the LifeCam Cinema also works with Yahoo Messenger, AOL Instant Messenger and Skype for video calls and messaging.  The camera has good low light performance and gives your favorite road warrior a way to chat to their family at the end of a long flight or day on the road.  It’s only a couple of years late but it finally give PC users a webcam to rival Apple’s amazing iSight.

    As most everyone will witness this holiday season, getting through airport security will be a mess and Timbuk2 is here to help. The new Commute 2.0 and Blogger 2.0 bags are the greatest laptop bags for a quick whisk through the TSA lines. They both offer a laptop compartment that unzips so you don’t have to go through the hassle of taking your laptop out. If that isn’t enough to convince you, both also have a waterproof front flap to keep your valuables dry in stormy weather. The Commute 2.0 and Blogger 2.0 bags from Timbuk2 sell for $100 each.

    Fujifilm FinePix XP10 | The FinePix XP10 is a four-proof digital cameras – waterproof, freezeproof, shockproof and dustproof. Resulting from a redesign of Fujifilm’s best-selling FinePix Z33WP, the FinePix XP10 is an ergonomically “life proof” camera housed in a metal uni-body chassis with a tactile grip finish.  The details: 12MP, Fujinon 5x Periscopic Optical Zoom, 2.7″ LCD, waterproof – 10ft (3M), shockproof – 3ft (1M) and freezeproof 14*F (-10*C). Other features include: Face Detection w/ Red Eye Removal, Digital Image Stabilization, High Sensitivity 1600 ISO, 6 Scene – SR Auto Automatic Scene Recognition, One-Touch HD Movie 720p w/ Sound, Li-Ion Rechargeable Battery.  It all adds up to one of the best compact cameras that have come along for years.  $142 from Amazon

    Iomega eGo Portable Hard Drive | The Iomega eGo is a serious hard drive for serious business travelers. The portable drive has a sturdy steel enclosure and a special feature that protects data against falls. The palm-size device weighs less than 7 ounces, yet has 500GB of capacity, enough to store up to two million photos, more than 9,000 hours of music or 750 hours of video. Available in red, silver, blue, and black. $88 from Amazon

    Cowhide Leather Zipper Travel Wallet | I am not sure why I took so long to get on the travel wallet bandwagon but one folder for your airline tickets, some cash, passport, and a pen is a wonderful idea.  It really does simplify heading through the ticket line, boarding line, security line, and customs. $19.99 from Amazon

    If you can find what you are looking for, make sure you check out one of the other 2010 Christmas Gift Guides

    In case you are looking, here are the 2009 Gift Guides

    Christmas Gift Ideas and Gift GuidesIf I missed anything or if my suggestion made you think I was absolutely crazy, let me know in the comments. You can access the current edition and previous years list of Christmas gift guides here.

    Coming up this week…

    It was a productive weekend and I was able to do a fair amount of both reading and writing.  I will be rolling out my extended series on the inner city of Saskatoon this week (Monday night as well as on Wednesday and Thursday mornings) as well as three new episodes of the series next week.

    I also spent some time writing up the Saskatchewan Party, NDP, and Liberal campaign platforms for them this weekend although I really dropped the ball big time since I don’t have an iPad app for the Sask. Party cabinet members to read this with.  The Liberal platform will be out later this week.  Look for the NDP and the Saskatchewan Party campaign platforms next week.  I am working on some federal campaign platforms to come out after Thanksgiving.

    So I’ll let you know now, expect some long pieces on urban planning and economic development as well as some long form politics pieces coming out.  I should also be launching a new housing portal and a tweak of this site in October.  As usual, if you have any feedback, let me know in the comments or at jordoncooper AT gmail.com.

    E vs. ink

    My friend Karen posted some thoughts on Twitter about ebooks and readers.

    Been thinking about how e-books/Ipad exclude poorer readers. Continued…. Folks with literacy/soc. justice concerns should keep zines/broadsheet etc. in mind. If medium is message, cost of readers excludes many.

    It would easy to dismiss Karen’s thoughts because of her history with paper but she has a good point.  A Sony Reader ranges in price from $240 in Futureshop ($179 online) to $149 at Wal-MartChapters is promoting a new reader for $149.00 which isn’t that bad except you realize that a) that is all you can do with it and b) I am buying it so I can buy new books.  I am paying $199 (or $259 if I am looking for a Kindle) so I can spend even more money to use it.

    Most of our gadgets are like that.

    In our household right now, we have:

    • 2 Sony PSPs and games are anywhere from $15 to $40
    • 3 iPods and songs are $.99 to $1.29 but we can use our own CDs to rip music.  Apps range from free to $4.
    • 1 PS2 and games are $10 and $25
    • 1 Nintendo Wii and games are from $20 to $60 (yet all have come from Lee).

    So what’s the difference.  Well I don’t think you can compare Backyard Football or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare to books and education.  My quality of life is not reduced because I don’t have a PS3 at all but my quality of life is greatly reduced by lack of access to books and news media.  Low cost news media serves several important functions in our families life outside of the obvious.

    While driving to the cabin a couple of weeks ago, I stopped in Watrous (at Pip’s Esso) for a snack and grabbed a copy of Popular Mechanics and tossed it the backseat for Mark to read on the way up there.  It opened up his mind to several things as he poured over both the articles and the ads.  How many times has all of our lives been enriched by someone doing something similar.  A lot of my spring reading was done by people wandering in to my office and tossing a book on my desk and saying, “you will like this”.  With publishers and their DRM restrictions, you can’t do that.  Even if Wendy and I both get Sony Readers, we can’t share a book.

    Reader Store screen capture Everyone is touting Google Books as the answer.  Even Sony has a link to Google Books on the front of their Reader Store.  I have spent hours going through there looking for books to download.  Most of the books you can download in ePub format for free are in the public domain and therefore really cheap to get at Indigo/Chapters/used book store in paper.  Sadly even many of them are not available because of the edition they scanned it from has restrictions on use and you are left with a snippet of what is available.

    So even if I do purchase it and really like it, how do I make sure Mark can read it other than giving him my reader.  Even if we bought a reader for him, I can’t transfer it to him there.  Everyone has been fawning over the new iPad app from Marvel and it is very cool but Cory Doctorow makes this point about the iPad but he could be talking about any ebook reader.

    Marvel app for the iPad I mean, look at that Marvel app (just look at it). I was a comic-book kid, and I’m a comic-book grownup, and the thing that made comics for me was sharing them. If there was ever a medium that relied on kids swapping their purchases around to build an audience, it was comics. And the used market for comics! It was — and is — huge, and vital. I can’t even count how many times I’ve gone spelunking in the used comic-bins at a great and musty store to find back issues that I’d missed, or sample new titles on the cheap. (It’s part of a multigenerational tradition in my family — my mom’s father used to take her and her sibs down to Dragon Lady Comics on Queen Street in Toronto every weekend to swap their old comics for credit and get new ones).

    So what does Marvel do to "enhance" its comics? They take away the right to give, sell or loan your comics. What an improvement. Way to take the joyous, marvellous sharing and bonding experience of comic reading and turn it into a passive, lonely undertaking that isolates, rather than unites. Nice one, Misney.

    That’s what I am realizing that we are losing.  Books, comics, and papers are part of the social ties that bind people together in communities.  Around work, the Star Phoenix is a communal paper.  It is read together, digested together, shared, it’s flyers are passed around and deals discussed.  Also, it gets treated as exactly as what Karen is talking about.

    Well, we aren’t going to turn back time and to be honest, many publishers are banking everything on the iPad to save them (anyone else find it an odd coincidence that the financially struggling New York Times is features so prominently in Apple advertising)  As I was thinking seriously about buying a ebook reader this week, I took a step back from the side of the cliff and asked myself if what I am losing more than what I was getting and I had to admit it was.  From a design and an engineering point of view, the iPad/Kindle is a great piece of technology and a lot of fun (and yes I know the iPad comparison isn’t fair as it isn’t really designed as a book reader but rather a tablet computer).  Is it good enough to stop supporting a local bookstore (although Indigo/Chapters made those pretty rare in Canada) or lose the social element of reading and learning as an entire community.

    So in the end, I continue to support print magazines.  For the record, those include National Geographic, Explore Magazine, Mountain Bike Action, Sports Illustrated, The Atlantic Monthly and The Walrus via subscription or purchasing one monthly at McNally Robinson.  While I only read The Star Phoenix online, we do subscribe at home (where Mark reads it with me every evening) and at work.