I admit it, I’m hooked on gadgets. From my first tape recorder and transistorized radio in my teens, I loved watching things work. If they whirled, made sounds, beeped, flashed, had batteries, a power-pack, were portable, and, even better, small, I had to have it. So, here I am about forty years later and sit in electronic heaven. I’ve amassed a collection of neat playthings that do a variety of chores from educate, access, play music and video, communicate, entertain, and make life easier. So let me share with you some of my “must-haves” that are only a year or two old and bring a smile to my face every day. By the way, I have no self-interest in the brand names, but I did research to insure I got a quality product. With that disclaimer, here goes, in no particular order:
BLUETOOTH HEADSET: I got mine from Sharper Image. It’s a lightweight headphone that wirelessly connects to the tiny receiver that plugs into my stereo, TV, MP3 or any device that you want to remotely connect to without wires. Great if one of you wants to watch the TV without disturbing the other. Around $125. Very practical.
MP3 PLAYER: Mine’s a Sandisk with 1 gig of memory. I use it on trips and going to the gym. I have about 150 tunes I downloaded off my computer. Easy to use and good sound quality. I paid about $80. A must-have.
MDA CELL-PHONE: We use T-Mobile and this device is about the size of a deck of cards. It allows internet connection so you can check email and browse the web. It’s Bluetooth capable, has a 1.3 mp camera and nice sized color touch-screen. $300. Neat.
PORTABLE GPS: That would be a Global Positioning System device that tracks your travel using satellites as guidance. Also about the size of a deck of cards, this Garmin Nuvi 360 can be taken from car to car and mounted with a small suction cup system. It is Bluetooth to allow a cell phone to make calls off the device, has a touch-screen, points of interest like nearby restaurants and tells you when and where to turn, naming the streets as you go. It will store MP3’s and photos as well and up-to-date maps can be downloaded off their site. Ours was $600 and really fun to use.
PORTABLE MEDIA PLAYER (PMP): This item downloads and plays MP3’s and DVD’s off your computer. Or it can connect to your TV or DVD player and transfer anything, like shows or movies. It also stores photos, word documents, and has an FM radio. All in a hand-held size package that is rechargeable and good for 5 hours. With a 30 gig memory, my Cowan A2 holds 30 movies or nearly 15,000 MP3’s. It was around $450 and has a nice travel case. The 4” screen is easily seen and of course, comes with earbuds. Great for my wife and I on the plane when the movie is lame or if we want to watch different movies or listen to songs at different times. It helps pass the time, so don’t leave home without it.
EXTERNAL COMPUTER HARD DRIVE: A have a Seagate 300 gig that backs up everything off my computer. At $150, it’s well worth the insurance in case your internal HD goes sour.
SECOND COMPUTER MONITOR: My 19”ViewSonic is sharp and clear. Having a second computer monitor lets me keep my internet browser open while I type a word document or use another application on the main screen. In addition, you can look at multiple websites without them overlapping on one screen. Perfect for our web-based business projects. Only $150.
HD LCD TV: I have a 15 inch on the kitchen counter. It takes up no space and is very sharp. Even the stereo speakers are good. It’s a Magnavox and around $350. Also, a 50” Samsung HDTV more traditional TV and the HD signal is great.
DVD PLAYER/RECORDER: My Panasonic was around $150 and allows me to burn DVD movies and play them back onto my PMP mentioned above. Way better than a player alone.
That covers the most fun things on my list. The essentials would be a computer, a laptop, a router to allow the laptop mobility in the house and a wifi-capable printer. I also have an electronic Yamaha teaching guitar without strings that’s really fun. One can’t have too many toys, can one? And in case you were wondering how we could afford so many of these things, think about this. The items totaled around $2400. That excludes the larger TV and computers. But that’s the equivalent of one nice 7 day trip for two somewhere. And you can buy these things cheaper every year, as the prices drop and the features increase. So enjoy are technological age and the cool things it has to offer. Play on!