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High-tech gadgets for Christmas

Heather Austin

The holidays are a great time to consider some high-tech gifts for family and friends. Deciding which to buy, however, can be daunting. I’d like to offer some guidance about three of the most popular technologies right now: digital media (MP3) players, digital video recorders and satellite radios.There are a number of MP3 players on the market today, with one of the more popular being the Apple iPod. All iPod models work on Mac- and Windows-based computers and give access to digital music, providing up to 12 hours of music on a single battery charge. There are two sizes of Classic iPod. One stores 20 GB of data, or approximately 5,000 songs, and the other has double the storage capacity. The iPod Photo builds on the features of the Classic with the capability to store as many as 25,000 photos. It comes in two sizes: 40 GB and 60 GB. While all iPods are small and compact, the iPod Mini, at 3.6 ounces with 4 GB of storage, is the smallest on the market. Last, there is the 20 GB iPod Special Edition that bears the autographs of each U2 band member. The differences between the four current iPod models lie in the amount of memory and additional features. Prices range from $249 to $599.Still not sure if the music lover on your gift list would like an iPod? Consider the some of the features each iPod offers: ability to copy documents, ability to download magazines, audio books and news programs, 25 minutes of skip protection; an alarm clock, optional microphone, calendar, address book, games, and more.The two other big tech items to consider are digital video recorders and satellite radio receivers. A DVR replaces the VCR with a hard drive that records 40 or more hours of television. TiVo is the best-known DVR on the market today. Among its features, it provides instant replay, can be programmed to record recurring events, and can search for shows with a particular theme, actor or sports team. TiVo costs $99-$299, depending upon payment plan. While you’ll still need to maintain cable or satellite service, many of these companies offer package deals that include some or all of the fees with your current monthly rate.Satellite radio service offers clear reception from more than 100 commercial-free radio stations. What a treat, especially for those of us in this part of the Rockies, where the mountains often interfere with radio reception. This medium is growing rapidly. In addition to countless music stations, ESPN and many public radio programs can be found. “shock jock” Howard Stern has even announced that he will leave regular broadcasting next year to take his popular show to satellite radio. The receiver I like best is the Delphi XM SKYFi radio. It’s a portable XM Radio receiver that allows any existing car or home stereo to receive XM Satellite Radio’s over 120 digital channels. The receiver is $63, and must be accompanied by an XM radio monthly subscription of $9.99.I could go on, but this should give you a start in the right direction. Remember that the Internet offers a great tool to research these technologies, so take advantage of it. Cheers, and happy holidays.Heather Austin is the marketing director at Blizzard Internet Marketing Inc., based in Glenwood Springs. Blizzard will write a technology column once a month. For more information, go to http://www.blizzardinternet.com.


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