HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE
December 1 2003 by Erik Sherman
Television technology has exploded in recent years, and nowhere is this more obvious than with high definition TV. If you’re opting for HDTV, you ought to combine it with a big screen. Plasma and LCD sets offer impressive viewing quality in sizes once reserved for rear-projection systems. Both are flat units that can either sit on a stand or mount on a wall, freeing up floor space. Plasma images are more like film, while LCD offers a brighter picture. Below, the 50-inch plasma Gateway GTW-P50M203, which sells for about $6,000.
Stay connected with one of the new smart phones that combine voice and Internet with PDA capabilities. Where previous models were bulky, these offer a good balance of usability and size. The Nokia 6820 ($500) has a numeric pad that flips open, revealing a keyboard. Samsung has the SPH-i500 ($600), a lightweight clamshell that’s also a Palm organizer, with more than 4 hours of talk time from Sprint. Verizon’s SPHi700 ($600) is more of a full-sized PDA that doubles as a phone. And if you’re a Blackberry fanatic, the 7200 series ($300) offers full-color models with phones built in.
While on the road, you might as well travel in style. In a laptop, you want the greatest number of functions in the most portable, attractive package. Hewlett-Packard’s Pavilion zd7000, top left, ($2,843 fully loaded), packs a punch in terms of computing power, thanks to a 60GB hard drive and 1GB RAM. Its 17-inch screen enables you to zoom through a spreadsheet with little horizontal scrolling or, if you need a break, to watch a DVD or TV (with an optional tuner). At 9.3 pounds, though, it isn’t exactly petite. For lean and mean, try the IBM ThinkPad X (3.6 pounds), bottom left. Among other things, it offers up to five hours of battery time on certain models ($1,349 to $1,679 direct from IBM).
There’s a world of options for home audio systems, from high-end stereo to surround sound. To fully appreciate your finest recordings, you need top-notch speakers. And if you have a home theater, you want surround sound to complete the experience. You could start positioning speakers all over the room or you could take a simpler approach with the Niro 1.1 PRO speakers ($799), which come with a combination stereo tuner and DVD/CD player. They provide surround sound with only two speakers. The sound is rich and full no matter where you sit.