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Essential Accessories for Five of this Year's Hottest Tech Gifts

posted on December 07, 2009 in Guides & Reviews, Cameras and Photography, Accessories, Music and Video, Family and Parenting :: 0 comments

The holiday gifting season is in full swing. If you were one of the millions of consumers who flooded your local electronics store or went online to shop for friends and loved ones recently, you’ll want to ensure that your present will be enjoyed right out of the box—and not be the gift of “just another accessory to buy.” Before you put that package under the tree or spin that first dreidel, here’s a quick guide to some easily overlooked items for five of this year’s hottest gifts that’ll get those on your list up and running as soon as the wrapping paper hits the floor. They’ll thank you for it—and mean it.

  1. Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3
    Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3
    (See our Guide to Digital Cameras)

    Digital Camera

    With most cameras now exceeding 10 megapixels, the often-paltry internal memory that comes on board won’t get you far. Tacking on a memory stick to a digital camera gift is a must. They’re relatively inexpensive these days, and ensure the recipient of your gift won’t have to spend money out of pocket, or worse yet, run out of memory the first time they use it.

    green checkboxMemory card: Check to see which type the camera takes. A 4GB card, which should hold at least 1,000 images, costs less than $10.
  2. Sony MHS-CM1 Webbie
    Sony MHS-CM1 Webbie
    (See our Guide to Camcorders)


    While some digital camcorders still record using tape or DVDs, these days, the majority use internal hard drives or flash memory. Giving additional memory sticks is essential when gifting a camcorder powered by flash memory. Also, an extra battery is a highly recommended add-on for a new camcorder. Lastly, the recipient of your gift will eventually need to move their video off the camcorder, so getting them an external hard drive is a nice touch to ensure they have space to store all of those memories.

    green checkboxMemory card: Check to see which type the camcorder takes. A 16GB card, which should hold at least 8 hours of video, costs about $60.
    green checkboxExtra battery: This could be as simple as a few AA batteries or a new rechargeable battery, which starts around $50 depending on capacity. 
    green checkboxExternal hard drive: A 250 GB drive, which holds about 125 hours of video, costs about $80.
  3. LG BD-390
    LG BD-390

    Blu-ray Player

    Blu-ray players are shaping up to be one of the hot items this year. If you’ve bought one as a gift, know what kind of  inputs the recipient's TV has (component or HDMI), and buy the appropriate cables. Most Blu-ray players don’t provide HDMI cables, so this is essential if you want your gift hooked up and ready to use right out of the box (make sure their TV has an HDMI connection on the back). A nice touch would be to include a couple of favorite movies on Blu-ray.

    green checkboxHDMI cable: Unless the Blu-ray player will sit more than 6 feet from the TV, a standard HDMI cable should suffice and costs about $10.
    green checkboxBlu-ray disc of favorite film: Prices currently start around $10, with most costing $20 to $30.
  4. Chicco Billy FunWheels
    Chicco Billy FunWheels
    (See Guide to Tech Toys
    for Kids

    Electronic Toy

    Check the text on the box to confirm if batteries are included. It’s no fun to receive a toy that you can’t play when you open it, but even more annoying is when you have to listen to a child or teen repeatedly ask or whine about it. But before you run out to buy a 48-pack of AAs at Costco, consider that both Duracell and Energizer have come out with bundles of pre-charged rechargeable batteries and a charging station for toys that may be played every day.

    green checkboxBatteries: Check to see what type of battery or batteries are required. Often remote control vehicles will require both a 9-volt and AA, C or D batteries.
    green checkboxRechargeable Batteries: A 4-pack of AAs plus a charger costs about $20. 
  5. Panasonic VIERA G10 Series
    Panasonic VIERA G10 Series
    (See our Guide to Flat Panel TVs)

    Flat Screen TV

    For the best-quality picture, an HDMI cable is something you’ll need to buy. And be aware that if you’re looking for HD-quality cable television, you must have an HD cable box, and in some instances subscribe to HD channels. If you’re looking to port HD-quality movies or TV shows from your laptop or HD camcorder to your TV, then you’ll want to buy an HDMI cable that can connect your laptop to your TV. Happy viewing!

    green checkboxHDMI cable: Unless the video sources are more than 6 feet from the TV, a standard HDMI cable should suffice and costs about $10.
    green checkboxMini HDMI to HDMI cable: Make sure to check the recipient's laptop or camcorder to see if it has a regular, mini or proprietary output. Costs about $25. 


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