High-Tech Holidays: Space-Age Gadgets for the First Holiday of the New Millenium
What to get the guy or gal who has everything? No problem. There will be a myriad of new electronics introduced this holiday season. So chances are excellent your giftee has never even heard of your present, let alone has one of his or her own. Here are a number of high-tech items for your car and home. May they live long and prosper.
The Magellan 750 Navigation System (Approximate Price: $2,000)
Satellites are the answer to just about everything, and finding your way around town is no exception. The new Global Positioning Satellite systems can pinpoint your exact location within about 10 feet. This means that the new GPS navigation systems always know where you are in relation to where you’re going.
Magellan’s 750 system is fully transportable—it is powered through a cigarette lighter—so you can pack it in your briefcase, take it with you on the plane and transplant it into your next rental car. Just download the CD-ROM map of your current surroundings and you’re an expert. It tells you through voice commands and visual cues where to turn next. Just plug in the address of your destination (since it already knows where you are) and it will plot a course. Specify scenic, most direct (back roads and short cuts) or fastest (highways) and it’ll get you there. Miss a turn? No problem, the 750 will reroute you instantly.
The more complete CD-ROMs as well as the Point of Interest Library include restaurants, gas stations, ATMs, etc. This is the perfect companion for any modern road warrior who still has fundamental issues about asking for directions.
Sony CDX-M600 Car Stereo CD Player (Approximate Price: $370)
It you want your car stereo to make a statement about who you are, this is the CD player for you. That’s because it plays loud and looks even louder. Its four-color dot matrix display is one of the coolest ever—and the Active Black Panel means that when you shut off your engine, the deck disappears.
The CDX-M600 sounds great too, delivering 50 watts into each of four speakers. Plus, it features three sets of low-level pre-outputs so you can hook up a variety of amplifiers to power your main speakers and whatever kind of lofty subwoofer system you may have in store down the road.
Sony SV-R2000 Digital Network Recorder with TiVO service (Approximate Price: $400)
TiVO will prove to be one of the great inventions of all time, just after the printing press and the pet rock. TiVO and its competitor, Replay, have developed hard-drive systems for your TV that record 30 hours of programming and categorize it so that you only watch what interests you and don’t have to sort through all of the dreck just to find the one good thing on.
TiVO records only the things you tell it you’re interested in seeing. Then, when you turn on the tube, it has developed a cache of great stuff that you can watch—you don’t even have to turn on live TV. And the best part is, you can fast-forward through all of the commercials!
The Sony SV-R2000 is an integrated TiVO/DIRECTV unit –which is the best way to have it since DIRECTV supplies more than 200 channels where TiVO can get its stuff. TiVO will also recommend shows based on your tastes.
Pioneer DV-434 Progressive Scan DVD Player (Approximate Price: $350)
This is the best value on a progressive-scan DVD player yet—about half the price of what they used to be earlier in the year. Simply put, a progressive-scan player plays all of the scan lines simultaneously, just like a computer monitor does. This is not the way a standard TV, VCR or DVD player works; they use interlace scan, which means that they “paint” the picture using every other line, and then fill in the remaining lines on the second pass. This happens fast—30 times per second, so your eye can’t tell it’s watching every other line. But interlace scanning does make edges rougher, and details duller, than a progressive scan unit.
The Pioneer progressive-scan player looks better on any TV set, but most auspiciously on a digital set with a progressive scan display. These projection TVs available from most manufacturers. Although the HDTV dEcoders are not yet perfected, a progressive scan DVD doesn’t need the decoder to deliver an exceptional picture.
JVC TH-A10 Complete Center Unit (Approximate Price: $1,500)
This all-in-one system from JVC is the complete solution to conquer your fear of complexity. It has everything but the TV set: In one unit, it stores a Dolby Digital 5.1/DTS surround-sound system, a DVD/CD player and full-function receiver with AM/FM tuner and five-channel, 200-watt amplifier.
It also comes with five full-range compact-satellite speakers. The speakers are wall mountable and magnetically shielded for placement absolutely anywhere. They are also fashioned out of aluminum ingots that are sleek but not too ultra modern, so they are pretty versatile as far as blending goes.
Its powered subwoofer adds some dramatic boom to action flicks and richness to music. It can be placed anywhere in the room out of sight and still be heard and felt just fine. The other nice thing about this system is that it is absurdly simple to hook up. It uses color-coded wires so you know what wires go to which speakers, and they all feature snap in interfaces.
The TH-A10 is versatile in that it can be used as a perfectly adequate main home theater system or as a bedroom, office or vacation house system that’s inexpensive, quick to set up and sounds pretty darn good.
Panasonic SCPM08 Shelf System With DVD Player(Approximate Price: $600)
This is another quick and easy entertainment system solution that is about a third of the price of the JVC system. It is more along the lines of a standard black-box mini system as opposed to the silver look of the JVC. But it gets the job done and then some.
It plays DVDs and CDs and has built-in five-channel surround sound, plus Panasonic’s Super Woofer. Not exactly a classic subwoofer, the Super Woofer simulates the deep bass of a subwoofer within the system and provides better low output than a regular mini system.
Nakamichi SoundSpace 5 All-in-One Stereo System (Approximate Price: $800)
One of the most elegant-looking and modestly priced systems around, the Nakamichi system looks far different than any other mini system out there. It presents a glass and steel look and is wall-mountable for the ultimate space-age style.
Its three-disc MusicBank CD changer loads CDs into a hidden storage bank and moves them in and out of the play drive noiselessly. The powered speakers allow for interchangeable speaker grilles, which are available in charcoal, blue and green.
For additional ease of use, two remote controls are provided: one is a full-function remote that controls all of the system’s functions; the other is a compact, egg-shaped remote that runs just the essential ones.