Great Stuff for Your PC
- Ceiva Logic Ceiva Digital Picture Frame
- Auravision EluminX Illuminated Keyboard Black Case / Aquamarine Illumination (AuraVision-S00211)
- NERO 6 ULTRA EDITION CD/DVD BURNING SUITE (Ahead Systems-160006)
- Apple iPod - 3rd Gen. 20 GB MP3 Player (Apple-M9244LLA)
- Creative Nomad Jukebox Zen Xtra 60GB MP3 Player (Creative Labs-70PD055000001)
- Easy Media Creator 7 (Full Product) (Roxio-213100)
- FireFly Lighted Keyboard
- Auravision EluminX Illuminated Keyboard Black Case / Sapphire Illumination
- Auravision EluminX Illuminated Keyboard silver Case / Aquamarine Illumination
- Auravision EluminX Illuminated Keyboard Bone Case / Aquamarine Illumination
- SanDisk 512MB Cruzer Titanium USB Flash Drive
- Pacific Digital USB DIGITAL MEMORY FRAME 5.6 TFT W/ DIGITAL PIXMASTER
It's been a long, slow haul, but the kid has finally graduated. Now he or she is off to college, or perhaps grad school.
Here are five great graduation gifts for young adults starting a whole new phase of their education. And, to prove we're not prejudiced against the old geezers who often pay for that education, we've added a great Father's Day gift, as well.
And what if you don't believe in expensive Father's Day gifts and don't have a kid going to college? Then you can take some of that money you're not spending on tuition and books and buy yourself something nice. You're bound to find something here that will tickle your fancy.
I Could Have Typed All Night
Are you a night owl? Or do you know someone who is? What college student doesn't occasionally stay up into the wee hours of the morning, typing a report while a roommate sleeps nearby?
A glow-in-the-dark keyboard like the $80 EluminX by Auravision or the $90 FireFly by IC Intracom lets you see where Insert ends and Home begins when all else is dark. Which one you buy depends how much working space is available. The EluminX (shown here), at 16.8 by 6.24 inches, is smaller than the average keyboard, fitting nicely into tight spaces, but making it difficult if you have big hands. It also comes in various combinations of keyboard case and luminescent colors. The FireFly is a standard, full-size keyboard with the added luxury of 17 pre-programmed buttons for common tasks like launching your browser or playing CDs.
Jumping RAM Flash
Remember Sneakernet? That's old-fashioned computer-speak for moving files from one PC to another via floppy disk (and tennis shoes). The new fashion is to use small flash RAM "drives" that you plug into a USB port, and then carry around in your pocket (or on your key chain).
A lot of companies make these portable flash drives, including SanDisk, Kanguru Solutions, Lexar Media, and M-Systems, and you can buy a plain, vanilla 256MB drive for as little as $43. But with higher prices, you get more features. SanDisk's 512MB Cruzer Titanium, for instance, lists for $200, but comes with a backup program and software for using your Outlook data on any computer--even a PC without Outlook installed.
Both Kanguru Solutions and Samsung recently announced gadgets that double as portable storage and digital music players. Kanguru's Micro MP3 Pro costs $100 for the 128MB version and $130 for 256MB; Samsung's 128MB Yepp Digital Audio Player YP-T5H lists for $130, and the 256MB YP-T5V is $180.
All of which brings us to our next gift category...
Hard Drivin' Music
College kids must travel light. They can't unpack and shelve a huge CD collection in a small shared dorm room. If your kid has more CDs than sense, a digital music player with a 20GB hard drive could solve a serious mobility problem. These pocket devices can hold as many as 300 CDs converted to .mp3 files.
Apple's IPod 20GB (shown here at left), PC World's recent Best Buy, is generally considered the music player to beat for sleek design and ease of use. Its touch-sensitive scroll wheel and easy-to-manage menus make selecting and playing your choice of music a breeze. You can buy the IPod for about $400.
But if you're talking about a really huge collection, you might want to consider Creative's Nomad Jukebox Zen Xtra (shown here at right). For about the same price as the IPod, the Jukebox gives you 60GB of storage. That's perhaps 900 CDs. But according to PC World's review, the Zen Xtra is not as easy to use as the IPod.
Burning Down the House
Even with digital audio players, college kids--along with everyone else--still burn CDs and DVDs, and not only for entertainment. Some people rip songs to create dance party CDs, create videos for fun or for class, and edit music and photos. Others may even use them to back up their hard drive. If your student has a CD-R/RW or DVD+/-R/RW drive, he or she needs a good authoring suite.
The two leading contenders are Roxio's Easy Media Creator 7 and Ahead Software's Nero 6 Ultra Edition. Each lists for about $100 and can be bought for less. Either program will let you create and copy CDs and DVDs (only unprotected DVDs, which basically means none of the commercial ones), copy individual songs, write data discs (CD or DVD), create DVDs, back up your hard drive, or turn the CD/DVD drive into a big floppy drive that you can write to as you would any other drive.
Which one should you get? Nero recently earned a PC World Best Buy, and the package was awarded 3.5 stars. Easy Media Creator 7 wasn't available in time for testing for this comparative review, but in a later review, it earned an impressive 4 stars. My advice: There's a good chance your CD drive, or your PC, came bundled with an older, incomplete OEM version of one or the other. Stick with the one you know, and check to see if an upgrade to the full current version is available.
Know a Lot About History
But enough fun. College students have work to do. And an up-to-date copy of the Encyclopedia Britannica will help them do it. Thanks to CD-ROMs and the Internet, this huge, expensive set of books is now a small, inexpensive gift. Britannica sells several electronic versions. The $50 Britannica Deluxe Edition 2004 CD-ROM is a good choice for your college student (it costs $35 after rebate). This two-CD set contains the complete encyclopedia (the Standard Edition CD is slightly abridged), about 8000 "Year in Review" articles from the last decade, Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and Thesaurus, an atlas, plus historical articles by Sigmund Freud, Marie Curie, and other people your college student has hopefully heard of.
Alternately, you can shell out $60 for a one-year subscription to the online edition. This version adds two shorter, easier encyclopedias to the big one, plus a database of magazines and journals, annotated links to useful Web sites, and more.
For Dad: Pictures of Lily (and Everyone Else)
Any parent with a digital camera, or grandchildren, has more digital photos than wall space. The solution: A framed LCD that presents a continuous slide show of photos downloaded into its internal memory. The resulting problem: It ain't cheap.
Pacific Digital's MemoryFrame lists for $450 for the 8-by-10-inch version, and $300 for the 5-by-7-incher. Either size will accept photos from a PC via a USB connection, or directly from the memory cards that go into your camera. The 5-by-7 model can hold up to 55 photos, cycling through them at a rate that you define.
By comparison, Ceiva, at first glance, offers a cheaper alternative--its 5-by-7 frame costs only about $150. But it only gets the pictures over a phone line, and the phone connection requires a subscription--$10 a month, $113 a year, or $320 for three years. If Dad keeps the frame going for two years, the Ceiva will be considerably more expensive.
For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.