Holiday Gift Guide: Electronics

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The merger of the McArdle/Suderman households has pretty much put an end to any need for large household economics, so I'm not doing many large electronics this year.  I will say that plasma televisions are superior to LCD for movie buffs (LCDs are better for sports), and California's new energy regulations may put them out of production for the US market, so if you are a movie buff, I'd recommend buying one now if you have the money.  Our Panasonic Viera was best-in-class when purchased, but is now discontinued; the successor model now gets top marks for plasmas, but is pricey.  If you do get a good television, get a playstation or Blu-Ray player.  Blade Runner on our television/blu-ray is sublime.

So instead, I'm reviewing the Blogger Bag--the electronics I carry around with me virtually every day to do my job.

Kindle.  I own the original Kindle, but I'm slavering for the nearly 10-inch DX.  However, the six-inch regular model is now very attractively priced, and works internationally.  If you travel, you cannot believe how much a Kindle can improve your life--no more hauling 27 pounds of books on every journey.  Plus books are cheaper--current works are about half price, but the real saving is on public domain works, which can be had for as little as 99 cents.  The DX, which supports PDF transfer without conversion, will be my next Kindle purchase, but my first generation is still taking care of my needs just fine.  If you get a Kindle, I recommend one of the M-Edge cases, which are both attractive and very functional, and a book light.  The Kindle is not back lit--it's sort of an electronic etch-a-sketch--which saves your eyes, but means you need to have light at night.

Verizon Wireless Modem  Couldn't leave home without it; it lives in my laptop bag.  The monthly cost is somewhat steep, but between the money I save when travelling, and the ability to work on the go, it's invaluable.  I've tried several and am unable to discern any difference between the cheaper and the more expensive, so go with the one that's free with a two-year contract.

iPhone  Yeah, I know.  But what else lets you make calls, browse the web, get all your email, and play Civilization?

Olympus Voice Recorder  I'm not sure if this is useful if you're not a journalist.  But if you are, you have to have one of these.  You can get cheaper ones that do the job, but I like the storage and portability of this model, as well as the ability to organize multiple interviews.

Logitech Notebook Headset I recommend this every year.  Great sound, the best looking portable headset on the market, and it converts to a regular headset if you forget your earbuds.  We don't have a phone, so this plus a Skype dial-in number is how I do all my interviews--there's a nifty little program from eCamm that automatically records every call I make or receive.

Shure noise-isolating earbuds  Because I live in a city that's very noisy, and frequently commute on metro, I vastly prefer these to the much pricier noise-cancelling headphones.  Rather than emitting white noise in common frequencies to cancel out the ambient noise, these simply block your ear canal.  They're smaller and lighter, give your eardrums fuller protection from damage as well as blocking out noise, and they're a lot easier to sleep in, which is how I like to spend my plane trips.  They also have great sound, though people who cannot live without a thrumming bass ripping out their eardrums may prefer a different set. 


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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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