Well, it’s that time of year again. No matter how hard I try, this is always the season where I buy something for you and something for me, something for her and something for me, something for him and something for me … I think you get the picture. So now, more than any other time of the year — with the possible exception of my birthday — I am on the lookout for the next new gadget to add to my arsenal.
From this perspective the season never disappoints. There is always something new to covet and sometimes even purchase. Here are my top picks for this season for your consideration.

iPad 2
I’m not an Apple devotee and only have one Apple product, an iPod. But I, along with a significant number of people across all age groups according to Nielson survey data, have this product on my holiday wish list.

In the tablet category of tech products, the iPad is the one to have. Apple got it right with the touchscreen, with an interface that is superior to all those I have tried — just the right sensitivity. It also gets it right with the sizing of onscreen icons, including keyboard keys. In the tablet category some of the keyboards are just too small or tight, making it difficult to type even the simpliest messages. Its also thin and light, making it comfortable to use. The screen resolution is great for everything from reading email to watching streaming video.

While I’m sure there are other good products in this category, and I really like Android Market better than the iTunes Store, the features and functionality of the iPad put it above the rest.

Nook Simple Touch eReader
I love reading and I love books. For most of my life, I have never gone anywhere without a book. My Nook eReader 1st generation let me carry hundreds of books with me at once. Then it broke. Sadness. Despair. Wandering aimlessly. But I digress.

There are several eReaders on the market, but for my money, the Simple Touch version of the Nook is the best product and best value available. (Which surprised me because I really wanted to duplicate my original —I love it.) It doesn’t have a web browser, show video , play music or run games and apps. But it has phenominal battery life, slides easily In my purse, fits comfortably in my hand, has a good touch interface and lets me carry my entire library of electronic books for those unplanned times when I am presented with a few moments to read.

Many people might disagree with the need for an eReader when you have an iPad or tablet —each with apps for reading eBooks — or for using a product that is limited in its functionality to reading only, but for its under $100 price tag, it does exactly what I want, the way I want, when I want. Which is what I look for in any tech item headed to my collection.

Virtual Laser Keyboard
This device is so Minority Report and Star Trek:TNG that it started my search for the projection touch interface monitors and three dimensional interactive holoprojections. Okay, so perhaps it is not as sophisticated as all that, but for a touch typists that hasn’t found a good flexible keyboard for use with my tablet computer, this seems like the perfect solution.

According to the Cellulon website, the device is about the size of a cellphone, connects wirelessly via bluetooth or via USB 2.0 and projects a keyboard that can be used as any other input device. It acts, according to its billing, like any other keyboard, including making the keyclick sound. The compact size of the device makes it easy to carry and use in space compromised environments. It’s a must have for most mobile computers. I can’t wait to get one of my own.

Roku
This has standing with the Nook as one of the most significant and important tech gadgets I own. The Roku allows me to move streaming video, music and specialized Internet content from the computer to the television. For someone like me, who spends lots of working hours in front of a computer, being able to watch movies, television episodes, other content and listen to Pandora channels from an easy chair in the family room or snuggled beneath the blankets is a big deal.

Unlike using theone of the many game consoles that allow streaming, the Roku is easily mobile and works anywhere there is a wireless internet connection to access your services.

The ready to use out of the box and is easy to set up. It’s small size makes it unobtrusive and the uncomplicated and uncluttered remote is easy to understand and operate. It does what it promises for a reasonable price and more services — paid and free —are being added all the time. It’s a great stocking stuffer (yes Virginia, it’s that small).

Magic Wand TV Remote
This is one of the coolest things I have come across in a long time. Imaging sitting on the sofa and waving your wizard wand in the air, magically muting the television or increasing its volume. Or with a different flick of the wrist, changing the channel or turning the set on or off.

This wand can be programmed with 13 different remote functions and in my never again to be humble opinion, provide hours of fun that look like magic.

Argue all you want about whether this is tech enough to make the list, but it can certainly provide enough fun to make it an important addition.

Keurig Brewing Systems
There are many single serving coffee makers on the market, most work well and are reasonably priced. So why have I singled out Keurig?

These machines have become the standard bearer for coffee making in environments — home, business and community —where making an entire pot of coffee is often wasteful. The no mess system of cartridges promoted by Keurig has become popular with beverage makers, with many companies providing their beverage blends in the single serving packages required by the machines.

The Keurig machines also have a reusable container for brewing from any blend — tea, coffee, even hot chocolate —making it versatile and useful even if the available pre-packaged cartridges don’t meet your need.

It is also quick and quiet. Its design, sleek and futuristic looking, gets positive attention. These machines work well, produce as promised and are a good gift for regular coffee and tea drinkers everywhere.

 

Talibah Chikwendu

Special to the AFRO