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2009 TechnoLawyer Holiday Gift Guide: GPS PND, Earphones, and iPod/iPhone Speaker System

By Neil J. Squillante | Monday, November 23, 2009

In today's issue of TechnoLawyer NewsWire we take a break from our typical coverage to bring you our 2009 holiday gift guide. Don't miss the next issue when we return to covering the hottest new legal technology.

TL NewsWire 11-18-09

Scroogenomics author and Wharton professor Joel Waldfogel counsels against holiday gift giving because of the value gap — what you pay for a gift versus the typically lower value the recipient places on your gift.

Professor Waldfogel's analysis suggests to me that we simply don't put enough thought into gift giving. After all, we like receiving gifts — right up until we rip off the wrapping paper to reveal yet another shirt or whatever else we don't want or need.

Below you'll find our 2009 TechnoLawyer Holiday Gift Guide for technophiles. The list is short, but it features items for people with discerning taste. Also, I personally use and recommend all three products.

Never Let a Loved One Get Lost: Magellan Maestro 4700

In ten years, GPS personal navigation devices (PNDs) may disappear, squeezed out by dashboard GPS systems and smartphone apps. For now, we're in one of those in-between stages in which the standalone devices still have advantages over both factory-installed systems (newer technology) and smartphone apps (larger screens and more powerful receivers).

I recently purchased Magellan's top-of-the-line Maestro 4700, which I recommend. Why Magellan? Garmin offers better graphics and TomTom offers celebrity voices, but as a Hertz customer, I grew to like Magellan's proprietary features such as the gong sound when you're supposed to take action, and the QuickSpell technology for entering addresses (similar to TiVo).

Furthermore, the Maestro 4700 has a unique form factor that I find perfect — a 4.7 inch screen. Most competing units have a significantly smaller 4.3 inch screen. Garmin's nuvi 1490T has a 5 inch screen, which seems too large for my small car (it would probably work well in an SUV or truck).

The Maestro 4700 pretty much matches any Garmin feature for feature (e.g., lane assist), but without the premium price. It costs about $230 at Amazon (the price fluctuates).

Earlier this week, Magellan released the Magellan RoadMate App for the iPhone at an introductory price of $80. I couldn't resist and bought a copy. How do I rationalize having two GPS devices? Not easily but bear with me.

First, the iPhone app provides a backup. Second, I like traveling light. On a recent trip, I left my Maestro in my glovebox and paid extra for a rental car with a GPS unit. On my next trip, I can use my iPhone. Third, I never used Magellan's nifty Find My Car feature because I don't want to carry the Maestro with me. Again, because I take my iPhone everywhere, I'll never again roam aimlessly around a parking lot. Finally, the iPhone app may come in handy for walking directions.

My advice? Buy the Maestro 4700 — it's a solid GPS PND at a great price. Consider bundling the iPhone app along with it if warranted. Plus I also recommend and use ProClip car mounts.

Big Sound in a Tiny Package: Ultimate Ears 700

About a year ago I praised the Ultimate Ears 10 vi earphones, which I still use as my primary earphones. But with a list price of $420 (I paid $371), I cannot recommend them for a holiday gift, especially this year. I can, however, recommend the less expensive Ultimate Ears 700.

Disclosure: As a beta tester, I received my Ultimate Ears 700 earphones for free. I would have purchased a pair. They sell for $200.

The Ultimate Ears 700 do not sound as good as the 10 vi, but they sound very good and they're also a fraction of the size. In fact, they're the smallest dual driver earphones in the world (last time I checked). As a result, they virtually disappear in your ear canal. You can lay sideways on a pillow while wearing them.

My advice? Buy the Ultimate Ears 700 for music lovers, especially those who don't want to sacrifice quality while exercising, travel frequently, enjoy listening to music while laying down, or don't want to look like a nerd.

Decent Sound in a Slick Package: Yamaha PDX-30 Speakers

Repeat after me — "I understand that I cannot get concert hall sound from speakers the size of a grapefruit." Speaker manufacturers should require customers to sign this disclaimer.

Now that we've taken care of expectations, I recommend Yamaha's PDX-30 Portable Player Dock for iPod and iPhone.

Mine sits on a nightstand in my bedroom. While a $125,000 Sonicweld Pulserod speaker system would sound a lot better, bedrooms require more practicality than other rooms. For example, we all need alarms. The Yamaha PDX-30 does not include an alarm, but every iPod and iPhone does — and you can find many third-party alarm apps in Apple's App Store. The Yamaha PDX-30 costs $200.

I searched fruitlessly for a long time for a speaker system with the Yamaha PDX-30's feature set — genuine iPhone compatibility (no nag screen, no speaker buzzing), small footprint, a color other than black (you can choose from black, blue, pink, or gray — I got the latter), and a remote control with full iPod navigation.

The remote control does not have a screen. You must still look at the iPhone, but you don't have to touch it — a big plus because it's awkward to use an iPhone while docked.

My advice? Buy the Yamaha PDX-30 for the iPod- or iPhone-lover on your list who needs a small speaker system that sounds good for its size.

The Holidays: There's an App for That

Professor Waldfogel suggests that if you give gifts, go with gift cards because they provide the most economic value. Here's a suggestion to make gift cards more heartfelt — house it in a homemade card with suggested items from the store. Use screen capture software to take snapshots of merchandise to use in your card.

Given that we all have company-issued iPhones here at TechnoLawyer, I asked around the office for app suggestions in the event you buy someone an iTunes gift card:

Air Sharing Pro — WiFi file transfer.
Scrabble — the classic word game.
WordJong — another word puzzle game.
Ranch Rush — farming fun.
Police Radio — the next-gen police blotter.
OmniFocus — a task manager for busy people.
HarborMaster — dock incoming cargo ships.
Homerun Battle 3D — swing for the fences.
Doom Resurrection — don't play with the lights off.
Skyscrapers — think Tetris with buildings.

Happy Thanksgiving and Holidays from TechnoLawyer!

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Topics: Entertainment/Hobbies/Recreation | Gadgets/Shredders/Office Gear | Laptops/Smartphones/Tablets | TL NewsWire
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