Product Spotlight For Gift-Giving
The X-10 wireless video camera. Ideal for home security and for parents of smaller children. You can easily mount this camera out side or up in the kid’s room, plug it into a power socket (it only consumes a few watts of electricity so it doesn’t need to be hard-wired by an electrician) and it transmits a television signal to a receiver that can be hooked up to your home TV set or with special software to a computer for remote monitoring. Priced from $80 this is an ideal way to check on the baby or see who’s prowling about outside. There are also low light and wide field of view (120 degree) models. You can hook several up to monitor your whole house using a low-cost switching device. Uses channel 3 or 4.. It was only a few years back that a system like this cost over $500.
Motion detector outside light. Priced from $25 some of these units will screw into an existing light socket or you can hardwire them outside your front and back porches. They sense any large motion or heat changes and you can adjust the sensitive to compensate for small animals on some units. Turns on the light when you arrive home and walk towards the porch. Turns on the lights when people are prowling about outside.
Digital still cameras. Priced from $50 these make an idea for anyone over the age of about 10. We ran an article about buying a digital camera, so you want more information, click the link and read up!
Binoculars and telescopes. Binoculars are good for those who go hunting and to sports games. They are not really good for seeing the stars and planets. The 7 x 35 is the most common unit, anything larger gets quite heavy. There are also feather weight binoculars in the 7 x 25 to 7 x 35 range. The first number gives you the magnification power. The second number is the size of the front light gathering lens in millimeters. The bigger the lens the brighter the image, but the larger the binocular. The larger the magnification the more jitter you will see when viewing, but it also brings objects much closer. Some binoculars have variable magnification (zoom) going from 7 - 15 power. Excellent brands include Swift, Bushnell, Nikon, Minolta and Canon. Priced from $45. You can also find some lower priced binoculars from Tasco starting around $30 for the more casual user.
Telescopes. We did two articles on buying them, one on refractors (which are made like a binocular with a big lens at the top) and reflectors (which use a mirror at the bottom). For a niece or nephew, a low cost Alt-azimuth refractor or reflector priced from $120 are available from Swift (pictured at right), Meade and Tasco. For the connoisseur Meade make some very nice table top reflectors with star finders priced around $500. For a more serious amateur in need of a better scope, Swift and Cellestron make some very nice reflectors in the 6 - 12” equatorial mount size priced starting about $1000.
For the musically inclined, price are suggested retail and you can do much better at stores like Best Buy, Circuit City or a music specialty store.
For the absolute beginner, child or home use:
Casio and Yamaha both make some excellent small keyboards priced from $100 to $300. They include internal rhythm machines that generate whole band sounds (bass, guitar, drums) from pre-set patterns. Some include accompaniment (one finger creates whole chords).
What you want is full size keys. Keyboards generally come in 44, 66 and 73 key sizes (a traditional piano has 88 keys). The 44 key size is good for a beginner to doodle or as a second instrument, so you should consider the 66 key models if the budget allows as a main keyboard. You should also buy one that has MIDI in and out, so you have the option of connecting to a computer or another keyboard via this data transfer method. They usually all have internal speakers so you don’t need an amplifier or cable. You can usually plug headphones into most of these units for private listening.
A stand $30 - $75 A foot pedal (for sustain) $20 - $30
Guitars. First, take note, real, serious guitars are very expensive, upwards to $2,000 for a genuine, American made Stratocaster or Les Paul (the two most popular guitars with guitarists). Out listing is for the beginner (Issues is planning a Music Special later in 2002 that will cover buying professional grade equipment).
Finish: The most popular finish is the “sunburst” (yellow blending into red). The most popular fretboard is the rosewood.
For the person who has an acoustic guitar and is looking to getting into playing electric guitar:
Fender Squire Bullet at $200 is a good entry level guitar for a teenager or hobbyist.
Fender Squire Standard Strat at $350. Not a bad guitar. Excellent first “axe” for the budding rock star! This guitar may actually increase in value over the years (they have gone up cost over the last 5 years already). It’s made over seas and the materials are not quite as good as the American made Strat, but it is priced about $1,200 less! Designed as a first electric instrument of decent quality. Comparable to what Hondo and Ibanez put out in the 1970s.
Student Practice Amps: These are designed for home use and practice (although they can be used on stage where these little amplifiers are mic’d to the main public address (PA) system. For rehearsals and playing gigs the guitarist will need a larger, more expensive rig, generally a 100 watt Marshall or Mesa Boogie with 4 - 10” speakers, priced at over $1,000. Most guitarists prefer tube amps over transistor models! Most bass players or keyboardists don’t mind transistor amps.
Fender Squire Sidekick, 10 watt 5” speaker $80. Designed for bedroom use practicing.
Fender Squire Champ, 15 watt 8” speaker for $140. More volume, better speaker.
Rockman. Ideal for home use, because they go through headphones! Includes several built-in audio effects. Excellent tool for learning to play and can be used for recording! Originally designed by Tom Scholz of the group Boston (who was an electronics engineer with Polaroid for many years before becoming a rock star). $100. http://www.jimdunlop.com/electronics/rockman.html
Other accessories for the guitarist include: Boss pedals, the most popular being the Tube Sound, Distortion, Chorus, Delay and Equalizer. Priced from $100.www.bossus.com
Acoustic Guitars, these are designed for the absolute beginner who is just starting out. These are made overseas, the materials are not as good as the American made instruments (especially the tuning pegs, which are important) and the materials are “ply” wood, which is a common material used to make most instruments priced under $500 (however for best sound in a precision instruments at least a solid wood top is preferred, if not solid wood sides and back), however it is more durable than solid wood.
A serious guitar for a serious, experienced player of quality would be priced over $800 and would include instruments from Fender, Yamaha and Martin.
For teenagers and smaller persons:
Fender Squire MC-1 ¾ size nylon string guitar. Ideal for folk music or the very casual player as the nylon strings last longer and won’t hurt the fingers as much as steel strings, however the sound is more muted. Good for a first guitar for a teenager as the ¾ size is smaller and easy to hold. $140
Fender Squire MA-1 ¾ size steel string guitar. Ideal for learning and folk music. Steel strings give a better sound for most people, but are rough on the finger for a the player who doesn’t pick up the guitar every couple of days! Again smaller size. $150. Could appreciate in value.
For adults and more serious players:
Fender Squire SD-6 Dreadnought (pictured above), full size, steel string in the classic design. Excellent first instrument. $190. This may appreciate in value over the years.
Accessories to consider:
Guitar stand (an absolute must) $15 - $30 A chord. Good, high quality straight cord 20’ in length: $10 - $20 Strap, leather, nylon or cloth, adjustable: $5 - $20 Spare strings: Super Slinky plain G for most electric users are quite popular.. Ernie Ball wound G string for acoustics, both in steel and nylon. Between $8 and $10 a set.
Extra high E and B strings re always needed! Picks, generally 10 cents each, although the store should throw some in if buy a guitar! If you by a guitar and amp they should kick in either (or all) the chord, strap and stand! Tuner: An absolute must! Price from $25, the auto adjusting tuners with both LED and VU style meters are best.
Power generator. Ideal for when the lights go out, especially for homeowners. Small ones are priced from $200 and they will run a small TV set or a light.
Larger ones are idea for homeowner. One priced around $600 from Sears will run a refrigerator, TV set and a few lights!
For the computer user:
UPS. Uninterrupted power supply. If they don’t already have one, they should! This gives your between 5 and 10 minutes to shutdown your computer when a blackout occurs so you don’t lose data. They also filter and regulate your power far better than any surge protector. Size of the UPS depends on size of the computer, the smallest ones start around $100 and are good enough for a P-II 200 and 15” monitor for a few minutes. For $250 any UPS should be able to handle a P-4 big right with a 17” monitor!
CD-R burner. This is vital for anyone on a desk top computer who scans a lot of picture, does digital imaging, video or music work or needs to archive and store files of their system. Priced from $90 just make sure it comes with software, handles all media and is compatible with the hard drive system (IDE for most systems, SCSI for some systems). There are also external CD-R drives with a power supply that connect up to laptops and can be moved from computer to computer. These are more expensive, generally $150 and up. We also did an article on buying a CD-R burner you might want to check out.
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Also gift boxed candies and custom corporate logo boxes for all occasions!
Shipped from Dan's directly to that special someone on your holiday gift list...
From last year (2001):