Monday, October 29, 2007

Heart of the Home Theater: Denon AVR-3808CI Receiver

Certainly not for the faint-hearted, the Denon AVR-3808CI embodies the next generation of home theater brilliance. Now, I must start off by saying that this is NOT ideal for folks on a tight budget or those who are newbies to the home theater scene. However, if you (or a loved one) is a die-hard A/V addict, this is sure to bring a tear of happiness even when watching a Rambo movie marathon.

The Denon AVR-3808CI is about features... specifically, the latest HD features. Starting off with audio, the AVR3808CI utilizes both TrueHD and dts-HD decoders. The receiver also includes a Compressed Audio Restorer that enhances audio that has been compressed into MP3, ACC, WMA formats for higher range and deeper base.

The AVR-3808CI also features 2 HDMI and 2 DVI video inputs for your new HD Home Theater as well as 1 HDMI output. If you haven't jumped onto the HDMI bandwagon, there is still Component inputs and outputs. You can also utilize the Multi-Zone feature that allows 3 separate zones to distribute audio and or video to various sources.

The Denon receiver also comes with it's own software that will display Album Art for audio tracks and aids in setting up and fine tuning your HD Home Theater experience.

I've only covered a few of the features here but there are a long list of others (XM radio, DCDi, etc) but it's definitely an amazing av experience for the advanced user.
The Lowdown on the Denon AVR-3808CI

Retail Price: $1599.99
Best Deal for the Denon AVR-3808CI for $1213.54 shipped
Ideal For: Hi-Tech Dads, 30-something HD enthusiasts, Home Theater Junkies, High Definition Homes (using media in multiple rooms)

More info: on the AVR3808CI here

Monday, October 22, 2007

For the Car or the Wayward Dad: TomTom ONE XL-S Portable GPS

It used to be that when driving in a new area with a passanger (say, a spouse) and you couldn't find your exact location, an arguement typically ensued. Alas, GPS devices are now saving marriages across the world. The latest release from TomTom is the TomTom ONE XL-S. TomTom released the ONE gps with extreme fanfare, touted as a high perforance GPS navigator at a fraction of the cost of the top of line devices. TomTom went a step further by releasing the TomTom ONE XL which incorporated a larger wide screen for those tired of peering at micro lcd screens while attempting to drive. Now, the Tom Tom ONE XL-S adds Text-to-Speech navigation so you can keep your eyes on the road when in heavy traffic. The voice guides you turn-by-turn and even speaks street names. You can also download celebrity voices from TomTom such as Mr. T and Burt Reynolds so you can feel like the A-Team is right there in the passanger seat.

The Lowdown on the TomTom ONE XL-S

Retail Price: $399.99
Best Deal for the TomTom ONE XL-S: $355.38
Ideal For: Dads, Moms, or anyone who drives in new locations, enjoys road trips, or wants to eradicate arguements over directions.

More info: on the Tom Tom ONE XLS here

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Nokia N95: Cell Phone for Traveling Media Lover

Cell phones have made a lot of progress in the last 8-10 years. They are now smaller, more stylish, packed with features, and can do more than just call your friends and family. The term "Smartphone" came out a few years ago and the moniker earmarks cellphones that act more like small computers. You can email, take pictures, listen to music, and help to organize your life. PDA's once did many of these tasks but did not include a cellphone. Today's Smartphones combine all this into one package.

So what has improved? Let's take a look at one of the top smartphones today, Nokia N95 Unlocked. "Unlocked" simply means that you don't have to buy a service plan when you order the phone. This allows you to use an existing GSM or SIM card. Just pop in your old card and away you go. An unlocked phone also allows you flexibility... some service providers don't offer service to certain areas. An Unlocked phone will allow you to get the right service for your area and traveling patterns.
The Nokia N95 is very small for the number of features it provides. The majority of the phone is the main screen. The N95 does not have a standard keyboard for typing which saves on space. But what the N95 excels at are the features. Thinking of getting a GPS? A PDA to organize your schedule an contacts? MP3 Player? Perhaps get yourself a nifty portable video player for entertainment anywhere? Instead of 5 devices, you actually save yourself a lot of hassle and money (yes, its expensive but add up all those gadgets and the N95 is a bargain).

The Nokia N95 Phone comes with GPS navigation, camera phone, video player, mp3 player, internet, data storage, and more. Web browsing is easy and fast via WiFi or EDGE/GSM 850/900/1800/2100 and WCDMA/HSDPA 2100 networks for when you don't have a WiFi signal. In fact, the HSDPA network connection is a full 10x faster than 3G speeds! This makes uploading your images and video to the web (such as Flickr) or via MMS to friends blazingly fast.

So, he's my lowdown on the N95:
Good because:
- fairly small
- big 640x480 screen
- quality video at 30 frames per second
- lots of network connection options
- GPS anywhere! In the car, on the trail, or walking through a new city.

Might want to check other options if:
- You like to write long emails or text documents and hate using the number keypad... a QWERTY keyboard might be better.
- You want a super-slim phone
- You need a smartphone that can go for days and days without recharging
- You can't buy something that doesn't start with "i_ _ _ _ _"

The Lowdown on the Nokia N95

Retail Price: $799.99
Best Deal for the Nokia N95 Unlocked: $559.99
Ideal For: Media loving person on the go, often travels in new places, needs to keep in touch with work & loved ones.

More info: Nokia N95 Unlocked

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Fisher Price Kid Tough Camera: 2007 Version

Last year Fisher Price revealed their "Kid Tough Digital Camera" to much fanfare from parenting magazines and moms & dads (kids liked it too). Children's Technology Review gave the Kid Tough Camera the 2006 Editor's Choice, and Parents Magazine listed it as one of Best Toys of the Year for 2006.

Not resting on last years laurals, Fisher Price updated the camera with a larger LCD screen and higher resolution to make the camera even more like Mommy & Daddy's "don't touch" camera. The exterior remains unchanged with its durable casing that protects it from most boo-boos. Overall, this is a great product to get your child interested in photography and can add another level of enjoyment to family trips and even scenic car rides.

In searching for the best deal, it's important to note that last year this item sold out at many large retailers before the holidays. As a result, the remaining stores coveted their limited inventory by increasing the price at or above retail... and shoppers had no choice. Don't fall into this situation this year and be sure to purchase before quantities become scarce. We have already seen some retailers selling this product for $139.99! Luckily, Practical Shoppers can simply laugh at this and move on to better deals.
Currently, the best deal going for the Fisher Price Kid Tough Digital Camera is $48.88 (retail $69.99)
Fisher Price Kid Tough Digital Camera
Available in Pink and Blue (pictured)
Retail Price: $69.99
Best Deal: $48.99

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