Since we suspect many of you may also be trying to come up with a Christmas wish list, we thought we'd update you on some of our favorite gadgets. And we'd like to invite you to add your own favorites to our list. Hopefully you can help us create our new wish list for this year.
Last year about this time, we talked about a few of our favorite "toys," specifically, our dear friend, Tivo, which is still our number-one household gadget and is in constant use. Even when we're traveling and can't watch it (more on that later) Tivo is busily making sure we don't miss our favorite shows and it also helps us find new shows with its "Tivo Suggestions." Case in point, have you been watching Flashpoint? It's one of our favorites since Tivo introduced it to us based on our watching patterns.
Also on last year's list was our Wii and specifically Wii Fit, both of which we still heartily recommend. And we can now add to the list Wii Sports Resort, which is great fun!
Then there are the travel essentials that we don't leave home without. We've blogged before about our reliance on our GPS. This year, we've upgraded to a GPS that includes European as well as North American maps, in hopes that our opportunities to visit Europe may continue to increase. In the meantime, it's very helpful for the occasional trips to England to visit Jon's family.
We also have a very small wireless travel router that we connect in hotel rooms so that we can both share a wired Internet connection. Since we primarily travel together, this has become an essential piece of gear for us. In cases where the hotel charges for internet connections, we can often (although not always) share a single paid connection via the router. Even for occasions when we travel alone it's very useful to have the flexibility of working anywhere in the room and not be tied to the desk where the connection is. Currently we're using the Apple AirPort Express, but there are several good small travel routers out there and we've found them very helpful.
Of course we both carry cell phones, but nothing fancy. We may lust after iPhones and similar devices, but the fact that we need to use our phones cross-border without incurring massive roaming charges severely limits our options. Right now the compulsory data plans required for iPhones puts them completely out of reach no matter how useful they might be. Even for us there are limits as to how much we'll spend to feed our technology addiction!
One more travel essential that may sound too trivial to be mentioned--we both carry small "extension cords." Susan's is only about five-inches long, but still has plugs for three devices on it. That thing is worth its weight in gold when traveling (e.g., in hotel rooms where the furniture is often situated such that you can't actually get the plug for your laptop or router into the outlet or when there is only one available socket for two laptops, a router and two cell-phone chargers). They also come in handy in an airport where electrical outlets are at a premium. Susan got hers at Radio Shack for $5.
A new item on this year's technology/travel gadget wish list is an eBook Reader. We're currently leaning toward the Sony, but even then, we're not sure yet whether the much more expensive touch version is worth the extra cost. That's an item that we'll be giving to each other this year, mostly because it's too expensive to put on the family's list, but also because we're still undecided about which one to buy. We've heard there are at least two or three new models that are due to become available in January, so we may delay our decision for a month or so in order to see if those look interesting, or if the announcements impact pricing on the existing readers on the market. Any thoughts on eBook Readers out there?
An item that Susan is lobbying for (Jon is still not convinced it's worth it) is a Slingbox. That would allow us to share the Tivo between the two TVs in the house and even allow us to watch Tivo while on the road. Admittedly, the idea of the two of us crouched around a laptop to watch Tivo is dubious. And the thought of carrying a Sling Catcher around in the suitcase doesn't appeal, not to mention the number of additional TSA searches it might occasion. Another item we've been considering is the Western Digital Media Player. We're still not sure how well that will fit into our technology lives, but it does seem cool.
So there you have it: some of our favorite technology gadgets, toys, and travel essentials. Help us add to our list by commenting on some of your favorites. Maybe we'll get that wish list created eventually that way!