Published November 29, 2010
The economy may better than it was last year, but few families are thinking "flat screens for everyone" under the Christmas tree this year. If you're thinking of splurging on electronics, why not buy something the whole family can enjoy? Here are a few of my suggestions.
1. Sony TV with Google TV: Google TV is basically an easy way to jump on the Internet, search the web, and watch online videos -- all on your high-definition television. And Sony is the first company to build it into the company's latest line up of HDTVs.
Imagine searching for an episode of Modern Family and finding results from ABC.com, Hulu.com and your own DVR -- with the option to watch any one of the three. You can pick from models ranging in size from 24 to 46 inches and prices from $599 to $1,399.
2. Microsoft XBOX Kinect: Nothing brings the family together like a rousing game of living-room beach volleyball. That's just one of the calorie-burning games you can get with Microsoft's highly addictive Kinect, a full-body video game controller that's like an advanced version of the four-year-old Nintendo Wii.
With the Kinect, there are no buttons to push: Your body becomes the controller as you jump, punch, spike and dance your way across a wide-ranging group of motion-controlled games. The Kinect uses a multi-camera sensor that scans your body and attaches to your current Xbox 360. You can also purchase the whole set up as a bundle, Xbox included.
3. Kodak Playtouch Video Camera: I've been a big fan of Kodak's recent round of Zi8 video cameras, which are filled with more features than those tiny Flip cameras. Kodak has scored another hit in my book with the Playtouch.
Families shoot a ton of video, after all -- newborns, soccer games and weddings to name just a few. This camera lets you edit your HD videos right on the touch-screen interface and share it straight onto the Internet via Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and more with Kodak's simple Share button. That means you don't have to connect the camera to a computer to do the editing -- and let's face it, families never get around to that, do we?
4. Dell Inspiron One 2305: This is the third week in a row I've included a Dell computer in my holiday gift guide: The company seems to have something for everyone, especially in this PC. The Inspiron One 2305 has everything a family needs in a home entertainment computer, all wrapped together through a beautiful touch-screen design.
The interface reminds me of those touch-screen media stations at Barnes and Noble stores, which let you flip through albums and launch the one you want to listen to. From photos to games, that same touch design carries over to the other apps on the Inspiron One. Imagine it this way: Mom can walk up to the Dell and touch the screen to launch a recipe, Junior walks by and touches the screen to play an album, or Dad stops by to book a flight.
5. Drobo FS from Data Robotics: Cloud computing is the biggest thing in Silicon Valley right now, a way to store personal files, photos, and information away from your house on someone else's Internet-accessible servers. But what if you could create a cloud inside your home? You can with my favorite back-up drive, the Drobo FS.
Drobo lets the entire family back up to one central device using the family's home network. Simply drag and drop the 60 photos you just took of the baby onto the Drobo. It's incredibly easy to set up, too, and all your personal files are protected because your information is saved across multiple hard drives inside the Drobo: If one fails you don't have to worry about losing data on it.
If this all sounds a little technical, just remember that the Drobo is basically idiot-proof back-up -- which may be the best gift you can give your entire family.
Clayton Morris is a Fox and Friends host and the tech brain behind the Gadgets and Games show. Follow Clayton's adventures online on Twitter @ClaytonMorris (where he promises to try to answer all your gift questions) and by reading his daily updates at his blog.