Christmas in July: A midsummer gadget wish list

It is the middle of July and the holiday season is still months away, but that doesn't mean I don't have my tech wish list lined out already.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor on

It is the middle of July and the holiday season is still months away, but that doesn't mean I don't have my tech wish list lined out already. Tons of cutting edge, sleek and useful devices have been released in the last month, and it's hard not to want to get a few myself.

Honestly, I'm due for a bunch of replacements. I still carry around the original, first-gen iPhone with a very tattered screen and scratches all around the backside. The edges of my laptop are peeling off, and my 250GB external hard drive just isn't enough to keep up with all of the materials I need to archive (i.e. high-res photos, movies, etc.) Recently, a friend of mine asked that if I write about technology, shouldn't I have some more recently-released stuff. Answer: yes.

I can't purchase all of these items, but here's a wish list of geeky products that I'm eyeing. Whether I get them or not remains to be seen...

Go to Smartphone»

Smartphone Sure, Apple has come under a lot of fire recently regarding problems surrounding the iPhone 4. Namely, reception/antenna and software problems. But as much as others and even I have railed on it, every tech product has its problems, and there is still a lot to praise about the Cupertino company's latest smartphone.

As I mentioned, I'm due for a serious upgrade. Apple doesn't even support the original iPhone anymore, and I can't stand how slow mine is now. While I won't be getting one for at least several weeks, I tested one out at the new Paris Opéra location - and it blew my mind. The 3.5-inch LCD screen is truly as crisp as described, the autofocus camera is on par with many point-and-shoots, and the processor speed is instantaneous.

Plus, as someone who has been with AT&T for years and never really suffered that many reception problems, I have no problem signing another two-year company with the service provider.

Go to Laptop»

Laptop With this next entry, you're immediately going to think I'm a Machead who has sipped too much of the Apple Kool-Aid. I haven't joined Cupidtino yet, but I do appreciate a lot of things made by Apple. (Although I still don't see myself buying an iPad or Apple TV anytime soon.)

The latest generation of the Macbook Pro is on my must-buy list. My current laptop only has an 80GB hard drive and constantly freezes. This isn't good when I'm trying to run a lot of programs at once - particularly photo-editing software. Recently refreshed with an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, a 250GB HDD, 4GB of RAM and NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics, the latest Macbook Pro is exactly what I'm looking for. Sure, there are other laptops that offer similar or better specs for the price, but I simply won't lie that style doesn't matter to me.

Furthermore, the 13" Macbook Pro is also lightweight and has a battery life up to 10 hours. As someone who loves to travel and flies between coasts often, I'd love to have a netbook at my disposal too. But I have to stay on budget somehow, so a light and slim laptop alone that will last a long time on a single charge will have to do for now.

Go to External Hard Drive»

External Hard Drive Obviously, if I'm going to pick out a laptop running on Mac OS X, I'm going to need to look for an external hard drive that is compatible with the operating system. (Note that not all portable HDDs are, so you really do have to pay attention to the spec details.) One of the easiest ways to do this is simply look at Apple's online store and see what is available. But I wouldn't actually buy it from Apple, as you can often find the exact same product cheaper elsewhere, like at Amazon, Best Buy or Newegg.

To avoid the problem of having to constantly buy storage space, I'd rather just invest in a drive with 1TB of space now. Yet, the price of storage (whether it be USB key or an external HDD) is constantly going down, and whatever I buy now will probably be half the price next year.

Still, Western Digital produces some compatible and sleek ultra-compact external hard drives with high storage capacities. My eye is on the slim My Passport SE for Mac, which boasts 1TB of space and is $139 over on Amazon (plus free shipping).

The fact that it would perfectly match the Macbook Pro is just a bonus.

Go to Digital Camera»

Digital Camera I have a two-year old digital SLR and a four-year old point-and-shoot. The latter, a 7.1-megapixel Canon PowerShot SD550, has served me well, but it doesn't compare to what is out there now. However, if I get an iPhone 4 with a 5-megapixel camera that also shoots 720p HD video, I don't see the need for another ultra-compact at the moment.

What does interest me is the ever-expanding micro four thirds genre. Panasonic and Olympus are leading the field at the moment (with Sony close behind), and I'm leaning most towards the budget-friendly Olympus Pen E-PL 1. Starting for $599, the E-PL 1 is far more compact and lighter that most DSLRs, which is a plus for me as I travel frequently and I hate lugging a lot of heavy equipment around.

The 12.3-megapixel shooter also boasts substantial reviews for photo quality, and I'm really eager to give this cutting-edge lens system a chance. Plus, as someone who has traditionally stuck with Canon over the years, I'm itching to try another brand.

Go to E-Book Reader»

E-Book Reader This is definitely on the wait list. I've said in the past that e-book readers are way overpriced, but in the last month with a price war between Amazon and Barnes & Noble, costs have dropped dramatically. An e-book reader is also something that I'd like to have, but I don't necessarily need.

Recently released for $149, the Nook Wi-Fi is the best deal at the moment. 3G support isn't obligatory, but Wi-Fi is especially important for any portable device. If it weren't for the fact that I actually do really like the feel of books and look of them in my living room, I'd spring for an e-reader right now. It would also make sense to have one as I move around quite a bit, and books become very heavy when traveling.

But I would prefer to hold out for something that is fully color, rather than just the bottom capacitive touchscreen. You might suggest the iPad then, but I'm not willing to throw down $499 minimum for that alone.


So that's what I'm looking for now. Is there anything on this list that you want as well, or are there better products to consider?

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