I love this time of year. Not just because I have new set of toys to play with but because other people are starting to write and post reviews of the gadgets that they got over the Holidays.
One thing which has increased over the past few days - my hatred for the armored plastic packaging that everything seems to come in nowadaysOf the gifts that I received the one that I'm currently most impressed with is my 8GB iPod nano. Yes, it's true, iPods are pretty neat. So far everything about it has impressed me, from the packaging to the interface. I'm not normally the kind of person that reads instruction manuals so I was pleased to discover that nano came with nothing more than a starter sheet. To be honest, it doesn't need any more. Once you've figured out how to switch it on, things are pretty self-explanatory. The only aspect of the iPod that disappointed me were the earphones. I don't know who's ears these things are designed for, but they're not mine. I'm also not all that thrilled about using iTunes but I'm sure I'll get over it (Does anyone know of a way to import an entire Audible library in one go into iTunes? Also, is there a way to get the iPod to play files from multiple Audible.com accounts?)
The whole ecosystem of accessories that the iPod plays host to are also going to keep me occupied for some time to come.
One thing which has increased over the past few days - my hatred for the armored plastic packaging that everything seems to come in nowadays. The iPod was dead easy to open but other items (such as memory cards) are a real danger to life and limb to set free of the packaging. I understand that theft from stores is a major problem and manufacturers want to make it harder for the bad guys, but the trend for Kryptonite packaging has to come to an end soon.
Another gadget (this one's not a gift, it was sent to me for review) that I've been spending some quality time with over the past few days is the new Kingston DataTraveler Secure Privacy Edition. Earlier this month I blogged about the Kingston DataTraveler Elite Privacy Edition and how impressed I was with the encryption mechanism was. The DataTraveler Secure Privacy Edition not only used 256-bit hardware-based, on-the-fly encryption, it adds a new feature - the drive is waterproof up to 4 feet, conforming to IEC 60529 IPX8. I've dunk-tested a number of USB flash drives in the past and all have survived (as long as they are thoroughly dried out before plugging them in), but it's really good feeling to have a drive that is both robust enough to stand up to the elements and has on-board encryption to keep the data safe in case of loss. I'll have a fuller review of this drive in the new year when I'll show you just how tough it is!
As a pretty basic rule of thumb I find that the reviews that hit the web during two weeks following Christmas are much more impartial than those you see at other times of year because people are writing from the heart. In particular, I've been paying close attention to reviews written about Sony's PlayStation 3 games console. Now that the festive buying frenzy is over, word of mouth and user reviews are going to play a bigger role in selling this console and how it was received over the Holidays will, in part at least, determine how successful it’s going to be over the next 12 months. Overall, most of the reviews that I've read which have been written by owners rather than reviewers have been subdued to say to least. TDavid's review over on Make You Go Hmm is pretty typical:
Those two words sum up my feelings as a Sony Playstation 3 owner thus far. Having only unpacked and played with it for a day and what I’ve found/learned so far doesn’t equal the 60GB system price + tax + game (Resistance: Fall of Man). With other expensive game systems like the 3DO and Neo Geo I don’t remember having the now what feeling set in as quickly.
Sony, you need to start listening to your customers. They want the PS3 to come with an HDMI cable and maybe even a game. You also need to get serious about the online PlayStation store and add more content - both free stuff and stuff that people can buy. Oh, and you also need to get that 480i upscale problem fixed too.
So, what tech gifts did you get this year? What impressed you? And what didn't impress you?