By Andrew Eisner
The government will be sending many of you a check for $600 or more. Sure you could do the responsible thing and pay off some of your credit card debt but the government is asking you to go out and stimulate the economy. Making an extra payment on your credit card would be downright unpatriotic. So what are you waiting for, go out and treat yourself to a brand new gadget.
There are some very cool gadgets you can get for $600 (or a few bucks more). In fact, as long as you won’t be able to afford the gas to go anywhere on a vacation this summer, maybe you should consider buying an HDTV set so you can at least enjoy your stay-at-home vacation a little more. Hey, watching the 2008 Summer Olympics in HD is the next best thing to being in Bejing.
Even though you might not be taking as many long road trips as you may have in the past, a GPS could come in handy for avoiding traffic jams and finding the cheapest gas along the way. Garmin has some brand new models on the market that are getting good reviews. The Garmin nuvi 260 that has text-to-speech (TTS) and a large 3.5 inch display and sells for under $300. If you want to wait until August and throw in a few more bucks you should be able to buy the Garmin Nuvi 850 with a big 4.3 inch display with all the latest GPS bells and whistles for around $800. The TomTom Go 920 GPS also has a big 4.3 inch display but gets mixed reviews for an under $600 GPS.
|Garmin nuvi 260||Garmin Nuvi 850||TomTom Go 920|
Apple iPod Touch owners tend to write glowing reviews for their iPod Touches. The iPod Touch plays music, videos, displays photos in high resolution, and has WiFi built-in for internet connectivity. What more could you want, a built-in cell phone maybe? That would be the iPhone. The 16GB iPod Touch goes for $399 and the new 32GB version $499.
AT&T has two attractive Smartphones both with built-in WiFi. Of course there is the Apple iPhone with 8GBs of memory for songs, videos, and movies which sells for $499 and then there is the brand new Blackberry Pearl 8120 which trumps the iPhone on storage with an external microSD slot, accessible SIM card, a 3.5 mm headphone jack so you can use standard earbuds, and only costs $199. The bad news on both phones is no real 3G only EDGE.
|Apple iPhone||Blackberry Pearl 8120|
Under $1000 HDTV Sets
All HD programming coming from the networks currently comes in 720p or 1080i so if you want to save a few bucks you can get some great deals on HDTV LCD TVs. 720p/1080i LCD TVs and Plasma TVs.
The Syntax Olevia 242T is a 42 inch LCD TV that doesn’t do 1080p but gets very high ratings and very good reviews. It can be purchased for a little over $700. Syntax also has a brand new 1080p version called the 242T FHD that features fast pixel response and motion processing and sells for under $1000.
The 42 inch version, the Vizio VU42LF, does 1080p and can be purchased for well under $1000.
|Syntax Olevia 242T||Syntax Olevia 242T FHD||Vizio VU42LF|
The cheapest, good quality HD camcorder is going to cost at least $700 like the Canon HV20 or the Sony Handycam HDR-SR5. On the other hand you could buy the hottest camcorder on the market; Pure Digital’s Flip Video for $150 and you’ll have a lot left over to spend on more gadgets.
|Canon HV20||Sony Handycam HDR-SR5||Pure Digital Flip Video|
Blu-ray Player or Playstation 3
Now that the format war is over and Blu-ray has emerged as the standard, you might think it would be a good time to rush out and buy a Blu-ray player. Turns out there might be a couple of reasons to wait. The latest Blu-ray Profile (2.0) that supports some desirable features like internet connectivity is just starting to appear in Blu-ray players. The other reason to wait is price. Prices are expected to drop - but you never know.
In the meantime one of the best bets for a Blu-ray player is a Sony PlayStation 3 which you can buy for under $400 and can be upgraded to the latest Profile.
Panasonic is expected to ship a Profile 2.0 player, the Panasonic DMP-BD50 this spring for around $600.
Under $500, if they’re in stock - enough said. As long as we’re talking games don’t forget you can pick up Rock Band for around $150.
There are some excellent digital cameras in the $200 – $600 range that include compact cameras with face technology and optical image stabilization like the Nikon Coolpix 5100 for $300. The ultra-zoom FujiFilm S8000fd is an 8 MP camera with an 18x zoom and sells for a reasonable $250. The Canon Rebel XTi SLR will cost you right around $600 with a lens but you get one of the most popular SLRs on the market.
|Nikon Coolpix 5100||FujiFilm S8000fd||Canon Rebel XTi SLR|