By Andrew Eisner
1. Don't drive (at least a real car)
The best way to save gas is to not use your car. For the price of a couple of tanks of gas you could buy one of the latest high definition super-realistic driving simulation games. For a few tanks more you could buy a PlayStation 3 and for what you’d pay for a trip to Disneyworld you could buy a new HDTV set and feel like you're driving a real car in the safety and comfort of your home. Some of the newer games running on game consoles like the PlayStation 3 are starting to offer Full HD or 1080P resolution. That’s more resolution than the 720P or 1080i you get over the air or cable.
The latest version of Gran Tourismo, Gran Tourismo 5 Prologue supports 1080P (in certain modes). GT5 uses state-of-the-art computer graphics and lets you race against 16 online races in over 70 cars on several different tracks. The 7.1 channel sound lends an added touch of realism.
2. Drive Golf Balls Instead
You can save even more money on expensive golf club fees with this fun golf simulator from Electric Spin. For a little over $200 you can buy the Golf Launchpad II that includes a ball on a swing arm that you hit like a regular golf ball. When you hit the ball a simulated shot shows up on a variety of golf courses. It works with a PC, Mac or PlayStation.
3. Buy a 1080P HDTV Set and Stay Home
Of course, for the best effect, you'll want to hook up your simulator to a big screen, high definition, flat panel TV. Some TVs that come up high on Retrevo's Value Map include DLP Rear Projection TVs, a Plasma TV and an LCD TV. For a complete picture of the best values check out the HDTV Product Advisor. With less expensive (maybe) Blu-ray players on the horizon and game consoles driving 1080P on HDMI outputs, Retrevo recommends you future-proof your HDTV set purchase with a set that supports 1080P.
The Olevia 747I is a 47 inch 1080P LCD TV that gets two thumbs up and costs a little over $1000. The Samsung HL-S5687W is a big 56 inch rear projection TV that will cost you less than $1000 and runs 1080P. If you want more screen size for your money, you can buy a 60 inch Sony KDS-60A2020 rear projection TV for a little over $2000. The top-rated Panasonic TH-50PZ77U, 50 inch plasma will cost you around $1600.
|Olevia 747I||Samsung HL-S5687W||Sony KDS-60A2020||Panasonic TH-50PZ77U|
4. Get a GPS with Traffic Info and Gas Prices
|Many new GPS devices are coming with real-time traffic info and gas prices. MSN Direct is a service from Microsoft that runs on many GPS devices that in addition to traffic info and gas prices, provides all kinds of interesting information like movie schedules at local theaters, sports scores, weather reports, and more. Microsoft obtains up-to-date gas prices from another company that tracks credit card transactions among other things to bring the user the latest gas prices in many areas around the country. MSN Direct is available on many GPS devices from Garmin like the nuvi 880, nuvi 780 and nuvi 680.|
Dash is a new GPS that recently launched a service that uses data from individuals' GPS devices to determine traffic conditions. Users can also upload other types of information via cellular data networks (GPRS) or WiFi. This data can then be made available to the Dash "community."
5. Have a Video Conference Instead of Traveling
Get two web cams, give one to your in-laws and put the other one on your computer. Retrevo still thinks getting a high quality web cam like Logitech's Quickcam Pro 9000 or Apple's iSight camera makes the experience much more enjoyable with higher resolution images, faster frame rates and better audio with echo suppression. Features you just don't get with less expensive web cams.
|Logitech Quickcam Pro 9000||Apple iSight|
6. Take a Virtual Vacation with a Blu-ray Player and Some Blu-ray Travel DVDs
If you own a "Full HD," (1080P) HDTV set and don't have a Blu-ray (or HD DVD ) player, there's a good chance you haven't seen your TV at its highest resolution since no programming coming in over the air, via satellite or cable is 1080P. Unfortunately, the question still remains; is it a good time to buy a Blu-ray player or wait a few months for Profile 2.0 to appear in more products? Check out this reports for arguments to buy a Blu-ray player now or this report for arguments to wait.On the other hand, you could always buy a PS3 for a little over $300 and get a great quality game console and Blu-ray player.
|Discovery Atlas: Brazil Revealed||Galapagos||Sharkwater|
7. Get a Good MP3 Player and Take a Walk or Ride Your Bike
It's hard not to recommend an Apple iPod like the 160 GB iPod Classic for around $350 or even one of the multicolored, tiny shuffles for $50 but there are good alternatives out there. The second generation Zune from Microsoft costs around $240, holds 80 GB and has a built in FM receiver, WiFi and with the new 2.5 update you can purchase and watch TV shows on it. Sandisk’s Sansa e280 gets good reviews has 8 GB of storage and costs around $140.
|Apple iPod Classic||Microsoft Zune||Sandisk Sansa e280|
8. Stay Home and Read a Book
Our last recommendation is simple. Kindles are back in stock at amazon.com. If you can put up with a few minor user interface annoyances then buy a Kindle, download a few mysteries and escape into the world where $5 a gallon gas is pure fiction.
Don't forget, you can use Retrevo for all your gadget and gear needs from manuals to reviews whether it's GPS, Digital Cameras, Camcorders, Cell Phones, Laptops, or other popular consumer electronics products from manufacturers like Sony, Garmin, Panasonic, Toshiba, and more.