Handheld storage device: Epson P-3000 Multimedia Storage Viewer
If you've got a digital photography enthusiast on your list, chances are he's looking for better backup, or should be. Serious photographers shouldn't wait until after they trek down the mountainside -- or return from a wedding -- before copying those I'll-never-get-to-shoot-that-again images.
That's where the Epson P-3000 comes in. Yes, you've got lots of other no-laptop-needed backup choices. However, there are good reasons the Epson series is a favorite of professional photographers.
The P-3000 has a sleek form factor for a backup device, as well as a gorgeous 4-in. LCD viewing screen. It zooms in on images so you can check details and displays raw as well as JPEG formats. You can pop a Compact Flash or SD card into the device, or connect a camera directly to the USB slot just as you would to a computer.
With 40GB of storage, the P-3000 retails for US$369 after an US$80 rebate, and the 80GB P-5000 goes for around $650 at various online outlets. That may sound like a lot if you've already got, say, an iPod. But an iPod wasn't designed to be an in-the-field backup device (as I discovered in Iceland last year when mine choked on a large file download).
Show a P-3000 to photography buffs and they'll want one, even if they're not paranoid about backups. It's also a fun way to show off your pictures soon after you've shot them.
Price: US$369 after US$50 rebate and US$30 instant rebate (when purchased from Epson)
Summary: This in-the-field digital photo backup device offers 40GB of storage to keep those once-in-a-lifetime shots safe.
The connected home
Know an audiophile with a vast digital music library? These devices will spread that music throughout his or her home in style.
Digital sound system: Sonos Digital Music System
It's nice to have thousands of songs on your PC, but finding a good way to listen to them can be frustrating. You can always listen through your computer speakers, but let's face it, they don't do the best job of reproducing music.
Meanwhile, you've probably got a better listening environment -- amplifier, kick-ass speakers, comfy chair -- set up someplace away from your computer. Wouldn't it be nice to have a way to access the music on your PC throughout the house?
The top-of-the-line solution here is the Sonos Digital Music System -- but you'll pay for its top-of-the-line-ness. The Sonos relies on ZonePlayers, tissue-box-sized components you distribute to the locations you want music in. (The ZonePlayers come in two models, one with a built-in amplifier and one without.)
You plug a ZonePlayer into your home network via Ethernet, grab the remote control, and fire up the music. You can also listen to Internet radio, assuming you have a broadband connection.
The screen on the remote control makes it easy to navigate your music collection and gives you room-by-room control of the ZonePlayers. The Sonos system lets you have different music playing in each room, or the same music playing throughout the house.
The chief drawback to the Sonos system is its cost: The ZonePlayers cost US$350 (unamplified) and US$500 (amplified) each, and the remote costs US$400. If your house isn't wired for Ethernet, you can connect the players wirelessly -- with the addition of the US$100 ZoneBridge, which creates a proprietary wireless network called SonosNet.