Holiday Gadget Wish List

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Technology correspondent Xeni Jardin reviews the gadgets that could top holiday wish lists this year.


This is DAY TO DAY from NPR News. I'm Madeleine Brand.

Today is a big shopping day. It's the first of the holiday season, and a lot of people will be out looking for the latest in gadgets. Well, look no further. We have them right here. Our DAY TO DAY tech contributor Xeni Jardin has brought them in.

Hi, Xeni.

XENI JARDIN reporting:

Hi, Madeleine.

BRAND: All for me?

JARDIN: Oh, sorry, I didn't have time to wrap them. Well, OK. Seriously, I brought in four handheld devices, and while they all have the video function in common, each of them is a little different and they have different features, strengths, weaknesses and price tags.

BRAND: And it looks like what you're holding is an iPod. Xeni, hasn't Apple released several thousand versions of the iPod, really?

JARDIN: Pretty close to that. They do seem to have a new one every few months, but this one has a smallish screen for video, as you can see there. TV networks and other content providers are beginning to offer downloadable episodes and music videos for this device, and TiVo lets you save shows to watch on the video iPod and on the Sony PSP, which we'll look at next.

BRAND: And people will want to look at this teensy-weensy little screen?

JARDIN: I can't imagine myself sitting down and watching a full 90-minute movie there, but maybe little teasers of TV shows, maybe news, and different people have different usage habits.

BRAND: And how much does this go for?

JARDIN: The price for this iPod starts at $300 more or less for 30 gigs of storage space, and there's a 60-gig version, twice the space, for about $400.

BRAND: And you have another one with you?

JARDIN: Right. This is the Sony PSP. You can watch movie trailers or entire films, if you want. It's particularly nice for that because, as you can see, the screen shape here is just right for movies. It's a little wider than it is tall, and I'm going to play a demo right here.

(Soundbite of trailer for "The Longest Yard")

Unidentified Woman #1: I'll tell you what you should forget about--football, 'cause it has forgotten all about you.

Unidentified Band: (Singing) I need some long time...

JARDIN: So what you're watching there, Madeleine, is a trailer for the movie "The Longest Yard."

The PSP also gives you the ability to connect to the wireless Internet. There's a very large library of games built for the Sony PSP, and that's kind of its primary draw. So like the iPod, you can also listen to music and store photos, but as you can see, the video's a nice function. And the Sony PSP retails for about $250, so they're within the same price range.

BRAND: Now what you have in your hand does not look like a video device. It looks suspiciously like a PDA.

JARDIN: Right. So this one is made by Palm and it retails for about $300. We're used to seeing these devices in the office for all kinds of productive pursuits, and this is a great time waster. As you can see, I'm just touching the screen to move from one function to another, and there's a little thumbnail of what looks like a reel of film, and I'm just going to touch that and we're going to watch a little video clip.

(Soundbite of clip)

BRAND: It's very clear.

JARDIN: And I'm turning the screen sideways so that you can see a wide view.

BRAND: Yeah, it looks very clear, like a regular television set, almost.

JARDIN: Yeah, the sound isn't all that great, but I could plug in headphones and I'd have a much better sound quality. Again, this device allows you to do e-mail, browse your corporate intranet using the built-in Wi-Fi feature. This device comes with about a hundred megs of memory. You're not going to be storing your entire video library on this device. It's--that's not really the point, but it is enough to, say, store a Justin Timberlake video and watch it 10,000 times if you're a 17-year-old girl.

BRAND: Oh, goodie. Can I really? And you have one more for us that looks decidedly un-high-tech.

JARDIN: The gadget that I'm holding in my hand--what does this look like to you, Madeleine Brand?

BRAND: Why, it looks like a Pez dispenser, Xeni Jardin.

JARDIN: Well, it's a Pez MP3 player, and you can find out more about this device at They retail for around a hundred dollars or so, and they're just--they're cute and they're retro and they're kind of crazy so I love 'em.

BRAND: All right. Xeni Jardin, thank you so much for bringing these in.

JARDIN: Thank you.

BRAND: Xeni Jardin is DAY TO DAY's tech contributor.

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