Your Black Friday Shopping Agenda

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Tech contributer Mario Armstrong recommends what stores to hit first.

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FARAI CHIDEYA, host:

For some people the day after Thanksgiving is buy-nothing-day. It's a chance to avoid the consumerism of holiday shopping. But for many more, it is time to hit the mall. Our tech expert Mario Armstrong is here now to tell us how to get high-tech bargains and what's hot.

Hi, Mario.

MARIO ARMSTRONG: Hey, Farai. How are you?

CHIDEYA: I'm good. Well, I just want to describe the scene first of all.

ARMSTRONG: Okay.

CHIDEYA: I am sitting here with you in an NPR studio with gadgets, gadgets and more gadgets.

ARMSTRONG: Gadgets galore.

CHIDEYA: There are rectangular gadgets, sphere-shaped globe gadgets, little, you know, -

ARMSTRONG: Almost can't see gadgets -

CHIDEYA: - camera's gadgets, little white gadgets. I mean the whole room is just full - what have we got here?

ARMSTRONG: We have an assortment of what this holiday is going to be a lot about. We know that consumer electronics is big on the menu and people are looking for great gift ideas.

CHIDEYA: Wow. I can't help but see something very cute. It's a rectangular frame and it says Christopher's first haircut, that's your son and pictures - there's pictures of your wife and what is this?

ARMSTRONG: This is a - it's called Asiva Digital Frame. And digital frames have become very popular because we take a lot of pictures with our digital cameras. So, how do we get to print those either out or how can we project them on say our television set? Well, this is an actual frame, as you described -

CHIDEYA: Your very cute son.

ARMSTRONG: Yeah, and so we have a slideshow of about 30 different photos that go through the random order. You can put in caption and text and other things to add to it. But the neat thing about this, Farai, is no computer is needed.

This is what I think is a great gift for out of town relatives, especially maybe grandparents and you have a family that's growing up and they're missing some of those memorable moments. You simply e-mail the Asiva Digital Frame your images and it will show up the next day.

So, all you need is a phone line and a battery, I mean, a power outlet and the grandparents plug it in and everyday they can look forward to new photos that have been sent to it via pretty much e-mail and you can even send it from your camera phone, too.

CHIDEYA: I can only imagine that as Christopher gets older, he will figure out how to do this and he'll start sending the pictures he likes.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ARMSTRONG: Change up what's in there.

CHIDEYA: Exactly. All right, now, I'm seeing a like a computer but insy weensy. What is this?

ARMSTRONG: I like insy weensy because it is insy weensy. It's about four to five inches big. It's the world's smallest first computer, really. It's called the OQO, and I'll let you hold it. You can see it weighs very light.

CHIDEYA: Wow.

ARMSTRONG: But it is a fully featured, fully functioning Windows XP computer.

CHIDEYA: Wow.

ARMSTRONG: So the little eraser - you have a slight - the keyboard, the screen actually slides up to reveal a hidden thumb-sized keyboard.

CHIDEYA: Yeah.

ARMSTRONG: And you can use your phone to type away, much like you would say on a cell phone or on a Blackberry device. It's easy to carry. You could fit that in your purse, Farai.

CHIDEYA: Yeah, definitely.

ARMSTRONG: And it's just as powerful as your computer back at your office.

CHIDEYA: Oh, my gosh.

ARMSTRONG: So it has Microsoft Office suite on there. It has Windows, like I said, Wireless, Bluetooth - all the latest technologies.

CHIDEYA: So how much does it cost? That's the question.

ARMSTRONG: It's actually not that bad. If you would ask me that about maybe six months ago because this is still kind of brand new. It's only about $1,200. There's no need for you to carry a laptop and that device. There's no need for you to have a desktop PC and that device. That is your computer. I've taken that with me to go do presentations and connected that to the projector and it just floors audiences.

CHIDEYA: Yeah, it's smaller, you know, length and widthwise than my hand.

ARMSTRONG: - than your hand.

CHIDEYA: Scary?

ARMSTRONG: Yes.

It's where technology is going.

CHIDEYA: If I dropped that I would be really mad.

ARMSTRONG: We haven't had that quite happen yet, so, I don't know how ruggedized it is.

CHIDEYA: Yeah.

ARMSTRONG: But I wouldn't want to risk that.

CHIDEYA: Yeah. Okay now, we have a big globe.

ARMSTRONG: Yeah, this big globe is really neat. This is by Oregon Scientific. It's called The Smart Globe and I think it's great because my kid is big into places, you know, he wants to visit Africa. He wants to go to Switzerland. He's just coming up with all these places. So -

CHIDEYA: Yeah.

ARMSTRONG: - this is an interactive globe. So I'm holding this, like, pen that's in my hand and it allows me to engage - I'll turn it on here.

(Soundbite of The Smart Globe)

Unidentified Man #1: Welcome to the Oregon Scientific Smart Globe.

ARMSTRONG: And what I can I do is a variety of over 30 or more different exercises.

CHIDEYA: Yeah.

ARMSTRONG: It's also multilingual. So, I can do it in different languages. So, we're going for a national anthem right now for Ecuador.

(Soundbite of Smart Globe)

Unidentified Man #1: National anthem, Ecuador.

(Soundbite of the national anthem of Ecuador)

CHIDEYA: It may not make the top 20, but -

ARMSTRONG: No.

CHIDEYA: - I feel enlightened.

ARMSTRONG: I didn't even know how it sounded. That was the first time I've actually heard it.

CHIDEYA: Exactly. Yeah, you know me.

ARMSTRONG: And (unintelligible) is so much better right now.

CHIDEYA: I would get totally - I could get totally obsessive and just play the national anthems of all - um, ranking it on a list.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ARMSTRONG: Ranking it on a list, put it up on your blog.

CHIDEYA: Yeah, 1-50.

(Soundbite of laughter)

That would be really great for, you know.

ARMSTRONG: But it's funny.

CHIDEYA: Exactly.

ARMSTRONG: It's educational as well as fun.

CHIDEYA: Yeah.

ARMSTRONG: So, back in the day, you would used to just maybe have a map that you would just have piece of paper, or you would have maybe a poster that would go on a wall with a dry erase marker, things of that nature.

This really brings that next level of inner activity that all the kids want but it's also a good way for parents to make sure that they're still getting educated about things beyond just what's happening in their own area.

CHIDEYA: Absolutely. That's very, very cool.

ARMSTRONG: The hot item that's, you know, the video game console is going to be hot.

CHIDEYA: I believe that this is the Wii.

ARMSTRONG: This is the Wii.

CHIDEYA: I'm holding it in my hands. It's about hands length.

ARMSTRONG: Yeah. It's like a TV remote.

CHIDEYA: Like yeah -

ARMSTRONG: It looks just like a TV remote.

CHIDEYA: - little squat white.

ARMSTRONG: But I tell you, this reminds me of the days when we used to play Monopoly or Life, and the family and friends and you would get lost in board games for hours.

CHIDEYA: Yeah.

ARMSTRONG: And you wish everyone could play a board game. Well, the Wii is like that. Everyone can turn this on and start playing in a few minutes.

CHIDEYA: All right. Well, are you ready to play tennis?

ARMSTRONG: I am ready to play tennis.

CHIDEYA: Okay.

ARMSTRONG: We're going to play on the Wii.

(Soundbite of Wii videogame)

CHIDEYA: Okay, Mario, this challenge makes you the best of three at Wii Tennis. I'm holding my tiny, little controller with its tiny, little buttons but he's got an advantage because he knows how to use this, huh?

ARMSTRONG: But we're going to find out how easy it is. Okay, here we go, Farai. I'm serving.

CHIDEYA: Okay.

ARMSTRONG: Take that ace.

CHIDEYA: Ah.

ARMSTRONG: Oh.

Oh. Okay.

CHIDEYA: Yes.

ARMSTRONG: All right.

CHIDEYA: Yes.

ARMSTRONG: Okay. All right. All right. Love-15. You're up. All right. Don't get too excited.

CHIDEYA: Oh no. Oh, it's a replay.

ARMSTRONG: It's replaying your beautiful shot.

CHIDEYA: Oh, my gosh. That's crazy.

ARMSTRONG: Which is embarrassing to me because I'd still make that form. All right, here we go.

(Soundbite of Wii video game)

CHIDEYA: Uh-oh, that's out.

ARMSTRONG: Backhand is out. Yes. Fifteen all. Here we go.

(Soundbite of Wii video game)

Oh, we have a little volley going here.

CHIDEYA: Oh.

(Soundbite of Wii video game)

Unidentified Man #2: 30-15.

ARMSTRONG: So isn't this - I mean we're up out of our feet.

CHIDEYA: This is totally - this is totally hot.

ARMSTRONG: All right, here we go. Last serve. Let's see what you got.

(Soundbite of Wii video game)

CHIDEYA: Oh, out.

ARMSTRONG: Little sooner, little sooner.

(Soundbite of Wii video game)

Unidentified Man #2: 40-15.

ARMSTRONG: 40-15. It looks like I'm going to win.

Unidentified Man #2: Game point.

CHIDEYA: Don't be so certain.

(Soundbite of Wii video game)

ARMSTRONG: Oh. Oh.

CHIDEYA: Oh.

ARMSTRONG: Yes.

Unidentified Man #2: You win.

ARMSTRONG: Yes.

CHIDEYA: Okay, Mario, you beat me fair and square. All I have to say is this looks like great fun. Thanks for coming in and showing me all this stuff.

ARMSTRONG: My pleasure. I had a ball. I hope you have fun this holiday season as well.

CHIDEYA: All right, Mario Armstrong is someone who does technology for NEWS & NOTES, also for Baltimore area member stations, WEAA and WYPR. Game over.

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