Quint's Holiday Gift Guide 2009 Part 1! Books! Comics! Music! Electronics!
Published at: Nov. 28, 2009, 10:07 a.m. CST by quint
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here, all jolly and full of holiday cheer. It's that time of year again. The Holiday Shopping Guide is here. I can safely say this one article (broken into three parts) is the single most time consuming article I write every year. It's like month's worth of A Movie A Day's rolled up into one marathon 75 hour work week.
But it's also one of the most rewarding things I do. I get people asking about the Guide all year long and as a geek... well, I love window shopping, too, so it's fun to explore the geeky shit that's out there year after year.
Before we start I want to take a minute to thank those who sent in suggestions. I found stuff I never would have stumbled upon by myself thanks to reader suggestions. As always, this list isn't meant to be a comprehensive list of everything out there. As they have for the past 5 or 6 years, these lists are heavily influenced by my personal interests.
Tomorrow is Black Friday and this week the prices have been jumping up and down as sales happen, so forgive any prices that have changed in the time it took to compile this list.
If you haven't already, I urge you to check out blackfriday.info for the rundown on the doorbusters going on in stores across the country and Amazon's Black Friday Page to see what's shaking there.
I do get a small commission from some of these links, but I wouldn't link to any site I don't personally shop on, like Amazon and Entertainment Earth and Deep Discount DVD. Full disclosure and all that.
Enough of that stuff! Let's get down to it! Part One covers Books, Electronics and Music. Part Two covers DVDs, Video Games and Toys. Part Three has Collectibles, Apparel, Art and For Super Rich Only. Here is the pricing breakdown for every category:
CHEAP - Items $24.99 and under MODERATE - Items $25.00-$70.99 EXPENSIVE - Items $71.00-$499.99
And FOR THE SUPER RICH ONLY - Items $500.00 and up
Keep your eye out for giveaways. Got some good prizes to give to you readers this year, but I won't tell you were they are. You gotta read the Guide to find 'em. Enjoy!
CHEAP ($24.99 and Under)
It's fitting I start off this massive column with John Dies At The End by David Wong. For one, it's a great story, a funny as shit bizarre horror/comedy amalgam that feels like Douglas Adams and David Cronenberg had sloppy sex on a bed of bugs while tripping on LSD laced with angel dust. Secondly, it's a grassroots story, originally published in serial form online before moving on to bigger and better things. Thirdly, Don Coscarelli has optioned it and plans to turn it into a feature flick in the near future so if you get the book now you can say you were ahead of the curve. Hardcover and only $16.49.
While not released until December 31st, this would make a killer gift for the movie nerd friend who has everything. I'm sure many of you guys are as nostalgic about the video box art of the '70s and '80s as I am and to have a book compiling the most lurid, crazy insane art from the era of VHS with commentary is a brilliant idea. I have this sucker on pre-order myself. The book also comes packaged inside a facsimile VHS box. A bargain at only $13.59.
I can't vouch for this book other than it's the last published work by George Carlin and a memoir at that. Co-authored by Carlin and Tony Hendra the description promises an in-depth and personal look at the life of one of the best comedians to ever step on a stage... and a guy who happened to be very kind to a 14 year old me at that. Only $15.97.
As of this typing I'm only 350 pages into Stephen King's newest... only. Look at that fucker! It's a brick of a book, pushing 1100 pages, but I'm happy to report that the beginning, at least, is up to King's epic novel standards. It has the large-world feeling of THE STAND, IT and NEEDFUL THINGS and feels like slipping back into a warm comfort zone... at least to this King fanatic. $14.50... that's 1.4 cents per page! What a bargain!
Just released yesterday, Pirate Latitudes is Michael Crichton's final novel. It's already optioned by Spielberg... I'd bet he only ends up producing, but still... It's Crichton's last book. The dude has given me a lot of happiness and while I haven't read most of his recent output I pre-ordered the novel and will give it a read as soon as I wrap up Under the Dome. It's a pirate story (obviously) about a Captain who steals gold from the Spanish in 1665, specifically a heavily fortified galleon at harbor at Port Royal. The book promises to be a high seas adventure mixed with a heist story. $14.00.
The Losers is a kick-ass Vertigo series that I was a little behind the times on. I recently visited the set of the film adaptation (starring Zoe Saldana and Harry Dean Morgan) and in preparation I ordered all five Losers graphic novels. Man they are a ton of fun. There's nothing but gray area here... our band of misfits are all badasses, but in another story they'd be the bad guys as well. It's an epic tale of revenge that has a gut-punch of an ending. Get a jump on 2010 and catch up on this series. Volume 1 is out of print, but can be had used on the Amazon Marketplace for as low as $3.99. Volume 2 is $11.04, Volume 3 is $10.19, Volume 4 is $11.24 and Volume 5 is $11.24.
This is the perfect book for an up and coming geek, be it a teenager or new girlfriend or boyfriend. This book has photos and summaries of most of the great Comic book storylines and serves as a good starting point for exploration. $19.79
Going from comic books to a bit of a higher-brow end of the illustrated spectrum we have this collection of New Yorker cartoons. From the pre-depression era to today this book collects the satirical cartoons. Hardcover and $13.49.
Iventory: 16 Films Featuring Manic Pixie Dream Girls, 10 Great Songs Nearly Ruined by Saxophone, and 100 More Obsessively Specific Pop-Culture Lists is a book put together by the AV Club and The Onion. If you know their sense of humor you know why this is a must get book and you'll understand why this was one of the most recommended items by the readers when I initially put the call out. Only $7.93.
William Goldman's Adventures in the Screen Trade is not a new book, but it's something I finally got around to reading this year and I felt I had to recommend this at some point. If you've ever been an aspiring screenwriter, director or just plain movie fan Goldman's book is a wealth of information. From behind the scenes looks at Goldman's best films (including HARPER, BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID and MARATHON MAN) to the frank detailing of how the industry works (hint, it's not very good to screenwriters) the book is a fascinating read. It also comes with the full Butch and Sundance script reprinted. $13.59. The sequel, which I have, but haven't read yet, is called Which Lie Did I Tell?: More Adventures in the Screen Trade and sells for $11.53.
Now this sounds right up my alley. If you've followed my AMAD or AMAW columns you know that I sometimes get a bug up my butt to explore vintage cinema, hunting for underapprecited gems. This book features essays from people like Sidney Lumet, Milos Forman, Woody Allen, Anjelica Huston, Wes Anderson and, of course, Martin Scorsese on little seen obscure movies. How great does that sound? To me it's my most anticipated book on this list. I've already placed my own order. $13.57.
If you haven't kept up with Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier's podcast (or SModcast as they call it) you either have weeks worth of audio to catch up with on iTunes or you need to pick up the above book: Shootin' the Shit With Kevin Smith: The Best of SModcast. Love him or hate him, the dude is a funny motherfucker when talking off the cuff. $10.17.
The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan began as a pitch for a TV show and you can feel that a bit in the book. But that's not a bad thing. In fact that structure means you're hooked right away when an airplane arrives JFK completely dark, not moving from the runway you're immediately drawn into the mystery. We know it's a vampire tale, but the character work is up to del Toro's usual standards... In many ways, this story has a Stephen King feel... a big story, but told through the perspective of some terrifically real and well-drawn characters. A great read... especially on a plane. $17.81.
The extremely talented designer and artist Greg Broadmore of Weta Workshop has crafted this story based on Weta's fantastic Raygun line. I haven't read it yet (it's not out until 12/23/09), but I have talked with Mr. Broadmore about it and am very excited to get it and see just how crazy fun it is. I mean look at that cover! How could you not want to pick that book up? Pre-order for $13.46.
Winners have been chosen! From the over 400 entries I chose 3 names completely at random. The winners are Tom Hawkins of the UK, Richard F. Paddon of Australia and Eric Vinson of the US of A! Congratulations to the winners!
And yes, I'm giving away three copies of this book, courtesy of the good folk at Weta. The contest is open to anyone in the world. To enter you need only email your name and mailing address to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line VICTORY! I'm going to pick the winners randomly at 4pm CST tomorrow, Friday November 27th. I'll post the names of the winners here. Good luck!
And Another Thing... is a continuation of the Dent Arthur Dent story as told by the brilliant Douglas Adams. From what I read fans are torn on this book, written by Eoin Colfer... some complaining Colfer is riffing too much on Adams and some saying he strays too far. I haven't read it myself, so I can't comment, but I can say it's extremely interesting to see Dent's story continue. I will pick this up at some point. $19.49.
The Making of a Stand-Up Guy is written by the one and only Charlie Murphy! Yep, you loved his Prince and Rick James stories on Chappelle's Show and now he's written a book (released next week) that gives us more of his behind the scenes insane stories of celebrity as his brother's rise to super-stardom. If this book is half as funny as his work with Chappelle then it's an instant buy. $16.49.
Who wouldn't trust Norm's taste in beer? Plus this seems to be more of a memoir. As someone who was lucky enough to have a meal with George Wendt I can vouch for his ability as a storyteller... plus the dude must know about beer... When I ate with him (at the Salt Lick, which is BYOB) he was given no less (and probably more) than 10 beers by strangers... I doubt this dude has paid for a beer in 30 years. $16.49.
Susie Essman is hilariously funny. If you watch Curb Your Enthusiasm you know this already. I haven't yet had the pleasure of reading her book, but I saw her appear on some of my favorite shows while promoting it and think it's a pretty safe recommend. $13.50.
Cloris Leachman has been a favorite of mine since childhood. I grew up on Mel Brooks' YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN where she absolutely killed it as the horse-scaring Frau Blucher. I later discovered her Roger Corman work and her early noir work (KISS ME DEADLY). She straddles old Hollywood and the modern age and is such a funny person that I can't imagine her autobiography isn't a great read. $16.32.
One of the great things about Monty Python turning 40 this year means a ton of Python shit for sale. The above book is the first creative collaboration by all of the surviving Pythons in decades, chronicling their live tours of the '70s and '80s. Must have for any fan of Python, big or small. $24.99.
Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks is a graphic novel continuation of Max Brooks' awesome guide book designed to save your ass in the event of a zombie apocalypse. Illustrated by Ibraim Roberson this graphic novel showcases zombie attacks from the dawn of history, be it ancient Rome or in the cradle of civilization. $9.94.
Who wouldn't want The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb? What a bizarre mixture and from what I've seen of this book they go together like milk and cookies. Absolutely fascinating and also one of the other more recommended titles from you guys. $14.58.
For the first time in the English language is the true story of Ishiro Honda's humble beginnings and a life that includes being raised by Buddhist monks and being drafted by the Imperialist Army during WW2 before following his passion for cinema and directing the majority of the Godzilla films, Rodan, Mothra and the best big monster movie of all time (in my humble opinion) Destroy All Monsters. $14.85.
Starting Point: 1979-1996 is a comprehensive accounting of the first half of Hayao Miyazaki, the Japanese Walt Disney and the man behind such films as Princess Mononoke and the more recent Howl's Moving Castle and Ponyo. The book is massive at 500 pages and is filled with essays, interviews with and by Miyazaki and, from what I read, gives an honest and clear picture of the brilliant mind behind some of the most beautiful movies of the last quarter century. $19.79.
To keep the Miyazaki theme going, here's the Art of book for his latest, Ponyo. I loved this movie and so much of that is in the ability to just sink into a world so distinctly Miyazaki. It's comfort food for the eyeballs and I have to imagine this artbook is just the same. $23.09.
As one of the fans of JJ Abram's reboot of the Star Trek franchise (sorry AsimovLives) the art of the movie has to make this list. I've been fascinated by filmmaking starting as a young child and the preproduction of a film is the most intriguing to me... seeing the evolution of ideas as dozens, sometimes hundreds, of creative minds attempt to bring a story to life always gets to me. Filled with pre-production art and paintings and behind the scenes photos. $19.77.
I know there's some doubt of Mr. Cameron's return to feature filmmaking and I hope those fears are unfounded, but I gotta be honest and say despite some skepticism I'm starting to get hyped up for a new adventure film James Cameron. Whether the ultimate film is a success or failure Cameron's a brilliant visionary and his work with some of the best artists working today (at Weta Workshop) is worth the blind recommend on the art of book. I know I'll seek it out upon release (provided I've seen the movie by then, of course). $19.77.
Pixar's Art of books are required reading for anybody that thinks they like their movies. Again, watching the evolution of a film intrigues the hell out of me and the magicians at Pixar are particularly amazing at documenting this process with amazing art. And to top it all of UP is another great title from Pixar, standing shoulder to shoulder with their best work in my opinion. $26.40.
Where the Wild Things Are is in the running for my favorite picture of the year... actually, it's competing with UP, which I featured just above this title... it's been a great year for kid's entertainment. I think Spike Jonze did an amazing job with this movie and while doing research for this guide I dug up this Making of book that I must own. 240 pages broken into three parts focusing on the different aspects of production and featuring art, notes, photos and everything you could want to know about the creation of this amazing film. $26.39.
Trick 'r Treat: Tales of Mayhem, Mystery and Mischief by John Griffin details the making of Michael Doherty's labor of love and unbelievably buried flick TRICK 'R TREAT. The movie is a love letter to Halloween, my personal favorite holiday, and this book is filled to the brim with behind the scenes pics and artwork that any fan of the movie should want to own. $29.70.
The Walking Dead Compendium Volume 1 covers issues 1-48 in over 1000 pages of my favorite comic book currently running. That's Volumes 1-8 of the TPB, which run a good $10 or more each, so it's a helluva deal and perfect excuse to finally delve into this amazing book at only $37.79. Be warned, though... issue 48 leaves you wanting more. There are three TPBs after this compendium ends and you'll want them immediately. Vol 9 is $10.19, Vol 10 is $10.19 and Vol 11 is on pre-order for $10.11. It releases end of December.
The Stanley Kubrick Archives has been one of the most popular books included any previous Holiday Gift Guide and it's still available for the incredible price of $44.10. The book is massive, a must-own for any Kubrick fan. Considering that it started at $200 a copy it's a steal. Highly recommended.
Knowing Darkness is a large-sized (11X15) 448 paged compilation of all the artwork associated with Stephen King's novels since Carrie, even pulling in work from limited printings of his books. Represented are Dark Tower greats Michael Whelan and Phil Hale, the brilliant Bernie Wrightson and Drew Struzan and tons more. This is so up my alley it's not even funny. This is a traycased, signed and limited edition that will run you a steep $185.85.
FOR THE SUPER RICH ONLY ($500.00 and Up)
Stanley Kubrick? We were just talking about that guy! Here's a top of the line limited edition book just hit that details his Napoleon film that never got made. It limited to 1,000 copies and includes a copy of Kubrick's script as well as the bulk of Kubrick's personal research into Napoleon, transcripts of interviews, test photos, notes and essays. All of this in professional and collectible binding... tucked safely in a hollowed out book. It also includes exclusive access to a searchable database that holds 17,000 Napoleonic images compiled by Kubrick himself. Pretty amazing and priced accordingly at $700.
CHEAP ($24.99 and Under)
Incredibad is Lonely Island's album, the comedy team comprised of Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone and Andy Samberg and the fools responsible for almost single-handedly keeping SNL funny with their digital shorts. Nobody seemed to watch or like HOT ROD, but I did... so there. All their greatest SNL stuff is here including Dick In A Box and Jizz In My Pants, but the reason to buy this is to listen to the uncensored Natalie Portman rap. Te quiero, Ms. Portman. $11.99 for the CD or $7.99 digital download at Amazon.
Released last month this is the best collection of Weird Al Yankovic's work put out in one set. Eat It, Like A Surgeon, Yoda, Fat, Smells Like Nirvana, UHF, Jurassic Park, Amish Paradise and, one of my personal favorites, The Night Santa Went Crazy plus a ton more are on this 2 CD set. Perfect introduction to the man or rediscovery if you don't own any of his classics yet. $13.99 for the CD or $11.99 for digital download at Amazon.
I first took notice of Demetri Martin when he had a brief run on The Daily Show and could hold the screen with Jon Stewart. That takes some talent and talent is what The Daily Show keeps pumping out, it seems. I've only listened to bits and pieces of his new comedy album, but even with that small amount of information I can tell that it lives up to his really funny stand-up. $13.99 for the CD and $9.99 for the album download via Amazon.
Earlier this year I nabbed great seats to a Louis C.K. performance and I haven't laughed so hard since I saw George Carlin play in the mid-'90s. This dude is funny and his album, Chewed Up, is brilliant. His hatred of deer, his use of the "C" word and self-loathing of his weakness for Cinnabon will have you either rolling with laughter or offended beyond words. $13.98 for the CD and $8.99 for the download.
Karen O And The Kids' music for Spike Jonze's WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE is as much a part of the film's identity as Jim Henson Co's Wild Things or Jonze's eye. Brilliant movie, brilliant soundtrack. $11.49 for the CD and $9.49 download.
And let's not overlook Carter Burwell's musical score to the film, which goes hand in hand with Karen O And The Kids' music. $9.49 download only.
Filled with great Ennio Morricone, Charles Bernstein and Lalo Schifrin cues this is a standout Soundtrack, even for Tarantino. Great film and great soundtrack. Name me another compilation that has both David Bowie and Ennio Morricone on it? $13.99 for the CD and $8.99 download.
Richard Curtis's Pirate Radio née The Boat That Rocked is a love-letter to '60s music, which means this is a fucking great soundtrack if you're like me and worship that era of rock and roll. The Turtles, Jimi Hendrix, The Kinks, The Beach Boys, Smokey Robinson, The Who, Cream, Otis Redding, etc, etc, etc. Best of the best and a good movie to boot. $14.99 for the CD.
James Horner working again with James Cameron. Of course I'm excited. The soundtrack comes out 12/15/09 but is on pre-order for $11.99 for the CD.
Michael Giacchino's Star Trek score is fantastic, at once paying homage to the scores that came before from folks like James Horner and Jerry Goldsmith, but also finding its own themes. Upon my first viewing of the movie I only really took notice of his great closing credits theme, which was a callback to the original TV series music, but upon further viewings I've become more and more impressed with what Giacchino did for the film. $13.99 for the CD and $8.99 download.
Unless my I'm being my typical stupid self and I'm overlooking it, I couldn't find a CD release of Giacchino's even-better-than-Star-Trek score for UP, but I did stumble across this compilation of the best music from Disney/Pixar's films, which includes some of Giacchino's UP cues as well as some of his work on THE INCREDIBLES and RATATOUILLE. Of course you also have Randy Newman's Toy Story work and Thomas Newman cues from Finding Nemo and Wall-E. $14.99 for the CD and $9.49 download.
I'm a sucker for Jerry Goldsmith and his score for Twilight Zone: The Movie is top notch. Because of the episodic nature of the film and the multi-director collaboration Goldsmith almost turns in four different scores in one compilation... five if you count the wrap-arounds. His music for Spielberg's Kick the Can segment is sweet and beautiful, but my favorite music in the set is the crazy cartoony music from Joe Dante's segment. Film Score Monthy put out a limited pressing (limited to 3000) of the complete soundtrack. I bought mine and you can get yours for $19.95 plus shipping.
Time After Time is one of my favorite time travel movies featuring Malcolm McDowell as HG Wells who chases David Warner's Jack the Ripper to "modern day" San Francisco, directed by Wrath of Khan's Nicholas Meyer. Great movie and a great score by Miklos Rozsa. Film Score Monthly put this obscure score out in a limited edition printing just like the above Twilight Zone soundtrack, limited to 3000 pieces. $19.95 plus shipping.
La La Land Records has a few great genre soundtracks out in limited runs this season. You don't need me yet again professing my love of Fred Dekker's NIGHT OF THE CREEPS, so I'll spare you the speech, but Barry DeVorzon's score is the perfect tongue-in-cheek sci-fi music. I never in a million years would have thought we'd get the full score on CD, but I was wrong. $19.98 plus shipping.
Don't let the sequels muddle your memory of the original Child's Play. That first movie is genuinely creepy and a lot of that is thanks to Joe Renzetti's atmospheric score put out again by La La Land Records. Only 1200 of these were printed. $19.98 plus shipping.
Not only is Blazing Saddles on of the funniest films ever made, it also has the benefit of having musical numbers so La La Land's release of the soundtrack has John Morris' original, hummable score as well as Mel Brooks' hilarious songs. Madeline Kahn's I'm Tired is worth the buy alone and right now the CD, limited to 3000 copies, is on sale for only $15.98 plus shipping.
I hate playing favorites, but Big Trouble In Little China and the release of the complete Back to the Future score (below) are my picks as the two coolest things in the music section this year. John Carpenter and Alan Howarth's Big Trouble In Little China score is fucking epic. It's a 2-CD set with 96 minutes of movie music including that kind of ridiculous/kind of awesome theme song sung by John Carpenter and his gang of friends. Limited to 3000 copies and $24.98 plus shipping from La LA Land Records.
Something Wicked This Way Comes was a huge movie for me as a kid. Remember when they made those dark as shit kid's movies? From the great James Horner, this score has been highly sought after by movie music fans for a long time. Now you can pick it up for $24.99 plus shipping from moviemusic.com.
Not only does this release from Intrada (streeting 12/07/09) compile all of Alan Silvestri's iconic Back to the Future score it also features his unreleased score from the early days when Eric Stoltz was playing Marty McFly, which is supposed to be tonally very different. How sweet is that? I can't wait to get mine, already on pre-order! $29.99 plus shipping.
Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks teamed up in 1959 to create a comedy album unlike anything known at that time. The star of this album was the 2000 Year Old Man, voiced by Brooks while Reiner took the straight-man interviewer. Mel Brooks's character is hilarious and this set is a must-own if you like Brooks and Reiner at all. You get three CDs of all their 2000 Year Old Man material (5 albums worth) and a DVD featuring new interviews with Brooks and Reiner as well as a compilation of their guest appearances on shows like Ed Sullivan. $44.99.
The Beatles could very well be the best rock group the world has ever known. I know they're my favorite and these remastered albums are brilliant. The Stereo box set has every released album by the Fab Four. Some prefer the mono set, which is below, but unless you're a dissecting music critic you'll love this set which gives you more bang for your buck. $177.49.
The Remastered Beatles Mono Box Set isn't the most value for your money, but it's the discerning music fan's preference, I've found. I know a lot of hardcore Beatles fans that are turned off by the Stereo remaster on some of the classic Mono titles, but I have a hard time paying almost $60 more to get a set that doesn't even include the last three (and some say best) Beatles Albums (which were recorded in stereo). That said, I have heard the mono recordings of Help!, Please Please Me and A Hard Day's Night and there is a solidness to it that is noticeable. I just don't know if it's worth the significant upcharge. $229.99
CHEAP ($24.99 and Under)
What you see above is the Phantom Keystroker, a brilliant prankster gift worthy of an Office episode, courtesy of the good folks at ThinkGeek. What you do is set the switches on the side to whatever evil idea floats your boat... be it a random caps lock toggle, or garbage text or mouse movements... and then you set the frequency of these events and find an open USB port on a co-worker's computer, then sit back and watch the terrified frustration. So much fun for only $12.99.
Lightsaber Laserpointer. How come nobody thought of this before? $14.99 plus shipping.
I don't know why this makes me smile, but I love the idea of a showerhead that gives you a visual cue when the water's hot. I can just imagine the dread when the nice, soothing red light turns blue mid-shower as someone flushes a toilet somewhere in the house. I wonder which sense is faster? Could the light save you a shocking temperature change? Interesting... $44.99 plus shipping.
This is pretty badass. You can download NES roms and play them as God intended you to with this NES USB controller. No drivers to install, just plug and play... compatible with both Mac and PC. $29.99.
A USB controller is great and all, but what if you have a ton of old NES and SNES games lying around, but no original systems? That's where Retro Duo's above system comes in. You can play both original NES and SNES cartridges on that machine. Crazy, huh? How cool is that?$43.99.
We're entering the half-life of the next-gen consoles. It's been 4 years since Xbox and PS3 were introduced and I think now's the sweet-spot... the prices have lowered considerably on both consoles and we still have a solid 4 or 5 years before the next wave hits. Of course that's a guess, but I think it's a pretty solid bet. The Xbox Elite is better than the one I have currently, comes with two video games (Lego Batman is great), a wireless controller, a headset and a 120 gig harddrive. Mine only has a 20 gig HD on it. grumble-grumble. Now's the time... plus Xbox's warranty is enough to cover the red ring issues (although I've honestly had just as much trouble with my PS3 for all of Xbox's reputation). You can get the system for $299.00.
The strength of the PS3 still lies in its built-in Blu-Ray player. It also has the next God of War game hitting next year and is starting to catch up to Xbox on decent console exclusive titles. The PS3 has built-in wifi, a 120 gig Hard Drive and a dual-shock controller. $299.99.
Wii is probably the best system for just turning your mind off and losing yourself. It's also a good party system, but honestly... and I know I'm gonna get beat up in talkback for this... but I hate the controller for anything that's not a shooter or one of those sports compilation games. I have all three systems and the Wii gets the least play (insert inappropriate joke here). But it is the cheapest by a hundred bucks and also has some of the best console exclusive games. $199.99.
Think of YooStar as movie karaoke. The concept is simple... insert yourself into your favorite movie. You get a "studio quality USB webcam" (for PC only, Mac version coming soon), tripod, collapsable greenscreen, remote control, 12 movie scenes of your choice and the Yoostar software. Right now you can pick anything from 12 Angry Men to Terminator to Valley Girl to Rocky to Friday the 13th. Neat. For more info check out the website. $160.99.
Western Digital TV Live allows you to watch online content in full 1080p on your television... It's not a new concept, but the difference here is that you can wirelessly stream content from your computer and see it pop up in full high def with digital audio quality sound on your television. You can also connect USB drives to the machine and watch files that way... I'm sure you'll all use a machine like this to watch YouTube clips and not watch pirated movies, right? Right? Even with that darker side, this is a neat gadget and a step towards digital download being the norm in media distribution. $119.99.
I'm sure you've seen the commercials for the Powermat by now. This device intrigues me... the ability to charge your handheld devices wirelessly is a step to the future of power. I saw a TV show once talk about how scientists are working on the ability for devices like cell phones and computer batteries to draw power from the air around it. Can you imagine a world where your cell phone never runs out of juice? Sounds a bit like heaven, right? So, the Powermat is a step in that direction, wirelessly charging your handheld devices. $99.99.
That cute little guy is a Web-cam, but not any old webcam. The Minoru is the world's first commercial 3-D webcam. Imagine long distance relationships with this baby on the market! $89.95.
The Samsung BD-P1600 Blu-Ray player is currently the #1 seller on Amazon's Electronics list (and that's even with the lesser priced LG BD270 on sale via Gold Box for under $100 all day). If you're shopping for a Blu-Ray player this holiday it's hard to beat the Samsung BD-P1600 for quality, price and features. It comes wifi enabled (meaning you have to buy an add-on, but it's still one less cord for firmware updates, it also comes prepackaged with Netflix so you can do the Instant Netflix thing without a video game console. Full 1080p, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD capabilities and Pandora as well. This is one of the best deals out at $149.99. Click here for Part 2 of the Gift Guide covering DVDs, Blu-Rays, Video Games and Toys!