Gift guide: 2009

South African retailers and consumers are seeing eye-to-eye for a change, and are all hoping for a good Christmas this year. The retailers are hoping to sell lots of nice presents and the consumers are hoping that at least some of those being bought, will be coming their way.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been taking a good look around the Internet and a couple of things that I would not be sorry to find in my Christmas stocking have caught my eye .

If someone liked me very much and money were absolutely no object, this kind of person would lash out on a Nikon D700 camera which, although not cheap at around R30,000 without a lens, is Nikon’s least costly digital camera with a full frame sensor; one the same size as a piece of 35mm film. The Nikon D90 I already own, is a wonderful camera but the D700, with its larger sensor, provides very much better performance in low light conditions.From the realm of pure fantasy, to some photographic gifts that I have the least a small chance of finding under the Christmas tree. My first choice would be the chunky Canon G11 compact camera at about R7000. It apparently offers extremely good picture quality and, with fewer megapixels than the previous model, hopefully signals the end of the megapixel race.

Sporting the same sensor as the G11, the even more compact Canon S90 apparently also offers great quality in an extremely neat and tidy 196-gram package. It will apparently be available in this country at something just over R5000 and has many features to delight the heart of even the most demanding photographer.

I see that there is a new Apple iPod Nano music player out, with 16 GB of memory, which sells for around R2500. The 40g player includes an FM radio and a video camera, which is capable of recording for 16 hours onto the iPod’s memory.

I’m quite into nostalgia as far as music goes and my eye was caught by a box set of re-mastered Beatles CDs. There are apparently 16 CDs included in the set and it goes for around R1800; sounds as though it would be a great present.

I have cheated a bit on one of my choices this year, the Blackberry Curve 8250 mobile phone, which I have already bought for myself. I had been due for a phone upgrade for a more than a year and decided to take the plunge, when I saw that this new more compact Blackberry had become available and that you get unlimited e-mail downloads and web browsing for a mere R59 per month.

A full review will follow in due course but, so far, I’m very pleased with the phone and the Internet service which, although not very speedy, works fine. The amount you’ll have to pay in for an 8250 will vary depending on the contract that you have, but in my example, which is a Top-up R200, I had to play in R700.

One of the most interesting items of news to come my way in the last year, was that Amazon.com is now selling its Kindle electronic reader to a worldwide audience, including us South Africans. The Kindle will set you back $259 plus shipping plus the applicable duty when it arrives in South Africa.

Once here, you’ll be able to use it to buy and view any of the electronic books in stock at Amazon, plus a wide variety of other documents such as web pages, JPEG pictures, PDF files, and a whole lot more. It can apparently store on the order of 1500 books in its memory and you can read for up to a week, before having to recharge it.

The trick behind the Kindle is that it uses electronic ink technology for its display screen, which means that it only uses power when turning a page, and not while you’re actually reading. The books are as expensive as printed ones and you have to send your documents to Amazon via e-mail for conversion before you can load them onto the Kindle, but it’s still something I would like.

These are just a few of the things that have caught my eye in the run-up to the festive season and, if I’m lucky, one or two more might find their way in my direction.

Here’s wishing that you and yours have a blessed and peaceful time over Christmas, and I’ll catch up with you again next week.

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