Holiday gift ideas for the tech-minded
December 13, 2010
by Mark Ollig

Well, faithful readers, it’s that time of year again, when the holiday phobia known as, “What do I buy them again this year?” makes itself known.

We are fortunate it’s 2010; we have so many marvelous new tech toys and devices available.

One of them is from D-Link, who sells the new Boxee Box device.

This intelligent, small cube is essentially a media player which easily connects your home television to the Internet.

The Boxee Box has a unique design. It is, in fact, box-shaped – albeit a couple corners missing.

The device measures 4.7 inches on each side and has a flush power button on its top and a nonskid rubber base.

It sits at a funny angle, but the shape was designed this way on purpose in order to avoid having the box easily pulled back by the cables connected from the TV and Internet router.

Boxee Box’s website makes the statement, “Just plug this little guy into your TV with the included HDMI cord, connect to the Internet via wireless or Ethernet, and you’re set to watch your favorite shows and movies from the Internet on your flat-screen TV.”

The built-in software allows it to always be looking for your favorite video content; you are constantly kept up-to-date with the latest videos available from the Net.

The Boxee Box makes these video streams available for you to watch via its navigational on-screen menu displayed on your television.

The Boxee Box also includes sources for thousands of TV show episodes accessible from the Internet. Find the show you want to watch, click play, and enjoy.

The video-streaming movies and television shows are viewed on your regular television.

What is nice about the Boxee Box is that you need only the Internet connection, not cable or satellite TV, and there are no monthly fees for using the Boxee Box.

The Boxee Box itself is fundamentally a personal computer-like device running with Linux operating system software. The hardware processor is Intel’s Atom CE4100 SoC (system-on-chip processor), running at 1.2 GHz.

The Boxee Box can support dual 1080p video streams, along with advanced 3-D graphics and audio.

Since many of our favorite movies and shows are being uploaded to the Internet, we have an almost endless supply of them to choose from, so it makes sense to use the Boxee Box for watching any video you want, when you want.

The Boxee also works well with the Netflix online movie library.

An SD (secure digital) card slot is found on the Boxee Box which can be used to display the pictures from your camera’s SD memory card.

One can also access the videos, music, or pictures from your personal computer or any network drive with the Boxee.

The Boxee Box comes with a remote control unit, an HMDI (high-definition multimedia interface) cable, Ethernet port, 802.11n Wi-Fi, two USB ports, and composite audio connectors.

The Boxee Box supports the following operating system platforms: Apple Mac, Linux, and Windows.

So, now your favorite techno-geek can watch real Web TV on their high-definition television without having to use the family computer.

The Boxee Box is priced at about $200.

For more information, check out the website at http://www.boxee.tv.

A fun tech toy on my list this year is the . . . say it out loud with me . . . “WowWee Robosapien V2 Full Function Humanoid Robot.”

This entertaining, programmable robot comes equipped with hearing and vision sensors.

It will respond using its voice (in English) when someone speaks to it.

Standing at nearly 2 feet tall, the robot can “see” people close by using its vision-sensor eyes, and will follow the movement of objects around it.

The robot’s grip sensors allow it to pick up small items, too.

This holiday gift is a bit pricey, at nearly $500, but hey, you are getting a real, live robot for your money.

Just go to YouTube and search for videos on WowWee Robosapien V2 Full Function Humanoid Robots to see them in action.

A couple of robots I remember playing with as a youth were called the “Rock’em Sock’em Robots.”

For those of you over 50 who like to reminiscence, check out this memorable television commercial from our youth at tinyurl.com/35r326.

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