Wi-Fi Planet Holiday Wish List, 2009

By Wi-Fi Planet Staff

November 18, 2009

We can't tell you whether Wi-Fi Planet's contributors have been naughty or nice this year, but we can tell you which wireless gadgets they've been wishing for.

Whether or not you put up a tree in your home (or office) in December or compose an e-mail that begins “Dear Santa,” the end of the year is a time for a tradition even older than stockings hung by the fire with care—wishing for new stuff.

In keeping with this tradition, we asked Wi-Fi Planet’s contributors to tell us which Wi-Fi-related things they would each like to have someone wrap up and deliver via FedEx or chimney, whichever worked best this year. We hope they didn’t get the impression that gifts would then be forthcoming…Here’s what they said:

Troy Dreier, writer/reviewer

  • Netgear RangeMax NEXT Wireless-N Access Point ($139.99; below): I love my 802.11n network and I'd love it more if it reached all the way through my house. This access point is what I need to extend the range. wn802t.jpg
  • Chumby One ($99.95): I dug the original Chumby and I can't wait to see what the next model will bring. It's due out soon. [See? Wishing works. Look for Troy's review of the new Chumby next week.]
  • Apple TV ($229): I keep hoping Apple will upgrade the specs on the Apple TV and lower the price. Maybe then it will catch on. Of course, if I got it as a gift price wouldn't matter.
  • iPhone 3GS ($199+): While I'd enjoy having video recording on my iPhone, I'm not eligible for an discounted upgrade until next summer. 
  • DirecTV HD Plus DVR ($179.99): If I upgrade my DirecTV DVR to this model, I can get on-demand content wirelessly through my home network. Of course, the upgrade price is $199, there's a $50 installation charge, and I'd have to pay an extra $10 per month for HD channels that I don't want. Okay, I'm not sure I want this, after all.

Gerry Blackwell, writer/reviewer

  • iPhone 3GS ($199+): For all the usual reasons--apps, elegance, cool quotient--but also because it’s the best thing to hit mobile Wi-Fi since the USB dongle.
  • Squeezebox Touch ($299.99, available in December): The latest Wi-Fi-powered digital-music-through-your-stereo device from Logitech: touch screen interface and high-end DAC (digital-analog converter).
  • Zune HD ($289)The new flag ship product in Microsoft’s vastly under-rated Zune line of iPod busters: new touch screen interface, HD video out, slick Wi-Fi functionality.
  • EyeFi 4GB ($79.99): Very cool use of Wi-Fi to simplify a universal task – transferring digital shots from digicam to PC, and tracking where pics were taken: new larger capacity.
  • 13-inch MacBook Pro ($1199+): For when you need to do serious computing at a Wi-Fi hotspot (and iPhone won’t cut it)--it’s another objet de technologie from Apple.

Joseph Moran, rsnowwoman.jpgeviewer (pictured right)

  • D-Link DAP-1522 Xtreme N Duo Wireless Bridge/Access point ($118): The DAP-1522 wireless bridge sports four Gigabit LAN ports, 802.11 b/g/n support, and the ability to work in either 2.4 or 5 GHz modes, all of which make it a great way to connect a cabinet full of AV components, such as game consoles, DVR/set-top boxes, or similar devices to your home Wi-Fi network.
  • iPod touch (starting at $199): The built-in Wi-Fi, combined with the excellent Web browser and seemingly endless array of free or inexpensive apps, make the iPod touch the next best thing to walking around the house with a netbook in tow.
  • Wii ($199): The Wii may not have the razor-sharp graphics or the same selection of familiar games as other consoles, but you won't find a game system that's more fun to play. Plus, connecting the Wii to the Internet via Wi-Fi gives you the option to play games online, download new (and classic) game titles, keep tabs on news and weather, and more.
  • Squeezebox Radio ($199): The new Squeezebox Radio, which now sports a 2.4 inch color LCD screen, lets you stream your digital music collection--or access online content from Pandora to podcasts--from any room sans PC or the need to wear headphones.
  • MSI Wind Top AE2200 ($800): The MSI Wind Top PC is a sleek all-in-one PC with some pretty impressive specs, including integrated 802.11b/g/n, a dual-core Pentium CPU, 4 GB of RAM, DVD drive, 21.6-inch 1,900 x 1,080 touchscreen display, and Windows 7.
  • The Roku Digital Video Player ($99): It connects to your Wi-Fi network and delivers Netflix and Amazon Video on Demand content directly to your TV, which sure beats watching it on a PC. Rumor has it that an upgraded "XR" with 802.11n and a USB port (for watching your own video) is being readied for a Holiday launch.
  • A ticket on Virgin America: Flying--especially for the holidays--is seldom much fun, but if you have no choice, see if Virgin America is going your way. The airline offers in-flight Wi-Fi on all its planes, and it's teamed up with Google to offer the service (which normally costs between $6 and $13 depending on the length of the flight) gratis for passengers traveling between 11/10/09 and 1/15/10.

Dan Casciato, writer/reviewer Casciato.jpg

  • Mole Stand-Alone Internet Camera from Astak ($299): This standalone Internet camera can be connected via Wi-Fi or Ethernet. You can log in from anywhere, including a mobile phone, to keep tabs on your business, home, kids, or pets while you’re away.  Whether you're a parent, pet owner, or home security seeker, you can watch what's going on in your home or your office. Watch your video from any Web browser or mobile device. The on-board, Wi-Fi-enabled software auto-uploads to YouTube and Twitter. Users can also receive real-time alerts via e-mail or Twitter sent to their mobile phone or any IP-enabled device. The camera includes motion detection activation, night vision, two-way audio, and a built-in DVR.
  • Livio Radio ($199.99): Not only can you enjoy Pandora Internet Radio with this Wi-Fi device, but it also features more than 11,000 free Internet radio stations from around the world. The device has the dedicated “Thumbs up, Thumbs down” controls on front panel and a remote control as well to customize your music tastes.
  • Broadband2Go ($99 for the device; $10-$60/month for the service): Virgin Mobile’s Broadband2Go is a must-have for business travelers and vacationers alike. Just plug it into the USB port on your laptop and get Internet access anywhere. Unlike most other carriers, you aren't tied to a long-term contract so you can pay-as-you go with plans starting at just $10 for 100MB of data—great for users who don’t want to pay exorbitant hotel Internet fees or spend time searching for Wi-Fi access at cafes.
  • Wi-Fi Detector Shirt ($19.99): We came across this neat little item while browsing for gift ideas. It’s the perfect gift for the geek inside all of us—a Wi-Fi Detector Shirt from ThinkGeek. Looking for a Wi-Fi signal? Keep your laptop in your bag and follow your shirt for the closet hotspot. The glowing bars on the front of the shirt dynamically change as the surrounding Wi-Fi signal strength fluctuates.
  • Nikon COOLPIX S610c ($219): The Nikon COOLPIX S610c is a 10-megapixel compact digital camera with built-in Wi-Fi with a 4x wide-angle zoon. It can connect to any open Wi-Fi hotspot so you can send images directly from the camera to your Flickr account, blog, or an email address.  It’s a wonderful convenience for mobile workers who need to zap an image to someone immediately.  One of its cool features is the Smile Shutter that automatically fires the shutter when it detects the smile of the person you’re shooting. It also shoots video, giving you instant home movies.

Lisa Phifer, writer/reviewer

Yes, that's me (right), waiting for Santa to arrive, circa 1966. Back then, all I wanted was an Easy-Bake Oven or Barbie. Nowadays, I'd much rather receive...

lisa-xmas.jpg

  • Novatel Wireless MiFi 2200 (Prices vary by carrier): With a paid year of service, of course. Can't beat this when it comes to getting fuss-free on-the-go Internet access for all of my other Wi-Fi-enabled gadgets.
  • HTC Hero ($179.99 after rebate, with 2-year plan): Speaking of which, my next Wi-Fi-enabled phone might just be an HTC Hero. Finally, an easy-to-use 3G/Wi-Fi/Bluetooth capable smartphone that can be customized to do exactly what I want--while delivering usable coverage and a decent selection of apps. [Read Lisa's review of the Hero here. Hint: she liked it.]
  • SlingPlayer Mobile ($29.99): If Santa's feeling generous, he can bring me a SlingBox to make the video content I'm already paying for at home readily accessible on the road, along with SlingPlayer Mobile to watch that content from over Wi-Fi from my iPod (or any BlackBerry, iPhone, WinMo, Palm, or Symbian smartphone).
  • Powermat Wireless Charging Portable Mat ($99.99): Of course, all of these power-hungry Wi-Fi gadgets are going to need some serious juice. I'd love to replace my tangle of cabled charging devices with one "wireless" Powermat that could magically refresh all of the Wi-Fi gadgets that I laid on top of it.
  • Control4 Home Control System (pricing available through dealers): My shoot-for-the-stars gift list would start with a Control4 system for my next home. The Wi-Fi-enabled table-top controller shown here delivers access to audio/video, heating/cooling, lighting, security, and other wirelessly-remoted devices throughout a home. Just sit back and flick through all available music and video, then launch your selection with one click--Control4 finds and fires up components for playback to any room.

Jeff Goldman, writerjeffgoldmanxmas.jpg

For me, Wi-Fi is all about mobility and flexibility, so...

  • MacBook Air ($1499+): Adds to the freedom of movement inherent in any  laptop by making it as light as possible. The Air still demands something of a tradeoff in terms of storage, etc.--but oh, would it be a beautiful toy to have...
  • MiFi mobile hotspot (prices vary by carrier): Only as long as, oh, a year of two of  service is included with it -- the cost of the service makes the cost  of the device itself kind of irrelevant...
  • 802.11n USB dongle for my TiVo: This doesn't exist yet (as far as I can tell), but I'm dying for one: my TiVo is the only device on my home network that isn't n-compliant, so I'm being forced to downgrade the entire network just to keep it happy...
  • iPhone 3GS ($199+): I've got the 3G and can't justify paying for the upgrade, but since this is a wish list, the compass functionality sure would be nice to have :-)
  • 802.11n-enabled webcam: Just to see exactly what it is that my cat spends all day doing when I'm away...Christmas_naomi3.jpg [Read our review of the D-Link DCS-1130 Wireless N Network Camera here.]

Naomi Graychase, Managing Editor

I'll just take two of everything--except maybe that tee shirt--plus a FON La Fonera 2n router ($109), so that I can make a buck or two off my Wi-Fi deprived neighbors.

And since we're wishing, why not throw in a Wi-Fi-enabled BlackBerry from Verizon Wireless (because it has the best coverage in my area) complete with lifetime unlimited voice and data service. That should do it. For this year, anyway.

Related Reviews:

To read reviews of other Wi-Fi-related devices, visit our Reviews section.

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