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Gift guide: dashing through the hype

November 22, 2009|By David Colker
(Dave Wheeler / For The Times )

Other gadget guides make suggestions about what to buy. This one is about how to buy.

Shopping for a new television, portable music player, GPS navigator or digital camera is to enter a labyrinth of hype, model choices, specs and features that may or may not be useful in the real world.

It all adds up to tech stress.

This consumer guide seeks to offer relief in the form of advice from experts that should make shopping less angst-ridden, because this is a good time of year -- whether your celebrations are religious or secular -- to remember that technology is supposed to make our lives better.

At their very best, gadgets can even be sources of wonder.

Earlier this year I took my 95-year-old mother for a ride in a car that had a GPS navigator, which I explained had become common for use in driving. Listening to the voice coming from the device, she asked, "How does the girl know where all the different cars on the road are?"

Good question from a woman born even before the first commercial radio station went on the air.

And a reminder that while it's smart to approach gadget shopping as a savvy consumer, it's also not bad to bring along a little awe.

Here are the categories:

Televisions: A big screen for every budget

Portable media players: IPod rules, for a reason

Point-and-shoot cameras: Lower your sights for a better deal

GPS car navigators: Extra features may be worth extra cost

Stocking stuffers: Please your techie and your wallet

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