NOTE: From now through December, different Crave experts will be posting their top 10 gadget picks for the holidays. Here's our fourth installment.
Senior Editor Dan Ackerman is a former radio DJ turned journalist. Starting with a short-lived stint at an equally short-lived beer magazine 10 years ago, he's covered video games, gadgets, nightlife, and music for publications such as USA Today, PC Magazine, Sync, and Blender. Dan is currently on CNET's laptops beat.
1. Sony PlayStation 3 -- People are already standing in line outside stores around the country for this $600 gaming machine. While I'd be the first to admit the opening salvo of games isn't anything to write home about, the PS3 gets on the list because I have a stack of Blu-ray movies sitting on my desk and no way to watch them.
2. Apple MacBook -- I've never been what you'd call a "Mac guy." The lack of a right mouse button is deeply disturbing to my basic worldview, and I'm far too used to left-clicking by tapping on the touch pad of a laptop to change now. That said, the new Core 2 Duo MacBooks are cheap, powerful, attractive, and a complete no-brainer for anyone even vaguely considering a new Apple notebook.
3. Nintendo Wii -- It may lack the hardware muscle of the Sony and Microsoft consoles, and when it comes it annoying, nothing takes the cake like Nintendo fanboys--but I'll be damned if I haven't spent most of my waking hours this week thinking about that Wii Sports tennis game.
4. DUAL Floating DJ Coffin -- As a former DJ (both the radio and nightclub kind), I've got a pretty sizable vinyl collection and several turntables taking up valuable space in my kitchen. While I've managed to graduate my main decks--twin black Technics 1200s--from milk crates to a decent wooden rack, I've never seen turntable furniture as nice as the custom setups designed by a San Francisco company called DUAL. Their floating coffins start at $845 and hang suspended from your ceiling by metal cables, with room for two turntables and a mixer. Perfect for those killer loft parties you never get invited to.
5. Xbox 360 HD-DVD drive -- Not one to be left out in the cold this holiday season, Microsoft is releasing an HD-DVD add-on drive for its Xbox 360 console. Call it my hedge bet in the Blu-ray/HD-DVD format war.
6. Logitech Harmony Advanced Universal Remote -- Picture a stereotypical support group meeting. "My name's Dan and I'm a remote control addict." An unenthusiastic murmur would come back, "Hi, Dan." Thanks to the Logitech Harmony, I can now skip those Remote Addicts Anonymous meetings, and more importantly, not have to keep track of five little plastic boxes. I already have one of these, but it's so amazing, I need a backup just in case anything ever happens to the first one. It's that life-changing--literally.
7. Gateway FPD2485W 24-inch LCD -- I've got the 21-inch version of this puppy, and it's great--especially the component video inputs and the rotating screen. A bump up to the 24-inch version wouldn't mean too much for Battlefield 2142 matches or obsessively Photoshopping my headshot, but it would certainly look much more impressive on my crummy Ikea desk. One complaint: it's just advanced enough to require occasional rebooting.
8. Sling Media Slingbox Pro -- Initially, I wasn't a convert to the Slingbox cult. It seemed like a fairly complicated way to do something that didn't strike me as being terribly important--sending signals from your home TV setup to a remote PC. However, next month I'm taking an extended trip to a dark, mysterious land of limited cable TV access, so all of a sudden, the idea of logging in to catch my DVR'd episodes of Charlie Rose seems a lot more interesting.
9. Palm Treo 700p -- To be honest, I'm still perfectly happy with my ancient, tiny screen, no-camera-having, Samsung flip phone, even though the volume-control button hasn't worked in months and I'm lucky if the battery lasts a full day. Still, everyone keeps telling me I've got to get on the smart phone bandwagon, so I guess I might as well get the current industry leader. Now if I only had bigger pockets...
10. OfficeMax #2 Pencil -- I was on the fence about what brand of pencils to get for all my penciling needs, but a video review--lovingly modeled after CNET's own First Look videos--sealed the deal for the Office Max #2 (described as having "vibrant yellow coloring and a traditional design"). The YouTube video linked here will be hilarious to any CNET fan or employee. For everyone else, your mileage may vary.