Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin: December 2012

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It’s hard to not get swept up in the madness of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and all the marketing buzz swirling around like snowflakes.

But if you’re reading this, you are running out of time and likely need a few ideas to help you finish up holiday shopping. Here’s the hot gadgets of the winter season that will have you or your loved ones smiling long after the snow has melted in the spring.

Everyone is atwitter about tablets these days. If you don’t own one yet, there is an option at a variety of price points. The iPad mini is offered at $329, while the NookHD, the KindleFire, and the Google Nexus7 have options at $199, and the Nook Tablet is available for $159. Tablets may seem like a superfluous gadget at first, but once you have time to work with one, you find new uses all the time. I keep my Nook in the kitchen when I’m cooking for easy recipe reference. I also use it to read textbooks and novels daily.

The hot phones for this season include the iPhone 5 and it’s older counterparts that have dropped in price. But those that avoid Apple’s phone would be interested in the Samsung Galaxy SIII, which is being offered at reasonable prices at various providers with contracts.  It is a feature-rich, elegant phone that is a considerably good challenger to the iPhone. If you would be comfortable with a slightly larger screen or a stylus, check out the Samsung Note II. If you are a fan of Windows phones, check out the HTC Windows Phone 8x.

(All these and more are available at exclusive prices with your MSBA Membership. Visit www.msba.org/members/benefits/tmobile.asp for more details on MSBA benefits with T-Mobile.)

Stay bundled up and warm this season without neglecting your smartphone. Old mittens and knit gloves won’t work in the modern digital age. Smartphone gloves are just what your loved one needs. These are gloves that have special finger tips so you can still dial, scroll, pinch, and text on today’s modern touch screen phones. L.L. Bean and REI have Smartphone gloves available through their online stores.

Microsoft developed a new tablet, Surface, based on the new Windows 8 operating system. It is a polished and graceful product at a modest price of $499. The case includes a flip-out kickstand and an optional touch cover with traditional QWERTY keypad, adding functionality. This device is still new, so expect some hiccups and some limited app availability.

The holidays can help you in the office too. Now you can scan directly to an iPad with the iConvert Scanner. This scanner is compact and light at less than 1.5 pounds, and connects directly to your iPad as a docking station. This scanner accepts documents from 2” wide to 8.5” wide, and uses an app from the iTunes App store. Sure, you could use a camera to take a photo of the document, but the scanner provides clearer, more accurate records of your documents, which could be important if you are using the iPad in a legal setting. Get yours for $149 from www.brookstone.com.

Add streaming video to your TV at a low cost with Roku’s new Streaming Stick. This device plugs in to the USB port of your television, so make sure your TV has that feature before you buy. Using your home wifi signal, Roku provides easy access to streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and HBO in a compact device. Find it for just $99.99 at www.roku.com/streamingstick.  

If you’re overdue for an entertainment upgrade, consider one of many wifi-enabled streaming blu-ray players that is offered by Samsung, LG, and my personal preference, Sony. I found one this season as a gift for a low price at tigerdirect.com; but if you’re a Costco member, it may pay to check prices there too. As a bonus, devices sold at Costco have a doubled manufacturer warranty at no extra cost. Don’t forget to grab an HDMI cable for the best picture quality possible from your new device.

The kids in your life (or the kid in you) will be thrilled this season. Furbies, EZBake Ovens, and Power Wheels battery operated vehicles bring retro toys back to the market with updated, high-tech designs. However, their complicated assembly will keep Santa occupied all night. And no batteries included, even in 2012.

Video games aren’t just for kids these days. If you or someone you know has a gaming system and the spare time to devote to modern gaming, there’s a few new titles that are worth checking out. Halo 4 offers a chance to shoot aliens. Assassin’s Creed III gives you the chance to seek out revenge in the American colonial period. Stress relief comes in the form of Call of Duty 4, for those that enjoy blowing stuff up. For a more relaxed and familiar video game experience, check out the Sega Genesis Classic Game Console – which comes complete with two controllers and 80 built-in video games including Sega classics like Sonic the Hedgehog. You can find it for less than $60 at www.amazon.com.

I can recommend a good novel or two as enriching, entertaining alternatives for those around you who need a technology break.

Whether you have seen the HBO series “Game of Thrones” or not, A Song of Ice and Fire (the novel series that provides the basis for the HBO show) by George R.R. Martin is an excellent read for those that love character development and plot twists. Help your loved ones rediscover the classics with The Hobbit by J.R. Tolkien, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, or Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. Keep on the holiday theme with books like A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Skipping Christmas by John Grisham, or A Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd, a novel known mostly for its beloved film counterpart.

No matter how large or small your holiday gifts may be, here’s to a happy holiday season and prosperous New Year from the MSBA staff. Enjoy!

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Publications : Bar Bulletin : December 2012

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