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2010 Holiday Gift Guide

Christmas gifts 2010Holiday shopping, even for the most enthusiastic of consumers, is never easy. No one wants to overspend on gifts especially in a sluggish economy. Here are some diverse holiday present ideas that should fit most budget parameters.

If there is anything good to be said for a recession is that household goods, which normally would not be thought of as presents, do make for thoughtful gifts. Honeywell’s Air Purifier helps keep rooms free of dust particles while Bissell’s PowerEdge vacuums have a similar design to the expensive Dyson brands and are more adept at cleaning up after pet hair and dander.

Read more: 2010 Holiday Gift Guide

ContourHD: The World’s First HD Wearable Camcorder

VholdR, the leader for shoot and share wearable video cameras, is introducing ContourHD -- the world’s first (and lightest) HD Wearable Camcorder.  A Seattle based start-up helping adventure sports enthusiasts tell stories of action, adventure, and travel through video, VholdR leads the way in making action video easy to shoot and share. VholdR is dedicated to creating simple tools that enable hands-free capture and effortless sharing of video online with others.

Read more: ContourHD: The World’s First HD...

Re-use Your Old Hard Drive as New Portable Drive with DIY Kit

A leading provider of Mac® and PC performance upgrades, storage drives and accessories, Other World Computing has Other World Computingdeveloped the OWC DIY Hard Drive Kit -- the lowest-cost way to upgrade a laptop hard drive at home, school, or office to a faster (to 7200 rpm, larger (to 1TB) hard drive or high-performance SSD without sending the laptop out for repairs or buying a new laptop.

The OWC DIY Hard Drive Kit provides everything needed to increase space and performance for a MacBook, MacBook Pro, Mac mini storage, or PC laptop and be “green” by re-using the “old” hard drive as a new portable external drive.

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Open The Room on iOS

the roomCall me old fashioned, but my relationship with videogames has always been a tactile one. I was exposed to the comforting and empowering grip of the NES controller at an early age, and as I grew, I got my hands on a plethora of arcade sticks, keyboards, and other peripherals. These controllers acted as a link between my mind and body and the world of the game. It’s not like I really felt like I was Castlevania’s Simon Belmont, but the controller made me feel that much closer to him and made the gaming experience as a whole one that I feel a strong connection with.

Then the iPhone came along. Now having seen a good deal of change in gaming over the years, I was not exactly resistant towards the rise of this touch-based gaming, but I always felt disconnected from it or that it was just a novelty. Having been raised primarily on console gaming, the controller has always been omnipresent. So while I do play the occasional iOS game, they rarely ever engaged me. That is until The Room.

The Room, developed by Fireproof Games, is a puzzler set in a old dark house where cryptic notes instruct you to discover the eldritch secrets behind a series of puzzle boxes that are far more complex than your average Rubik’s Cube. The Room is comprised of four chapters, each with it’s own puzzle box, but o call them simply “boxes” doesn’t quite do them justice. Each box comprised of hidden compartments, complex machinery, and parts that completely change when seen through a special looking glass.

There is a cause-and-effect web that makes solving each conundrum exciting. A secret compartment houses a key, and that key opens a clock, and turning that clock to a certain time opens another compartment, and so on.

Even though the game is done with touch, there is almost a tactile feel to it since you have to perform motions to do things like unhook latches, turn screws, and examine objects for clues. I can honestly say this is the first iOS game I have played that has actively engaged me, rather than being a fun time-killer, because of the way it combines intuitive controls with clever problem solving. The moody atmosphere and spooky music reminded me of Myst or the first Resident Evil, and gives The Room an eerie sense of isolation.

I will say that this game is preferably played on an iPad, but with some squinting aside, I still found playing The Room on an iPhone 5 enjoyable. The game has some truly great graphics, but the downside to that is that it can only be played on the iPhone 4S and up and the iPad 2 and up.  Also, as a puzzle game, it does not have a super high replay value, but the initial experience and sense of discovery makes it worth the purchase. Fireproof has also announced that they will be adding more stages soon. This is an iOS game that is not to be missed.

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