They say you can never go home again, but
you can – if you bring the right gifts. Consumer electronics are once again
pegged to be the hottest gifts on wish lists this season, making Future Shop a
top destination for holiday shoppers. New products like Xbox 360 and satellite
radio are generating the biggest buzz, but from sister Kate to sleepy Uncle
Ned there’s a perfect gift for everyone.
The big trends in consumer electronics for holiday this year are
portability and integration. Products are getting smaller and more functional,
resulting in a surge of consumers looking to finally get into the digital
market or upgrade their current technologies. Cell phones take pictures, video
and now even play TV shows, while game systems allow people to share pictures
and listen to music. It’s all about matching functionality to lifestyle needs
and when it comes to buying holiday gifts for friends and family, Future
Shop’s product experts can be your best friends.
“Buying consumer electronics products for yourself can be confusing since
technologies change and evolve so quickly,” said Rick Lotman, VP of
Merchandising and Marketing for Future Shop. “But during the holiday season,
customers are faced with choosing the right gift for someone else and that’s
where help from someone who knows the right questions to ask can make all the
Microsoft and Apple are driving a lot of the holiday excitement this
year, with new versions of the Xbox and the iPod. Both products are already
pop culture icons so the Xbox 360, iPod Nano and iPod Video are sure to show
up on a lot of wish lists.
X marks the spot on every holiday wish list
Xbox 360 challenges gamers to break out of the linear systems they have
been used to and experience the next generation of gaming. In addition to
top-notch new high-definition games in a more powerful and flexible system,
the 360 has become an integrated entertainment center. Out of the box the
system can play DVD movies, connect to a portable music device or accept
digital image files that can then be viewed on your TV.
Beyond the three 3.2GHz core processors, the 500 MHz graphics processor
and the 512 MB of RAM, the 360 is eight times more powerful than its
predecessor. Wireless integration makes it even better, allowing automatic
wireless connection for up to four controllers. Xbox 360 released yesterday
across the country, but many customers had already pre-ordered their system.
More stock is expected in December, but quantities will continue to be
extremely limited. For those hoping to put one under the tree, the best advice
is to continue to check back with local stores and online at www.futureshop.ca
or, consider buying an accessory and / or game for the system and wrapping it
up with a gift card to cover the purchase of the system in the new year. The
Xbox 360 is $499.99.
iPod, you Pod, we all want an…
Apple is also playing up continued demand for its most popular product,
iPod. The newest players, the Nano and the Video continue to expand the
product line so that there is truly a player for every person.
The Nano offers more features and capacity than the Shuffle and is minier
than the mini, with 14 hours of battery life and a colour display. The Nano
retails for $249.99 for the 2GB and $299.99 for the 4GB.
The Video incorporates all the same music features into a large capacity
(30GB at $379.99 & 60GB at $499.99) player that can support 15,000 songs and
up to 150 hours of video. The 2.5-inch QVGA colour display provides top
quality photo and video viewing. And, with a few additional cables, videos and
photo slideshows can be broadcast to a TV, or images from a digital camera can
be transferred to the iPod for viewing and storage.
Radio from coast to coast
Satellite radio is another ‘next big thing’, with the service set to
launch in December. It offers listeners the opportunity to hear their favorite
music almost anywhere in North America through subscription-based radio
service from Sirius or XM. The signal is broadcast from space, making it
possible to tune into a station in Victoria, BC and then drive to St. John’s,
NF while listening to the same station. There are a variety of receivers
available for in-car, in-home or portable use.
The Pioneer Airware portable XM Radio is just one of the products
available for satellite radio, but one that will be popular due to it small
size and on-the-go options. The Airware is a hand-held receiver equipped with
a vehicle accessory kit, a home accessory kit and ear bud headphones (as well
as a belt clip) for listening on the go. With two play modes, listeners have
the option of listening live or storing up to 5 hours of XM content. The
Pioneer Airware will retail for $399.99.
Thin is still in
LCD and Plasma are fast becoming the most popular TV formats as prices
continue to drop and more programming becomes available in high definition.
Previously limited to less than 32″, LCD TV’s are now commonly available in
42″ with bigger sets on the horizon. Plasma dominates the bigger sets with
sizes ranging from 42″ to 60″. All the major players have something to offer
with prices ranging from $1300 for a 26″ LCD to about $5000 or $6000 for a
Point and shoot
The holiday season inspires random acts of photography, so many buyers
are looking to put their best foot forward with cutting edge cameras and
camcorders. The new JVC Everio G series of camcorders has eliminated the need
for tapes or discs, working from high-capacity internal hard drives that make
it easy to find, delete or rearrange footage. The JVC’s run from $999.99 to
$1199.99 depending on hard drive capacity. Digital cameras also continue to
improve with higher resolution and lower price points, like the 8MP Canon
Powershot for just over $600.
Don’t knock the sock
Finally, as important as the big gifts are, there’s no denying the smile
factor that comes from a stocking well stuffed. Movies and music are top picks
with titles like Mr. & Mrs. Smith (Nov. 29th), War of the Worlds (Nov. 22nd),
Cinderella Man (Dec. 6th), Usher: Truth Tour DVD Box Set (out now), INXS:
Switch (Nov. 29th) and Madonna: Confessions on a Dance Floor (out now).
The gift of choice
With all these ideas, some may find it hard to make that final selection.
For them, the Future Shop Gift Card is like getting out of jail free in
Monopoly. Future Shop’s redesigned cards come in a selection of gift boxes,
can be loaded with any amount and never expire.
No time to hit the malls?
With 31 shopping days left until the big day, not everyone has the time
to head out to the mall, so many holiday shoppers are taking advantage of free
shipping and heading online for their gifts at www.futureshop.ca. The Holiday
Gift Guide section has all the information shoppers need, from great gift
suggestions to exclusive last minute deals. Shipping deadlines for holiday
delivery depend on the city but are as early as December 13th for ground
shipping and as late as December 20th for air. It’s gift giving made simple.