theSync: 5 Places to Visit on Black Friday

If you’re like me you may have done the Black Friday thing once or twice, but quickly turned off by the early cold morning, the bait and switch tactics, only 5 deals in-store, and last night’s blinding tryptophan hang over. So this week on theSync, I’m sharing 5 online alternatives you should check out during this week’s Black Friday insanity.

theSync: The 5 Best Mobile Audio Products to Buy for Christmas

Yup, Christmas is 15 days away!

Last week, it was all about PCs, this week we’re talking audio on theSync.

1. Get a Good Set of Cans

Grado-SR60i-Review-headphones

This year introduce your loved one to the audiophile level with Grado’s entry level SR60i. The 60i’s are designed for mobile devices and deliver a solid sound with proper imaging. You can get them for less than 100 bucks at headphone.com. I’ve owned a pair for 60i’s. They were my introductory cans for higher end listening. If you can spare the dough for a good audio gift, this is a great place to start.

2. Crank Up the Power

ak10-100068980-large

After getting a decent set of cans. You need a headphone amp to deliver crisp and clean electric vibes to your headphones. Pick up Astell and Kern’s AK10 headphone amp. It’s compact and light in an attractive package.

3. Deliver a House Full of Music

71ARSaz4KoL._SL1500_

Wake up your loved one this Christmas morning by filling your house with Boyz II Men’s classic “Let It Snow” played through Altec Lansings iMT180 Boombox. The 180 packs heavy bass with 80’s BedStuy styling with 21st century sensabilities.

4. Wheels of Steel

Numark-iDJ3
If your loved one is a DJ, look no further than Numark’s wheels of steel iDJ3. It docks your iPhone or iPod touch and allows you to scratch, beat match, and cue. You could be Khalil Williams using the iDJ3.

5. Curtain Call

ampli-tude-irig_1

If your loved one is a guitar hero pickup the cheap and handy iRig. Your guitar hero can jam anywhere using the iRig and it plugs in between your guitar and iDevice. It requires no extra power and works well with garage band.

All of this audio hotness and more can be found on my gift guide on Pinterest.

Please share which audio devices you think make great gifts in the comments.

I’m Will Mapp, thanks for listening and you’ve been synced.

theSync: The 5 (6) Best Point and Shoot Cameras to Buy for Christmas

Christmas is now 36 days away.

Last week, I shared with you the top 5 phones to get your loved on on Christmas day.

This week, it’s the top 5 point and shooters for your snap happy loved one.

1. The Lumix Series is Always a Good Buy

DMC-LX5K_400

You can’t go wrong with cameras from Panasonic. Pansonic cameras are built well, look good, and sometimes ship with Leica lenses. Furthermore, Leica’s digital cameras use Panasonic electronics. This year pick up the Lumix DMC-LX7. The LX7 has a 10 megapixel sensor, full high def, and a lens that stops down to f/1.4. That’s right baby, a very fast lens for this category of camera. For some, the zoom is low at a max of 6.7x, but its super fast lens makes up for that shortcoming.

2. The Guys That Made the 4th Color Layer Strike Again

fujix100

For the prosumer shooter in your life, the Fuji x100 is the professionals choice for compact camera. The x100 sports 12.3 megapixels with a default lens stopped down to f/2 in a beautifully classic design. Fuji were the guys that came up with the fourth color layer in imaging and you won’t go wrong with this camera.

3. Canon Gets Social

canondsc04821

When you get right down to it, we all know that it’s really a Nikon and Canon camera show. We already know that Canon has better glass and Nikon has better bodies. So let’s start with Canon.

I think Point and Shooter/Social Media combos are hokey, but this year I’m including one of Canon’s Powershot cameras, the N Facebook. This cameras has an 8x, 12 megapixel sensor, and a fake macro feature. The glass in this camera is so sharp that it can focus down to one half inch.

4. Nothing Says Loving Like a Nikon

Nikon Coolpix S31 white_back-580-90

Now on to Nikon, of which I’ll be providing you with 2. I’m a Nikon man through and through, plus it’s my show. The best cheap, cheap point and shooter you can buy is the Nikon Coolpix S31. At $100, this camera is hard to beat with a 3x zoom and 10 megapixel sensor. This camera makes a perfect first shooter for a child because it’s also waterproof to 35 feet.

ZNikon-P7800-MFR-3Q

My second Nikon camera is the Coolpix P7800, this is Nikon competitor to Canon’s G-series of cameras which I am a fan of. The P7800 has a 12 megapixel image sensor, a 6 to 42 mm zoom, and a lens stopped down to f/2.0.

5. Breathe in the Rarefied Air

twox-680x453

This list wouldn’t be complete without a real shooter’s camera. This year, breathe in the rarefied air and get your loved one the Leica X2. The Leica X2 is a fully manual provisioned, 16 megapixel, f/2.8 lensed, monster. This camera brings sexy back digitally with an old school design including knobs on top. You can’t go wrong with this camera, but just make sure you have money left over for the mortgage.

All of these cameras and more can be found on my gift guide an Pinterest.

Please share the cameras you think make great gifts with us in the comments.

Thanks for listening, and reading. You’ve been synced.

theSync: The 5 Best Smartphones for Christmas

Guess what?!

Christmas is less than 45 days away.

And if you’re like me I ain’t trying to think about Christmas, but I’m forced to. I was at Tyson’s Corner last weekend and the trees, songs, and tights are already out.

This week on theSync, the 5 Very Best Smartphones to Give as Gifts for Christmas

The Coolest and Cleverest Smartphone on the Market

Seriously, I'd love to have a Moto X.

Seriously, I’d love to have a Moto X.

The Moto X is easily the coolest and most clever smartphone on the market. The fully customizable Moto X tops this year’s smartphone Christmas list. It’s fresh and packs the power, personality, and panache to make a great gift. Head on over to motomaker.com and pick out the gift that personally greets your loved one when the power button is pressed.

Putting the ‘Smart’ in Smartphone

I'd also take a Lumia 1020.  The camera is unbeatable.

I’d also take a Lumia 1020. The camera is unbeatable.

Between the Windows Phone operating system and the best smartphone shooter around, the Nokia Lumia 1020 puts the word smart in smartphone. The lumia 1020 is a powerful device with excellent imaging and video processing in a colorful package. It’s Snapdragon Processor, 41 megapixel camera, and Windows Phone operating system make the Lumia 1020 the best overall smartphone you can buy right now. I kid you not. Use the device for yourself.

Classy, Powerful, Elegant

I wish I could get the 5S, but I'm saving my upgrade slot for the i6.

I wish I could get the 5S, but I’m saving my upgrade slot for the i6.

Coming up in the middle is the iPhone 5S. The graceful 5S has the highest power rating of any smartphone on this list and has the most attractive design. When your loved one unwraps the drool worthy iBling on Christmas morning you’re sure to receive an extra special gift once the family leaves for the evening.

Cheap, but Cool

We all know that only iPhone users are cool.

We all know that only iPhone users are cool.

The government shutdown affected many people. With rebates you can gift the best cheap phone you can buy with the iPhone 5C. The 5C is cute, cool, and cheap, (Did I say that it’s cheap?) and gets your loved one in the cool school of smartphones. What? A cheap iPhone? Yes, at Radio Shack you can get the iPhone 5C for $49, and probably free if you buy three packs of batteries.

Insanely Large, Insanely Priced

The insanely large Note 3.

The insanely large Note 3.

Bringing up the rear is Sammy’s latest, the Note 3. It seems that there is a big enough market for people wanting to stretch out their pant’s pockets and Samsung won’t disappoint these folks with their miniature television set. If your loved one has poor eyesight, writes proposals on their phone, or just has to carry around a mini-TV, then the Quad-Core Exynos Octa powered Note 3 will brighten your nights and fry your retinas.

All of these smartphones and more can be found on my Pinterest gift guide.

Please share with us the phones you think will make great gifts in the comments.

As always, thanks for reading, and listening. You’ve been synced.

theSync: 2012 Holiday Gadget Guide

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

This week on theSync, I share with you my pics for the best holiday gadgets to give that special someone.

Or just yourself.

Buying stuff is cool, but remember what’s most important. PSA over, let’s get to the gadgets.


1. The Nest Learning Thermostat

Every year, the home automation nerds bring us a step closer to having Jarvis make breakfast for us in the morning. Topping this year’s list is the Nest Learning thermostat. I’ve mentioned this on Briefcase Radio and I’ve briefly spoken about it on theSync, but I’m a big fan of this little device. The Nest learns your preferences and dynamically adjusts your A/C and heater for optimum temperature and savings. For just this innovation alone, it’s a steal at $249 and can be controlled by your iOS or Android smartphone. You can pick it up at Home Depot or online at nest.com.

2. A Mini-Tablet

I know. We all have iPads, Nexuses, Kindles and what not, but you can never have too many computing devices in your life.  I panned the iPad Mini a couple of weeks ago, but I have to say that I’m impressed by the weight and feel of the device.  I stand behind my original argument in that it doesn’t make sense as a business tablet, but it is a great toy.  The Mini is light, well built, and well, made by Apple.

On Briefcase Radio I spoke great things about the Nexus 10, Google’s Samsung constructed super resolutioned tablet.  The Nexus 7 is the 10’s baby brother.  At $199, you’d be crazy to not get the Nexus 7 over another mini-Android tablet.  It feels good in your hands, runs Jellybean, and has a beautiful display.

Cool kids get iPad Minis, the nerds get Nexus 7’s. If you don’t think you fit in with either group, pick up the Kindle HD.  Last year, I reviewed the Kindle Fire and I was really impressed with Amazon’s tablet entry.  The HD is a pretty good improvement upon their existing design with an updated screen.  It costs the same as the Nexus 7 with a true 1280 high resolution screen.  Amazon claims that it is the world’s most advanced tablet with it’s true HD screen, dual-band wifi, and solid black design.  They might be right.

3. A Grown Up Tablet

Last week, I spent some time with a Microsoft Surface RT device.  And this may be the best product Microsoft has released.  Microsoft introduced the world to tablet and smartphone computing over 10 years ago, but couldn’t execute.  This time, the Surface has the battery life, screen capability, and application support to make it worth while.  If you’re special one is a business owner or entrepreneur, this is that tablet to get.  Why? Two words.  Microsoft Office.

4. A Really Good Pocket Digital Camera

Even though we publish the Snapperific app, and are soon to come out with Snapagram, I still believe that digital cameras make great Christmas gifts.  We can make more money, but we can’t make more time.  And nothing captures the time we spend with our families better than pictures.  CNET, recommends Panasonic’s Lumix ZS20 digital camera, and I agree with them.  The ZS20’s 20 mega pixel sensor can catch a fly buzzing a four feet with crystal clarity.  But more importantly, you’re getting Leica performance without paying Leica money.  On this camera, you’re getting a Leica lens and sharing the same silicon as Leica’s digital cameras.  For less!  That’s a great gift.

If you’re not in the mood for Panosonic cameras, check out the Nikon Coolpix 800c. The 800c is an Android powered camera which means at some point you’ll be Instagramming and Facebooking your images straight from the back of the camera.  I was wondering how long it would take to see Android powered cameras and this year they are right on time.

Huh? What about DSLRs.  See below.

5. Smarter Smartphons

Every year we read about, watch talking heads, and here ringtones coming from new super phones.  This year, LG files one in the ridiculously spec’d out category with the LG Optimus G.  Let’s see.  Quad-core Snapdragon processor clocked at 1.5 gHZ, 2 GB of RAM, 4.7″ HD display, expansion slot, and LTE.  I’d wager that some of you are reading this and listening to theSync using computers with lower specs.  At $99 on contract, it’s the ‘IT’ cellphone surpassing even the mighty S3.

6. Stocking Stuffers

I say it every year.  You can’t not have too much storage and energy.  Get plenty of SD and CF cards for those digital cameras.  If you’re really savvy, pick up the iPad digital camera connection kit from photojojo so that your special one can easily copy those moments to their iPads.  An FM transmitter for your mate that doesn’t have in-car Bluetooth would be nice.  A Victorinox SWAK USB drive is always a cool and welcome gift.  An Apple Magic Mouse is a stylish and productive accessory for your loved one’s workstation.  And finally an external battery pack for those iOS and Android smartphones being unwrapped on Christmas morn.

What?

We all know about the war between the S3 and iPhone5.  Why should I mention them here?

Thanks for listening and reading.  It’s the start of the holiday season, so please enjoy yourself, behave responsibly, and if necessary make sure you have a designated driver.

You’ve been synced.

What Didn’t Make the List

The Wii U

This is going to be another ‘IT’ gift for the season.  Reports have stated that Wii U’shave sold out at Wal-Marts and other retailers.  Why didn’t it make the list?  According to initial reports, the Wii U’s graphics and processing performance hasn’t been spectacular with the hard core games such as Mass Effect 3 and others.  Although Nintendo was never the system for the hard core.  I would wait and see or try it before you buy it because software only gets more complex with time, not simpler.

Smartphone Controlled Helicopters

You can walk into any mall in bumble-America and find a smartphone controller helicopter.  They are cool.  I want one myself, but you know where they are.

Google Glasses

As much as I’d like to live our my Kurweillian fantasies, the Google Glasses won’t be out until 2013.  I hope to get my hands on a set ASAP.  If they work out, they will be on the list next year…

The Canon 5D Mark20xyz or the Nikon D9z

I am a Nikon fan.  I’ve only own Nikon DSLRs.  I currently own a Canon G9 prosumer camera, a Bronica SQAi, a Yashicamat 124G, a Pentax K1000, a Nikon F100, and an old, old Polaroid.  The new Canon 5DmkIII is supposedly the best thing to ever happen to photog since autofocus, but I own too much Nikon glass and have shot too many Nikon images to not be biased.  It wouldn’t be fair to you, or to my cameras.

5 Quick Re-Gifting Tidbits

Ahhh.  It’s a couple of days after Christmas.  You’ve put on three extra pounds of weight, received some pretty good gifts, and received some extraordinarily bad gifts.

What do you do?

You can’t bring yourself to throw them away.

You look at the stack of thoughtless treasure and can’t stand it taking up space.

And you feel bad about not liking the gift; because, after all, it’s a Christmas gift.

I’m here to help.

Before we get started, only re-gift unopened and unplayed with merchandise.  No one likes to receive something that was opened up and played with; and, saying that you bought an open-box item is uncouf as well.  Also, there’s a caveat.  Some people are bad gift givers, if you notice that the gifter is proud of giving you that super awesome DIY ear candling kit, then you may want to hold on to it for a some time or at least read the back of the box to know what the thing does.

1.  First, keep your mouth shut!  When stuck with that electric nose trimmer after the Secret Santa round, don’t whine and don’t complain.  Keep a cool head.  Why?  Because you are sitting amongst future gift recipients. You will be able to exact revenge at some point in the future.  If you’re constantly complaining to your firends about that quesadilla maker you received for Christmas, then you won’t be able to gift them a quesadilla maker.  Get it.  The other tips are useless if you’re complaining about that damned quesadilla maker.

2.  Know your audience.  Obviously, the person giving you the deluxe swiss army cheese knife forgot to consider your lactose intolerance.  Be cool; at some point, a wine connoisseur will need smoked brie smearing utensils.  When that time comes you have a gift in the waiting.  The most important point is to do a better job of thinking through the gift giving process more than the person that gave you the gift.  You can turn that thoughtless gift into the gift of the year for someone else.  A conversation starter for dinner parties to come.  One day, at a party, in the car, during a luncheon, or while playing basketball, someone is going to mention, “…dude, I could really go for a quesadilla right now.  I love ‘em”

Nothing says I love you like a free ACC Championship watch from your ACC student athlete.

3.  Be Patient.  Learn the one thing all politicians know.  People have ridiculously short attention spans and even shorter memories.  There is no better tool in the re-gifter’s arsenal than time.  Trust me, the lady that gave you that quesadilla maker will forget about how she re-gifted a quesadilla maker to you.  Remember, most people can’t remember what they did last week, they definitely won’t remember a gift given to you.  Be stealthy, and patient.  Wait for the opportune time to gift.

4.  Gift outside the family.  If you’re a manager or supervisor you have a prime opportunity to turn a bad gift into an atta-boy!  But remember, know your audience, if your superstar account manager hates Mexican food, the quesadillar maker will not play well, and you could be sued for creating a hostile work environment.  For instance, giving wine ionizers to a recovering alcoholic isn’t smart.

5.  Gift to charity.  Every year, people that are less fortunate go through the holidays without receiving anything. In many middle class homes across America there are dozens of unopened boxes containing gadgets, steamers, or thermometer equipped BBQ tongs that someone would appreciate.  Head down to your local charity and do a solid for those that are less fortunate.

Happy Re-gifting!

WLM3