||2006 Holiday Gift Guide
December 13, 2006
Summary: 'tis the season to be giving! And we've got gifts that aren't lame, except some generic game recommendations by Jakub! For shame.
It is truly the season for giving as as we get closer and closer to December 25, some of you might be wondering what to get that special gamer on your list. Of course it's easy go get them games and it's likely that you have some titles and even some game consoles on your shopping list. Here at FiringSquad, we know that men and women gamers don't live by games alone. That's why we decided to come up with a holiday gift list that has more than just a bunch of game titles. We hope this collection of ideas from various FiringSquad staff members will help you in your quest to get a gift that your gamer will enjoy but perhaps didn't see coming:
| Brandon||Page:: ( 1 / 5 )|
Brandon Bell: FiringSquad Hardware Editor
Nikon D40 $600
Nikon's entry-level SLR is perfect for budding photographers looking to capture high quality images. It's got a 2.5" color LCD and supports up to 6.1 megapixels. It's also smaller and lighter than previous SLR offerings from Nikon. Officially it carries an MSRP of $600, but expect street prices to fall over the course of 2007 as more retailers begin to carry the D40.
ASUS WL500W router $150
While they're best known for their motherboards, ASUS has quietly developed a line of high-end routers with their WL-500 and WL-700 series. The WL-500W is an 802.11n draft-compliant router. The WL-500W is also one of a handful of routers with built-in BitTorrent client support. With their download manager software, you can manage your FTP, web, and BitTorrent downloads, even when your PC is turned off or disconnected. The router comes with 2 USB 2.0 ports built-in, in case you want to add an external HDD for storage. The more expensive WL-700 actually comes with a 160GB HDD built-in for this purpose.
Skip Barber racing school $1,595 2-day racing school@Laguna Seca.
I once had the pleasure of driving de-tuned NASCARs at Las Vegas Speedway thanks to the Richard Petty driving experience. It was a lot of fun, but not entirely helpful for real-world use. Skip Barber racing school is entirely different, with courses on a range of different driving skills you can use day-to-day, and in a variety of regular cars as well as sports cars. Skip Barber schools are available at a wide variety of tracks, but I chose Laguna Seca because of its reputation for being one of America's great tracks.
Flight school ~$200 for 1 lesson
I grew up playing flight sims, and one day would love to go flying. I hear lessons start at about $200, one of these days I'm definitely going to give it a shot.
Philips Pronto TSU7500 $600
While there are cheaper universal remotes out there, the Philips Pronto is the one that truly started it all. The Pronto works with practically every brand of AV equipment, and its completely customizable. Simply hook it up to your PC (via USB) to download templates from other Pronto users online. The remote itself comes with a 3.8" touch screen and 48MB of memory. This is another one of those home audio devices that I want to own one day.
Of course, for those of you who would still like to get someone a game, here’s our list.
| Games!||Page:: ( 2 / 5 )|
Jakub Wojnarowicz: FiringSquad Games Editor
World of WarCraft: $19.95
Because the only way to live with the fact that you're a catass with three level 60s in full Naxx gear is to make everyone else around you a catass. Besides, you can give your friend a head start on The Burning Crusade... as well the unemployment line.
Company of Heroes: $49.95
You may be sick of World War II first-person shooters, but you're not sick of World War II RTS games ... yet. Next year: Company of Heroes Expansion Pack, Company of Heroes II, Company of Heroes Clone, Company of Heroes Clone 2, Company of Heroes Clone 3. And so it will continue until EA butchers the genre by finally jumping on the bandwagon with “John Madden’s Company of Heroes”, which has the old Raiders coach giving play-by-play of a Panzer tearing down a brick wall. "And you see, when the player drives his tank into that stone wall, he hits it. The tank is big enough that it can break the wall, so it can't be used for cover. So the defence can't take cover behind it, from your fire. Taking out that wall changed the whole play. The wall prevented your troops from getting full effect against the opposing team. Now it changes because the tank drove over it. Let's see that again on replay. And you see, when the player drives his tank…"
Medieval 2: Total War: $49.95
For those people who like to fight versus 4 on 1 odds against insane AI on the strategic front, only to lob countless artillery shells against static AI on the battlefield. But the graphics are pretty!
Personalized fUnc Industries Archetype:
Everyone has that friend still moping around and wishing his ex-girlfriend would come back. A picture of her getting intimate with the starting line-up of the Cincinnati Bengals printed on his shiny new indestructible mousepad that he sees first thing Christmas morning should give him a subtle hint that maybe she's not the sweet angel he really wanted to spend all his life with. (You may have to settle for the Oakland Raiders if she’s a hag though -ed.)
Any EA Sports game released this year:
Just so you can see what the worst interface known to man is, and wonder that a company as profitable as Electronic Arts would be stupid enough to try to use this horrible excuse for a GUI across their entire spectrum of NCAA, NFL, NHL, and NBA franchises. Besides, you've all got that annoying cousin you don't really like but mom expects you to get a gift for him anyway.
| Jcal!||Page:: ( 3 / 5 )|
John Callaham: FiringSquad News Editor
Microsoft Points and Wii Points cards ($20 each)
If your pals own an Xbox 360 or are even lucky enough to get a Nintendo Wii, this is the perfect gift to give them outside of getting games for those consoles. The cards can be bought at retail stores for $20 which gets you 1600 Microsoft points or 2000 Wii points. Currently you can only use Wii points to download some classic Nintendo, Sega and Hudson games from the Virtual Store but Microsoft points for the Xbox 360 console can be used for a lot more, including downloading themes, add-ons for games and most recently movie rentals and TV episode purchases.
Panasonic CF-W5 Toughbook $2,569
Ultra-portable notebooks may not be able to play a lot of high end PC games but if you are traveling a lot or just simply want a solid but light notebook to use at home while watching American Idol you can’t beat the ultra-portable notebooks that Panasonic has for sale. Our pick is the CF-W5 model which weighs less than 3 pounds with the battery, has a Intel Core Solo 1.2 Ghz processor, a built in DVD-RW drive, and an eight hour (estimated) battery life. If you buy the notebook direct from Panasonic’s web site you also get a free 2 GB SD Memory Card and a free upgrade to double the notebook’s memory from 512 MB to 1 GB. I’ve been using an older model and I have no complaints at all; it’s the notebook to get if you want to get a lot of attention from people at the airport.
Sprint Pantech PX-500 PC EVDO Card Free with Rebate; $60 A Month with Two Year Contract
Here’s another one for the frequent traveler. Do you hate going to a hotel that has poor WiFi access or you have to pay through the nose to use it? That problem is solved with Sprint’s EVDO wireless network which covers a large portion of the US, including most of the major metropolitan areas. Recently, Sprint has started their Rev A version of the service in a number of cities with plans to expand to the rest of their service area by the end of 2007. Basically the Rev A service offers download speeds of between 450 Kbps—850kbps and uploads of between 300 and 400 kbps. It’s still not as fast as WiFi but you are not stuck trying to find a hotspot either and that’s pretty nice. Sprint’s Pantech PX-500 PC Card is the one to get if you want to use the Rev A network; you can attack a separate booster antenna if you want to get better reception (although you will likely not need it). If you sign a 2 year contract with Sprint you get the card free with a $49.99 rebate deal and a flat price of just $60 a month for the service. Best of all, Sprint truly offers unlimited downloads regardless of how much you use the service; Verizon which has a similar EVDO network that cuts off their “unlimited” service after you download more than 5 GB a month.
Gamefly Gift Subscription For Six Months $131.70
With a lot of Xbox 360 and PS3 games costing $60 or more to buy and even new Nintendo Wii games costing $50 no matter how little content they might have (Excite Truck, I’m looking at you) buying games is an expensive proposition. Enter Gamefly which allows people to have new console games mailed to them for the subscription price of $21.95 a month for two games out at one time. There are no late fees with this service and you can even buy used games from Gamefly at prices that are usually much lower than the stardard retail price, giving you price breaks on both sides of the equation.
Absolute DC: The New Frontier Collection $75
I love comic books and with games using more and more super hero themes it seems fair to suggest a great new collection of what was in my humble opinion one of the best super hero mini-series to come around in a long time. The New Frontier was written and drawn by Darwyn Cooke and basically takes the DC Universe back to the late 1940’s and imagines how the world of DC’s super heroes would be like without all of the many, many revamps it has received over the years along with being a look back at the very real Cold War era of the 1950s. This new Absolute hardcover collection presents the series in an oversized format and includes new story pages, annotations, behind-the-scenes sketches and a whole lot more. This series got so much attention that a direct-to-DVD animated movie is being made based on The New Frontier. Maybe Warner Brothers Interactive can get a game version going as well.
| Pongky’s gifts||Page:: ( 4 / 5 )|
Pungkas Nataatmaja: FiringSquad Webmaster
The RC flying boat / plane ... rocks
It's an RC car, boat and plane - enough said. It combines all three types of RC vehicles, into one, and well, who doesn't love such multi-tasking toy? You can take off from a pond, land on some pavement, pull some serious Gs in the air while doing aerial stunts, then land on the grass. Heck, I'd take a few.
Samsung T-809 mp3 / bluetooth / camera phone
(I've been eyeing one of these) - This quad-band GSM phone by Samsung looks sleek in black, but that's not why this phone is the "it" phone to have. Forget the chocolates, blackberries and RAZRs, this phone can walk the walk for a lot less. Features highlights: large screen, PDA, MP3 player (with a microSD memory card slot), bluetooth connectivity, 1.2MB camera with video capture. Sign me up!
Sony Ericsson bluetooth watch (controls your mp3 player, alerts you of calls and SMSs)
This Sony bluetooth watch oozes geekiness. Connected wirelessly to your MP3-playing cell phone, it can change the music tracks. It will also notify you of incoming calls, SMS messages, and other alerts coming to your phone. On top of that, it looks pretty damn stylish.
Feel like playing real-life CS without paintball, airsoft is the way to go! (tokyo marui is the best brand) or try this link
Most kids like to play around with toy guns - well say hello to these airsoft guns, which fire 6mm plastic pellets at unsuspecting (or exposed) targets. They came in a air-pump system or full-auto battery operated variations, but the intention is the same - to relive those glorious multiplayer sessions in CS or call of duty in real life. A great alternative to paintball (which can be painful)
Gamers need to plant their asses on something, might as well be something cool:
With a built-in speaker subsystem, this rocking gamers chair allows a gamer to be more immersed in the gaming system, where the sound will come from behind your ears, and a subwoofer rumbling below your bottom - this chair will likely become a favorite hangout place for your ass while gaming.
Honorable mention: Nothing says I love you to a gamer like getting gaming-related tees like this one:
Gamers, like everyone else, need clothing. So, why shouldn't they wear tee's catered to a gamer? Would you ask a construction worker to wear a swimsuit while working? No.
| Salesmen||Page:: ( 5 / 5 )|
Lyle Wagner: FiringSquad Ad Sales Manager
Transformers The Movie 20th Anniversary Edition DVD: $22
For those of us who grew up in the 80s, Transformers the Movie continues to be some sort of a coming of age. The filmmakers could have taken the easy route and made just another long version of the TV show, but instead made the movie into a gritty and grim re-telling of the founding myth of the Transformers, even killing off several of our favorite Autobots early on. I can still remember the screams in the theatre to this day… Oh, and there’s also the completely cheesy yet totally awesome soundtrack by those monsters of 80’s rock, White Lion. Beyond that, the Transformers origins on planet Cybertron also reflects our society’s almost complete dependence on and fascination with technology, which is probably why they’ve continued to be popular and have evolved while other relics of the 80s such as GI Joe and Cabbage Patch dolls are long forgotten and barely missed.
X-Micro MiniDisGo ultra slim Portable HD, 20 Gig (also comes in 30 and 40 Gig models), $240:
This is a totally sweet little stocking stuffer for anyone really, as it can fit in your back pocket and still hold the equivalent data of most hard disks of just a few years ago. If you travel a lot and your laptop doesn’t hold a lot of files, you could put all of your music or movies for the trip on this disk. These are pretty tough to find, since most 1.8” hard drives seem to end up in media players these days, but if you can find one, buy it.
Tickets/flight to the Tokyo Game Show Tickets for 2 days: 2400 Yen (only $21!)
Flight from LA-Tokyo: $800 3 nights Hotel: at least $500
Not only is the Tokyo Game Show a mecca of games on the same level as E3 once was, Tokyo is probably the most exciting city in the world. Even if you don’t like Sushi, there is something there for everyone (even Disneyland). Although the greater Tokyo area has well over 30 million people, the place runs like a well-oiled machine. For anyone interested in games and technology, there is no better place to see the future-the Japanese have a love and fascination with technology that permeates their entire society that can’t even be comprehended until you are actually there. Even the Transformers were originally Japanese, and Tokyo street fashion is literally out of this world. There have been some rumors that the Tokyo Game Show will be cancelled next year, which doesn’t really make any sense at all, especially with the demise of E3. If it is cancelled, go anyways. You won’t regret it.
Massage/acupuncture for those tweaked back/shoulder muscles: $75/session:
For those of us who work and play and their computers, spending upwards of 10 hours a day sitting at a desk causes some serious issues in the shoulders, neck and back. A regular massage can do wonders to work out any kinks, and it just feels good. Those who have serious problems often swear by the ancient Chinese medical practice of sticking little needles into the affected areas. Whatever works is obviously better than doing nothing.
1 year Gym/fitness pass: About $300
This is pretty obvious, especially when you consider that 60% of Americans are overweight and all the accompanying health problems. For hardcore gamers who spend a lot of time inside and essentially sedentary, it’s important to get out and get some exercise, for both physical and mental well-being.