Toys you need

On a recent trip to the city, I noticed that many of the department stores and hotels already had their Christmas decorations up and blinking, reminding us that there are only about 45 shopping days left.

Carnivores are probably still digesting their Thanksgiving turkeys, pumpkins are still rotting on window sills, and the stores are already selling Christmas? Not to be a humbug or anything, but why do the decorations seem to come out a little bit earlier every year? Do they just assume that the mere sight of coloured lights and tinsel will be enough to send me into a Pavlovian spending frenzy? Please…

It does get you thinking, however. While it’s too early for lights, it’s never too early to put together a Christmas list, especially since the toys you’re going to want this year are probably a little on the expensive side.

From portable music players that hold five gigs of information to Robot Insects that interact with one another, this Christmas is going to be ridiculously high-tech. Even the new Elmo will blow you away.

Say hello to iPod. It won’t say hello back, but it does hold five gigabytes of music and fits neatly into your athletic shorts.

Apple seems to be hit and miss with its products – Cube anyone? – but this little device has the potential to be the biggest thing in personal audio since the Walkman.

It has a hard drive, so you can store all kinds of files on it, audio or otherwise. It has a FireWire connector, so you can download about 1,000 MP3s, or 80 CDs worth of music, in about 10 minutes.

It comes with an ingenious spinning dial system that makes it easy to find songs, high quality ear bud headphones, connectors, and a rechargeable lithium battery that is good for about 10 hours – and which you can recharge simply by hooking it up to your computer via the FireWire.

The iPod works with the new iTunes, which is a bit of a bonus in itself. The updated version of this software enables you to create playlists, burn CDs, and update your iPod automatically.

The price tag is steep at $399, but for a music lover who wants to travel/exercise light and could really use five gigs, it’s quickly going to become a necessity. It weighs less than 200 grams, and is 2.43 inches wide, 4 inches long, and 0.7 inches deep.

Trust me, you want it.


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