Okay first lets start off with what not to get people this holiday season… smart devices!
With the rash of recent lawsuits regarding Smart TVs actually spying on people, you would have thought the public would have gotten the message.
What’s the message?
If it is not family or not paying rent, don’t let anything in your house that is smarter than you.:) That means saying ‘no thank’ you or ‘good buy’ to all these spying devices marketed as amiable servants or harmless entertainment.
That means no ECHO, no ALEXA, no XBOX, no Smart TVs. It means trading in your Roku or Amazon Fire microphone remote for a regular non-microphone remote.
Here is the thing… you want to know what the weather is… do the search yourself!
Same with the news, or the traffic. Do it your effing self. There is a point where convenience becomes a cage, and ease of access a trap.
Every camera in your house (laptops, phones, TVs, smart refrigerators, etc), should have a lens cap. And every microphone in your house (xbox, phones, laptops, alarm systems, smart thermostats, etc) should be able to be physically disabled/disconnected. Being able to determine yes I want this camera off, and yes I want this microphone off, and being certain that they have turned off, that is owning things. Having to trust in the hardware or the software that it is not recording you, and delivering that info to marketeers… that is being owned.
And increasingly in ‘Smart’ homes, the homeowner finds themselves in the latter category.
So yes those are the things not to buy this or any holiday season.
So what are some things worth buying? Well this installment let us discuss…
Portable DVD/CD players –
The music industry is happy to get high quality physical music out of the hands of consumers, and especially the ability for them to burn their own discs; and to take us back to the 1950s in returning us to the inherently inferior medium of vinyl. And if you don’t know vinyl is inherently inferior, than you missed the previous paragraph about being smarter than the technology. 🙂
And sure we have streaming. But streaming is largely a gatekeeper format. We empower gatekeepers to store the media we pay for. That media can then be changed or deleted as commerce demands. Even deleted not just from the cloud, but from your media player.
Music thus becomes reduced to something, that though you pay for it, you do not in any substantial way control the thing you paid for. A CD (full WAV, not that MP3 nonsense)and a portable CD player, and a good pair of headphones… returns that control to you. That is what I call a priceless gift.
Here then are my recommendations for portable CD players, headphones, and great quality CDs to test out those headphones.
WONNIE 7.5 Inch Portable DVD Player with Swivel Screen, USB / SD Slot and 4 Hours Rechargeable Battery, Perfect Gift for Kids ( Black ) – While marketed as a gift for kids and the aged, this is actually a great compact portable DVD/CD player that plays a variety of formats at a ridiculously low price. And comes with great extras including a carrying case.
Now while it comes with basic headphones I would recommend the following headphones and amp combo when ready to take the sound from this portable to a better level.
HIFIMAN HE-400I Over Ear Full-size Planar Magnetic Headphones– Not cheap at around $200 but it is actually nearly 60% off of its retail price.
A slightly lower cost, but still well reviewed and lauded headphone option would be:
Fostex T50RP MK3 Professional Studio Headphones, Semi-Open
And while not necessary, an amp will help deliver quality sound to your headphones. Get yours at the link below:
FiiO A3 Portable Headphone Amplifier (Black)
Finally here are some must own CDs for testing out your headphones and just hearing great music:
Midnight Matinee (XRCD24 Master)