By Tim Jarvis
You scraped by last year, but if you do the chocolates and roses thing one more time, you know you’re going to get “the look.” So surprise her this year with a cutting-edge piece of technology. Once she gets over her shock, she’ll be psyched you bought her a present that is lasting and useful -- and that won’t end up going straight to her hips or dying a slow, smelly death on her dresser. “Many people still think of high-tech gifts as cold and unromantic,” says gadget guru Eric Schlissel, owner and CEO of GeekTek.com, an IT services and tech support company based in Los Angeles. “But technology is opening up a whole new gateway to romance.”
|Wine Her, Dine Her and Catch a Movie -- At Home|
Light some candles. Open the wine. Then order your favorite takeout and cuddle up to a double feature, courtesy of a Roku XD set-top digital media receiver, starting at just $59.95. According to Schlissel, the Roku XD rivals the Apple TV box, which sells for $99.00. It’s easy to set up, and it offers a comprehensive content list ranging from Netflix and Hulu Plus, to Pandora and Amazon Video on Demand. With her favorite flicks just a button-push away, this hot little gadget is sure to put some spark into your evening. And if she’s really moved, she just might let you watch a hockey game next -- via the NHL GameCenter LIVE that’s also included.
|Kindle Her Affection|
If your girl is the book-reading kind, then an e-reader makes a perfect Valentine’s Day gift -- especially when it’s preloaded with the latest steamy romance novel, hot off the digital presses. But you can do even better than that. Schlissel points out that Project Gutenberg has more than 33,000 classic titles that can be downloaded onto most portable devices for free. So once you’ve preloaded her new Kindle -- $139.00 from Amazon.com -- with a couple of best sellers, score extra points by adding romantic classics like The Phantom of the Opera and Pride and Prejudice.
|Mix up Your Mutual Love of Music|
“If music be the food of love, play on,” wrote William Shakespeare in Twelfth Night -- and we think he was on to something. To feed her affection, load up a candy-colored iPod with her favorite songs. For a retro twist on the same theme, check out the Mixtape Memory Stick for $15.99. The USB Mixtape Memory Stick is designed to look like an old C90 cassette. It stores up to 90 minutes of music and you can handwrite your track list on the liner. “It’s an unusual and clever way to send your significant other a romantic message,” says Schlissel.
|Stimulate Her App-etite|
If your relationship is a little too new for serious gifting, try sending her a box of personalized virtual Sweethearts candies. “The iPhone app is free and allows users to send up to five custom Sweethearts candy messages via Twitter or email,” says Schlissel. Romantic creativity not included. Available at the App Store, iTunes.apple.com.
|A Decent Proposal|
If, on the other hand, you’re ready to pop the question, there’s no better time than Valentine’s Day to do it. And there’s no cooler way to do it than with a multimedia ring box. The Euricase Ring Box, $98.95, operates on a single rechargeable lithium battery. The unit includes an illuminated ring bed, a 2-inch LCD screen with a built-in speaker, and a generous amount of onboard memory that allows you to store up to 500 photos or 60 minutes of video. Just keep it clean, Romeo, and she just might say yes.
Be sure to present your Valentine’s Day gift over a romantic dinner for two (using these tips from aphrodisiac-food authority Amy Reily, on The Style Glossy) -- and don’t forget to prepare yourself for the big night:The Skinny on Getting Gleaming Man-skin
QUIET KEYBOARD This wireless rechargeable keyboard won’t make a sound no matter how hard you whack at the keys. Although the diNovo Edge might frustrate your attempts to show off your tireless work ethic to the boss, you can surf Internet dating sites all night without tipping off your girlfriend.
MULTILINGUAL MARVEL Expensive enough to require valet parking, the Optimus Maximus keyboard displays letters and control icons with a light-emitting OLED. It’s customizable for multitasking in multiple codes and languages -- including Cyrillic, ancient Greek, Arabic and HTML -- or for more ambitious activities like video gaming.
LASER SHOW No bigger than a cigarette lighter, the Celluon Virtual Keyboard connects to your computer using a USB dongle and emits an awesome laser-generated keyboard and mouse that allows you to work virtually -- and connect with your inner Obi Wan Kenobi.
BACK TO THE FUTURE Drawing from last century’s gilded sensibilities, this custom, retro-futuristic keyboard will make your desktop worthy of H.G. Wells’ office space. “The Marquis” keyboard has acanthus-leaf engraving on polished brass and key lettering engraved on a mirrored gold acrylic. It’ll make you the envy of any century.
LIGHT FINGER FOLLIES Every time you touch its keys, the Luxeed U7 lights up like the Las Vegas strip -- bringing a little bit of Studio 54 to your dancing fingers. Make sure they dress sharply and get their names on the list -- this is one exclusive keyboard!
PURE LUXURY: BENTLEY MULSANNE The new Bentley Mulsanne's unrivaled pedigree stands out from the pack with an ultra-smooth and more-than-capable 505 hp, 6.8-liter V8 engine that glides from 0 to 62 mph in 5.3 whisper-quiet seconds. As befits its luxury status, the car can be completely customized to taste with over 1 billion possible variations, according Bentley Motors.
STANDOUT CONVERTIBLE: MORGAN AERO 8 Although its production recently ceased, this classically styled roadster is still one of the most fun, head-turning vehicles to roam the highways. While completely hand-built with more than 100 years of heritage packed into the coachwork, its BMW 4.4-liter V8 pumps out 312 hp -- moving this homage to yesteryear from 0 to 62 mph in just 4.2 seconds.
Tiny Tower seems like a simple, if not silly, game. But that's how it gets you addicted. The premise, like SimCity, is to build your own world -- in this case a tower. The more floors you build, the more money you can make to spend on building more floors ... and the hook is set.Platforms: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
How many passwords do you have to remember? Thanks to 1Password, you can keep all of your security codes safe and secure on your smartphone. All you have to do is remember one four-digit code and a master passcode, and the info is encrypted and backed up on your computer.Platforms: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
Yes, the camera on the iPhone 4S is better than previous incarnations. But besides flash and zoom, it leaves us a little cold. Turn your 4S into a virtual DSLR with all the bells and whistles you get with said device, plus all the features you’d expect from a smartphone, such as visual filters.Platforms: iPhone, iPod Touch
Even if you were born in the CD era, chances are you remember mixed tapes. Bring them into the digital age with the app that turns your digital music player into a virtual portable cassette deck that blasts loaded playlists and helps you create the perfect mix to play and then share on Facebook.Platforms: iPhone, iPod Touch
Didn't you hear? The end of the world is happening on Dec. 21, 2012. Skeptical? Then check out this app, which explores all the coincidences between the Mayan prediction and what science says. At the very least you'll be prepared to handle the impending end of time.Platforms: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
The premise of KaleidaCam is simple: Turn your iPhone's camera into a kaleidoscope. You can adjust the trippy-ness of the created image by choosing one of four to 10 slides. It leads to hours of mindless fun for the whole family. You can even take pictures of your creations and send them to Facebook and Twitter.Platforms: iPhone
This mobile app puts Thrillist reviews in the palm of your hand so you can be the guy who knows the coolest places to eat, drink and shop. Using your device's GPS function, it'll tell you the top places to spend your time and money in more than 19 cities. You'll never have a boring night again.Platforms: iPhone, iPad, Android
'Tis the season for holiday parties, full of finger foods, drinks and treats. This app will track your weight well into the new year so you can stop the festivities from settling around your waist. Just log your bites, licks and tastes, and the food database will calculate the calories you've consumed. Then log your workouts to determine how many calories you burned.Platforms: iPhone, iPad
If you thrive on new music, this is a must-have app. Band of the Day introduces you to an artist that you need to know about every day. You get a bio, a song to listen to, a stream of Facebook/Twitter comments about the artist, videos to view and a list of albums that you can buy, right from the app.Platforms: iPhone
Think of this app as your secret weapon to achieving culinary nirvana. It puts all of the advice from the well-respected epicurean website of the same name in the palm of your hand. We love the seasonal options on the home screen that help make sure your feasts are weather-appropriate.Platforms: iPhone, iPad, Android, Nook, Windows Phone
Finding a new place to hang your hat just got a whole lot easier, thanks to the new Trulia mobile app. The clean design of the interface makes it a snap to search homes to rent or to buy Features include sort by price, search by location, and email real estate agents directly.Platforms: iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire
The latest incarnation of the Bloons game franchise gets the smart-phone makeover, and it is still as addictive as ever. The objective remains the same: prevent balloons from getting from one part of the maze to the other using your arsenal of dart monkeys, rockets, battleships and other WMDs.Platforms: iPhone, iPad
The latest army of food carts has turned most city streets into a mobile gourmet road show. But how do you know when your favorite Korean BBQ truck will be by your office? Using Google maps and your iPhone's GPS, StreetEats lets you track your favorite carts and see which ones are in your immediate area and how long they'll be there.Platforms: iPhone, iPod Touch
With all of the news available to us, it's hard to cut through the noise and get what you're looking for. Editions by AOL is an app that curates a custom, easy-to-navigate daily newsmagazine based on your interests, location, Facebook friends and Twitter followers. The more you use the app, the more highly customized it becomes.Platforms: iPad
Sick of the same old vodka martinis? Not sure what to do with that bottle of amaretto? InMyBar's simple interface lets you plug in all the booze you have in your liquor cabinet. Then, the app creates a list of all the cocktails you can make, or it lets you know what remaining ingredients you need in order to make a specific drink.Platforms: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
Music nerds, welcome to heaven. This app tracks music blogs and culls their favorite tunes from the Web, then lets you create your dream radio station. The genre section alone offers more than 100 options -- perfect for deep dives into your particular mood. You can even track what your friends are listening to.Platforms: iPhone, iPod Touch
Watch your favorite music videos in HD with VEVO HD, which features 45,000 videos, including intimate performances by your favorite artists; a music map showing which videos people are listening to in your area; artist tour information; and ticket-buying capabilities.Platforms: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
Meeting a lovely lady is now as easy as whipping out your ... cell phone. Blendr collects your favorite interests and then helps match you up with female companions who live in your area and have similar interests. Browse photos, check in to venues and even chat with folks from your own neighborhood.Platforms: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
How often do you upgrade your cell phone?
|Gear + Gadgets||Entertainment + Leisure||Style||Looking Sharp Blog||The Top 11||Instant Answers|