Digital Crave

Homemade wine, action cameras and great sound for the holidays

Trying to keep up with new tech gadgets is like Rocky Balboa trying to catch the chicken in "Rocky II." As Mick says: "If you can catch this thing, you can catch greased lightning!"

I can't catch greased lightning and I doubt I'd do any better catching a chicken. But I try to keep on top of the new tech gadgets emerging from the minds and R&D departments of the gadget creators out there.

This week I found some cool gadgets that nearly anyone would appreciate — the Artful Winemaker; a collection of action cameras from a fabled brand — Polaroid; and another excellent speaker solution from the masters of reasonably priced speakers — iHome.

The Artful Winemaker
My parents used to make wine in the basement. They stopped when they realized my older brothers were taking hits straight from the tap. The wooden barrels and antique presses remain. I've always thought about resurrecting the family tradition of making Dago Red for the holidays. But, as my father puts it, "it's a pain in the ass."

Enter the Artful Winemaker. It is not as romantic as the Old World winemaking tools. It is, however, an inexpensive, easy way to make a good batch of vino.

The Artful Winemaker is a home winemaking system that includes everything you need to make 12 bottles of wine in just 28 days. It's a good gift solution to surprise wine, food and DIY lovers with a new gadget to make their own special reserve wine in three simple steps. I found it easy to use and a lot of fun. (Now I'm waiting on the home bourbon making kit.)

The Artful Winemaker is available now for $99 with free shipping. It can be used over and over again by purchasing refill kits available in six varietals for $59.

Polaroid Action Sports Cameras
Polaroid Action Sports Cameras
The brand Americans associate with fun photographs that develop before your eyes is now in the high definition game with their brand new XS100, XS20, and XS7 high definition action cameras.

These cool, intuitive cameras are capable of capturing 720p, 960p or Full HD 1080p video along with three megapixel, five megapixel or 16 megapixel still images respectively.

The outer case is shockproof, dust-proof and waterproof. You can operate them easily — even when wearing gloves — with a single-button record system.
These cameras offer decent image quality and a rugged build for a reasonable price (starting at $69.99). That will come in handy when you're filming your friends — or yourself — snowboarding, skateboarding, diving or whatever other dangerous/exciting activity you like to document.

The XS100 is the leader of this pack, loaded with 1080p, an adjustable frame rate, a 170-degree lens and an orientation sensor for auto rotation. This is the only one of the three cameras to come with 32MB of internal storage (the others support memory cards).

There are far more expensive and technically superior action cameras on the market. But you'd be hard pressed to find this kind of quality — especially in the flagship XS100 — at these price points from a trusted brand.

iHome iW3 AirPlay
I have yet to be disappointed by an iHome product. The new iW3 AirPlay speaker continues this trend.

This wireless speaker system uses your WiFi network to connect and control your iTunes library (Mac and PC) for wireless music anywhere in your home. It also supports USB for charging and music playback for your iPad, iPhone and iPod with any iPod USB sync cable.

There are an endless amount of speaker solutions on the market. Most of the time, you get what you pay for. The thing I like about the iHome products I've tested is that they offer solid sound quality for a reasonable price. There's no chance for buyer's remorse.

This unit follows suit. It's small enough to hide in any room in the house and it's wireless. Pair those features with its sound quality and price point and you have a gift — for someone else or yourself — that won't disappoint or quickly become obsolete.

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