Digital Crave

Terrific tech gifts for the graduates in your life

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Your favorite graduate is about to enter a new world. Whether they’re headed to high school, college or the workforce, every grad could use the right gift to get them started on their new path. Cash is always a good choice, but a cool piece of tech is something they’ll remember and use long after the cash is gone.

Audio
Sony Entertainment Network just released a discounted one-year premium subscriptions to the Sony Music Unlimited service for a limited time. The discounted price is $59.99 per year, $41.99 per year if you’re a PlayStation Plus member (and, if you’re a gamer, you should be). That’s 65% off the regular rate. A premium subscription provides full access to the service’s global catalog of 20 million songs across compatible devices such as Android smartphones and tablets, iPhone and iPod, and Sony devices such as Bravia TVs, PlayStation 3, and the PlayStation Vita.

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Meridian Explorer

The Meridian Explorer is a pocket-sized high-resolution USB DAC that delivers astounding sound from any computer. I had my doubts about this unassuming little gadget – its elegant looks and packaging suggest high-end fountain pen or reading glasses case. I was happily mistaken. The Explorer replaces your computer’s sound card with a USB-powered DAC featuring the company’s award-winning resolution enhancement technology, making any audio file – from MP3 to high resolution –sound amazing. Assembled by hand at Meridian’s UK headquarters and Cambridge factory, the Explorer packs a ton of impressive tech into a small, stylish package. Audiophiles will recognize these specs: 24bit/192kHz native conversion capability, separate low-jitter crystal oscillators for 44k1 and 48k-based sample rates, asynchronous data transfer, 6 layer PCB and a USB2 mini B socket – Plug and Play with MAC (Windows driver available). Meridian says, “Plug the Explorer into a Mac, Linux or Windows computer and experience quality far beyond that of any sound card.” I say they’re right.

STREET by 50

SMS Audio and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson have teamed up for a range of limited edition colors available exclusively for the STREET by 50 wired on-ear headphones. These headphones were revealed by 50 Cent on QVC. If you’re concerned that a tough guy rapper has joined forces with a network known for selling cubic zirconia, don’t be. These are the real deal, pure headphones that eschew some modern amenities in favor of high and mid detail along with enough bass to shatter glass – or eardrums. And no matter what your taste, they have a color for you. Through its partnership with Feeding America, each online U.S. sale of SMS Audio headphones through www.SMSAudio.com will provide 250 meals to American families in need.

G-PROJECT’s new G-ZIP and G-POP speakers offer a lot of sound for a little money. The G-ZIP, a $20 travel-sized wired speaker, fits in the palm of your hand, looks like a grenade and appears to be able to withstand the perils of partying. The Bluetooth wireless version of G-ZIP, G-POP, is available on G-Project’s website for $40, and is equipped with a built-in microphone. I was pleased with not only the sound of these little guys, but also their rugged construction. The G-POP’s built-in microphone is a cool feature for such a reasonably priced speaker.

Video
If the graduate in your life wants to document his or her summer adventures, the ContourROAM2 POV camera is up to the challenge. The company claims this is the simplest camera to use on the market, and they might be correct (I haven’t tested every camera on the market). That simplicity comes at the cost of frills, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is an excellent action camera for sharing your adventures on social media sites and small devices. The locking Instant On-Record switch makes it easy to get a good shot, and an improved frame rate of 60fps at 720p made for some crystal clear videos under any light source. It will also record in 1080p at 30fps. It’s light, waterproof, and comes with a 4GB microSDHC card. A built-in laser level lets you find the right angle and the 3.5-hour battery life is impressive.

ViewSonic VSD220 Smart Display

The 22” VSD220 Smart Display has seen a lot of use in my home lately. I thought it would simply be a second screen for my home office, but its capabilities are far beyond simple viewing. ViewSonic has paired a 1920×1080 full-HD resolution monitor with the dual-core, ARM-based OMAP 4 processor from Texas Instruments and an Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich” operating system. Think of it as a desktop-sized Android device that’s also a touchscreen PC monitor. Hook it up to your PC and the VSD220 Smart Display becomes a touch-enabled panel for Windows 8. I’ve used it for tooling around the Internet, social networking, and Android Apps. It’s a PC without a PC that hits a nice price point and is easy to use. If you want to use it as a traditional PC, the Smart Display is compatible with a wide variety of keyboards and mice, including both USB and wireless models, and offers versatile connectivity options including a Micro HDMI for plugging in a notebook or tablet for an expanded screen space, as well as three USB ports, a Micro SD card and plenty of network connection options including RJ45 Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology. The built-in 1.2MP webcam with integrated microphone is perfect for videoconferencing and photos.

Casio

Watches
Casio America has launched three new watches to its stylish EDIFICE timepiece collection. The EQWM710L-1A, EQSA500DB-1A, and EFR523D-7AV offer a variety of different styles and advanced technological functions. Coming out swinging with a black stainless steel case and a two–tone genuine leather band, the EQWM710L-1A is equipped with features such as a 1/100th second chronograph, world time (29city + UTC), up to 100 meters water resistance and Casio’s 5-Motor Drive technology – five motors inside the watch to control each hand individually. The watch automatically synchronizes with atomic clocks in the US, Germany, the UK, China and two in Japan based on the user’s home city setting. It also operates with Casio’s Tough Solar Power technology extending its battery life to approximately five months without exposure to light. The EQSA500DB-1A also runs on Tough Solar Power technology, but comes with a stainless steel case and band. The watch provides an easy operation Smart-Access electronic crown, which allows for simple, intuitive selection of the your home city setting, access to world time or the stopwatch using the electronic crown’s pull and turn motion. In addition, it includes utility features such as 10-lap memory and fastest lap, countdown timer and a 1/20th second chronograph. Finally, Casio’s EFR523D-7AV comes with a stainless steel case and band with blue accents on a layered dial. It is outfitted with a crown setting, a beautiful layered dial, 1/20th second chronograph and tachymeter that can be used to compute speed based on chronograph time over measured distance.

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