Under the Radar’s Holiday Gift Guide 2017 Part 7: Technology

A Samsung Blu-ray Player, JBL Speakers, Headphones from Grado, Earphones and a Microphone from Shure, and Cameras from Kodak and Polaroid

Dec 07, 2017
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Welcome to part 7 of our Holiday Gift Guide 2017, in which we look at technology. To paraphrase Kip's wedding song to LaFawnduh at the end of Napoleon Dynamite, we love technology. Some may resist its grasp on society, but fun technology isn't going anywhere, at least not until Skynet finally takes over. But hopefully we're still decades away from any A.I. rebellions. In the meantime, technology will continue to get more and more advanced and be further and further integrated into our lives. While there should certainly be safeguards and pauses in our day-to-day lives without technology, there is also much to be gained from its uses. Below we present tech that will help you watch movies, make movies, take photos, record audio, and listen to music.

We have previously posted part 1 of our 2017 gift guide (for music reissues, music box sets, and vinyl), as well as part 2 (for board games) and Part 3 (for DVDs and Blu-rays, plus there was a supplemental to Part 3 with several other DVD/Blu-ray suggestions). Part 4 focused on toys and other gifts for kids. Part 5 centered on collectibles (aka wonderful toys for adults who are film, TV, and comic book fans) and Part 6 was all about video games. And we will still also be posting two more gift guides, one for books and graphic novels, and another for household items and apparel. And don't forget that Under the Radar subscriptions also make a great gift. Plus donating to the charity of your choice in the name of the gift receiver is also a good way to go. 

Samsung UBD-M9500 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player

SRP: $399.99

If you need something to help you watch all of the fabulous Blu-rays and DVDs we told you about in our Blu-rays/DVDs gift guide, then we recommend Samsung's UBD-M9500 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player. Samsung are already regarded as the makers of some of the finest HD TVs around and they call this their flagship Blu-ray player. It's capable of playing 4K Blu-rays and offers twice the color range of existing conventional Blu-ray players and 64 times higher color expression. In other words, the films look more vibrant and better than ever. The player has a wireless feature where you can stream content from any Bluetooth enabled mobile device direct to your TV and also watch Blu-rays on your mobile device. You can also view 360° pictures and videos on your TV via the player, using your remote to navigate all angles. It also works with wireless headphones if you'd like to watch a film without disturbing other family members and friends who might be sleeping, working, or watching things on other devices. All-in-all it's pretty much everything you could possibly want in a contemporary Blu-ray player and would make a very strong gift for the modern cinephile. If you're a collector of Blu-rays, you owe it to yourself to own a top of the line player such as this one. (Buy it here.)

JBL Boombox

SRP: $449.95

This ain't your parent's boombox (or the boombox of your youth). JBL's modern Boombox doesn't have a tape or CD player like the iconic boomboxes of the 1980s and 1990s showcased by the likes of LL Cool J and Beastie Boys. Instead it connects to the device of your choice wirelessly via Bluetooth. (If a wired connection is desired that's possible too.) You can connect up to two devices at the same time, meaning two friends can take turns DJing music to keep a democratic party going. It's got a built in rechargeable battery that lasts up to 24 hours and with two USB ports you can even charge your phone or other device with it. There are two sound modes: indoor offers a richer sound and deeper bass and outdoor mode has strong bass, expansive sound, and a longer playing time. And the bass on this thing is impressive. You can also link up the Boombox with up to 100 other JBL speakers that have JBL Connect+ enabled, so all the speakers can be playing the same thing across the house or around the outdoor event. Did we also mention that it's waterproof, making it perfect for the beach or pool? In short, the JBL Boombox is the perfect device to assist in exercising your right to party, no fight needed. (Buy it here.)

Grado Labs Prestige Series SR80e Headphones

SRP: $99.00

Grado Labs' Prestige Series SR80e headphones have a vintage vibe to them. Their design brings to mind the 1960s and 1970s, like something Gene Hackman's character, an expert with bugging devices, would have worn in 1974's The Conversation. So it comes as no surprise that the Brooklyn-based company has been hand-making headphones since 1953. They are a family affair. Joseph Grado founded the company in the same building as the family's old fruit store. His nephew John Grado eventually took over the company, which is now run with the help of John's two sons, Jonathan and Matthew (with support from John's wife, their mother, Loretta Grado). All of that would simply be a nice story if Grado's headphones didn't sound so good and look so stylish in an old school way. The SR80e, as the Grado website points out, "has a new driver design, a new polymer to damp resonant distortion in the plastic housing, and a new cable from plug to driver connection." This eliminates transient distortions and "allows the signal flow over the new cable to reproduce sound that has improved tight control of the upper and lower range of the frequency spectrum, while supporting Grado's world renowned midrange." In other words, these headphones sound great, look cool, and would be a perfect gift for any serious music fan. (Buy it here.

Shure SE215-BT1 Sound Isolating Earphones

SRP: $149.00

Shure has been around even longer than Grado, it was founded by Sidney N. Shure in Chicago in 1925. Initially he sold radio kits and then began to manufacture microphones. Despite its long history, Shure's current products are fully up to date. For example, the SE215 Sound Isolating Earphones are Bluetooth ready. The in-ear device is designed for comfort, sound quality, and convenience. It has enhanced bass and a sound that would work for both pros and personal listening. It comes with four different sized sound isolating sleeves that provide up to 37 dB of isolation and allows you to custom the fit for comfort. The wires connecting the earphones to the volume controller are designed to go over your ears and stay out of the way. There's also a microphone for phone calls. They come with a carrying case and are available in clear or translucent black. These would be a good gift for the music fan on the go. (Buy it here.

Shure RMCE-BT1 Bluetooth Enabled Remote + Mic Accessory Cable

SRP: $99.00

In addition to the SE215-BT1 Sound Isolating Earphones, Shure sells the RMCE-BT1 Bluetooth Enabled Remote + Mic Accessory Cable. For those Shure earphones that aren't already Bluetooth enabled, this cable solves that problem. It includes volume controls and a microphone for calls. (Buy it here.

Shure MV88 MOTIV iOS Digital Stereo Condenser Microphone

SRP: $149.00

Shure's microphones have a place in history. They were used by the U.S. military in World War II for tanks, ships, and aircrafts. When Elvis Presley recorded in Sun Studios they used Shure microphones. When President John F. Kennedy promised to put a man on the moon it was via a Shure microphone. So what are you going to use your Shure microphone for? No pressure! The MV88 MOTIV iOS Digital Stereo Condenser Microphone is compatible with iPhones, iPads, and iPods that have a Lightning connector and it works with the ShurePlus MOTIV app, "which allows control of gain, EQ, stereo width, and 5 DSP preset modes." It works with the built in iOS camera app for video, as well as other video apps. It would be useful for high quality video content, recording music on the fly, podcasts, and journalistic interviews (where perhaps a big story could be broken and further history could be made via Shure). (Buy it here.

Polaroid Snap Instant Digital Camera

SRP: $99.99

With high quality cameras on most smart phones these days, camera companies have to innovate and up their game. A standalone basic consumer digital camera might appeal to some who haven't fully embraced phones, but that market must be shrinking every year. Polaroid's Snap Instant Digital Camera nicely bridges the gap between the analogue past and digital present. Polaroid has been around for 80 years, since 1937, and has long been the leader in instant cameras. The problem with instant cameras in the modern age is that you may have a photo print right away, but to share it on social media you'd have to take a photo of the print with your phone. The problem with digital photography is that the photos exist on phones, computers, hard drives, web pages, etc., but we rarely take the time to make and display prints. The Polaroid Snap solves both problems, giving you 2x3 inch full color prints (or black & white or sepia toned ones if you prefer), along with 10 megapixels digital photos. And you no longer have to shake it like a Polaroid picture, the prints come out of the camera right away and are ready to go. The Snap comes with a self-timer and magnetic lens cap and is available in various different colors. (Buy it here.)

Polaroid Cube+

SRP: $149.99

Another way that camera companies have set themselves apart from phone cameras is via small durable cameras that can be used by adventurous types to capture sports and other actions and events, such as GoPro cameras. Polaroid's Cube+ is an update on their Cube. The tiny and stylish camera is only 35 x 35 x35mm in size. It has a 124-degree wide-angle lens and records 1440p HD video. It can be mounted to almost anything and has a powerful magnet on its base to help with that. It's splash resistant and shockproof and in a waterproof case you can even take it deep underwater. The difference between the Cube+ and the regular Cube is that it's got built-in Wi-Fi that connects to a mobile app, allowing you to stream live, whether you're biking, driving, diving, or just making home action movies with the kids. (Buy it here.)

 

Kodak PixPro SP360 Action Cam

SRP: $259.00

Kodak is one of the titans of the photographic film era, having been founded 129 years ago, in 1888. Like Polaroid, the company has weathered the digital revolution. In fact they developed the first digital camera way back in 1975, but didn't proceed with the product for concern it would harm their photographic film business. But in the early 2000s the digital tide was turning into a wave and all camera companies had no choice but to ride it. One of Kodak's most exciting digital cameras of the moment is the PixPro SP360 Action Cam. It is water resistant, shockproof, dustproof, and freezeproof, so it has no problem with being knocked around a bit in a quest to capture that stunning moment, that freeze-frame worthy image. It shoots 1080p full HD video and is a compact and durable camera. The one thing we're leaving out that sets it apart from some other digital cameras is that it shoots 360-degree videos, making it virtual reality ready. It has various 360 shooting modes (panorama, dome, segment, or ring) that can even be adjusted after filming or you can shoot in just front mode, which gives you more of a fisheye video. The SP360 is WiFi and controlled by a phone app available for both iOS and Android devices that can be up to 30 feet away from the camera. You can also get several different accessory bundles, including the $399.00 Extreme Kit which includes the camera along with various mounts, straps, and protective covers/housings, all to better help you capture eye-popping videos. It would be a great gift for extreme sportsman, aspiring filmmakers, bands who want to make their own music videos or record their shows, or anyone looking to record and share interesting images. There's also a new 4K version of the SP360. (Buy it here.)

 

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