Portable Entertainment Gift Ideas [2010 Cool Yule Tools]

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At $500, these are a major jump if you’re looking to upgrade from the basic Apple earbuds. You probably have to really be an audiophile or have a lot of money if you want to invest in a pair of these – at this price, the earphones will likely be more expensive than the music player you’re listening to them on.

The earphones come in clear or metallic bronze, and the premium kit includes extra foam sleeves of different sizes, as well as a quarter-inch adapter plug and a carrying case.

Cool Yule rating: 4 starsPrice: $500Company Web siteReviewed by Keith Shaw

SleepPhones Headphones Described as “pajamas for your ears”, SleepPhones are a simple, great idea – build headphones into a comfortable headband that can be worn while sleeping. As I understand it, many people have trouble falling asleep at night, leading some to dangerous prescription drugs, but many try the old-fashioned fall-asleep-to-music remedy. Of course, your partner/significant other/whatever might not appreciate your choice of tunes, but, apart from in an already uncomfortable airplane seat, have you ever tried to fall asleep wearing headphones whilst even partially horizontal? I thought so – it doesn’t work too well, does it?

That’s what makes SleepPhones such a wonderful approach. Our review product came in a medium-grey shade (yes, matching my natural hair color, thank you for mentioning that), and has the usual 3.5-mm stereo plug at the end of a thin white cord. Just plug it into any stereo source, like the iPod I used, and…

Well, you’ll need to adjust the placement of the speakers within the headband, and you’re not going to get kick-down-the-door bass out of these. But they are indeed comfortable, even lying down, and my significant other tells me that they are even quite fashionable (and she has them on long-term, um, “test” now, refusing to give them back). Yes, your sleeping mate might be able to hear these depending upon your choice of volume and genre, but there’s no more leakage than with most consumer headphones. And, no, they don’t sound as good as the headphones we use for recording in our studio here, but they serve their mission well.

Because I live on airplanes, I’m waiting for a noise-cancelling version, which I hear is in the works. In the meantime, this is one great gift for just about anyone on your holiday list – highly recommended!

Cool Yule rating: 5 starsPrice: $58.95 (direct)Company Web siteReviewed by C. J. Mathias

Marvel Comics-branded headphones, by Coloud If you’re a technology geek, chances are you’re also a fan of comic books. If you also happen to enjoy music, you can show off your comic-book street cred (is there such a thing?) by sporting some Marvel-branded headphones by Coloud. The headphones (based on the Twelve model from Coloud) don’t have a lot of bells and whistles, and are pretty functional (40mm power drivers, 20Hz-20001 Hz frequency range, and 120 dB sensitivity) – the main appeal of the headphones are the Marvel designs on the earphone covers and the headband.

Coloud also makes other branded headphones, including Hello Kitty, the NHL and Star Wars, should you not be a comic-book geek, but maybe are obsessed with other properties.

Cool Yule rating: 3 starsPrice: About $40Company Web siteReviewed by Keith Shaw~~

dbLogic headphones, by dbLogic With more stories and studies coming out discussing the consequences of loud music and hearing loss, it becomes more important for music lovers to take care of their ears when using headphones and earphones. The company dbLogic has come out with earbuds and headphones that utilize SPL2 Technology (sound pressure level limiting) to protect against high sound pressure levels that the company says can cause hearing damage when you listen to music for long periods.

The headphones include an adjustable headband and swivel design for different head shapes, and the ear cups are cushioned to provide extra comfort. The headphones also fold up easily to make them portable. The headphones come in seven different colors, very colorful options to keep things stylish.

The headphones offer a 20Hz to 20KHz frequency range, 100mW of power, providing clear sound with rich bass. It was quite obvious when wearing them that volume levels would be lower than regular headphones, but it wasn’t so low that I wanted to switch headphones.

If there’s a teen-ager music lover on your list who tends to say “what?” a lot when you ask them questions, you might want to provide them these headphones to help prevent further ear damage when they get older.

Cool Yule rating: 4 starsPrice: $40 (available at end of November)Company Web siteReviewed by Keith Shaw

KidzGear wired and wireless headphones If you have kids, chances are that at some point during their life, you’re going to be subjected to music or other entertainment that you just can’t tolerate. Maybe it’s the Wiggles, or Dora the Explorer, or something else, but eventually you’ll want to give your child a pair of headphones so you won’t have to listen to it. Or maybe you’re on a car trip and want to listen to your own music (or thoughts) but still keep the kids entertained.

KidzGear offers two types of headphones that can help. The wired and wireless headphones are designed to fit a child’s head better than larger-size headphones, and a volume limiter adapter helps reduce the volume that goes inside their heads for safer listening. You can also get a splitter that would let two kids listen to the audio/video source at the same time.

The wireless headphones are battery powered, and only work with some in-car wireless DVD and a/v systems, as well (check the Web site for compatibility issues). You can also purchase an optional wireless transmitter that connects to a stationary audio/video source inside the house, such as a TV, video game console or DVD player.

My 4-year-old daughter loved having her own pair of headphones, and never complained about the fit or the sound quality. I preferred the wired headphones over the wireless headphones, as the wireless had a very limited signal range (my daughter said “The music stopped!” after walking about 5 feet away – some line of sight issues might be in effect), and when you were in range there was a noticeable audio hiss in the background.

Cool Yule rating: 3 stars (wireless); 4 stars (wired).Price: $17 for wired; $30 for wireless; in-home wireless transmitter costs $16.Company Web siteReviewed by Keith Shaw

Gorillamobile for iPod touch, by Joby Like other Joby devices, this offers flexible and wrappable legs that can secure your iPod touch, a mobile phone, a digital camera or other handheld devices to almost any surface. This version comes with four different adapters that you can connect to the base - an iPod touch case, a universal camera adapter that can screw into the tripod slot, and two removable adhesive clips (that would stick to other handheld devices).

The three legs are all connected via flexible ball-and-socket pieces, letting you create your own tripod, or wrap them around to place in the best location. This lets you create a mini-viewing stand for the iPod, or do whatever you want or need the iPod to do.

It's a nice little accessory if you're looking to mount the iPod touch in a unique location or are looking to stand it up.

Cool Yule rating: 3.5 starsPrice: $30Company Web siteReviewed by Keith Shaw

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This story, "Portable Entertainment Gift Ideas [2010 Cool Yule Tools]" was originally published by Network World.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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