Tech Gift Guide For Kids

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gift ideas for kidsEvery holiday season, retailers release a bevy of new toys and electronics aimed at capturing the attention of our little ones. While little Jane may be cooing, “Oooohh!” many of us are moaning, “Arghh! How am I supposed to pick among four versions of Nintendo handheld products?”

Never fear, the Nerd Chicks are here to share our “Buy This, Not That” tips to navigate the sea of choices and ensure you’re up to the challenge of finding your kids the perfect gadget.

Does anyone else remember fondly the days when there was only one choice in handheld electronics, the Nintendo Gameboy? Life seemed so much simpler then.

These days, there are four choices in the Nintendo family alone (DS Lite, DS, DS XL and 3DS), not to mention the PSP and a growing selection of alternative game-playing options. However, if you have a Mario- or Zelda-obsessed youngster, only Nintendo will do.

tech giftsThe newest member of the Nintendo line is the 3DS, capable of rendering 3-D images without requiring special glasses. The prices for the DS, DS XL and 3DS are very close (the DS has a suggested retail price of $150 while the DS XL and 3DS are suggested to retail at $170), which is the primary reason we’d suggest you take the leap to 3-D. Even though there is not a huge amount of 3-D content available, there’s soon to be more.

In the meantime, you’ll have access to all your favorite Nintendo-only games (Mario, Zelda, Pok’e9mon, etc), and it’s backward-compatible with nearly the entire library of older Nintendo DS games.

While every DS allows the player to pause the game, search the Internet for gaming hints with the built-in browser and then resume uninterrupted game-play, only the 3DS has motion sensor technology (similar to the Wii) allowing compatible 3DS games to react to the motion and tilt of the system automatically. If the DS and DS XL were significantly less expensive, we’d pause to reconsider, but because that’s not the case, jump into 3-D. You can buy the 3ds here.

kid christmas presents

With the arrival of the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet, many parents may be considering getting their child an inexpensive tablet for access to downloadable games and Web content.

If you’re pondering this option for a child younger than 10, we’d caution you about the complete lack of parental controls and inability to monitor your child’s activities online. Instead, consider the LeapPad Explorer Learning Tablet (suggested retail $99). Aimed at kids 4 to 9, the LeapPad comes pre-installed with four games and is compatible with more than 100 cartridge games, apps, digital books, videos and flash cards. Additional applications and games run about $10 to $30 each. Designed to teach your child everything from reading and math to geography and art, the skill levels automatically adjust to challenge each child’s pace, remembering your child’s progress in games and books. Leapfrog’s Learning Path online allows you to see your child’s activity and receive email updates and tips on how to tailor learning and expand their learning fun.

Finally, if you have a miniature photographer on your list, you may be considering the VTech Kidizoom PlusCamera (suggested retail $60), designed for kids 3 to 8 (i.e., meant to take a beating and keep working).

While a great option for younger kids, those with especially techno-savvy or somewhat older kiddos may want to consider the Kodak Playsport Zx3 Video Camera (suggested retail $110). It’s small enough to fit into a shirt pocket, waterproof up to 10 feet, shockproof, dustproof, and can survive a fall from up to 5 feet. It takes full 1080p wide-screen HD recordings with built-in digital image stabilization in just about any environment with surprising clarity. It’s designed to lock onto faces, so you always focus on your friends instead of the bookcase behind them.

stocking stuffer ideasMartin Scorsese Jr. will love the ability to record up to 10 hours of footage before having to reload and your kids can show off their newest flick by simply plugging into your HDTV via the built-in HDMI port.

Links to all my holiday gift recommendations can be found at If you’re still struggling to narrow down the perfect gift for someone on your list, email us at [email protected]

Nerd Chicks Adventures is written and Heather Neal from Nerds on Call, a computer service company in Redding. They can be reached at [email protected]