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Our Favorite Things (i.e. Gift Ideas) 2007 Gift Guide

It's Christmas Season don't you know? Oprah has her "favorite things" and now it's time for Athletic-MindedTraveler's Favorite Things.

We don't plug products unless we truly use and enjoy them ourselves. Here are a few to consider for your gift giving this year (we bought them, they weren't freebies):

1. RCA Small Wonder Camcorder EZ201  

We bought one of these video camcorders about three months ago and have been telling all of our friends/family about it since. The Small Wonder is similar in size to a large ipod (about the size of your hand), runs on AA batteries and is the simplest camcorder we've ever used. With the press of a button, videos are recorded and saved directly onto the unit's hard drive (no tapes or DVDs). Users can choose between two quality settings: "High Quality" which allows for 30 minutes of consecutive recording and "Long Play" which extends the tape time to 60 minutes. The video quality is still good in Long Play mode, but even 30 minutes of recording is plenty because...

Once you're finished recording, the Small Wonder downloads these videos to your computer with ease. All you need to do is connect the unit's USB cable to your computer and voila, you're ready to download. No software to install, no firewires to attach, no tapes to play can't get any simpler. Combining and/or shortening your video clips is also possible using the Small Wonder's user-friendly editing software. And, emailing the clips to your family/friends is accomplished with a couple clicks of the mouse. You can also download your movies to YouTube or your favorite video site as well. Best of all, this unbelievably fun and simple technological wonder costs only $100.00. Yes, the decimal is in the right spot...One-hundred dollars! 

2. Suunto Core Sports Watch  

Recently, I wanted to upgrade from my Timex Ironman watch to something that looked a little flashier (just a little), came with a few more features, and was more user-friendly. The Timex is practical for my workouts, but I wanted something that would be more useful during my travels and less boring when going out for a casual night on the town. I found just what I was looking for in the Suunto Core and have been wearing/using it daily for the past two months. I love the Core's large face, unique design and unusual colors. Though buyers can choose from several color combinations, I'm happy with my green/white dial choice.

In addition to typical time/date features, the Core also has sunrise/sunset functions, an altimeter (i.e., elevation readings), thermometer/barometer, digital compass, dual time-zone display, and water resistance up to 100 feet. As important, the Core's design makes it extremely easy to rotate through and find the different features. I've bought other watches in the past loaded with bells and whistles that I never used because I had difficulty remembering the required button combination. This watch is a great gift for any active person, but it's especially useful for athletic-minded travelers. I love being able to set two time zones on the watches' display when in another country. I've also used the compass countless times when trying to find my way around an unfamiliar town. I've even set the watches' alarm to wake me up in the morning because it's so easy to operate. Cost $250. Buy it online or at your local REI.

3. Aerolatte Milk Frother - Erin's Pick  If you like foam atop your brew, and you don't already own one of these handy gizmos, get one NOW. Seriously, this is about the best, most satisfying and useful product purchase I have made in years. I was so excited about how this tool took my hot beverage to a whole new level, that I ordered one for my best coffee drinking buddy, who just emailed me with a subject line reading "I LOVE my frother."

Jim can't appreciate because he's not a java junkie like me. I'm guessing any frother will do the trick. I chose the aerolatte version and purchased it on Amazon. It's under $20, so to get the free shipping you'll need to add to your order. And, while it does come with batteries, they died pretty quickly. In fact, about the only criticism I have of this frother is that I've had to replace the 2 AA batteries somewhat frequently. You'll know you need fresh power once your froth loses its ooomph! And the device is small enough to take with you-I travel with mine! Bring it to work, on a business trip and/or wherever. You can quickly turn an okay cup of coffee into something above average.

Merry Christmas!!!

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