Roses are red, iPods are betterIf your loved one is an avid gym junkie, music lover or simply spends a lot of time on public transport, they will love one of Apple's new iPods. We recommend the new Nano or the Shuffle, because they're small, cute, affordable and available in romantic red. Best of all, if you do buy the red version of either, Apple will send a portion of the purchase price to the Global Fund to fight AIDS in Africa.
iPod Nano: from $199
iPod Shuffle: $99
Of course there's more to portable music than the iPod. A very decent alternative is SanDisk's Sansa Clip player. This givesyou essentially the same type of functionality and size (the Clip's bigger though) of the iPod Shuffle, except that it has a screen, so you can view and select songs to play. Plus it has an inbuilt mic (so it can double as a Dictaphone) and FM radio.
Sansa Clip: from $79
See: www.sandisk.com Wires are geeky, let's face it - a living room with wires snaking around the place are a sure-fire sign of geek-in-residence. They have a low wife acceptance factor in almost any product, and they're annoying, they get tangled, they break and they look plain ugly. That's why Samsung's P2 MP3 player is automatically cool. This player is Bluetooth enabled, which means if you grab yourself a pair of Bluetooth compatible headphones, you can pair them up and listen to music wirelessly. A very sophisticated gift, if you have a bit more to spend.
Samsung P2: from $269
Life is like a box of chocolatesPerhaps it's true that you never know what you're going to get in life, but when you get something good, chances are you'll take a camera out to photograph the moment. That's why we think a camera can be considered a very personal, and sentimental gift (much better than chocolate on Valentine's). For her (especially if she's a girl's girl) you can not go past Sony DSCW55P cybershot digicam. Seven megapixels, decent optics, slim enough to fit in the handbag and it comes in pink!
And while we're on this theme of colour - another romantic red option is the Olympus FE-280 digital camera. It's designedto be easy to use and fairly compact and slim for everyday use. A stainless steel exterior means it looks great, and 8 megapixel resolution and TruePic III image processing inside means great pictures, according to Olympus.
See: www.olympus.com.au But if you're after more megapixels for the size, try the Pentax Optio S-10 digital camera. This little beauty claims to be the smallest and lightest 10 megapixel camera in the world. It looks fantastic, is small enough to carry around with you at all times, say, in your handbag and it's got the Pentax rep for good optics and processing.
Optio S-10: $199
Fashion meets functionWe Aussies spend a lot of time on our mobile phones, and a lot of that time is probably spent on the phone to your better half. If your partner has a Bluetooth-enabled phone, a wireless Bluetooth headset is a great gift idea. Use it instead of a wired earphone for handsfree conversations - such as while driving. These days the Bluetooth headsets are getting a lot better looking true. Plantronics is a brand that is trying its best to prove that Bluetooth headsets can be fashionable as well as functional. The Plantronics 655 is a sleek looking headset with AudioIQ technology to make conversations clearer on both ends of the call.
Discovery 655: $179
Another stylish way to stay in touch with your loved one is to get them the Sennheiser VMX100 Bluetooth headset. Sennheiser, you may know as a specialist in headphone technology, so it's great they've decided to morph that tech into Bluetooth headsets.
See: www.syntec.com.au If your partner also happens to be a keen music lover, you could go with the Motorola S9 Bluetooth headphones. These give you music stored on your mobile phone (wirelessly) in stereo. And if you team them up with the D650 Bluetooth adapter, you can listen to your iPod wirelessly as well. (Just plug the adapter into the iPod to give the iPod Bluetooth connectivity, then just pair the headphones and the iPod up.)
S9 headphones + D650 bundle: $249.95
In case you haven't heard, a framed photograph is old news. With so many people using digital cameras these days, it'sdigital photo frames on the wish lists. A digital photo frame is just like a mini LCD screen into which you plug a digicam memory card or USB stick, and it plays all the photos stored on the card or USB in a slideshow. There are a few options out there, we like the Sagem PF 507 because it gives you the choice of interchangeable frames - one chocolate leather and one "chic black plastic."
PF 507: $179
The Echologic solid red wood 9-inch frame mixes old-school with new. This is a good choice for someone who appreciates the benefits of technology (i.e. being able to display a slideshow of 20 photos in one frame, instead of just the one photo in a frame) but likes the traditional, elegant look of a wooden frame.
Solid Red Wood 9": $309
www.flatscreenavenue.com.au Philips has a nice little digital photo frame too - it's available in a 7-inch and a 9-inch version. And they have interchangeable frames too - you have an option of red, black and silver. We suggest you present your digital photo frame with stick/card of your favourite photographs of the two of you for that extra special touch.
Digital Photo Frame: $399
If you're looking for a female perspective - here it is - this last option is a very cute idea. It's a key ring with a digital photoframe on it. Again, load it up with some photos of the two of you, the kids and other loved ones and it's sure to please.
Kaiser Baas Digital Photo Key Ring: $29.95
Home comfortsIt's the gaming sensation across the nation - the Nintendo Wii. We know it doesn't sound like a particularly romantic gift, but believe it or not the Wii is changing the face of gaming. Everyone from girls to granddads are taking it up, and Nintendo is pushing a range of games that are fun for the whole family, rather than shoot-em-ups likely to appeal mainly to geeky-17-year olds. This is a gift that will keep giving on those rainy Friday nights when you can't bring yourself to leave the comforts of home. So stay home, plug in the Wii and battle it out together.
Another great gift idea which you both can enjoy at home is the good old fashioned DVD. Or to high-tech it up a little - an HDDVD or a Blu-ray disc (these are the vying formats wishing to replace DVDs, the way DVDs replaced VHS). This is also a good chance to buy your partner a movie that you might not ordinarily watch - they'll feel touched for sure. There's a few biggies coming out before Valentine's, including StarDust in HD DVD from Paramount (for her), or Resident Evil Extinction Blu-ray from Sony Pictures (for him).
See: www.sonypicture.com.au and www.paramount.com This was one of our favourite picks in the Christmas Gift Guide, so it's back in our Valentine's Guide. That's Hewlett Packard's Snapfish website, which lets you upload some digital photos and turn them into big canvas artwork-prints, keyring designs, mugs, t-shirts, mousepads, photo books and even stubbie coolers. The ordering process is all online and they'll post the goodies out to you, so you don't even have to leave home to do your shopping - beautiful!
Okay, so now you've got the pressie online, without getting up from your chair, but what about the card? A neat little site
called cardsbypost lets you create a card online. You select the card (they cater for a range of occasions including Valentine's), type up a message to put in the card, then they print off the card and your message and mail it off for you. They're priced at a very reasonable $5/card. The cards look pretty cute actually, and are endorsed by Good Environmental Choice Australia too.
Click to enlarge
Good luck with your shopping and Happy Valentine's Day from the SmartHouse team!