Holiday Gadgets We'd Return

Budget eReaders? Blu-ray players? Forget about it.

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Sickeningly adorable automatons, computer-powered drink chillers, shirts with built-in synthesizers: Today’s range of high-tech stocking suffers is almost bizarre. Play it smart this season, and delete the following presents from your list.

Grayscale and Budget eReaders

From eye-scrunching visibility to migraine-inducing monochromatic hues and plodding page turns, vast and terrible are the crimes many digital tablets commit against the written word. These units promise to revolutionize reading and replace your home collection by allowing online shopping, wireless downloads and even remote library rentals. What most really do is make you feel like you’re twelve again, clumsily parsing text files on your parents’ Tandy. True, not all bibliophiles can afford attractive, user-friendly models like the iPad or Nook Color. But free apps like Kindle, Kobo and Blio can easily turn eye-catching, intuitive devices ranging from smartphones to Macs and PCs into ready substitutes. Besides, consigning loved ones to Lasik surgery isn’t exactly our idea of a gift that keeps on giving.

DVD or Blu-ray Players

OK, that’s a lie, sort of. Numerous Blu-ray players sport online connectivity, offering simple, budget-friendly ways to access instant play video services like Netflix and CinemaNow. But it’s RIP for standalone disc-based devices in the age of streaming media, where last night’s Glee rerun can make the jump from Internet to television in 10 minutes. Between TVs with built-in Web-connected multimedia apps, video game consoles which play physical media or downloadable digital clips, and endless options from media servers to WiFi laptop display adapters and wireless extenders for pushing online films/shows to the boob tube, well … Let’s just say gizmos that limit their horizons to purely packaged goods are looking increasingly archaic.

Digital Photo Frames

2007 called, and wanted its décor back! Outside of teens’ bedrooms and model homes, these tacky tech ornaments have no place in the modern zeitgeist.  Like GPS systems, digital cameras are also increasingly being folded into all-purpose smartphones, meaning that modern photos aren’t just meant to be readily transportable, but easily time-stamped, edited and shared via social network, too. No respectable 21st century paparazzo wants to find their identity sandwiched somewhere in the murky no-man’s-land between Bob Ross and Thomas Kinkade: Painter of Light.