Published Dec 16, 2010

I know that you’ve been waiting for some kind of guidance on what to get your friends for Christmas or Hanukkah this year. Here at, we’re always looking to improve the quality-of-life of our beloved readers. Part of this is letting you know about the finest items that our skilled operatives have bought and tested this year. For your holiday shopping convenience, please enjoy these products that we are confident will change your life.

Whiskey Glass

I’m a big Scotch fan; I enjoy a tipple on many a cooler evening, or a weekend afternoon in front of the TV. But a delicious single malt is pricey, so you want to get the most flavor for it and you also want to drink it at a very responsible rate. Your typical 8oz tumbler isn’t great for either of these: a solid ounce- to ounce-and-a-half pour doesn’t go far, and the straight-sided design doesn’t collect any of the luscious (depending on your point of view) smells.So I got this scotch whiskey glass. It’s been a revelation! Every scotch tastes not only better, but different than with a tumbler. I can detect many more subtle variations, and the abrasive alcohol-y notes are minimized. Or, my mind tricks me into experiencing that way. I guess I’m a cheap placebo date!Also, it’s helped those bottles of Scotch last longer, because it’s just not tempting to make a Mad Men-style healthy pour when you have an appropriately-sized glass. For instance, observe the difference when I pour in a pony — that’s about an ounce — of Scotch:
Obviously, the big glass on the left is your standard tumbler, and on the right is the Scotch glass. You can barely guess that it’s the same amount! It’s much easier to sip and enjoy from that Scotch glass.

Epson Flatbed & Negative Scanner

If you shoot film, then this is the scanner for you. I wanted to scan in all of the black-and-white photos I’d shot and developed, since, you know, who looks at printed photos anymore? They’re no good for tagging on Facebook. Unfortunately, your typical highly-rated film scanner runs well over a thousand dollars.This nifty flatbed isn’t too big — so it doesn’t take up enough room for your spouse to start complaining about how your hobby is taking over the house, or at least not past the caustic chemicals you’re using in the tub — and has an attachment for scanning negatives and slides. The included software is easy-to-use and takes great scans. Definitely my bridge between film and digital.

Kitchen TV

This is a funny recommendation, because, while we have this 9” under-counter TV in our kitchen, I’m not sure I’d recommend it. This is a replacement unit; our first one died a couple of weeks after arrival, and there’s a lot of reviews like that on the web. On the other hand, when it works, this is truly one of the best things ever. Courtney and I honestly fight to see who gets to do the dishes, just so we can watch our TV or DVDs on it.I ran a long coax cable around a doorway from our Tivo so we can watch Tivoed shows on it too. (Pity that the remote doesn’t work from over in the kitchen — no skipping ads!) Having this TV really does change the experience of using the kitchen — cooking and cleaning are much more fun. Ya do have to watch out and actually pay attention while using sharp things and fire, but, if you have that kind of self-discipline, I highly recommend you buy a TV like this for your own kitchen!

Waterproof Camera

With the good-enough cameras that you find on most cell phones these days there’s not a heck of a lot of reason to own a point-and-shoot. Nonetheless, I’m recommending this one for one specific reason — it’s waterproof. Unlike your cell phone, you can take it to the pool, take it on the boat, and even take it to the beach and not have to worry about it getting stolen while you’re swimming — since it’ll be with you!This little Panasonic takes some great photos. It’s easy-to-use and has a ton of settings, handy and quasi-artsy. Get this camera or one like it, and take it everywhere and have a good time. Heck, get the floating camera strap so you don’t need to worry about dropping it in the lake.(Yes, it’s an older model — often you can save a bunch by getting a last-generation camera. For the past 4-5 years sensors and autofocus have been good enough that you don’t get a ton of benefit from getting the latest stuff — an older model is still great.)If you’re still looking for some gifts, I highly recommend all four of these. Well, three of these four, and one more in the category of the one I described. Go to town this holiday season, get yourself a nice treat like one of these!