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Compiled by Karen Lynn Thomas
Want to get a head start on holiday shopping this year? Here are a few gift ideas for everyone on your list.
Have you been searching for a digital voice recorder that provides excellent sound quality and audio navigation? Finally a mainstream product that features voice guidance is here. The Olympus Digital Voice Recorder, available in three models, DS-30, DS-40 and DS-50, has the ability to record notes, lectures and concerts and can play MP3, Audible.com and podcast files. The main difference between the models is the amount of RAM and the price. The DS-30 has 256 MB, the DS-40 has 512 MB and the DS-50 has 1 GB. The recorder requires two AAA batteries, included.
Olympus Digital Voice Recorders (DS series) retail at $150 and up At Office Depot and other retailers
Has keeping on track with deadlines and staying on schedule with appointments become a challenge? APH has braille and large print solutions. The Braille Datebook features a binder with 250 4-by-6-inch sheets, tabbed calendar pages and a Velcro closure. This planner includes pockets for a slate and stylus plus a saddle-shaped stylus. A pamphlet with tips for setting up the datebook is also included. The EZ Track Calendar is a low vision appointment book and calendar in a three-ring binder. Each page holds information for four days with plenty of room to write notes and appointments.
2008 Braille Datebook, $53
2008 EZ Track Calendar, $29.75
Also available is the 2008 InSights Calendar with both braille and large print, $7.50
At APH 800-223-1839 or www.aph.org
Has the mail come yet? With the Mail Chime, you will always know the minute the mail arrives. Simply mount the sensor on your mailbox door using the included double-face tape and plug the receiver into an electrical outlet in the house. When the mailbox door is opened, the sensor sends a wireless signal to the Mail Chime, which announces the mail's delivery with a red LED light and four beeps. Press the reset button on the receiver after retrieving the mail. Unit works on mailboxes that have doors that swing down and that are located up to 300 feet from the receiver. Sensor requires a 12-volt A23 battery, installed.
Mail Chime, $49.99 At Smarthome 800-762-7846 or www.smarthome.com
Have you dreamed of going shopping and finding products labeled with braille? Now, thanks to the French cosmetics company, L'Occitane, you can. Most of the products in the L'Occitane line are labeled in braille. The L'Occitane Shea Travel Treasures Set is a nice introduction to this line and is a good value at $35, but we found that only the shea butter included a braille label. Try the Shea Butter Hand Cream, $10 for 1 ounce or $25 for 5.2 ounces.
At Sephora 877-SEPHORA (877-737-4672) or www.sephora.com
Makeup has gone high-tech. With the talking Stila Smoky Eye Palette, a makeup artist talks you through creating a smoky eye with just a press of a button. It's a bit pricy, but it's so cool we couldn't resist. Compact contains four shadows. Shadow applicators not included.
Stila Smoky Eye Palette, $40
At Sephora 877-SEPHORA (877-737-4672) or sephora.com
When you can't depend on your eyes to stay in touch with the world, your ears play a larger role. Wearing earphones may interfere with what is happening around you. Enter AirDrives hybrid stereo earphones from Mad Catz, which deliver dynamic sound and still allow you to stay in tune with your surroundings. AirDrives are compatible with computers and MP3, DVD and iPod players.
AirDrives, $99.99 and AirDrives for Kids, $69.99
At AirDrives.com or 800-831-1442
Do you have a smoke detector that has a tendency to sound false alarms? Replace it with a Remote-Controlled Smoke &Fire Alarm that you can silence with your TV remote. Use the volume or channel buttons on any infrared remote control to test or silence the smoke alarm from up to 20 feet. When the low-battery warning goes off at midnight, silence it for up to eight hours by pressing a button on the remote or holding down the silence/test button on the smoke alarm for five seconds. Unit requires a 9-volt battery.
Remote-Controlled Smoke &Fire Alarm, $39.99
At Smarthome 800-762-7846 or www.smarthome.com
Looking for a new kitchen gadget to help you whip up those holiday treats? With the Cuisinart SmartStick Hand Blender, mixing batters, pureeing soups and blending drinks is fast and easy. With a touch of a button, blend ingredients right in the bowl, pitcher, pot or included plastic beaker. The beaker and the stainless steel blending shaft are dishwasher safe.
Cuisinart SmartStick 200-Watt Immersion Hand Blender, $49.99
At www.Amazon.com and other retailers
Need a unique gift for that special child? WowWee has introduced the Robopanda, a bear who sings, crawls, tells stories and responds to touch and sound. Robopanda even comes with a mini panda pal. This cute bear has a high price tag, but with interchangeable cartridges and more being developed, he can provide hours of fun. Robopanda, $169
At www.wowwee.com and other retailers
Are you having trouble deciding whether to purchase a braille or a talking watch? Now you don't have to with the Braille Talking Watch that is available in a one-button style that announces the time or in a four-button style that also has an alarm feature. Both styles are offered in lady's and man's versions in either gold or silver tone and a matching band or black leather strap.
Braille Talking Watches, $69.95 each
At Independent Living Aids 800-537-2118 or www.independentliving.com
Do you have a chocoholic on your list? Consider a braille plaque in milk, dark or white chocolate that reads "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays." The plaques measure 4-by-6.5-inches and weigh 5.5 ounces.
Braille Plaques, $10.95 each
At The Chocolate Vault 800-525-1165 or www.chocolatevault.com
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