iPhones, Blu-ray and Slingbox, oh my

In a live Network World chat, Cool Tools gadget guru Keith Shaw explains why the iPhone rules, weighs in on the DVD battle and tells you what to buy the techie who has everything.

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Keith_Shaw: Spoken like a true Colts fan.... Interesting story, I went to the Patriots game last weekend (the Eagles game), and we were told at first that we couldn't bring in our digital camera, but then after we spoke to another security official, he said that only "video cameras" were not allowed. I'm not sure whether this rule was instituted after the scandal (probably not), but it was kind of funny in light of the "Spygate" stuff.

Dlm: Do you have a recommendation on Blu-ray vs. HD DVD players? Blu-ray seems to have broader industry support, but HD DVD is winning in the price category.

Keith_Shaw: I'd still stay on the fence in terms of choosing a final format -- I still have painful memories of when my father chose a Betamax player in the '80s, and we had to stand on principle until the early '90s before buying a VHS player. I've seen a big push by the Blu-ray camp in terms of content -- if you really want to jump into the pool on this, I'd look for a system that could play both types of discs, so that you don't get burned in the end should one format win out.

Moderator-Julie: About 15 minutes left! If you have questions, send them in.

Shoppergirl: How many products did you test for the 2007 Yule Tools gift guide and can you give some examples of products that didn't make the list?

Keith_Shaw: We received more than 100 product submissions, and I think our final count of recommended products was at about 80 or so. There are several reasons why something doesn't make the list -- not "cool" enough, too hard to install, not really a "gift" idea, etc. We try to test as much stuff as possible, but sometimes we just run out of time. That's what I'm doing between now and the end of the year, getting through testing stuff I couldn't finish on time... :)

PatsFan83: I am buying the family a new computer for Christmas: Vista, XP or Mac OS X? We've always used Windows.

Keith_Shaw: Anyone who's listened to the TwistedPair podcast during this year already knows this answer -- we've done a lot of shows about how Vista really laid an egg, and I've vowed that my next PC purchase will be a Mac. I'm still getting mileage out of my Windows XP devices, and haven't found a reason to buy the new system yet, but when that happens it will still be a Mac.

BigPapi: What gadget would you recommend for a 250-lb baseball player, coming off knee surgery, trying to kill some time?

Keith_Shaw: I think he should get an iPod and then download the entire last year of the Twisted Pair podcast -- there's no bigger time-killer than that! Seriously, if you are looking for a device, I'd suggest looking into the latest portable DVD players, or a video iPod, they really can do lots of nice things and keep you entertained during the surgery layoff.

Chart: I don't get into the newer game consoles-- too complicated for a Mario lover like me! Any ideas for a good way to play old-school NES game? I know there are a few new consoles that play old games, but don't know if any are worth it.

Keith_Shaw: The best way -- go to eBay or some other auction site and find an old NES system to buy and fire that back up. I still have my old Atari 2600 system and attach that to the TV on occasions. Game makers also have the "retro gamer" in mind, they're constantly porting over old games to the new systems, I have several Activision games that I can play on my PSP, etc. There are lots of Web sites that also offer Flash versions of old-school games, I'd check out some of those too.

PatsFan83: I am taking a lot of photos of late and am storing them on my home PC (along with all my other personal data). What's a reliable way for backing it up? DVD, external hard disk, other?

Keith_Shaw: Backup storage of data needs several approaches. I'd recommend an external hard drive, and then some "off-site" storage and online service, like Carbonite. Too many people make the mistake of doing backup to a device that sits right next to the computer that they're trying to protect, and then a fire rips through the house and they lose the PC and the storage device. Fortunately, some of the new devices from storage vendors, like Seagate and Western Digital, are offering online storage support that's as easy to manage as the "one-button" backup.

BigPapi: We need to hear more of your producer on twisted Pair, he is awesome.

Keith_Shaw: Brian is the glue that holds the Twisted Pair together. I agree that we should hear from him more.

Shoppergirl: So, with all the cool toys you test, what is it that you want for X-mas?

Keith_Shaw: You would think that I have a Christmas technology wish-list a mile long, but after three months of testing stuff I tend to get a little jaded about technology. I sometimes wish for something simple, like a flannel shirt or something like that. I did asked my wife for the World of Warcraft Burning Crusade expansion software, but she already is concerned about my level of play there (level 54 paladin!), so I'm not sure I'm going to get that. In the end I'll probably ask for a bunch of books and DVDs. I know, I'm boring.... :-)

Moderator-Julie: Thanks for coming! Remember to keep reading Keith's column and blog and watching his videos and listening to Twisted Pair.for more chats at 2 p.m. EST.

Mark your calendars

December 11, Microsoft Certifications: Everything you need to know, with Patrick Regan

January 10, Nicholas Carr's Big Switch

January 15, Demo's Chris Shipley on Hot Technologies for 2008

x-mastechboi: Looks like it's 3 bells already, wow did that go by fast.

Keith_Shaw: Yes it did, thanks to everyone for stopping by. If you have any other questions for me, you can always chat with me at kshaw@nww.com. I may not answer voice mails, but I try to answer as much e-mail as possible. Even those from my friends in the PR community (and Colts fans).

Buckeyegirl: C'mon, you know you want some Colts tickets under the tree!

Keith_Shaw: I'll try to score some Pats playoff tickets when the Colts come to Foxboro. Thanks to everyone for coming to the chat! Now get back to work so you don't get in trouble!

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