24 November 2008

Christmas Shopping, Part 2 - Under $100

Christmas Shopping, Part 1

Suppose you can spend a bit more than the "under $40 (or free)" gifts I suggested in the first Holiday Gifts post, what kind of "gifts of access" could you bring down the chimney?

(1) Great headsets: These matter. They support Speech Recognition, and if comfortable, help with text-to-speech. I love this one (priced here) from LTB, but other choices abound, such as this Plantronics behind the head model, this one from Logitech, or this very cool one from Creative. Pick what's comfortable, what's cool, whatever, but get a noise cancelling mic, and be sure it is a USB headset, that's always best for Speech Recognition. Anyway, $40 to $90 in the United States.

(2) The Gift of Jott and/or SpinVox: A friend of mine said, "Of course Jott is worth paying for." And if it helps, then, why not? For $3.95 per month, or, well, you can go up to $12.95/month or buy minute packs, you give the gift of speech-to-text conversion and safety on the road, the ability to remind yourself of things or take notes - and much, much more. SpinVox, which does "the opposite" - converts your voicemail into text. I pay $5.00 per month on Alltel.

(3) A Canon LiDE scanner with OmniPageLE: Convert any text into readable digital text with these cheap ($50 to $100) "backpackable" scanners which don't even need to be plugged into an electrical outlet (powered by USB alone). They come with a great "light" version of OmniPage that is one of the best optical character recognition (OCR) systems available.

(4) The "Personal Version" of NaturalReader: NaturalReader is a fabulous free product, but for $50 you get to add instant mp3 conversion, reading within Word and PowerPoint, and two AT+T Natural Voices. If voice quality and ease of use matters, it's only $50.

(5) A ScanR subscription: ScanR converts photographed documents (or whiteboards) from your 2 megapixel or better mobile phone camera, into readable digital text. You can use it a few times a month for free, but for $3 or ₤2.50 a month you can use it all you want.

(6) Alternative Mice: Fix those dexterity or stamina issues. How about 3M's Renaissance Mouse for $55. Or a Logitech Trackball ($50 to $70). Or the wireless Mouse Pen ($56). Or the BIGtrack Ball ($79 or $99).

(7) Alternative Keyboards: So many choices to make computer users more comfortable (and don't forget the free Click-N-Type On-screen version, a perfect match with the Renaissance Mouse), but for $50 you can have a Dvorak keyboard. For ₤25 (UK only) you can have an ABC keyboard. For $60 you can have a Microsoft Wireless Ergonomic Keyboard with built-in magnifier.

(8) Skype Subscription: Keep people in touch, and think about combining Skype with hands-free control in Windows Vista. You could help un-isolate a person. Add a webcam and let people see for themselves.

(9) Under $100 mp3 Players: Sure iPods are cool, they're also expensive. How about a Sansa Fuze for $80? Or a Zen Stone for $40. Either will hold a lot of books, which, if you want to buy, you can buy if you can't find everything you want for free.

(10) An unlimited texting plan for a mobile phone: For $60 to $100 a year you can give the gift of texting, and all it can accomplish in alternative communication.

but you could also buy five copies of The Drool Room and pass them out to friends.

- Ira Socol

Note: Lon Thornburg is collecting Christmas AT Gift Ideas at his AT Blog Carnival - for last minute shopping (December 15) release.

1 comment:

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