'Tis the season to Crave: Anne Dujmovic's picks

From an entry-level digital SLR to a snazzy guitar tuner to a baby elephant, here's all I want for Christmas.

Anne and Santa
In the mid-'70s, Santa had not yet heard of an iPhone. But he did get an earful about the Barbies that my sister (right) and I wanted.

Editor's note: From now through the end of December, various Crave experts will be sharing their top five (mostly) tech-related wishes for the holiday season. See what we crave, and maybe you'll get some ideas!

1. Canon EOS Rebel XSi. For the past five years, my Canon PowerShot A80 has been with me for some memorable moments--from the old Olympic stadium in Athens where I sat across the aisle from the former king of Greece in 2004, to the secluded beach on the north shore of Kauai where I got engaged earlier this year. Two months ago, the ol' point-and-shoot decided it had had enough excitement. But even before then, I had been thinking about trading up to an entry-level digital SLR.

I've got my eye on the Canon EOS Rebel XSi. It gets high marks from Consumer Reports and CNET, it's in my price range (around $700), and it's a Canon. CNET's own Lori Grunin describes it as the best Canon dSLR for "most hobbyists" and "vacation shooters." Sounds like the perfect camera to tote around Australia and New Zealand in 2009.

2. Digital audio recorder. The other night my dad told me that as a young boy growing up in Yugoslavia he sought out English-language news magazines like Time to find out what was really going on in the world. It was just after World War II and his source was the reading room at the U.S. Consulate. This is just one of many stories I want to know and record so the next generation of Dujmovics will hear them.

I'm considering the Griffin iTalk Pro and the XtremeMac Micro Memo because I could use either one with my iPod. But then there's this application for the iPhone called Recorder. Problem is I don't have an iPhone and I'm just not ready to succumb. I don't like having all the answers in front of me. I like to ponder things. Besides, when I do wonder aloud about something, my fiance is often there with his iPhone, ready to Google whatever it is for me .

Guitar Toolkit
Guitar Toolkit

3. Guitar Toolkit. I've been playing guitar for three years now, and my Korg GT-3 has always seemed a little, well, imprecise. Part of it is probably user inexperience--you adjust the guitar's tuning pegs this way and that while watching the little red light bounce around on the tuner until it reaches the middle and turns green. I found a guitar tuner I like, only it's an iPhone app. (Sigh. See above item.) It's called Guitar Toolkit ($9.99). Not only does it have a chromatic tuner, but a chord finder (you can even "strum" the screen to hear what a particular chord sounds like), and a metronome. Now if only it included a recording of my former guitar teacher imploring me to "play, and play mistakes loudly."

4. Baby elephant. OK, I admit I'm just trying to one-up my colleague Caroline McCarthy, who put a penguin on her wish list last year. The Portland Zoo got its very own baby elephant over the summer, the first to be born there in 14 years. Even the most hardened hearts cannot resist the charms of Samudra. The Oregon Zoo provides regular updates on its Web site, where you can also watch videos of Sam at play with his mom and aunties.

5. Nothing. When I was a kid, every year I'd ask my dad what he wanted for Christmas and he'd say something along the lines of, "For you kids to get along." (We all do get along--now. But we mostly did then too.) So in that spirit, and even more so because things are rough all over, the one thing I'm truly asking for is nothing. Take the money you were going to spend on me and donate it. Need ideas? A good place to start is a site like Charity Navigator, which evaluates charities according to such criteria as how efficient they are. Better yet, give to an organization you've volunteered with, or get out there and volunteer to find out what a particular place does firsthand.

PREVIOUS CRAVE HOLIDAY LISTS: Sharon Vaknin

About the author

Anne Dujmovic is an associate editor at CNET News. After working more than a dozen years in newspapers, including a seven-year stint at the San Jose Mercury News, Anne migrated north to Portland, Ore. There, she honed her pastry-making skills as an apprentice. Although she's returned to journalism, she still misses the free pastries. E-mail Anne.

 

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