'Tis the season to Crave: Eric Franklin's picks

CNET Lab technician's holiday wish list includes a robot vacuum cleaner, a different version of the iPhone, and a return of his gaming skills.

Eric Franklin Former Editorial Director
Eric Franklin led the CNET Tech team as Editorial Director. A 20-plus-year industry veteran, Eric began his tech journey testing computers in the CNET Labs. When not at work he can usually be found at the gym, chauffeuring his kids around town, or absorbing every motivational book he can get his hands on.
Expertise Graphics and display technology. Credentials
  • Once wrote 50 articles in one month.
Eric Franklin
4 min read

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!

Eric Franklin
Eric's video game skills are MIA. And he wants them back.

1. iRobot Roomba. Yeah sure, these things have been around for years now, but I'm not the type of person who jumps all over new technology as soon as it's available. For me, there needs to be a necessity. Case in point, my new DVR. I mean, look at my face in that pic. It's the kind of face that causes you to think, "How could someone over the age of 20 and under the age of 60 be that excited about a DVR in 2008?" And yet, there I am. It wasn't until I determined that a DVR was necessary for me to feel better about myself as a human that I got one.

Recently, my girlfriend and I got two black cats that shed. A lot. They also track tons of litter around the house. I'd prefer not to vacuum. I thought, "Do I have any young desperate relatives that I could pay 5 cents a week to come clean my house?" When that fell through, I thought, "Robots."

2. A Men's Health subscription that doesn't suck. Not exactly tech related, but it needs to be said. I love reading this magazine. Sure, they recycle a lot of the stories and workouts from previous issues, but I can always find one or two things in each issue that are useful.

If you've ever had a subscription to Men's Health, you know it does not come without strings attached. These strings assume the form of "free" books that they send you. Now, there is sometimes some new and useful information in them. That's not the problem. The problem is that they send you these at their own discretion and usually accompanied by a letter telling you how excited you should be that you have access to this free book for the next 10 days. If you're unsatisfied, send it back within the 10 days at no charge and you're done. If you keep it beyond the trial, you'll be charged.

This is a trap, plain and simple. They know most guys aren't going to bother going through the trouble of sending this thing back. They'll either keep it out of laziness (like me) or actually find a reason inside the book--probably a flimsy one--to justify keeping it. So yes, my Men's Health subscription sucks because I am lazy.

3. Video card upgrade

. OK, I currently own an Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTS. While a year or so ago this would have been pushing the cutting edge, it's now yesterday's news, a card that drops as low as 10 frames per second at peak times in Dalaran in Wrath of the Lich King. That is unacceptable. I'm not even sure the last time I've seen anything near a steady 60 fps.

There was a time when I would buy every new graphically cutting-edge PC that was released. I mean, I built my first PC just so that I could play Quake 3 at a good clip. When Crysis came out my budget just could not keep up any longer. And this is why my computer upgrades must come in the form of presents from friends and family who have more money than me. Since my current motherboard is SLI-compatible I'd settle for another 8800 GTS. I'm not sure how good Crysis would look, but that would at least stop Dalaran from looking like a "wish you were here" slide show.


4. A new iPhone. No I don't mean a new model. Just a new unit that actually doesn't crash Safari every other time I'm using it. Or one that doesn't take more than two minutes (3G or not) to download new e-mail. Seriously, is it just my unit? Is it San Francisco? I was in Minneapolis this past August and the 3G service worked wonderfully there. I get back to San Francisco and it's like Bizarro world.

These days I don't even use the 3G since I cannot receive calls with it from inside CNET's lab. Which frustrates my girlfriend to no end. Which brings tension to the relationship. Which gives me tension headaches. Which then sets off my hypochondria. Apple or AT&T, or both, please stop trying to give me aneurysms and fix my phone.

5. My gaming skills back. Even though I was able to eventually redeem myself somewhat in Midnight Club LA, I still feel I've lost much of my skill in gaming. It started with Halo 3 more than a year ago when I spent four hours trying to finish the last Flood level. Don't even get me started on how I fared in multiplayer mode. Then, when I found I had to actually try multiple times to beat bosses in Assassin's Creed, the realization began to set in. Since then I haven't played many games other than World of Warcraft, and therein lies part of the problem.

So, to get my gaming skills back on track, I've come up with a radical and crazy solution that many of my friends have been suggesting for some time now. Play. More. Games. So, over the holiday break I plan to significantly limit my Warcraft-ing and instead put myself on a steady rotation of Mortal Kombat vs. DC, Gears of War, Resistance, Mass Effect, and yes Midnight Club LA. I know, some of these are about a year old, but I've got a lot of catching up to do.

PREVIOUS CRAVE HOLIDAY LISTS: Sharon Vaknin, Anne Dujmovic, Erica Ogg, Dan Ackerman, Matt Hickey, Leslie Katz, Emily Dreyfuss, Candace Lombardi, Jeff Sparkman