So, here we are two days before Christmas. For the most part, it is growing too late to get gifts shipped to you (or to whomever you are shopping for) before Christmas. Never fear – thoughtful gift ideas are still within reach. Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, there are many nice gifts you can give that show more thought than the ever-present gift card, yet, like the gift card, can be delivered electronically.
More than likely, you now know plenty of people who own a Kindle e-reader. Even if you do not, they may very well have some other device suitable for reading a book - an iPad or larger Android device, for instance (even the Mac and PC can read Kindle books, though sitting at the computer is not exactly the ideal reading experience). Recently, Amazon implemented an e-book giving system, making it a snap to give not just a store credit, but an actual book you've taken the time to pick out.
Amazon allows you to gift Kindle books.|
Not sure what title to give? Consider Michael Pollan's thought provoking the Omnivore's Dilemma, a book sure to start interesting conversations. Or, go for a twentieth century classic, C.S. Lewis's the Screwtape Letters, a brilliant and biting book from one of the last century's best writers.
For more information, visit Amazon's Kindle book giving page
Both Amazon and Apple now allow you to directly gift downloadable music, allowing the person you are shopping for to see that you actually bought the album or tracks for them and did not just pirate music out of your own library. Given that virtually every album a person could want is available for download, you are bound to be able to find something for everyone but the rare person who does not enjoy listening to music.
If you are looking for ideas, consider Sara Bareilles' delightful new release, Kaleidoscope Heart, which we featured in an earlier gift guide this year, or Erin Bode's A Cold December Night, a recent Christmas album deserving to become a classic, which we featured last year. Whatever you pick, Amazon will help you out with $2 off, if you redeem coupon code “GIVEMP3S.”
Maybe you do not want to choose something particular for your friends and family to listen to. Well, then, consider satellite radio. While it may be too late to obtain an actual receiver prior to Christmas, XM Radio Online is a good option that can be enjoyed from your recipient's computer, iOS or Android device. XM Radio Online can either be bought by itself for $2.99/month or at a lower cost as an addition to a satellite radio subscription. XM provides dozens of channels of music streamed at a much higher quality than radio and mostly commercial free. There are also talk stations galore.
Pulsar provides an elegant interface for Sirius XM Radio Online.|
To make the gift even better, consider giving Rogue Amoeba's nifty Pulsar player software to go along with an XM or Sirius Radio Online subscription for Mac users on your list. Pulsar allows one to enjoy all the benefits of an XM Online subscription while taking less of the computer's resources to play and offering a fast launching, clean interface that is much more pleasant to use. Additionally, Pulsar works like a “DVR for radio,” allowing one to pause and rewind live radio.
The program worked just great in our testing, piping in hour after hour of Christmas music off of XM's holiday themed channels with nary an issue. It costs just $20 by itself or $25 in a bundle with Airfoil, a program that will link Pulsar (and any other Mac app) up with Apple AirPlay compatible streaming audio devices around one's house - iOS devices, Apple TVs, and so on.
Pulsar would also make a great gift for anyone you know who already has XM or Sirius Radio Online - whomever you give it to will never want to go back to listening to their radio subscription through the standard interface.
If you have not already experienced Netflix, you should do yourself a favor and sign up for a two-week trial when you go over to give the service as a gift. Any movie watcher - even a relatively casual one - will enjoy this service, which makes hundreds of thousands of movies and TV shows easily available for unlimited consumption.
Netflix offers a variety of attractive electronic gift card options.|
The service comes in two flavors, a $7.99 online streaming only version which has a more limited selection of choices, and a $9.99 streaming and DVD version, which adds in access to virtually any movie one could want to watch. In both variants, movies available for streaming can be watched from a computer, iPhone or iPad, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Apple TV or numerous other Netflix compatible devices. With the $9.99 plan, shows and films unavailable over streaming will be mailed next day to the subscriber with an included, prepaid USPS return envelope. As soon as Netflix receives the returned DVD (again, usually taking a single day) the next DVD in the Netflix user's “queue” will be shipped - a truly amazing logistical feat. The service can be given for between one month and a full year.
Timothy R. Butler is Editor-in-Chief of Open for Business.