The Web is buzzing with holiday gift-giving guides for gadget lovers. I'm guilty of adding to the glut myself, with my recent "Head-Start Holiday Gift Guide" and "Gadget Gift Ideas," which recently appeared on PCWorld.com, Washingtonpost.com, and other sites.
And now for something a little different: The portable electronics you should not buy as holiday gifts. Here are two to get the ball rolling (with more coming in subsequent posts):
> iPod Touch--not for outdoors types. Apple's iPod Touch makes a great Internet tablet for around the house. It's a slick pocket video and audio player. But if your sweetie is an avid jogger, cyclist, or powerwalker, this is not the iPod for him/her.
In my experience, it's been a pain to switch playlists on the iPod Touch while running. To make matters worse, the screen often switches orientation on me when trying to change playlists while in motion. One second I'm in landscape mode, the next in portrait. It's just too much work.
Instead, for exercising, I recommend an iPod Nano (list: $149-$200). Even better, give them a Nano, the Nike + iPod Sport Kit ($29) chip (which calculates your distance, pace, time, etc.), and a pair of compatible Nike running shoes ($80-$120 or so). You'll still spend less than you'd have spent on an 16GB iPod Touch (which is about $400).
> iPod Shuffle. The Shuffle's biggest assets are its low price ($79 for 1GB) and ultra-compact size. And I can see its usefulness for someone who only wants to listen to podcasts, or one type of music, on the go. But because the Shuffle has no screen, users have to create one long playlist for all their music. And that's a pain for anyone who wants to switch music styles on the Shuffle. Also, my Shuffle has never gotten along with Windows Vista. In fact, I've had so many problems syncing my Shuffle with my Vista PC, I've stopped trying. My advice: Skip the Shuffle.