Christmas morning will certainly bring many new gadgets, but how do you get them to work? Men's Journal editor and gear guy Paul Hochman explains how to get the most from your new toys.
Turn your iPod Nano into a hard drive
Remember, your iPod is just a shiny, stylish portable hard drive. Here's how to back up computer files onto your iPod:
Connect your iPod to your computer with a USB cable. iTunes will open. Under the left hand column that appears in the iTunes box (with options like “Music Store” and “Library”), you'll see your iPod's image. Double click on it. A new window will appear. Click on the “Summary” tab at the top of that window. Then, click on the “Enable disk use” box at the bottom of the window. An image of your iPod will appear on your computer desktop. Drag whatever file you want to back up — your taxes, your great American novel manuscript — onto the desktop iPod image. You're done. Remember, though, make sure you eject your iPod before yanking the cable out of your computer. 4GB iPod Nano, $199,
Nintendo Wii: How to Bowl
Nintendo has made one of the season's most popular games, the Wii, and the primary draw has been the ease of the system.
Using motion capture technology, once reserved for animated $100 million Hollywood movies, Nintendo has created a game controller that looks like a remote control. But it is different in one important aspect — when you swing the controller, you swing the tennis racquet (or the bowling ball or the sword) in the game. In other words, instead of pushing buttons to control the game, with the Wii you swing the game.
One of the most popular Wii sports games is bowling. The Wii actually allows you to put “spin” on the bowled ball. Just swing the controller as you would a bowling ball, and at the last moment of the swing, as you “release” the ball, twist your wrist slightly.
The motion sensor in the game controller will translate that twist into spin on the screen. It works with left- or right-handed players. Nintendo Wii, $249,
Getting pictures off your camera
One of the most common presents under the Christmas tree today is a digital camera.
According to IDC, a research firm in Framingham, Mass., 28 million were sold in the U.S. in 2005, an increase of 21% over the year before and even more are predicted for this year. But the biggest problem for most people isn't taking pictures. It's getting them off the camera and printed.
Canon's system uses a nearly universal technology called PictBridge. Any camera with PictBridge (even non-Canon products) will talk to any printer with PictBridge. Just attach the cable between the camera and the printer. On the Canon camera's screen (as with many other brands), a prompt will automatically ask if you want to print a picture. Say yes. You're done. Canon PowerShot SD630, six megapixel camera with 3x optical zoom and 3" screen, $299,
Transfer information from one cell to another
According to Edelman and Gumas Advertising, 95% of the 180 million U.S. mobile phone subscribers say they use their cell phones to store between 50 and 80 contact numbers and names.
Backing up the phone is something only about 1% of users are willing to go through, because it's annoying or impossible or both. Worse, reluctance to back up information can often mean if you lose your cell phone, you can lose your sanity. San Jose-based Spark Technology Corporation has created a way to not only back up your information, but to transfer it from an old phone to a new one. Called the CellStik, the little USB storage device allows you to plug it into your old phone, press a button, remove the Cellstik, plug it into your new phone, press a button and you're done. Better yet, your information is still backed up on the Cellstik. $39.99,