Friday, December 5, 2008

Gifts for Music Lovers

You see them all over the place today: people wearing headphones while they rock to the tunes on their mp3 player, in the gym, after school, wherever. The good thing is, the easy accessibility of music has made more kids into music lovers and more interested in learning to play their own instruments.

iPlayMusic has an incredible idea for kids, and I am really loving it. So much so that I am considering a Christmas present based off of their stuff, though I cannot reveal it here, as some people in my family actually read my blog on occasion! But what iPlayMusic does that sets them apart from the other folks is they offer instruments made for kids that come with music lessons on DVD, so your kids can learn to play from day one!

iPlayMusic has a ‘Pony’ or ‘Dino’ Guitar Bundle, designed for younger kids, which includes a colorful 1/2 size kids guitar (too cute!) with tuner, picks and strings, plus the Parents Choice Award winning iPlayMusic Together DVD. The DVD features lessons with a playful puppet to help teach toddlers and young children guitar basics. Yes, they can start learning an instrument that young! They can even learn to play 6 of their favorite kids' songs. (iPlayMusic Kids Guitar Package: $79.95)

For the older kids, there's a really cool deal: the Kids Electric Guitar bundle. What future guitar hero wouldn't want his own electric guitar?? And doesn't your daughter dream of becoming the next Hannah Montana? I'm telling you, this gift idea is a sure winner for Christmas. The bundle includes a pink or black ‘mini’ 3/4 size electric guitar, amp, strap, tuner, picks, and iPlayMusic’s Beginner Guitar Lessons-Level 1 DVD, which is geared towards older kids as well. The video instruction walks beginning players step-by-step through the essentials so they can start playing right away. And what's really cool is that their DVDs come with codes that let the kids download the lessons from the iPlayMusic site right onto their iPod! (Kids Electric Guitar Package: $199.95).

I was going to review the Microsoft Zune here, but in the interest of full disclosure I have to tell you that I could not convince my kids to test out the Zune with me! The Zune has some great features, like being able to transfer your tunes to the Xbox 360, and with their subscription service for music, you can download as many tunes as you want each month while you have the subcription, rather than pay for every song, like you do on iTunes. The Zune people even gave us sample unit to try out for two weeks. But the kids felt that they didn't want to try to transfer all their iTunes over and then back, make the Zune their default music player, etc., and since the Zune is as expensive as an iPod, I could not see the benefit in pushing the issue, so I am regretfully sending the Zune sample unit back today without a review.

But let's face it, iPods and Zunes are expensive, and there are other players out there that are more reasonably priced if you are on a budget, so I do want to focus on those. Sandisk, for example, has a whole line of Sansa Mp3 players that are formatted the same as the iPods and Zunes in which you can download music, video, photos, etc. Here's the inside scoop: since SanDisk is the leader in flash memory, they can create players with all the same functions as the iPod, but which cost less, because they manufacture the memory. (The Sansa people, btw, are really cool, and they spent a lot of time really going over their offerings with me. I loved their enthusiasm!)

Their newest idea, called Slotmusic, is really easy for kids to use: just pop the SlotMusic card in the slotMusic player and press play. No downloading, no cords, just music, and you can have an Mp3 player and a Slotmusic card for under $40 ready to go Christmas morning. I've seen these all over the place, on the shelves at my local Wal-mart, etc. I like the idea, except that my kids like really obscure music that isn't available, and I think they would lose the Slotmusic cards!

So I prefer the Sansa Clip, which is TINY like the iPod Shuffle BUT comes with a screen, which the Shuffle doesn't, and it's a lot cheaper (Sanza Slotmusic player and card 34.99, Sansa Clip 39.99-79-99 for 1G to 4G players--NEW 8G player coming soon for 99.99, available at Sansa website, Wal-mart and Best Buy stores ).

Another way to save money for your music lovers who already have their players is to just accessorize them this Christmas. Some great accessories for the the iPod include cute offerings for kids, like the PSYCLOPS - a new quirky, colorful iPod cover that unlocks a fully interactive online music and dance experience at the PSYCLOPS HeadQuarters (, which is currently available in open beta). Each of the two PSYCLOPS covers, Ike (pictured) and Cindy, slip right over the iPod Nano, with their eye operating the Nano’s navigation wheel...hence the name! PSYCLOPS will be in stores just in time for the holidays (PSYCLOPS, $24.99).

For older kids, and even adults, there's the iFrogz iPod cases, which are not only low-key and cool, but tough! These durable cases will protect your music player from iPod constant use and abuse. The new Wrapz and Treadz case designs were specifically created to fit the new 4G Nano: the Wrapz case offers 100 percent silicone encasement, while the Treadz case offers extra-thick silicone casing and a tire tread design that actually repels dirt. Best of all, they're less than $10! (Wrapz and Treadz iFrogz cases, 9.99 at the iFrogz website).

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