A Whole New Paradigm:
I was an early adopter with MP3 players with a 20GB Archos Jukebox followed by an Ipod. I ripped and burned all my CDs and made a favorites list of my all-time favs. Eventually I ruined all my all-time favs by getting tired of them. Then I shuffled my library and eventually got tired of the rest of my music as well. I don't take the time to research new music and find downloading to and syncing with a PC to be an annoyance. I can do it, but am usually too busy. So I end up listening to my Ipod less and less. I don't even use it often enough for it to break.

Then I had an idea for a gadget I wish someone would invent. Suppose we had a "wireless" Ipod-type device that would be programed by someone who knew music. You wouldn't know what they were going to play in advanced and would rely on their expertise to find the right mix. Maybe the device could have different streams or "channels" with different styles of music or even comedy. We could call this device something cool like "radio." How would you pay for it? Commercials would completely destroy the concept, so it would have to be by subscription. $10-12 per month seems about right but only if the sound is CD quality.

But there is still a problem. With this "radio" device you don't know what is playing unless there is an announcer to tell you and that destroys the enjoyment of the music. Maybe there could be a read out of song and artist, just like on my Ipod. But there is even a bigger problem. Unlike the Ipod, you don't get to "save" the new music to make into a favorites. Suppose you could save the stream to memory? Better yet, suppose you could save a song after you start listening to it if you like it, like my Tivo? Alternatively you could record a stream for a period of time for when you cannot receive the wireless signal and when you play it back, saving only the songs you like to your playlists. Maybe you could add your own MP3s from your PC to your favorites and mix them with the music you downloaded from the wireless stream. Wouldn't this be awesome?

But wait! This amazing device and service had already been invented. It is the XM Pioneer Inno, and it is smaller and lighter than my 15GB IPOD or my new Treo 680. It's marketing slogan is "hear it, click it, save it." It also works with music bought on a PC from Napster but I won't be using that feature. Because it is a satellite radio, it does not work indoors without an external antenna (which I have connected to the included home base station attached to my home stereo). But I discovered that in DC (where XM is based) there are lots of ground repeaters so it works inside my pocket when I am outside, as well as inside some airports (e.g. Logan). Plus my subscription gives me free access to XM Radio Online so I can easily listen in my office or home on my PC. The price I paid for all this goodness? $199 after rebate from Amazon.com (now it is $225) + a subscription of course & the cost of a car kit. When in the car dock it has a built-in FM modulator to play through the car audio system.

Check out the on-line demo. It is a great gift for the boomer in your life who likes new music but is too busy to follow the music scene, who does not want to go through the hassle of locating and downloading music, or who resents paying $.99 per song. It's a whole new paradigm.

(civil comments only please. Feel free to post recommendations of other really cool gift ideas that people might not have heard about yet.)