Big Kid Tech Toys for the Holidays

By: David Hutton

CHATTANOOGA (UTC/The Loop) – With Christmas just around the corner there’s no doubt college students around the country have their eyes set on the next popular big kid toy coming out for Santa, (a.k.a their parents) to bring them this Christmas season.   There’s a little bit of something for everyone from the techy gamer, to the intellectual hard working student, and everything in between this Holiday season.  So let’s take a look at a few of the new, cool, big kid tech toys for this season.

iPod Nano

The new iPod nano makes some great changes to past versions.

The new iPod nano makes some great changes to past versions.

The new iPod Nano is a must have this Christmas.  MP3 players are a thing of the past with new technology coming out on cell phones MP3 players can’t simply settle for being a source of music  and pictures any more.  Most anyone can get that on nearly every new phone that has come out this year.

So what have the people at Apple done to make the new iPod nano more appealing to the ever demanding public.  Well, they took their older version of the slim, sleek nano, stuffed in a new video camera, better “genius” mixer, and boatload of new features, wrapped it in your choice of seven eye catching colors and plopped a $140.00 price tag on it for all to have.

With all the new features that can be found on the new iPod nano, as well as it’s ample eight or 16GB of memory capable of holding over 2,000-4,000 songs, 7,000-14,000 digital photos, or eight to 16 hours of video, it’s clear that apple isn’t content with simply producing a music player.  They even went as far as to pair with their friends over at Nike to further develop their “Nike +” application by adding a pedometer feature to work with the fit kit (which is sold separately of course) to develop and supply running workouts that can later be synced to your computer to let you evaluate your workout.  The new iPod nano clearly is meant to appeal to more than music lovers with it’s updated platform.

Here is a list of features of the iPod nano:


  • 8GB or 16GB flash drive2
  • Holds up to 2,000 or 4,000 songs in 128-Kbps AAC format3
  • Holds up to 7,000 or 14,000 iPod-viewable photos4
  • Holds up to 8 hours or 16 hours of video5
  • Stores data via USB flash drive


  • Spoken menus allow listeners to hear many of the names of menus, song titles, and artists without viewing the screen.
  • An alternative large font can make menus easier to read.
  • A high-resolution LCD display with adjustable contrast and backlight settings makes it easier to read in low light.
  • Captions in video are displayed when they are present using a legible, high-contrast white-on-black font.


  • 2.2-inch (diagonal) TFT display
  • 240-by-376-pixel resolution at 204 pixels per inch


  • Capable of storing MP3’s, Video’s, and Photo’s
  • New built in video camera (full color video with special effects options, and facebook/youtube compatability)
  • New “genius” mixer that searches entire library to find songs that sound great together to create up to 12 genius mixes(also features shake-and-shuffle mode and album cover mode)
  • F.M. Radio receiver+live pause and iPod tagging (allows you to pause and tag specific music on F.M. radio frequencies)
  • Voice over feature (tells you the song title and artist in up to 20 languages)
  • Fitness feature (can be paired with Nike+iPod sport kit)
  • 24 hour battery at full charge

Read a review for the nano here

Price:  $149.00 8GB/ $179.00 (16GB)

DJ Hero-Xbox 360/Playstation 3/Playstation 2/Wii

DJ Hero is sure to be a hit this Holiday season and is on shelves nation wide.

DJ Hero is sure to be a hit this Holiday season and is on shelves nation wide.

The much anticipated branching from the Guitar hero and Rock Band games comes in form of DJ Hero.   For those music loving gamers looking for a new, interactive venture in the gaming world, look no further.    Gamers are given a new turntable controller to spin and scratch their way through more than 100 exclusive songs that feature artists such as 50 cent, Black Eyed Peas, and the Beastie Boys.

If the basic game isn’t enough for you and your turntable spinning fingers, you may want to take a look at the DJ Hero Renegade Edition.  The DJ Hero Renegade Edition includes not only the DJ Hero game and turntable controller, but also includes a hardshell carrying case that converts into a performance ready DJ stand and JAY-Z and Eminem 2 disc CD set.  DJ hero is clearly making big steps in publicizing their product that they have even developed a Facebook page.

Without a doubt the minds behind Guitar Hero, Rock Band, and not DJ Hero have found a popular product that they are happy to keep producing entertaining products for.  Clearly DJ Hero is going to be the next of the successful products being produced for music loving gamers nation wide.  Here is a clip of what you can expect from the game:

Read GAMESPOTS review of DJ Hero here

Price:  $99.00 (PS2)- $199 (Renegade Edition)

Livescribe Pulse Smartpen

The pulse smartpen is a tech masterpiece indended for students.

The pulse smartpen is a tech masterpiece indended for students.

So saying that this gift is a must have, or if nothing else, really cool, is probably going to raise a few eyebrows as well as a few geek centered jokes in my direction.  In terms of tech toys though, the Livescribe Pulse smartpen is a must have for students in this information era.

The Pulse smartpen is a do all device from Livescribe that makes taking notes more than simply writing letters on a paper.  With one, two, and four GB options for storage the Pulse smartpen works as both an audio and not taking storage device as well as a pen.  Using the dot paper (with Dot Positioning System known as DPS) and the one of a kind infrared camera in the tip of the pen, this pen and paper combination stores all information that is written.  This information can either be directly connected to your computer an uploaded in digital form to your computer, or can be played back to you through the pens internal speaker by tapping the play button on the notepad or by double tapping the tip of the pen.

The Pulse smartpen also serves as a lecture companion in form of a voice recorder.  If you, like almost every other student I know (including myself) has a teacher that simply speaks too quickly, or doesn’t allow voice recordings in class, the Pulse smartpen may a great investment for this holiday season.  Student or not, it’s worth the time to take a look at Livescribe and the Pulse smartpen.  For anyone preparing for finals can attest to, sometimes not everything you need gets written down.  To make your life easier, and your finals a little less stressful, take a look at the Pulse smartpen.  It may be a worthwhile investment.

Laptop Magazines review of the Pulse Smartpen

Price:  $170.00-$250.00

Powermat- Wireless Home and Office Charging Mat

If your reading this article, more than likely you are slightly tech oriented, and power outlets just seem to fill up too quickly around the house.  Powermat is making strides in the universal charging world offering their wireless powermat

The Powermat is offering is offering a great product for nearly all ages just in time for the Holidays

The Powermat is offering is offering a great product for nearly all ages just in time for the Holidays

home and office charging mat.  By buying the mat you receive the company’s powercube which is compatible with devices using mini and micro USB connections.  Other tips are also available for the powercube.

For those of you who are apple users, Powermat has available cases for the iPhone 3G, iPod touch, and docs available for those also.  You simply lay the case or doc on the Powermat and charging begins.  Are you not an apple user?  Thats alright.  Powermat also offers packs for blackberries (Bold, Curve 8300 & 8900, and the Pearl), as well as for Nintendo DSi and DS lite . The Powermat is a very simple option for those looking for easier access to charging their electronics.

If you are wondering if there is an application for the Powermat that will suit your needs stop by their web page and take a look through their device guide.  There is a tip adapter for the Powermat for a lot of electronic equipment that people use on a regular basis so take a peak at their products.  This may work as a present not just for your self but an easy option for those family members where you just can’t think of what to get for them.  Theres nothing wrong with an easy out for Christmas gifts every once in a while, just make sure you take a look at available adapters before you go out buying this for grandma’s hearing aids.

Gadgetall’s review of the Powermat is here

Price: $100.00 (powerpat and one powercube)/ $30.00-$40.00 (individual power receivers)

With the holidays coming up and Christmas day just around the corner, these tech toys are a must for nearly anyone’s Christmas list.  With decent price points these big kid tech toys won’t break your parents, I mean, Santa’s bank so don’t miss out on this seasons new tech.  Whether naughty or nice, make sure these are on your big kid wish list and you’ll have a very happy Holiday ahead.

A Treatise on Christmas

By: Siobhan Rahilly

CHATTANOOGA (UTC/The Loop) – Christmas seems to come earlier every year.  Christmas trees pop up before the fall leaves drop.  Commercials for Christmas shopping begin airing in the late summer.  Christmas shopping itself has become one of America’s time-honored pastimes.

The day after Halloween is literally the day that Walmart begins rolling thousands of Christmas items out into their stores.  Has the emergence of an earlier Christmas season been the effect of a society with less free time?

Kmart encourages shoppers to begin their holidays early by utilizing their layaway program, meaning that parents can multitask by shopping for back-to-school items and presents for the holidays at the same time.  This allows parents to take their time squirreling away those holiday goodies.

The barrage of advertisements for toys, décor, decorations, and every other item that can possibly be associated with the holidays reaches a fever pitch by Thanksgiving, a day that has been co-opted by both Christmas and the NFL.  Our holiday season seems to be longer now, but perhaps more focused on the ephemeral aspects instead of the heart of the matter.

The holiday season is a time when families and friends gather for a quick batch of quality time amidst otherwise jam-packed schedules.  This holiday season may find more people focused on homemade memories than store-bought prizes due to the fragile status of our economy.  Despite the advertising and the stress that holidays can bring, this time of the year seems to still bring people joy.  Plastic decorations, and presents under the tree provide many of the glittering aspects of the holidays.  However, some magic does still come from the interactions of loved ones at this rushed, but still treasured time of the year.

Happy Holidays to All, and to All a Healthy Break!

By: Cody Mohon

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (The Loop)- With finals and holiday breaks, it is no surprise that workout and health plans can fall to the wayside. With the dropping temperatures and the sun setting at around 5:30, people are less likely to brave the cold to get to the gym during this time of the year.

However, Lindsay Manning, Coordinator of Fitness for the ARC, emphasizes the importance of remaining healthy throughout the holiday break. “From November 1st to January 1st people can gain anywhere from ten to fifteen pounds. You have to really watch this by keeping up your exercise routine.”

Manning, who graduated from UTC in 2005 as an exercise science major, was working at a local fitness complex when she came across the job at the ARC. “I was thinking about coming back to grad school when I saw this opportunity. We never had anything like this when I was here, so obviously it caught my eye.  I ended up applying, and it ended up being the perfect job for me!”

Once here, Manning really began focusing on how to make the gym more excited and inviting for students. “It’s a great opportunity to come here and build from the ground up a fitness program at UTC and try to get more students involved in working out. We don’t want them thinking of it as coming to the gym, but coming to have fun and rock climb and take classes. We don’t want them to hate coming to work out.”

The staff of the ARC may be what is reeling students in as well. Manning said, “We all know each other very well and are very close knit here at work. So by just being on their level I feel like I can relate to students. They feel comfortable coming to me asking for help with how to use machines and do ab exercises.” Manning thrives on the interaction she has with the students. “I don’t know what I would do if I was in a job where I was by myself all the time doing nothing.”

Students enjoy the indoor rock climbing wall as temperatures drop outside.

Students enjoy the indoor rock climbing wall as temperatures drop outside.

Unfortunately, the chilly temperatures and approaching finals might be what are holding students back. When asked if the number of students coming to work out has increased or decreased as finals get closer, Manning said, “This is actually pretty experimental right now because it is our first fall, our first time being open during the holidays. We thought we would see it slacking off, but its actually increasing daily. We are hoping to see that through exams and the Christmas break.” Manning believes the reason for the increasing numbers is because of the newness of the gym and students spreading the word.

Manning says that most people may slack off in their workout during the holidays because there is not as much outdoor activity to participate in and there are other things to do like holiday shopping. ” We are hoping to offer a lot of different things to do inside like rock climbing and other stuff when it is cold outside. The indoor track is great, because you have a great view of downtown, and if you’re like me I like to have something to look at,” Manning said. With the gym open and classes running until December 23rd, Manning hopes that students will continue coming and enjoying the indoor aspects of the gym.

The classes available at the ARC until December 23rd are:

  • Step Aerobics, Tuesday and Wednesday from 3 to 3:45
  • Boot Camp, Tuesday and Thursday from 6 to 6:50
  • Hip Hop Dance, Tuesday from 5 to 5:50
  • Yoga, Tuesday and Thursday 4 to 4:45
  • Ab Attack, Monday from 6:15 to 7
  • Spin Class, Monday and Tuesday at both 5 and 6, Friday at 5

To see more upcoming classes available at the ARC next spring click here!

Also, the classes being offered at the ARC can be a great way to escape this holiday season. Manning said, “All of our classes will be continued over the break. Yoga would be a great stress reliever on the holidays, so we are really hoping to see students who stay or live in Chattanooga coming in.”

Lindsay Manning, Coordinator of Fitness for the ARC, spends some time in her office.

Lindsay Manning, Coordinator of Fitness for the ARC, spends some time in her office.

Ashley Danford, sophomore at UTC, will be going home to Franklin for the holidays. She plans on going to yoga classes at a local gym there. Also, Danford loves bouldering and hopes to locate a rock climbing facility in Franklin.

For other students going home, Manning advises getting involved in holiday runs and walks. “It not only raises money for charity, but it would be great to walk like 3-6 miles. You will feel better about yourself when you are about to stuff your face!“ Also students at home can stick to the basics. “Do stuff at home like crunches and stretches. Anything like that really counts. Or you could take a little time, like 15 minutes, to go on a brisk walk. Stay active; don’t just lay on the couch all break.”

To find out how to give “fit gifts”, visit the website here!

Manning also has her own disciplines over the holiday break when indulging is so easy. “I can’t go without having some eggnog over Christmas. So, the biggest thing I do is not tell myself I can’t have something. Because once I tell myself I cant have any eggnog, that’s all I want. What I try to do is indulge if I’m put in the place to, but I check my portion size. I have a half a cup of eggnog or a half a piece of pie instead of saying I cant have that altogether. I think everyone needs to indulge sometimes, or else you will go crazy and eat like a whole bag of cookies.”

To find out how far you would have to walk to burn off those holiday goodies, click here!

Also, Manning will remain as constant as possible with her current workout. “I will lift weights and take morning walks if it’s a day I know I’m going to eat a lot like Christmas or Thanksgiving. Basically I will just keep up cardio and weight training through the holidays.”

Students take advantage of the indoor equipment at the ARC.

Students take advantage of the indoor equipment at the ARC.

Adam Garrison, senior at UTC and member of UTC Outdoors, plans on staying active over the holidays by going on a skiing trip to Colorado with one of his friends. However, the last two weeks of break he plans on just relaxing and enjoying time off.  “I work out and stay active all the rest of the year, so I feel I can take a break around this time of year!”

So, to beat the holiday bulge, students should watch their food portions and keep active. If you are remaining in Chattanooga, be sure to visit the ARC or take an Ab Attack class with Manning! That should keep the weight gain at bay.

Check out how to stay healthy mentally and physically throughout exams and the holidays from a similar story printed in The Echo.