Home > Articles

Entertainment Gadgets

This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

For more information on Digital Lifestyles topics, visit our Digital Lifestyles Reference Guide or sign up for our Digital Lifestyles Newsletter

Edison did not invent the first talking machine—he invented the first one that could be turned off.


Many of us grew up with radio. Some of us grew up with vinyl records and black-and-white television. We have all watched technology bring us new and better ways to entertain ourselves. We now have satellite radio, digital video recorders, portable music players, and noise-canceling headphones. The array of gadgets and gizmos that were made purely for our listening enjoyment is astonishing.

Audio Gadgets

We have been enjoying radio, which was our first audio entertainment device, since the early 1900s. Radio is still a major entertainment device, but even it has taken on new dimensions. We can now choose from more than 100 stations of radio programming that is beamed off of a satellite.

Many of the other audio devices available today weren't even dreamed of just a few years ago. I imagine that Thomas Edison or Henry Ford would have been amazed at a handheld music player that contained more than 1,500 songs. In fact, you might also be amazed by some of these great high-tech audio devices.

Delphi MyFi xm2go Satellite Radio

Model: MyFi xm2go

Manufacturer: Delphi

URL: http://www.xmradio.com

Price: $299; XM service $12.95 per month

With satellite radio, you can travel from New York City to the California coast listening to the same commercial-free radio station during the whole trip. XM radio has more than 150 channels of radio programming. You can choose from talk, entertainment, traffic, weather, and just about every genre of music that you can imagine. There is music from the 40s, 50s, and 60s, in addition to country, jazz, rock, blues, Latin, Christian, and more. XM currently has NASCAR and major league baseball coverage, too.

MyFi brings you the best of satellite radio. It is a handheld unit about the size of a PDA that comes with a home adapter kit, a vehicle adapter kit, antennas, carrying case, remote control, headphones, rechargeable battery, and car mounting kit. You can move it between work, home, car, or boat. At home or the office, the device hooks up to a radio or stereo system. On the road, it uses a cigarette lighter and the car or truck radio. Because the MyFi allows you to record satellite programming, you can also use it as you would a portable music player to listen to any shows or music you have recorded.

In addition to the price of the MyFi unit, you need to pay a monthly subscription fee. Keep in mind that XM has a lot of programming for the price.

Starmate Sirius Satellite Radio

Model: ST1

Manufacturer: Sirius

URL: http://www.sirius.com

Price: $99.99 plus service, $12.95 per month

The Sirius satellite radio service is similar to XM only with different programming. Like XM, you can use the Sirius service to listen to the same commercial-free radio station anywhere in the country. Sirius has more than 120 channels with music of every genre, sports, news, original programming, and top news and talk radio personalities. The sports coverage includes the National Football League, NBA basketball, and NHL hockey.

The Starmate unit is compact and portable and comes with everything you need to hook it up to your car radio. You can also use it in your home or office with the optional home kit. The three-line display is a readable red color. The well-designed unit features easy-to-use buttons and comes with a remote control.

MuVo Micro

Model: 256MB

Manufacturer: Creative Labs

URL: http://www.creative.com

Price: $79.99

At 1.32" x 2.58" x 0.51" and 2.2 oz. with the battery, the MuVo Micro, also known as the Zen Nano Plus, is so small that you barely know it's there. This rectangular music player comes in eight different colors including vibrant colors like pink, orange, and yellow.

The backlit LCD display is small but clear. It allows you to see what song is playing and to easily find the song or artist that you want to hear. The MuVo is perfect for running and working out in the gym. You can keep it securely on your arm with the included armband, or you can clip it on your belt. The integrated FM radio allows you to listen to the gym's TV when running on the treadmill or catch your favorite radio show. The built-in microphone allows the unit to be used as a voice recorder. The MuVo comes in several memory capacities up to 1GB.

If you love audio books, you can get the 128MB version of the MuVo player for free with a year's subscription to the Audible.com service. The Audible.com website has more than 25,000 books, radio shows, newspapers, and magazines to choose from. You can subscribe to one book per month for $14.95 or two books per month for $21.95. You simply download the books to your computer and transfer them to your MuVo or other audio player or burn them to a CD. The process is easy, and the selection is excellent. If you are a book lover, this is an inexpensive way to listen to audio books.

Apple iPod

Model: iPod 60GB

Manufacturer: Apple

URL: http://www.apple.com

Price: $399

The Apple iPod has become a wildly popular portable music player because it offers a simple, easy-to-use interface and storage for a lot of songs. This iPod's 60GB hard drive holds up to 15,000 songs. The clear screen and scroll wheel make it easy to choose the music you want to play. The iPod can also be used to store photos. Up to 50,000 pictures can fit on this small device. You can view the photos on the 2-inch color LCD screen. The iPod has now joined the podcasting revolution. With the latest iTunes software, the iPod has built-in support for Internet radio broadcasts called podcasts. You can sync your iPod and listen to podcasts from your favorite websites.

The iPod is small (.75" x 2.4" x 4.1") and lightweight (6.4 oz) and has outstanding battery life. The iPod comes with earbud headphones, AC adapter, USB cable, and iTunes software. Although this is an Apple product, it works with both PCs and Macs.

Archos Gmini 400

Model: 400

Manufacturer: Archos

URL: http://www.archos.com

Price: $399

The Gmini is a digital audioplayer that doubles as a photo display device and a portable video player. It has a 20GB hard drive and a 2.2" color LCD display. You can use the included cables to connect the Gmini to your television to play video or to your stereo system to play music. You can also use it to play games or to copy photos directly from a compact flash card. Connect the Gmini to your computer, and you can copy pictures, audio, or video to the device. It is excellent as an audio and video player, but it's only average for photo display.

As you might expect from a do-it-all gadget like this, you need to read the manual and search through the various menus to learn all the functionality of this device. There are myriad menu choices and an almost dizzying array of features. The Gmini has a lot of software preinstalled, but you'd never know it was there unless you searched through the files and folders on the device.

Although this is a cool device, it will take a time investment to learn all of its functionality.

iriver H1

Model: H10

Manufacturer: iriver

URL: http://www.iriver.com

Price: $279.99

iriver has come up with a good alternative to the iPod portable music player. At almost 5 inches tall, the H10 is a little larger than many other players, but it feels good in your hand, and at only .5 inches thick, it can easily slip into your pocket. Like the iPod, it has a minimum of buttons and a good clean interface that is easy to navigate. The color 1.5-inch LCD is clear. It has a 6GB hard drive that holds a ton of photos or songs and has good audio quality.

The H10 has several nice features that other music players lack. Many portable music players like the iPod have a rechargeable battery that can only be replaced by sending it back to the factory. This iriver has a swappable battery, so you can buy a spare or easily replace it if it wears out. The H10 comes in red, blue, silver, and gray. It comes with a wonderful soft molded plastic case with belt clip, and it can double as a voice recorder. A built-in FM radio lets you listen to and record radio, too.


Model: M2000

Manufacturer: Roku

URL: http://www.rokulabs.com

Price: $399

The Roku SoundBridge connects to your stereo system to play any music that you have stored on your computer. It can use a wired Ethernet connection or a wireless connection to access the music from your computer. SoundBridge uses Windows Media Connect or iTunes to serve up the music. The SoundBridge is compatible with Windows Media Player 10 and many online music stores such as MSN Music, Napster, iTunes, MusicMatch, and CinemaNow.

The elongated aluminum body of the SoundBridge is good looking. The bright blue 12-inch wide display is clear and visible from any angle. You can even see it from across the room. You can use the remote control to browse music by song, album, artist, composer, or genre. You can also use playlists that you have created in iTunes or other music software programs.

Wurlitzer Digital Jukebox

Model: Freestanding

Manufacturer: Gibson Audio

URL: http://www.wurlitzerdigitaljukebox.com

Price: $1,999

Who doesn't remember the Wurlitzer jukeboxes of the 1950s and 1960s? We slid a few coins into the jukebox and swayed while we ate hamburgers or danced the night away. Now the Wurlitzer is available to play your CDs and digital music.

There are no bubble lights around the jukebox, but the design is simple and elegant. It includes an integrated subwoofer and two tall and lanky speakers from Klipsch. The digital jukebox can hold up to 1,000 CDs. The beauty of it is that all you do is insert the CD you want to copy into the jukebox. The music, track information, titles, genre, and digital cover art are automatically stored in the jukebox. After you have inserted all your CDs, you can pack them up and store them because you won't need them anymore to play your music.

You access the music via the touch-screen remote control. The interface is simple and easy to use. This jukebox also has a variety of options. You can export songs to a portable music player. Or you can add other Wurlitzer receivers to distribute music wirelessly throughout your home. You can access the Wurlitzer Music Service through a wireless connection to your home network. With this, you can access many channels of digital radio and a download store where you can purchase thousands of songs and send them directly to the jukebox. A smaller version without the speakers is also available.

Sonos Digital Music System

Model: Sonos Introductory Bundle

Manufacturer: Sonos

URL: http://www.sonos.com

Price: Controller and 2 Zone Players, $1,199

If you have a lot of digital music stored on your computer, the Sonos digital music system lets you play that music anywhere in your home and control it from a small handheld remote. The Sonos system does it all, so you don't need a PC in every room, a music server, or a wireless network. The Sonos zone player that comes with the system distributes, plays, and amplifies the music. The Sonos controller is a wireless remote control with a full-color bright LCD screen, a scroll wheel control, and simple buttons.

You install the first zone player by attaching it to your PC via the Ethernet connection. Then you can hook up another zone player to a set of speakers in any room in the house. You can have up to 32 zone players. The installation is easy, and after it's installed, you can play any music files on your PC, Internet radio, or music from external audio sources like CD players and portable MP3 players.

The controller manages the audio of all the zone players. You can play a different song in each zone or the same music in all zones. You can also control the volume for each zone separately right from the controller. Sonos isn't cheap, but it's a great concept, and it works well.

Griffin Radio SHARK

Model: Griffin Radio SHARK

Manufacturer: Griffin

URL: http://www.griffintechnology.com

Price: $69.99

What TiVo is to television, Radio SHARK is to radio. All you need to do is install the included software and plug the Radio SHARK into the USB port on your computer, and you are ready to trawl the radio waves. You set the radio station via the onscreen menu and listen to any program on your computer speakers. The software also allows you to easily record any program or series of programs.

The "time-shift" recording is cool. When you are listening to a radio show, you can press Pause to get a sandwich or answer the door. When you return, you simply press Play again, and the programming resumes right where you left off.

Just in case you're wondering, the SHARK gets it name because it looks like a large white fin. The lighted blue wave design on the fin turns cherry red when recording. The SHARK works with both PCs and Macs and provides hours of pleasant radio listening.

QuietComfort 2 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones

Model: QuietComfort 2 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones

Manufacturer: Bose

URL: http://www.bose.com

Price: $299

These lightweight headphones fold for storage and come in a convenient travel case. The headphones cover your entire ear with a padded cup. They are adjustable and quite comfortable.

The beauty of these headphones lies in the sound quality and noise cancellation effects. You can wear them for air travel to block out excess noise and, of course, you can attach them to your favorite music player to enjoy personalized music at home or on the go. The headphones come with adapters and extension cable so that you can easily hook them up to your home stereo system.

Sennheiser Earbuds

Model: MX500

Manufacturer: Sennheiser Electronic Corporation

URL: http://www.sennheiserusa.com

Price: $19.95

The earbuds that come with many portable music players are pretty poor quality. Adding a good pair of earbuds can improve the sound quality of almost any player. Sennheiser is known for its sound quality, and these little earbuds don't disappoint. The buds are a cool metallic blue color. I hate wires hanging everywhere, so I really appreciate the convenient windup case that holds the excess cable. I also like the volume control that is built right into the cable for easy access.

Digital Vinyl CD-R

Model: Digital Vinyl CD-R

Manufacturer: Verbatim

URL: http://www.verbatim.com

Price: 50-pack $49.99

Bringing the old and the new together, these writable CDs look just like old 45-rpm records, complete with vinyl-like grooves. The retro look is just plain fun when you want to create and share music CDs. You can even use them when you decide to digitize those old LP records. What fun!

If you own a printer that can print on CDs, there is a special coated label area that you can use with an inkjet printer to create really impressive-looking labeled CDs.

Verbatim's special dual protective layer technology ensures that your CDs have enhanced protection against high temperatures, humidly, sunlight, and rough handling. Verbatim states that these CD-R disks have an estimated archival life of more than 100 years.

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020