After the birth of her first child in the winter of 2004, Sharlene Goldstein bought a cellphone. "I wanted it for emergency purposes," she explains. "If I was out on a long walk or driving to Montreal from Toronto to visit family, I'd have the phone to call for help." A year and a half later, Goldstein purchased a digital camera -- right after her second daughter was born. "We had lost our first camera and our daughters were growing up before our eyes. With the new camera we took 300 pictures in the first two weeks!"
Tech gadgets, from the more traditional personal computer and DVD player to cutting edge satellite navigation system and personal organizer, are topping moms' list of wants. According to a study by the Consumer Electronics Association, 64 per cent of women said they preferred a digital camera to half-carat diamond stud earrings. Tech gadgets aren't just about fun and games; many make life easier for Mom, and for the whole family.
Here are five gadgets to keep in mind:
Portable DVD player
Banish the "are we there yet?" nagging with a portable DVD player for each child. "It's the perfect tool for travel," says Heather Buksh, spokesperson for Best Buy Canada. "They can set the player on their lap, plug in headphones for individual viewing and not disrupt everyone else in the vehicle. You can also have a few kids watching together."
Top pick: Sony 7000, which comes with a charging cradle, speakers and a seven-inch screen. $299.99.
Road trips just got a whole lot hipper with subscription-based radio. You can travel from coast to coast without any interruption in service and stations are commercial-free, explains Buksh. Best of all is the variety of stations: Canada's two providers, SIRIUS Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio, boast over 100 stations.
Top pick: Delphi MyFi Portable Satellite Radio, which comes with a car kit, home kit and earphones for portable and personal use. $349.99.
Cellphone and PDA (personal digital assistant) collide in the new generation of business tools. While features vary, most smart phones allow you to check e-mail in real time, take pictures, record video, listen to music, play games and, of course, make phone calls. They're powered by Windows Mobile and are Bluetooth enabled. A boon for any mom, but especially one who works from home -- no one will know you're replying to e-mail from the park.
Top pick: Motorola Q. Pricing depends on your service contract: $249 with three years from Telus or two years from Fido. It's $599.99 for the phone without a contract.
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Personal video recorder (PVR)
If you have a tendency to miss your favourite show because you have yet to pack the kids' lunches, give the dog a bath, pay the bills, get dinner on the table...then a digital cable box may be your saving grace. "Given that most moms of this era are managing multiple things, a PVR allows her to tape live TV and to prerecord programs," says Buksh. "You can also pause live TV. So if one of the kids gets up from bed, you can pause the show and come back to it just as if you paused a DVD." A PVR can also help manage children's television consumption, by recording your kids' favourite shows so that viewing can be split up throughout the week.
Top pick: Depends on your particular cable company and desired features -- prices range anywhere from $399 to $799.
Digital imaging software
You've taken tons of digital photos of your children. Now what do you do with them all? Get creative with photo-editing software. Just upload your pictures to your computer, launch the program and create scrapbooks, cards, photo albums, calendars and more to print right at home. If you're not creatively inclined, you can get help from an image service lab, such as the one through Best Buy, which allows you to upload and share images, to insert photos into calendars and photo books, and to archive your pictures on CD.
Top pick: Keepsakes Scrapbook Designer, which has 5,000 project designs, 50,000 images and 1,200 decorative fonts for $49.99.
What did that say?
Can't keep up with your kids' messaging lingo? Here are some of the top text abbreviations and some helpful translation sites.
B4N: Bye for now
BBS: Be back soon
BRB: Be right back
CU: See you
F2F: Face to face
HRU: How are you?
ILBL8: I'll be late
LOL: Laughing out loud
MOS: Mother over shoulder
NOYB: None of your business
SUP? : What's up?
TTYL: Talk to you later
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