How to Buy Someone a Technology Related Gift

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Reader Comments (28)

Remember when Best Buy had a DVD selection? And a CD selection? And a game selection? And a selection of computers, components, and software?

Memories are all I have too. That's why I do more shopping on Amazon.

December 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLummox JR

Did I just read a commercial?

December 24, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermhayes

I don't have a TV, so is there a way to legally stream cable TV channels onto my PC without all those extra ugly cables - or paying extra for cable TV? :-)

December 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJason Toddman

Shoot... I have a Roku. What's the other way?

As others have mentioned, Chromecast was the other one we considered for Al. ~Missy

December 24, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertvjames

Sponsered by Roku. And dont forget to use his amazon affiliate link!

December 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterScott_T


December 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew

Have you considered a Chromecast?

December 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJeremy

Well, you just read a really *good* commercial.

Merry Christmas.

December 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKen

I can think of two more options: Apple TV (nice selection, world's crappiest remote control), and the one I just bought for myself last week, Google Chromecast. Let me start by saying that I was a Google fanboy even before buying the dongle, so feel free to believe there's a noticeable bias.
Chromecast is awesome. Since the interface is your phone and/or Chrome browser on a PC, there's nothing new to learn. Instead of having an app that you have to flip to with an image of a remote on your device, it just lets you use the apps that are already on your device-- youtube, Google Play Music, Google Play Movies, etc. Control over the media, and the integration with the dongle, is smooth and elegant.
If Apple had done this with Apple TV, they would've cornered the market and left everyone else in the dust. I'm noticeably not an Apple fanboy, but I'll grant that they've consistently made the best UIs over the years. Not this time. Steve Jobs is turning over so rapidly in his grave over this one that we could hook him up to a turbine and have free energy.

December 25, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterscgvlmike

I got myself a Chromecast last week. I am in Netflix heaven.

On an unrelated note, there are people who don't bring laptops to the living room (and kitchen and bathroom and porch) with them? Luddites.

December 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLythande

Did Al just use lower case?

December 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTDK

Remember when Best Buy had a DVD selection? And a CD selection? And a game selection? And a selection of computers, components, and software? Memories are all I have too. That's why I do more shopping on Amazon.

I remember the early years of the 21st century, when going to Best Buy with my friends on Tuesday -- when the new DVDs were released -- used to be a ritual I looked forward to. Shopping for media and gadgets and computer parts wasn't just an economic transaction, it was a social activity.

I can even remember the early days of web commerce, when Amazon was primarily a book seller, and I purchased my DVDs and CDs and computer parts (and sometimes even books!) from other web sites, most whose names I can't even recall now. That went on until around 2004 or 2005.

While I really enjoy the convenience and pricing of shopping at Amazon, there's often this slight voice in the back of my mind making me feel that something has been lost. Or maybe it's just me getting old. Now excuse me, while I go tell some kids to get off of my lawn...

December 25, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteranonymous

Did I just read a commercial?

Possibly, but I thought the point of the cartoon was that the "gift" wasnt so much the Roku itself, but the act of setting it up for Al.

As for mentioning "Amazon," "Best Buy", and "Roku", I'm not sure how else this comic could have been made. People do talk like the characters in the strip -- especially since Basic Instructions is based on real life people -- so it's not necessarily evidence of a sponsored comicial.

December 25, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteranonymous

I think what I covet here is not so much someone buying me a Roku (we do Netflix over a PS3), nor setting it up (I set up and maintain our home network), but rather being so well off that I would consider buying a friend technological devices. That said, I did just buy the wife a bicycle with accessories (her first bike! at 51! go figure!), which was an amazingly expensive proposition (not in the way you might think (proposition, not expensive)).

December 25, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterkhereva

I don't know how if they'd want a commercial that amounts to "Roku - because you're dumb."

December 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKylroy

Can Scott come over and set up the roku we got for Xmas? Thanks.

December 25, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterlm

I bought myself a Chromecast a few months ago, and I love it. I got one for my cousin's husband for Christmas and even though he's an iOS guy, he was very happy to receive it. They're so friggin' easy, a child could do it.

Then again, kids seem to be better than me at most of this stuff these days.

December 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMatt

My bad. 1000 apologies. As a newish commentator I reacted seasonally and lashed out at what on the surface is a product endorsement but on at least three levels, equally on the surface, is a serious observation of our culture displayed with your usual subtle style. As a fan of your word choices I rely on the letters rather than the font or the picture or person who speaks those words. That reliance failed me today; however I learned an important lesson: "wait for it".

I now see that Al, bless her heart, was so insecure upon seeing her gift that she was swallowing her words as she almost backed out of the frame to create distance between her and the unknown . You even left a space for us as a clue before you came to her rescue and gave her back her confidence and her font. I apologize again for my knee jerk comment. You deserve better.

I will, in future, wait for it. Thank you for what is my favorite comic .

December 25, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermhayes

HDMI cable and laptop, digital antenna, xbox 360 with netflix and no cable bill. We pretty much watch everything we used to watch.

December 25, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdeimos

I bought two chromecasts for two TVs we have. On one, installing it was simple and easy. On the other, it isn't installed because installing it was difficult. The difference? the difficult TV was older. So, if you have a new or newish TV, it will be easy. If not, nope. The socket the Chromecast needs to go into does not exist on older TVs. (The older TV is the old TV shape, but the new TV type, flatscreen - so it isn't as old as the really old CRT TV that I didn't even buy a Chromecast for because I knew it wouldn't work.)

December 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLeah

We have a roku because we wanted an easy way to watch Netflix on the living room TV which, at the time, was an older CRT set with RCA jacks (no HDMI).

It still works great, but I'm now interested in this Chromecast dongle idea. I wonder what are the privacy concerns?

December 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRob

I don't know if they behave differently in the US, but Amazon have had their name sullied in the UK thanks to their interpretation of tax laws.

Amazon's UK subsidiary paid only £2.4 million in corporate taxes in 2012, despite making sales of £4.3 billion.
Incidentally, this was just a little less than the £2.5m aid it received from the Scottish government last year to expand its warehouse operations in Dunfermline and Gourock.

They are not doing anything 'illegal'. They are just following the letter of the law, rather than the spirit of the law.

Most of their customers don't seem to have an issue with this, but many think it gives them an unfair advantage to drive smaller UK based retailers and independent stores out of the market.

Do we want to end up in a world where there is just one place left to shop?

Note from Scott: I'll fight the urge to make the joke about Jimmy Carr doing their commercials. I'm sure it's been done a million times on that side of the pond.

Over here the big Amazon tax debate is about whether they should be paying individual state taxes on every purchase.

I'm not in favor of a world where there is only one place to buy things. I'm in favor of competition, and right now Amazon is presenting the most attractive option for me on a lot of fronts (I'm no journalist, but in the name of full disclosure I'll point out that I'm currently writing novels for 47North, the Science Fiction imprint of Amazon Publishing). I fully expect someone to come along eventually and blind-side them, just like they blindsided the bigbox book and electronics stores. That seems to be the pattern.

When Jimmy Carr was having his trouble I attempted to write a comic about it. I gave up because it would take too much explaining for the American audience, starting with who Jimmy Carr is. It struck me at the time that people were outraged by his behavior over there, but if one of our celebrities got caught employing (what I think was) a legal loop hole to avoid paying most of his taxes, Americans would just shrug. Most of us aren't happy about it, but we assume rich people do that all the time. Many of the remaining Americans would look on with admiration, waiting for the day when they are rich enough to evade their taxes as well.

It's as if, in this country, we've just accepted that one of the perks of being wealthy is the ability to weasel out of your responsibilities. In reality, I don't think the wealthy get away with nearly as much as we non-wealthy citizens think they do, but the ones who do get away with things are often highly visible. Donald Trump has gone bankrupt four times. When asked about it, he says “I do play with the bankruptcy laws — they’re very good for me.”

I'll get off my soap box now. I'm an American. I believe in free enterprise. I also believe in integrity, and I can't look at Donald Trump without scowling. Even his hair is a lie.

December 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSimon

This is EXACTLY why I can't get my mother anything technical for xMas. I live too far away and can't get there to set it up.

She need wireless headphones and I can't trust my brother-in-law to set them up.

December 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMoon

scgvlmike: Apple TV also lets you stream content from apps via AirPlay. Chromecast copied that functionality.

December 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSumocat

@Jason Toddman:
HD Home Run ( is the thing you need.

December 26, 2013 | Unregistered Commenter408wij

Just wanted to support some of the Roku love, counterbalancing the Chromecast lovers out there.

The Chromecast may be great for us nerds. It does a lot, has a great price point.

The Roku is the one I would give my mother.

December 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterShlepzig

"Two countries divided by a common language."

Except 'living room'. I know what one of those is.


December 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSimes

I'm one of those that has a PC, PS3, 360, etc hooked up to my TV. I've never looked at devices like Roku/Chromecast since they just seem redundant to me, but I guess most people don't have a computer in every room, lol.

My two main shopping places are Amazon and New Egg; Amazon Prime just makes things easy - love the 2 day shipping. I still do hit my local Best Buy though, and usually buy my movies there (it's just a few minutes from my house). My Best Buy actually has a decent selection of stuff, I go there quite often. But agreed, their cable prices are insane, hahah! I usually buy cables off Amazon, or, a place I didn't know about until my friend showed it to me fairly recently.

December 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNefrai
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