Editor's Note: As a special feature for February,
offers a five-part series on Valentine's Day designed to help you find the perfect gift.
This Valentine's Day, running to get her a bunch of roses is going to merely be the first step: Now any self-respecting, mall-fearing man has to find that special someone the perfect cell phone, portable media player, branded hard drive or custom-built piece of sporting goods.
Don't ask me why, but Valentine's Day has gone high-tech.
And profit-starved consumer electronics firms, such as Motorola( MOT), LG, Nokia (NOK) - Get Nokia Oyj Sponsored ADR Report, Sony (SNE) - Get SONY GROUP CORPORATION SPONSORED ADR Report and the rest are falling over themselves to make the right gadget for this year's day of romance and roses.
And it's almost all aimed at the ladies: Never have there been more female-friendly phones, computers and other digital gadgets.
Here, then, are my picks for best Valentine's Day tech presents.
But first, do me a favor. As fun as, say, a new pink hard drive might be, go ahead and get some decent flowers too.
Electronics are nice, but they won't warm the heart on a cold winter night.
Calling all Colors
Motorola basically invented the Valentine's Day tech trend last year with its wildly popular colorized riffs on the Razr V3. Suddenly color was in with cell phones -- and otherwise mature women were seen clutching devices the color of a child's stuffed animal.
For 2007, everyone from LG to Nokia is looking to take some of Motorola's vibrant thunder. There is the spiffy LG Chocolate available from Verizon, the Samsung Sync in red from AT&T, and other phones.
But it won't matter. The Razr will still rule.
The hot phone this V-day will be a slimmed-down version of the original Razr, the
MotoKrzr ($149 with two-year plan from Verizon Wireless).
Apart from being a fabulous design -- small, sleek and with an excellent feel -- Motorola has done gorgeous color work on these units, including a very nice off-white that works in the gym by day and then seamlessly out to a bar at night.
However, don't expect to do multimedia on this unit. The screen is too small for videos or navigation on the go. But for a straight-up cell phone with style and romance, there is no beating the MotoKrzr in white.
Digital Jane Austen
Face it, men, on Valentine's Day there is exactly one great film:
Pride and Prejudice
As nice as she acts during supposedly great films like
, there is simply nothing to compare on this special day to Mr. Darcy and his ego issues.
This is not news. What is news is that finally, great gal-friendly movies are now available for download.
No more messy discs and battling players -- direct-from-the-Web
movies ($5.95) have gone mainstream.
Words of warning: You will be paying top dollar per film -- almost six bucks.
To view Jonathan Blum's video take of today's Good Life segment, click here.
And at least for now, you will be dealing with the plucky InternetMovies.com. Don't expect the luxurious iTunes experience here -- the site is rugged.
But the service works, in my testing, and you are blissfully not beholden to
proprietary technology. You can run this flick on any PC or player you own.
Let the virtual romance begin.
The Look of Love
If you are feeling especially flush this Valentine's Day, why not take the next step and get the love of your life a portable media player?
Clearly, the runaway leader here is the superior Apple iPod with video. Apple has finally gotten the kinks out of this player. The unit is durable and pricing is in line with the rest of the pack.
But there is a problem: every Tara, Deidre and Holly has an iPod by now. If you're looking for a bit of cachet, why not try one of the other excellent media players on the market?
This year, I like what Toshiba is doing with its
Gigabeat Portable Player ($299). Theunit offers 30 gigabytes of storage, comes in a decent package and has easy-to-use controls. Also, it works with all the better online media outlets such as Rhapsody,
( NAPS) and CinemaNow -- you are not stuck with just iTunes.
What better home could there be for her new virtual Jane Austen collection?
Another fascinating trend for 2007 is the stuff your computer uses to work better -- such as hard drives and keyboards -- are no longer drab little boxes.
Now, good design in computer peripherals is the norm.
My pick for coolest-looking computer gadget is the portable
Skwarim hard drive ($199) from LaCie.
This fun little drive comes in a decent -- if a bit loud -- blue. And it jacks into any universal serial bus connector on a PC. With 60 gigabytes, the drive offers enough storage for just about anybody's personal files.
What I especially like about the LaCie is that it is attractive enough, and small enough, to travel anywhere -- including to and from work.
What better way to say I love you is there than giving your sweetie complete control over her files, anytime and anyplace?
A Bicycle Built for Her
Finally, Valentine's Day tech is expanding beyond gadgets.
Now high-end sporting goods are being aimed at women. Everybody from ski makers like Atomic and Solomon to bike makers such as Cannondale and Gary Fischer are tweaking their products for the ladies. And the results can be excellent.
I am particularly impressed by what retro-bike maker Electra Bicycles is doing. In particular, I like its
Townie 8 ($700), part of a line of easy-to-pedal, super-stable rides for women.
Don't let the dip bar and old-school feel fool you: This is a high-tech wonder with exclusive features like seven-speed internal gears, coaster breaks that really work and an optimized frame geometry that puts the pedals, bars and seat in the most comfortable position for a woman's body.
A stylish, romantic ride around town, anyone?
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Jonathan Blum is an independent technology writer and analyst living in Westchester, N.Y. He has written for The Associated Press and Popular Science and appeared on FoxNews and The WB.