By Eric Lam
Biz & Tech Editor
It has been less than a week since New Year’s Day and you’re already craving that second helping of ice cream and behind in your class that hasn’t even started. Instead of giving up, try these hi-tech options while you get over your holiday hangover. Prices listed do not include tax and probably would’ve been cheaper if you had gone out on Boxing Day, but if you were responsible enough to come up with resolutions in advance you wouldn’t need this stuff would you?
I WANT TO GET IN SHAPE
Everybody wants to start the new year a little trimmer, especially if you’ve had a little too much creamy eggnog. Lucky for you, there are many options out there to help you slim down. The folks at sparkpeople.com offer one of the most comprehensive free diet websites around. After registering, you’ll gain access to daily meal plans and recipes, exercise plans, a customizable calorie counter, video demos of common exercises, and a community forum to share war stories.
And next time you go for a jog, take along a digital pedometer. These nifty gadgets will keep track of how many steps you take, and will also measure distance and calories burned. Pedometers can be bought for as little as $15 at SportChek.
I WANT TO SAVE MONEY
When you’re living on your own, every little bit counts. Switch your antiquated incandescent light bulbs for more efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs ($10 for a three-pack at Canadian Tire). They’re a bit more expensive, but they’ll last longer and you’ll definitely notice a dip in your electric bill. Plus, they’re environmentally-friendly. Al Gore thanks you.
If you’re sick of paying Bell Canada $40 a month for your home phone and you’re already paying for broadband Internet, the VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone services offered by Primus, Vonage and others is worth a look. Starting at $15.95 a month, these services use your existing broadband Internet connection to replace your local phone line. Vonage also offers unlimited calling in Canada, the U.S., Puerto Rico and other select countries, but it’s more expensive.
I WANT TO MAKE IT TO CLASS
If you keep getting lost navigating the mean streets of Toronto on your way to class, a GPS receiver might be just what you need.
Using a global network of satellites to pinpoint your exact location, GPS receivers like the Garmin eTrex Venture HC have been steadily decreasing in price since they were first introduced.
At $179 (The Source by Circuit City) this receiver is a relatively cheap option that offers enough functionality to make sure you never get lost again.
With a clean yellow exterior, 14-hour battery life, updateable maps and 256-colour display, this gadget offers a lot of bang for the buck.
But if you miss your class because you keep sleeping in, get an alarm clock.
I WANT TO BE ORGANIZED
If organization is your goal, or if you just don’t want to be the poor schmo who shows up on the campus security reports with a stolen cellphone because you have too many expensive gadgets to keep track of, try miniaturizing.
One of the best all-in-one deals right now is the Blackberry Pearl, going for $49 at Rogers with a three-year plan; it even comes with a $50 Future Shop gift certificate. The phone offers a hi-res colour screen, a decent 1.3 mega pixel camera with flash, an MP3 player, the standard office tools (organizer, address book, memo pad) and an expandable Micro-SD memory slot.
There’s even a Blackberry Maps feature, so you might not need that GPS after all. Considering other all-in-ones can cost you at least $300 (Rogers is charging $449 for the Pearl without the plan), it might be worth signing a contract with the Red Devil if you really want to be constantly checking your Ryerson e-mail on-the-go. Unfortunately, Blackberry plans start at $25 a month, $45 if you also get a voice plan. So maybe they should call it a Cokeberry instead of a Crackberry. Cause you know, crack is cheap and coke isn’t.
Not that we buy a lot of crack. Or coke.
I WANT TO SEE MORE FAMILY
Really? Well if you actually want to talk to your family face-to-face, get them to pick up an inexpensive webcam ($10 at Future Shop) and register on MSN Messenger. One of its less-known features is the ability to host web video conferences for free. It’s almost as good as the real thing. Or, try the aforementioned VoIP services, and you can yak away for cheap. Long distance rates will vary, but they are competitive. You’ll be able to find even sweeter deals for some of these products if you look online for new and used copies.