All You Need Is... Batteries

The Empire State Building is seen in the background behind a snow-covered car in New York Sunday, Dec. 20, 2009. A slow-moving storm that blanketed swaths of the mid-Atlantic with nearly 2 feet of snow reached southern New England on Sunday, continuing its assault on the East Coast after causing at least five deaths, crippling travel and leaving empty stores normally crammed with holiday shoppers.
Now that the day is behind us, it is fitting and proper to reflect on what I should have done for the love of my life on Valentine's Day. If you are anything like me (and for the sake of your "significant other" I hope and pray you are not) every stumbling foray down lover's lane to find tokens of affection and gestures of romance usually ends in disaster. So with great expertise in spectacular failures in giving gifts from the heart, let me share some sagacious advice and discoveries on what you should have bought that special someone you love.

Find One Find All
Because "Love is always saying you're sorry" buy her a gadget. At least, it couldn't hurt.

It might even help. For example, much of our romantic time is spent on our hands and knees. Unfortunately, we're only down there looking for things the other has lost: the keys, the TV remote, her purse. Fortunately, you can now get a bunch of radio controlled key finders from "Find One Find All" that you can program and attach to those things that your other half seems to misplace constantly. Missing the keys? Push a button and they'll beep, right under the couch where he or she "meant" to put them.

Cellboost Disposable Phone Batteries
Here's a hardly romantic gift but it will give you and the ones you love peace of mind. Notice that cell phones always run out of batteries at the worst possible time? Buy a few small, inexpensive Cellboost disposable battery power for cell phones. These matchbook sized batteries come in a nifty case and provide most 'flavors' of cell phones (Nokia, Motorola, Sanyo, etc.) with instant battery power for 60 minutes of talk time and 60 hours of standby time. (About $6 per disposable battery.) I'm in somewhat of a quandary about the environmental cost of adding millions of these "disposable" batteries into the waste stream. But I expect that most people will only use them in emergency situations and I'm glad knowing that my family members have a way to get in touch when their rechargeable batteries

Sennheiser RS65 Wireless Headset
Marriage appears to largely be the act of watching dramatically different television broadcasts in bed. One device that bridges the cavernous divide between the sexes is the Sennheiser Surround Sound RS65 wireless headset. They cost about $120. So, while he's hearing "Smackdown Championship Dwarf Wrestling" in full robust stereo, she can happily enjoy the sweet misery of "Jane Eyre" on PBS.

Personal Pillow Speaker
I really love gadgets and gizmos, but in truth, there are very few I would consider taking to bed. It's not that they're not sexy in their own way, but aside from the occasional remote control or music player, there's just no real place for much else. But I'm now having to make room for the Personal Pillow Speaker. Its name says pretty much everything you'll need to know – nothing to hide here. For $15, I simply plug this flat directional speaker into my music player, and hide the speaker part under my pillow. The sound travels straight through to my ear, so that I can hear what's playing, but no one else can. Its genius is its simplicity. From Sharper Image.

Sony: The Love Story
Knowing we were thinking of romance and style, we called our friends at SONY Electronics to see what they thought would work to flame the passions during this romantic season. If you're sick of basic black, SONY has been adding more color to their design palette. Nothing says "I love you" like Sony's MDR-J10 adjustable stereo headphones in hot pink ($10) or the bright red PSYC CD Walkman D-ej360 portable player ($40).

But being the huge romantic I am, I decided to show my sweetheart my love in a huge way: Sony XPLOD 800 watt power amp, XMD400P5 and 1,200 Watt Speaker (both are blood red ... or perhaps the more "romantic" cranberry). You could see some designer thinking that they could make a speaker that blows the clothes right off of your intended fellow listener.

Sony also gets credit for the sleek, sexy and wonderful Cybershot DSC-T1 camera. At five megapixels, you and your beloved will be able to take crystal clear pictures of… well… stuff you might not want the photo developer to see anyway. Thank goodness for home inkjets.

Vista Picture Frame by Vialta
Honestly, I've learned that sometimes, the less involved I am in a present, the better it is for everyone involved. Thus, I present to you the Vista digital picture from the folks at Vialta and Sharper Image.

This sleek 6.8" frame lets your beloved load up to eight pictures of you (or something else she loves) to watch repeatedly in a slide show. She can control the length of time each picture lasts, and the transitions from one to the next. But best of all, she can watch all of your new photos directly off your camera's memory card. Simply plug the card in (any of the top five memory modules will fit) and start watching the show. At $299, this may well be the most expensive picture frame you don't really, really need. But I like the versatility of being able to change the art in my room without having to do much more than slip a memory card into a slot on the frame's side. I also like how it can turn itself on when it detects motion a few inches in front of it. Nice.

When my wife dragged me by the ear to the flower store this Valentine's Day to show me a proper gift, another woman strode in with a dismal pile of flowers her husband lamely presented. "Toss these out," she commanded and within moments that woman emerged in triumph from the shop with a stunning, huge, and costly bouquet, which she happily charged to her husband. It's possible even to send flowers and still get it wrong, so you might as well find someone to do the shopping for you.

Who said "It's the Thought That Counts?"
Since husbands never get it right, how about an internet service that every month finds "thoughtful" presents for your spouse? The site is And it's wonderful. Aside from good advice on relationships and such (which I admittedly glossed over to get to the good stuff), it features a great Gift of The Month Club, which can ship you different romantic presents for your wife straight to your office. Each gift is nice enough to appear as if you spent a lot of time and energy looking for it in quaint shops (but you didn't) but not so outlandish that your honey would think you bought it in a store (because you didn't.) All you have to do is sign the card (using some of the enclosed suggestions), wrap the present (card and wrapping supplied) and pretend you've have been out laboriously shopping for your better half. Admittedly, there's something cynical here, since the hardest part of playing this monthly gift charade is paying for it. The gifts average about $50, and change monthly.

Admittedly, none of these wonderful things – even the intimate things from the aforementioned website – are what my wife needs. Go ahead and ask her. The best gift I could give my wife is easy access to a dumpster to which she would banish the thousands of other gadgets I've gathered while she's not looking.

By Daniel Dubno and Bob Bicknell