Gifts for the music lover who's always looking for the next big thing

The Baltimore Sun

Help someone you care about take his or her music on the go this holiday.

Good-sounding, cushy Coosh earphones ($20-$25; slip around the ear and into the ear to stay in place. They're not the best at reproducing bass, so lovers of boomy hip-hop won't be thrilled with them, but rock fans will rejoice.

A Retrak charger ($25) plugs into a car's cigarette lighter jack to power just about any small portable device, including MP3 players and even a few power-hungry smart phones.

Now a Bluetooth-capable phone can recharge even while being used with a hands-free headset. To find the right Retrak to give, go to

If someone on your list has a computer with a DVD player; a ton of CDs; and an iPod or other portable music player, here's a no-sweat way to help him or her transfer 10 CDs to a player. MusicShifter, one of many CD ripping services, is offering a complimentary trial (free; How it works:

Buy a very nice greeting card for your gift recipient and write something like, "Transfer 10 of your fave CDs to your MP3 player!"

On Christmas Eve, go to and click on the words "Free Trial." Fill out an order form for the Popular Package service (Stick with the MusicShifter's default bit rate of 190 kilobits per second, as that will work in any MP3 player. Choosing the free upgrade to 224 kilobits per second will make MP3 music sound better but may not work on some MP3 players.) Important: Make sure the shipping address is that of your gift recipient.

Days later, a box will arrive at the home of your special someone, who will pack up the 10 CDs and use the free shipping label to return the box to MusicShifter.

Within 10 days, he or she will receive a DVD loaded with all 10 CDs, plus the original CDs. (Limit one free trial per household.)

Know folks who shop at Tiger Direct, CompUSA or Amazon? Help them fight gadget obsolescence by giving a TechForward Guaranteed Buyback Plan ($20 and up; Let's say your sister bought a $200 camera from, but in June, a new and snazzier camera catches her eye.

By giving her a $20 buyback plan this holiday, you guarantee that she can trade in that camera at Amazon for store credit. So, six months from now, she gets 50 percent of the camera's value - or $100 - toward a new camera (as long as the old camera is in excellent condition). The longer she waits to use the plan, the smaller the trade-in value. Of course, selling a camera via a classified ad does the job, but how festive is that?

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