Best Stock Ideas - Week of 2/1/10

Best iPhone / iPod Speaker System


Over the years, I think I've listened to most of the better iPod speaker systems out there.  But I stumbled across one a couple of days ago that sets a new standard for value.  The Kicker ik501 iPod speaker system is so superior in value to anything else out there that if it's even vaguely in your budget range, you've found here what you're looking for. 

I don't think it's easy to design a GREAT speaker system for $100 retail price.  A product with a $100 retail price is probably sold to the retailer for $60-70.  The manufacturer needs to make a profit, so they're probably targeting a manufacturing cost of maybe $40-50.  A lot of this remaining $40-50 budget is taken up by a bunch of little fixed costs that add up -- shipping, packaging materials, instruction manuals -- none of those do anything for the sound.   And then there's the power supply, display and associated logic, etc.  So how much money is left over to allocate to speakers,  the amplifier, and the enclosure -- the components that have the most direct effect on sound?  Not much.

Best Stock Trading Ideas


I’ve always had fairly good instinct when it comes to stock trading.  People ask me if I am a fundamentalist or a chartist and I say I don’t favor one or the other.  It helps tremendously to learn about charting and price patterns and combining technical knowledge with fundamentals can’t hurt.  No one trading or investing strategy works for everyone.  It took me years (and still refining) even after I learned technical analysis to arrive at the trading rules I use for myself today and I am sure they will continue to evolve.  Since I am always watching the market looking for opportunities, especially for signs of sector rotation, and planning my next move, I thought why not share my ideas here.  So, here comes the first of my weekly stock trading blogs where I will share some stock trading ideas as well as the tools I use.  

High-value earphones and headphones for your iPhone or iPod

Here are three of my favorite iPhone earphones:

Sony MDR-EX36V -- The best I-lose-'em-all-the-time-so-they-better-be-cheap earphones:  ($20.76 to $22.98 on Amazon, depending on color).   Though construction quality is about what you'd expect for the price point, the sound of these earphones is of a higher class.  These earphones are a significant upgrade to the earbuds that came with your iPhone or iPod -- even non-audiophiles will find the upgrade obvious.  The sound is rich and clean.  Dynamics are punchy and uncompressed.  There is a slight overemphasis in the bass that departs from neutrality, but it's a pleasing warm coloration, and all the while, the bass remains distinctly taut and well-damped.  These could pass for significantly more expensive buds.  These are the in-ear variety of earphones -- three sizes of rubber tips are included.  They're easy to take in and out of your ears and don't extend deep into your ear canals, as some earphones do (boy, do I hate the ones that do).  The tips form a nice tight seal and isolate you from outside noise well enough to easily maintain intelligibility of dialogue when you're watching a movie on a plane.  If you're looking for cheap earphones, these are real winners -- you can stop your research now.

The Bestologist's BFFs (Black Friday Favorites)

After looking through many Black Friday ads, here's a brief list of some of the more compelling values that I've found.

I-Inc 28" LCD Monitor.  $249 at TigerDirect shipped.  This I-Inc is a 28" 1920x1200 LCD monitor with HDMI (and VGA) connections.  Most 1920x1200 monitors are 24", so relatively speaking, everything on this 28" monitor will appear a bit bigger.  The larger size is great if you want to use the monitor occasionally to watch movies, or if you're finding your eyes are helped by slightly larger text.  It may be an "off brand", but the I-Inc monitor has been consistently well-reviewed by end users -- there are many hundreds of positive reviews on TigerDirect's website.  The I-Inc is nearly identical to the similarly well-regarded Hanns-G 28" monitor, which gets the same good reviews.  One of the few obvious differences is that I-Inc monitor has a matte black finish, whereas the Hanns-G has a glossy black finish (NewEgg had a Black Friday special on the Hanns-G for $259, but it's now sold out).  It's worth noting that most "HD" monitors these days use a cheaper 16:9 1920x1080 aspect ratio LCD panel.  Personally, I appreciate the extra bit of vertical resolution that this 16:10 1920x1200 I-Inc monitor affords you, particularly when working in a word processor.

Best Compact Digital Camera: A review of the Canon S90

Ok, let’s get one thing out in the open. The Canon S90 is expensive -- MSRP is $430.  But what we’re sure of is that this is currently the best “pocketable” digital camera on the market, bar none.

The megapixel race: An unfortunate history
For years, digital camera manufacturers have realized that “megapixels” sell.  When the average consumer is faced with a choice between “Model A” at 10 megapixels and “Model B” at 15 megapixels, all else equal, guess which gets chosen?   Camera manufacturers have long known that megapixels are the single most important “spec” for uninformed buyers, so they play the game. Today, point-and-shoots with megapixel counts in the mid-teens are commonplace. But the question is, does image quality rise with the increase in pixel count, as the typical buyer assumes?

Best Gift Ideas for Wives

The holidays are already upon us. Frankly I feel the diminishing level of joy I feel toward the holidays every year is another big sign that I am aging (sigh..). Don’t get me wrong, I am not a Scrooge. Christmas is the season of giving after all and I love seeing the face of a loved one light up because of a perfect gift I picked out. But I hate holiday shopping. Worse yet, I hate the process of figuring out what everyone wants even more.

For those lucky male readers out there, I have searched high and low for some clever, unique, not-so-expensive gift ideas that show the love of your life that “you truly care.”

Deal of the Day: A bargain paper shredder ($9.99)

Staples OmniTech 6-Sheet (OT-EXC6A) Cross Cut Shredder -- $9.99 after rebate!

Paper shredders don't get much cheaper than this.  I don't recall ever seeing a less expensive one.  This Staples unit is a cross-cut model, and can handle 6 sheets at a time, and can handle credit cards and staples without a problem.  It's on the small side, but it's larger than a unit meant to be placed on yoStaples OmniTech 6-Sheet (OT-EXC6A) Cross Cut Shredderur desktop (you'll want to keep this under your desk, not only because of its size, but also because it's not particularly attractive).

There are 333 reviews on for this product, and the average rating is 3.9 stars (out of 5 stars), which seems quite good if you consider that many probably wrote their reviews after paying  the full $49.99 list price.  There's a $20 discount applied at the time of purchase, and a $20 rebate.  You'll probably have to pick one up at your local Staples store, since it appears the shredder is currently sold out on line.  I was able to pick one up today locally without a problem.

Best National Parks in the U.S.

Touted as “the best idea America has ever had” by author Wallace Stegner, our national parks attract over 300 million travelers of all types every year. One of my passions is to plan family vacations and our goal is to visit as many national parks as possible. Sure, we love the beaches of Hawaii and Mexico but there is just something about nature unblemished by human touch that makes you do good things in life.

There are over 60 national parks in the U.S. Alaska and California tie for the states with the most at 8 each. Between my better half and me, we have visited about 12 and we both agree that one park could never substitute another. Yes, we love'em all but Bestville is about ranking things so here it is.

Hot Holiday Toy Lists for 2009

It's already time to start thinking about the holidays. Not sure what hot toy to get for the special children in your life? Well, you're not alone. Here are some places to find hot toys for this Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or Festivus (for Seinfeld fans :).

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