The first straightener I purchased was actually for my Son. He wanted to start straightening his hair, and because I didn't know much about them, I went to my local Wal-Mart and bought the one that looked like it had the biggest flattening surface on it. As I've progressed through straighteners since then, I've learned that the biggest surface doesn't mean it's going to work even a little.
This one has 1 1/4" Ceramic plates on it, a temperature dial that goes up to 400°F, different colored heat indicators (It lights up when you turn it on and when you turn it down to a lower setting the lights turn yellow, green for the higher heat setting.) and as if that weren't enough, it has an 8' cord, comes with a styling guide and a 3 year limited warranty.
It starts to get hot the moment you plug it in, no sitting around waiting 15 minutes for it to get hot enough to use, holds the hair firmly and doeesn't have uneven edges around the plate, which means it's not going to snag or pull your hair when you're using it. You also don't have to hold it still for 30 seconds and then drag it down just a little for it to flatten the next bit of hair. The first time I tried to straighten mine it took me more than an hour just to do half of it and I got so fed up with it I just stopped. When I used this one it took me 15 minutes.
This DOES get very hot though, so if you purchase one, make sure you don't touch the edges of the straightener to any skin, and likewise, after you've run it over your hair, your hair is super hot, so be careful there too.
It works great and comes in pink, blue and purple. While looking for a general retail price (because my daughter received it as a gift) I found it for $36.79 at Shopping.com which is a steal because everywhere else it was between $65 - $80. Excellent gift for the fashionista in your life!