Tech gifts for the holidays
By Jay Dougherty Dec 3, 2006, 9:49 GMT
Washington - Tech gadgets are a sure-fire hit with just about anyone on your gift list. That's because most folks these days are either tied to or in love with a technology gadget of one kind or another.
And just as technology is designed to make life more enjoyable or productive, the best tech-related gifts should enhance the functionality already in your recipient's technology of choice. So rather than give a random rundown of cool tech toys this season, we've broken down tech gadgets by category. Find your recipient's primary use of technology and get some ideas for great gifts.
--- Notebook users
Notebook computers equipped with a webcam can take advantage of the video transmission features of instant messaging applications, as well as Skype, the free internet telephony program that's gaining in popularity.
Logitech, Creative Labs, and other manufacturers make nifty little webcams that clip unobtrusively to a notebook computer, plug into a USB port, and provide instant video, photo, and voice capability for a wide range of applications. Best of all, they're within the gift budget of many, ranging from 25 to 50 dollars.
Notebook computers are all about freedom, so concentrate on gifts that keep notebook users untangled. Bluetooth devices - which communicate wirelessly with a notebook, removing the necessity for pesky cords - are becoming increasingly common, and many notebooks today come with built-in Bluetooth capability.
The Bluetooth-based Logitech FreePulse wireless headset is great for those who want to listen to their favourite songs without disturbing others. The headphones are battery powered - lasting up to seven hours - and can be used with any Bluetooth-enabled device, including notebooks and MP3 players. Similar models are available from other manufacturers.
--- Desktop users
Webcams with built-in microphones are items that desktop users rarely buy for themselves, but once available, a range of new and fun applications become available. Video and voice chat over the internet, snapshots at the desktop, and more are a breeze with one of these inexpensive gadgets.
The newest and best of these - like the Microsoft LifeCam VX-6000 - and the Logitech QuickCam Fusion - offer low-light performance that's much improved over previous generations of Webcams. And the built-in microphones eliminate the need for a separate headset. Prices range from 25 to 99 dollars.
What other item could most desktop users benefit from but rarely buy themselves? Some type of backup device. Seagate and Maxtor make external USB drives that are are large enough to handle the task of backing up most desktops, with models ranging from 300 GB up to 750 GB.
For backing up or toting smaller amounts of data, consider an inexpensive but always handy USB key, otherwise known as a USB or pocket drive. These diminutive drives plug into a USB port to allow desktop or notebook users to copy data and then take it with them. The drives are small enough to fit on a keychain.
--- Digital camera users
It's easy to find picture-perfect gifts for digital camera users, primarily because there are so many truly useful accessories that make digital cameras more fun and their users better able to take great pictures.
Most camera users have a tough time carrying their cameras comfortably. Cameras tend either to be worn around the neck by a strap or carried dangling from a wrist. LowePro's Off Trail waist packs free up a camera user's hands and provide plenty of pockets in which to store accessories. There are two models to accommodate different sized cameras. The Off Trail 1 is suitable for most small cameras and digital SLRs. The bags cost from 29 to 49 dollars.
Memory cards for digital cameras are always welcome, and for gift givers, the good news is that prices have dropped precipitously. You can find 1 and 2 gigabyte (GB) cards, suitable for most digital camera users, at anywhere from 20 to 50 dollars.
If better photo processing tools are on the agenda, consider the low-priced but feature-packed Adobe Photoshop Elements, available directly from Adobe online or from most online and real-world computer shops.
--- Everyone else
Gift cards are available from most technology retailers these days, and these cards are a great way to ensure that your tech-loving recipient gets just what she wants. You don't even have to go to a store to pick up a gift certificate if you purchase online. Certificates can be e-mailed to you, and you can give your recipient the details of how to redeem the certificate.
A nice twist on the gift certificate idea is to give someone a subscription to a tech-based service you know they'll appreciate. Every computer user, for instance, hates spam - yet the best anti- spam tools, like Cloudmark Desktop (http://www.cloudmark.com) are subscription-based. A year's subscription will virtually remove any spam from your recipient's in-box. What better gift could there be?© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur