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Holiday Gift Ideas
Traditionally new electronic products are released at this time of year, so there are many choices to treat those special people on your list.
The biggest news this holiday season is the arrival in November of the Intel quad-core processor. This announcement quickly followed their July release of second generation Core 2 Duo processors. To be technically accurate, the Core 2 Extreme Q6700 “quad” is actually a pair of Core 2 Duo CPUs in a single package, and the word “Pentium” is gone from Intel’s future lineup. This unified core architecture is offered for desktops, laptops, and servers; all three are 64-bit-capable processors with shared enhancements, challenging the recent domination of the gaming market by AMD. The newest chips from both companies provide more computing power and use less energy, which helps extend battery life in laptops. Since lower energy also means less heat, desktops can be thinner with fewer fans taking up case space, and the fans run more slowly and quietly. But the best news is that the current Core 2 Duo is engineered to drop right into some current Pentium motherboards, making upgraders happy with a gift certificate for computer parts.
Here’s something unique for the fisherman in the family: an optical computer mouse with scroll wheel in the shape of a firetiger fishing lure. It’s about 5 inches long, complete with USB and PS/2 connectors. It’s #6524 for $24.99 at ComputerGear (www.computergear.com).
There are always some novelty computer keys available to stick to your computer or anywhere else you need a byte of humor! Each has a double-sided tape base to stick to any surface. Sold as a set of 8 for $19.99, there’s one of each: Panic, Any Key, Beer, duh!, $, Oops!, Eject, and a smiley face. (#9441, also at ComputerGear.)
This PC and Mac compatible hard drive enclosure for $89.99 (from www.thinkgeek.com) is a practical choice. It has space for a 3.5" IDE hard drive, a 5.25" optical drive, a 6-in-one memory card reader, and a spare USB slot in the case at the same time, all accessible via USB. A cooling fan and aluminum heat sink are included for maximum heat dissipation.
There are quite a few iPod accessories available. ThinkGeek (www.thinkgeek.com) has a $19.99 Firepod that provides the convenience of powering an iPod in the car, as well as the ability to use a single charger for many other FireWire- or USB-powered devices. It can also charge cell phones, PDAs, other USB MP3 players and fits into any 12V automotive DC power source.
The Griffin Technology TuneJuice ($18.99) is powered by a standard 9-volt battery to provide up to 8 hours of additional play time. It’s compatible with every iPod model that has a dock connector (that includes the Nano and the iPod Video, but not the iPod Shuffle).
New fifth generation iPods are available from many vendors just in time for holiday gift-giving. These include an 80 GB black model, a tiny new Shuffle, and new generation of Nanos with thinner aluminum cases -- 2GB silver, 4GB Nanos in color, or 8GB in black, with a 1.5-inch screen. Just to give you an idea of the storage capacity, a 4 GB Nano provides up to 24 hours of play time on a fully charged battery and stores about 1,000 songs. The latest video iPods have 60% brighter
screens and a new
search feature, and Apple will be shipping games for the new low-priced 30 GB ($249) and 80 GB ($349) models.
Ritz Camera (www.ritzcamera.com) has an assortment of Nano cases for $17.05, including Bart Simpson, ScoobyDoo, Batman, and more.
The new iTune-compatible Shuffle MP3 Flash Player was released November 4, with 1GB of digital audio capacity (about 250 songs) and up to 12-hour battery life. About half the size of the original Shuffle, this device sells for $79 at www.target.com, and users can flip a switch to determine whether to listen to music in an order preset from their computer, or at random.
Several iPod stereo clock radio models are available, ranging in price from $99.95 for the Fisher Standard model at the Sharper Image (www.sharperimage.com)
A new wireless iPod dock, the Silex wiDock, should be out any day now, but no price has been announced. It’s able to charge an iPod, control the unit with the Apple remote, and pipe video and audio from a computer through the dock to a home entertainment system, all without a wired connection.
If there’s a new baby in the family, you should check out the award-winning Muchkin iCrib Sound System. This device hangs on the crib and includes a nightlight with an iPod mount so you can provide music of your choice to sooth the baby to sleep. It’s $34.95 at www.babywise.com, iPod is not included. You can play an interactive product demo or download Mozart music on the manufacturer’s web site at www.munchkin.com/products/detail.html?pID=878§ion=&ID=&li=2.
These unusual Tyvek wallets from www.dynomighty.com come in patterns like dot matrix, dinero, par avion, and faux wood bifolds for $20.00, or a trifold news model for $25.00.
Beverly Rosenbaum, a HAL-PC member, is a 1999 and 2000 Houston Press Club “Excellence in Journalism” award winner. She can be reached at email@example.com.