This year really flew by, didn't it? Here we are, about a week
from the start of Hanukkah, and less than 30 days from Christmas,
which are gift-giving times of the year.
Funny, it seems as if baseball's opening day wasn't that long ago, or
Anyway, the question now before us is of what to get for the high-tech
aficionado on your list? It depends on what they want, and what they
have, of course. Let's start with some accessories, though - these
almost always make useful and wanted gifts.
GET A LAPTOP STAND - The $70 LapWorks Aluminum Desktop Stand
(www.laptopdesk.net) is a great way to display a laptop computer on
your desk, raising the screen close to 7 inches off the desktop,
giving it a great viewing angle. Depending on the size of your laptop
screen, using a stand such as this may allow you to skip having a
Stands such as this also help keep laptop computers cool by allowing
air to flow around the device, and the LapWorks stand also swivels
quite easily and nicely, letting you show the screen to someone else
at the table, for example. I've been using mine for a good five months
or thereabouts, and I'm very happy with it. I recommend any product
with the LapWorks name on it, but can especially nominate this one.
GET A THUMB DRIVE - Officially, of course, they're called USB Flash
Drives, or UFDs, connecting solid-state (i.e., memory chip) storage to
a computer via a USB port. The best that I've found so far is the
Cruzer line from SanDisk Corp. of Milpitas, Calif. Their latest
two-inch sized device, the Cruzer Micro 8GB, has a U.S. list price of
$130, but you can grab it for under $100 if you shop carefully.
Not only is that a good price - 12.5-cents per megabyte of storage, if
my math is correct - but it's an incredibly generous amount of flash
drive real estate. As SanDisk estimates, you can store "1,600
ultra-high-resolution digital pictures, 2,000 digital songs or five
hours of high-quality home video" on the device. That's a lot of
stuff, let me tell you.
The Cruzer Micro product is also available in four smaller capacities,
with list prices to match: 512 MB for $15, 1GB for $25, 2GB for $40
and 4GB for $70. Again, careful shopping can lower these costs by
about one-third. What you won't lower, in my opinion, is a level of
quality and convenience that SanDisk's products provide.
GET A BLUETOOTH HEADSET - I've seen, and used, plenty of Bluetooth
headsets for wireless phones, but the S-800 from Cardo Systems,
Inc. , www.cardowireless.com, is a rather nice item. At $85,
it's not the lowest-priced headset on the market, but it's also not
Sound quality is very good, especially for a device as tiny as this
one is. The S-800 offers up to 8 hours talk-time and one week of
standby time, the maker claims, and I've found those estimates pretty
realistic. Cardo says users can operate the headset at a distance of
up to 30 feet from a mobile phone, and, again, I've proved that to be
correct. Among its more interesting features, the S-800 offers
"Hot-Dialing," allowing users to store and speed-dial up to three
different numbers with one simple click of a dedicated button. That
seems a bit over the top, but I'm sure some Capitol Hill multitasker
will appreciate it.
And speaking of multitasking, the headset boasts what its maker calls
"SWAP technology," letting you switch the headset's connection between
two mobile phones. It sounds as if this was invented with a primary
campaign staff member in mind.
More shopping tips next week, with some on the Tech Blog, too. In the
meantime, happy (bargain) hunting!