The festive season is almost upon us, and with it comes the adventure of trying to find the perfect gift for everyone on our lists.
We’ve tracked down a bunch of goodies to tuck into the stockings of technophiles and technophobes alike. Some require a bit of work by the giver, but all are things that can be both useful and fun.
First up is a Canadian product that will make users of all sorts of portable electronics smile. Ecosol’s $69.99 Powerstick is a portable charger that you load up by plugging it into a USB port.
Once it’s charged (which takes a few hours), you simply connect it to your device, press a button, and in a few minutes you’re back in business.
It comes with nine connectors, so will plug into anything from an iPod or BlackBerry to any number of cell phones or MP3 players; there’s a compatibility list on the vendor’s website.
The unit in my purse holds a charge for many weeks before needing a top-up. And at a hair over 4 inches long, and weighing an ounce and a quarter, it’s easy to tuck into the corner of a briefcase, or into the smallest handbag. Or, for that matter, into a stocking.
2. morespace Portable
Hammer Storage has just launched the morespace Portable, a compact portable hard drive for Mac or PC that needs no external power supply (it’s powered off a USB port) and comes in capacities from 160 GB to 500 GB (a 750 GB model is coming early next year).
The 500 GB model will set you back $US139.99.
What sets this unit apart from others of its ilk is the fact that, as well as including the usual backup software, the drives are skinnable, allowing users to put their personal stamp on the storage in their pockets. One skin is included, and others may be purchased online.
3. I.D. Sentry
For the paranoid among us, RFID chip cards are a source of worry. Can bad guys scoop our personal information from a distance when we carry these cards?
For $US19.99, MobileEdge offers a solution: an RFID-blocking credit card holder called I.D. Sentry. Made of black nappa leather, it looks like an ordinary card holder, but is lined with a special alloy to block RF.
For $29.99, the company also offers a passport-sized I.D. Sentry wallet with slots for several credit cards as well a pocket for travel documents.
For satellite radio fans, XM Canada has introduced the XMp3, a $279 portable satellite radio receiver and MP3 player that allows users to either listen live or record broadcast content and play it back when they want to.
The device has a micro-SD card slot and can handle cards up to 8 GB; there’s 2 GB of internal memory. XM2go Music Manager allows users to manage their audio portfolio.
The unit has a backlit 2.5 inch colour display, and weighs just over 3 ounces. It claims a 16.5 hour battery life for playback, or 4 hours for live XM.
The XMp3 is available at The Source, Best Buy or Future Shop.
To use it, you also need an XM Radio subscription, at $14.95 per month.
5. Logitech’s WiLife
Keeping an eye on the house when you’re at work or away gets a whole lot easier with Logitech’s WiLife indoor security system.
The base system includes a high resolution colour digital video camera with motion detection, power supply, a USB receiver, cables, three mounting options (window, desktop and wall) and software.
Additional cameras are available. Alerts can be sent via e-mail or cell phone, and the camera’s output is available over the Internet so you can monitor from virtually anywhere.
At $329.99, it’s not exactly cheap, but the peace of mind could be worth it.
6. SanDisk Cruzer Micro
Giving someone a USB key loaded with some fun software is a double-barreled present, and it doesn’t have to be expensive.
Recipients can decant the programs they like, erase the rest, and still have some handy portable storage.
SanDisk, for example, offers the 16 GB SanDisk Cruzer Micro for an MSRP of $79.99 (and everyone seems to have them on sale for less); the 2 GB model lists for $14.99.
Now, let’s add some software. First, how about the gift of a snooze. Pzizz is a program that generates relaxation audio tracks combining music and voice to help you get wind down.
There are two modules.
One helps you to get to sleep, and the energizer module lets you snatch a reviving power nap, waking you up at the right time to prevent grogginess.
Soundtracks are dynamically built each time you click Play so you won’t get bored, and you can export the tracks and load them onto your MP3 player for use where a computer isn’t handy.
Each module costs $US29.95, or a bundle of the two costs $US49.95, which includes perpetual updates.
8. askSam SurfSaver and e-books
SurfSaver ($US19.99), from askSam Systems, lets you save, organize and search Web pages. It’s just the thing for electronic packrats who want to keep track of information. http://www.surfsaver.com/
Tack on the gift of reading, for free, with downloadable e-books from askSam Systems. Just go to https://www.asksam.com/ebooks/, and grab the volumes you want.
They have everything from Shakespeare to Poe; an appropriate download for the season would be Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Don’t forget to also download the free reader.
9. Belkin’s Conserve
Many electronic devices consume power even when they’re turned off (how else does that cute blue light stay on?).
This is sometimes known as vampire power, and it can add dollars to your electric bill.
Plugging the contraptions in to a power bar that can be shut off eliminates that load, but who wants to crawl under a desk every time you want to turn off your computer?
Enter Belkin’s Conserve, a surge-suppressing power bar with a remote on/off switch.
There are two models: an eight outlet version with six switchable and two always on outlets (for things like portable phones or Internet routers that shouldn’t be turned off), and a ten outlet unit with eight switched and two always-on outlets, plus coax surge protection for home theatres.
Each comes with a lifetime product warranty and $100,000 insurance coverage should protected equipment be damaged by a power glitch.
One remote can control several power bars, and you will soon be able to purchase an extra remote switch with a wall mount for about $15.
The eight outlet version lists for $49.99, and the ten outlet model is $59.99.
And now that you’ve finished your shopping, treat yourself to an eggnog. Happy holidays!