The Monitor

By - Dec 1st, 2004 02:52 pm
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Technology Gifts for that Special Geek

Each year it seems as though the hype for a few products jumps through the roof. Remember Cabbage Patch Kids, Teletubbies and Elmo? And for the over-kindergarten set, Trivial Pursuit, the Star Wars VHS box set and UGG boots have all had their time in the sun. But these days, it’s technology gadgets that make our holiday hearts go pitter-pat. In 2003, techno-gifts topped shopper’s lists. This year that trend is expected to continue, with more products available at better prices. What a relief for those nice moms and aunties who, in the past, have struggled to bond with the geeks they love through gifts of high-end calculators and heavy duty pocket protectors!

Depending on your budget for that special nerd in your life, there’s something out there for everyone. In an extremely unscientific poll, we asked at least six people (geeks and regular folks) what they wanted for the holidays, gadget-wise. Here are the three that scored highest on the ole’ coolness chart.

Digital Music DevicesHands-down, portable music and their respective hardware devices was the clear leader, with Apple being the favorite brand (based on our “poll,” sales data and various chat rooms we visited). Choose between the regular iPod and the iPod Mini, both of which enable you to carry around more music than you’d find at a jukebox convention.To help you pick a player, check out the features of each.

iPod Mini:Price: $249.00 Storage: 4 GB (1,000 songs)Weight: 3.6 ouncesSoftware: Mac and Windows compatibleExtras: Calendar, games, contact lists, notes and other file storage.

iPod:Price: $299-$599Storage: 20, 40 or 60 GB (5,000 to 15,000 songs)Weight: 5.6 ouncesSoftware: Mac and Windows compatibleExtras: Everything the Mini has, plus to-do lists and multiple language support. Record voice notes and store up to 25,000 photographs with accessory purchase (40 and 60 GB models only).

But wait! Mighty Apple may have some competition in the Rio Carbon. Priced around $225, CNet’s Charles Kim says this is the player that will finally give the iPod a run for its money. With 5 GB of storage (about 1,250 songs), the Rio Carbon is a great choice for those who have a lot of Windows Media files, or don’t want to be restricted to Apple’s online music store. The 3-ounce Carbon bests the Mini in capacity and undercuts its price and weight. testers squeezed 20 hours of battery life out of the Carbon-more than twice as much as the Mini. They also complimented the player’s sound and sleekness.

Blockbuster who?A subscription to Netflix is a great gift for anyone that loves movies. Most who join the service swear they will never step foot into another movie rental store. And with Netflix, you’ll never pay another late fee!

If you’re not familiar with Netflix, it’s a subscription-based DVD rental portal on the Internet. You sign-up for a flat fee (try a 15-day free trial), then order as many movies from their website as you’d like, which they send you, three at a time, via mail. When you’re done watching one (take your time), send it back in the pre-paid postage envelope provided with your order. When Netflix receives your return, they send the next movie in your queue. The best part of Netflix is that you keep the movies as long as you’d like, there are no late fees and you won’t have to venture out to the movie store in subzero temperatures.  You can order that special someone a subscription for any duration (in months) right online at

USB Flash/Pen drive Every techno-geek needs a USB Flash drive keychain to call their own! For those of you not familiar with these, they’re a mini-hard drive you can carry on your keychain. Most also come with tops with clips like pen lids, slipping easily into the old pocket protector for daytime office use. Forget floppy and zip disks or CDs, backing up and transporting your data is now so easy. Simply insert the device into the USB port on your computer. Security software optional. These nifty gadgets vary in price anywhere from $20 for a 128MB to upwards of $90 or more for 1GB.

There you have it, three techie gifts for that special geek in your life. Now, if you don’t mind, we have to get back to watching The Godfather while downloading music onto our iPods, while uploading a Word document from our USB drives. Happy Holidays!

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