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Hi-tech gifts in keeping with the times


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POSTED: Monday, December 08, 2008

As the holidays roll around it's always a challenge to come up with gift ideas, but this year gift selection is a little trickier due to the financial environment.

With that in mind, I've made an effort to keep the prices down while concentrating on "green" gifts. Some of these items I plan to give to my own family or friends.

(I hope, for a change, they don't read the column!).

» Belkin has a surge protector called Conserve which stops phantom power that can really bleed your electrical consumption without your even knowing about it. (Think of those green LEDs on your DVD player that flash even when you're not using them.) This can add up to 10 percent of your household power consumption.

The Belkin Conserve, available for $59.95, minimizes standby power by enabling you to turn off the juice to multiple devices. Thus you can get power to devices that require a continuous power supply such as DVRs or routers, or cut off power to appliances that suck juice when they're not needed.

» Do you find yourself with more mobile devices that you can keep track of? All of which, of course, need to be charged?

The iGo Everywhere Power15, priced at around $30, may be just what you need. It allows you to charge or power multiple low-powered mobile devices (such as mobile telephones, PDAs, digital cameras and MP3 players) just by changing the tip. It does this by providing multiple connection cords that will allow you to charge or power the devices in a car, on an airplane or from a wall outlet. It also comes with a gizmo called the iGo Dualpower15, so that you can simultaneously charge or power two devices. This is very practical and is helpful when you inevitably lose a charging device.

Also when you get a new device you just have to get the tip that matches it. The main charger remains the same.

» If you really want to be green when it comes to charging your mobile gadgets, consider the the Solio Universal solar charger kit. It's small so you can take it camping or use it at home, if there's a power outage. The compact, oval-shaped unit fans open to include three small panels, each 3 inches long.

Solio says you can fully charge the device with eight to 10 hours of direct sunlight. Keep in mind, though, that on a cloudy day it will take longer. In a pinch, 45 minutes of sun can get you enough juice to make a 20-minute call on your mobile phone.

I take this on trips with me when I am not sure what type of power may be available for recharging my handheld devices. Price for the Solio "Classic" is $100, or you can get the souped up Magnesium Edition for $169.95.

» For those who travel frequently, the Belkin FlyThru is a checkpoint-friendly laptop case, which gets you through airport security faster.

What I like about it is that you no longer have to remove your laptop from the bag. The FlyThru isolates your laptop on one side, allowing TSA agents to easily identify it through a clear window and wave you quickly through. Available for $59.99