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Tech View
Kiman Wong

Here are more hi-tech
gadgets that would
make good gifts

This is Part II of Kiman Wong's annual holiday gift guide.

IF YOU'RE THINKING of purchasing something high tech for that special someone, I've got some ideas:

» Cell phone / PDA:

There's a rapid convergence going on with cell phones as they morph into phone/ e-mail/organizer devices. The Treo by Palm has taken the lead in this niche but the Blackberry 7100t is close behind with a very cool $200 (after rebate) device that distinguishes itself with a real e-mail keyboard. Unlike the Treo, it fits easily in a pocket and is 27 percent lighter, weighing just 4.3 ounces.

The 7100t is able to open e-mail attachments and Microsoft Office files but not pictures. It can also synchronize contact and calendar data with a PC using a USB cable.

Service plans begin at $59.99 per month, including 1,000 anytime voice minutes and unlimited Web browsing and e-mail.

» Audio player:

One of the coolest new audio players to hit the market is actually a redesign of the venerable iPod from Apple. Dubbed the iPod Mini, this 4GB device has won instant respect because of its heritage and its sleek, intelligent design. It can store about 74 hours worth of music and has the same graphical interface and sound specs as its big brother, the white iPod.

At $250, the iPod Mini is not inexpensive but it's sure a sweet gift.

» Digital photo printer:

Wouldn't it be nice to print digital images in the comfort of your own home? Consider getting a dedicated photo printer.

I began my search by looking at what was both available locally and highly rated by the computer magazines. The HP Photosmart 7960 prints great images and its built-in LCD lets you preview and edit your photo before printing. You can get one for about $135.

» More flat screens:

Last column I had a chance to look at the 19-inch NEC 1935 NXM, which at $629 was a real winner in the price/performance department.

The next day a box with a brand new Dell, 19-inch 1905 FP sat at my doorstep and I had to compare the two. The Dell (also $629) is configured slightly differently, with a built-in AC converter in the stand which makes it a bit heavier but aesthetically pleasing nonetheless. It also is very easy to set up. An auto adjust feature on the screen immediately sizes the image and I was able to easily tweak the color, brightness and contrast settings. The verdict: The Dell is excellent but I give the edge to the NEC.

» Antivirus software:

Antivirus software isn't the most exciting thing to buy, but everybody needs it and it's not expensive. The industry standard comes from Symantec, which now has worm protection and a new Quick Scan tool, which automatically searches for viruses after an update. Price is $50.

You also might check out Trend Micro PC-cillin Internet Security 2005 ($45), which CNET calls "the best Internet protection bundle on the market." Other popular anti-virus software is made by McAfee Virus Scan or Computer Associates (EZ Armor). Check out deals from your ISP.

Kiman Wong, general manager of digital phone at Oceanic Time Warner Cable, is an engineer by training and a computer geek by profession. Questions or comments should be addressed to kiman.wong@oceanic.com

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