TechSpot's Holiday Gift Guide 2005


The holidays are creeping up and most of us are probably in agreement; the only thing worse than giving a bad gift is receiving one. Well, to ensure your preferred geek is appropriately gifted with only the most fitting of gadgets, widgets and thingamabobs, TechSpot is here to assist. Below are some holiday choices that any tech-head will appreciate, complete with stores, prices and little extra info to help your holiday shopping go smoothly.

Iomega Micro Mini Hard Drive - $170
8GB capacity, credit-card form factor

While the name might give you a good laugh, squishing 8GB worth of valuable storage in a package no larger than a few credit cards stacked together is serious business. The USB-powered unit features a fold-out USB connector, eliminating the need for fussy cables that might tie you down. Not only is the Micro Mini about a half inch thick and smaller than a credit card, but the little guy weighs in at a feather floating 1ľ ounces. And just when you thought things were getting expensive, Iomega designed this fashionable storage item with your budget in mind. The Micro Mini utilizes mechanical storage, making the drive fast and inexpensive, especially when compared to solid-state (flash) equivalents. Featuring Iomega’s proprietary anti-shock technology, the 4200 RPM drive inside has also been engineered to withstand people with fumble fingers. Currently available in 4, 6 and 8 GB capacities.

PQI i-Stick - $60
1GB of storage, 2mm thick, 3cm long

If you’re looking for USB storage that is even more portable than the Micro Mini, then the i-Stick is definitely for you. PQI’s Intelligent-Stick has actually been around for over a year now, available in 256MB, 512MB and 1GB capacities. However, despite its age the i-Stick remains the smallest thumb drive currently available (until next spring, possibly). Its tiny 31.0mm x 18.0mm x 2.8mm body slips into a convenient wallet protector (included) so you don’t lose the tiny little thing. Available in 2.0 and Pro versions, the Pro boasts a speedy 20mb/sec transfer rate while the 2.0 holds an approximate 7mb/sec.

Western Digital 400GB (Raid Edition) x 2 - $240 each
800GB of super-fast storage

Know someone who’s spending three hours a day trying to clean up and squeeze every last gigabyte out of their drives? For that special geek in your life, give the gift of tremendous storage capacity. Sure, you can slap just about any drives together, but the WD 400GB RE2 (WD4000YR) drives really shine in RAID configuration. Not only will you be pairing two of the fastest 7200 RPM / 16MB cache drives available, but you’ll be giving the recipient 800GB of storage in RAID 0… Every computer nerd’s dream! Mass storage has become so inexpensive that you’ll be paying about 50 cents a gigabyte. Not a bad deal at all. Oh, and if RAID isn’t an option, there’s no shame in settling for a single 500GB, 400GB or even 300GB drive. Just shy away from the WD4000YR as a single drive, since it does not provide the same error protection redundancy found in your traditional, “solo” SATA drives.

Dell Ultrasharp 2405FP 24” LCD (Wide screen) - $950
Huge image, brilliant picture, small price

Arguably the best LCD for the money, the Dell Ultrasharp 24” is an easy bet for instant smiles. Not only is this thing humongous, but the picture is brilliant (1:1000 contrast ratio, 12ms response time, 1900x1200 resolution), and has quite a few nice features not found on many lesser flat panels. Selling for about $900, the price tag rings in at nearly a grand less than its closest competition from Apple or Sony. Some other “budget” panels of this size get closer, but still can’t beat the price. You also score some cool features not found on cheaper LCDs such as an integrated USB hub and a 6-in-1 flash reader hub; PiP (picture in picture) and PbP (picture by picture). And for something really neat, not watching a movie or the display looking a bit long for you? Rotate this baby around, switch to portrait mode and you’ve got yourself the tallest display in the neighborhood.

Alienware ALX System - $3500-7000
Ultimate gaming computer

[Read Techspot Review] If you’re looking for the best custom-built gaming system money can buy without the drudgery of assembling it yourself, Alienware has always been a great place to turn to. The ALX represents the current crčme de la crčme of gamer computing; sharp looks and configurable to the “T” with the fastest, highest quality parts available. The ALX certainly isn’t for the timid and is most definitely not intended to be a great value. But if you want the best of the best, the high premium you’ll pay is on par with other systems from rivals such as Falcon. Ranging from $4700 all the way past $7000, you can customize the ALX with a wide variety of high-performance options. It’s a great way to go all out this season, providing your wallet can handle the wallop, of course.

Apple Mac Mini - $500-600
An entire computer in a 6” square, 2” tall

Speaking of small things, we have the cute & stylish Mac Mini. Tipping the scale around 3lbs, the Mini is only 6” long, 6” wide and 2” tall. The motto “It just works” is quite the mantra of this little machine; it’s no ultra performance workhorse, but it is perfect for getting online, office work and even the occasional game. And if you think small equals expensive, think again. The Mini is budgeted for pretty much anyone able to afford a computer, bottoming out at $499 on Apple’s website and running more if you choose to customize it. The basic options include a respectable blend of hardware consisting of 1.25GHz G4, 512MB RAM, 40GB hard drive, DVD/CD-RW drive, Radeon 9200, DVI out, USB and Firewire. More official information and customizable features can be studied carefully here.

OQO Model 01+ - $1700+
PDA sized “desktop” PC

Well, Apple has a little guy… How about a little PC? Here’s one – And it’s really tiny. In fact, the Model 01+ is so small it pushes the envelope of being practical. Of course, this is this very premise which has made OQO so controversial, but that makes this one potentially exciting and fun gift. This PDA-sized “laptop” sports a 1GHz CPU, 512MB of memory, 30GB drive, USB 2.0, Firewire, 100Mbps LAN and a touch screen with integrated keyboard. What further separates Model 01+ from a Pocket PC? It runs full blown Windows XP (or any other OS you choose provided you can get driver support). The pint-sized PC could be useful for many people, but will likely remain a niche gadget since it is cost prohibitive ($1700+) and PDAs/Cell phones are quickly catching up technology-wise. Despite its potential pitfalls, this would be the perfect surprise for someone who needs access to a Windows-capable PC at all times.

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