Prepare your wish list

    The latest cameras and phones fit easily into a stocking

    by Alan Zisman (c) 2002 First published in Business in Vancouver ,  Issue #682  November 19-25, 2002 GearGuide column

    The push is on to get tech hardware onto store shelves in time for the expected end of the year buying frenzy. That must mean it's time for the Gear Guide gift guide.

    Point, click, and type

    Microsoft MouseBesides software, Microsofthas long made computer mice and keyboards. Their latest models sport a two-toned Astral blue and silver theme, and come in traditional wired models as well as new wireless versions. Both versions of mice are optical -- no mouse pad needed -- and will work with both PCs and Macs ($50 with wires, $65 without).

    Microsoft's new Multimedia Keyboards (PC-only) sport buttons for easy access to commands such as play, pause, or volume, along with hot keys for e-mail, Web browsing and more. They come in two styles: a standard flat $50 model and an ergonomically curved $85 Natural Keyboard.

    Two wireless packages bundle a mouse and keyboard; the $140 Wireless Optical Desktop and the $170 Wireless Optical Desktop Pro, featuring an ergonomic keyboard.

    Stocking stuffers

    Sure, any hand-held PDA will fit nicely in a holiday stocking, but the new low price ($169) , makes Palm's new Zire (as in de-zire, get it?) easier to give as a gift. The 2 MB of memory makes it only minimally expandable, but it's a capable little performer with all the Palm basics: phone book, to-do lists, calendar, short memos, and the like.

    Sony Cybershot cameraAlso small enough to fit in a stocking are a couple of new digital cameras. Sony's $450 DSC-U20 Cyber-shot weighs in at a svelte 87 grams, but takes 2 megapixel-sized shots, along with short video clips. The world's smallest 3 megapixel camera, Canon's PowerShot S230 Digital ELPH is a step up in features as well as price ($775).

    You'll want to print out some of your digital snapshots. HP offers the compact $299 Photosmart 130 photo printer. Though too large to fit in a stocking, it will quickly turn those digital images into attractive 4 X 6 glossy prints, and it includes a variety of slots for digital camera memory cards.

    No, it's not a new iMac

    Lapvantage Laptop DomeKnow someone who drools over the stylish white dome and LCP panel of Apple's iMac? If they have a notebook (Mac or PC), they can do a good job of pretending with Lapvantage's Laptop Dome. Not just a fashion statement, the Laptop Dome lets users adjust the position of their notebook's screen while working with a full-sized keyboard. ($75 and $120 models:

    It's the new radio

    Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) is, as the name suggests, a new digital broadcasting standard offering CD-quality music along with added text features such as displaying a song's title and performer while it's being played. Currently, over 55 DAB stations are broadcasting in Canada, potentially broadcasting to 10 million Canadians. (More at

    RadioShack Canada offers a variety of DAB receivers, including a $219 computer add-in card, shirt-pocket sized portable models combining DAB with standard FM and 64 MB of storage for MP3 music ($399; $299 without MP3 capability) and a tabletop clock DAB radio. z

    DAB is an international standard. Like the metric system, however, the U.S. has chosen to merrily go its own way. Your new portable DAB radio will pick up signals when you're travelling in Cologne or Copenhagen, but not Chicago.

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Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan