the season for
buying PC gadgets
by Alan Zisman (c) 1995 First published
in Business in
Vancouver , Issue #320 December 12, 1995 High Tech
you get a High-tech
Office reader for the holidays? Once, not too long ago, you'd only
want to get a high-tech gift for someone who really liked fooling
around with the technology. Now, you can safely get high-tech gifts
for those users who treat their computers like their toasters; they
want the toast, but they're not likely to put a moment's thought into
the appliance itelf.
people who are
indifferent to computers may appreciate something as simple as a new
mouse pad. For under $10, you can buy a simple replacement for that
everyday rubber pad that's become, well, a bit grotty. A bit more
money can get a pad with a pre-printed graphic--a Star Trek scene
or a really big tree, for instance. You've probably run out of time
to get a photo of a loved one printed onto a mouse pad--save this idea
for their birthday.
abound for computer
add-ons. New for PC users is a range of gizmos that simply plug onto
the printer port. Check out the Snappy video grabber (perhaps
a bit pricey at around $400) or, if you can find any in stock, the ping-pong-ball-sized
Connectrix Quick Cam (in both
Mac and PC versions) for about $100. (Both are used to get video or
still clips onto your computer.)
columns ago, I
spoke in praise of CD-ROMs on business computers. They have a lot
going for them but unspoken at the time was the range of gifts
for users of computers with CD-ROM players. For example, Microsoft
offers a variety of well-designed discs that will appeal to many,
each under $50. Ones to watch for are Complete Baseball and Complete
Basketball, Wine Guide, or Julia Child:
Home Cooking. Classical music fans will appreciate multimedia discs
on composers from Beethoven to Stravinsky,
while movie fans will enjoy the annually updated Cinemania.
All are available for Windows users (and despite the "Runs best with
Windows 95" stickers, will run fine under older versions as well),
and many of these titles are also available in Mac versions.
be necessary to prevent monitor screen burn, but with today's more
robust monitors, they're used more often to personalize a computer.
Screensaver choices range from the classic After Dark collection
Flying Toasters), to nature scenes, fighter planes, or fine art. Or
there's the Ministry of Small Business, Tourism and Culture's Beautiful
B.C. series, which is available for the cost of the disks plus postage.
appreciate a new travel bag for their computer. While a Notebook may
come with a case, it probably doesn't have room for the collection
of cables and gadgets the user has since accumulated--to say nothing
of a file folder or two. Briefcase-sized cases made of heavy cloth
start at under $50 (unlike pricier leather models). That
user would also appreciate a PC Card modem (but before you buy one,
make sure the machine has a PC Card slot!). Slower, 14.4 modems start
at around $200, and the faster 28.8 models cost roughly twice that.
The ones I know all seem to have difficulty spelling--enough so that Doppler
Computer Superstore offers a sweatshirt just
for them. It reads "I am a Programer" crossed out, with a variety
of creative spelling options, finally settling on "I Write Code." If
you know someone who deserves it, you can pick one up for about $18.
of gifts can
make computers safer and more comfortable for people who spend hours
each day typing or staring at a flickering screen. In the lower-priced
range are mouse and keyboard wrist rests. Or at the higher end (about
$100), you could get one of the new ergonomically designed keyboards.
Try to put
thought into fitting the gift to the person receiving it. This is
particularly important for gifts like screensavers, which are designed
to personalize the computer. Try to think of the receiver's taste,
not yours. And make sure you know what sort of computer he or she
is using. No one should have to buy a $300 CD-ROM player to make use
of your $50 Wine Guide. And don't get Microsoft's Natural
(PC only) for someone who uses a Mac.
With over 170
computers worldwide, it's not surprising that there are more high-tech
gifts this season than ever before. And they're not just for nerds
or teenagers--there's probably something here also for the business
computer user on your seasonal shopping list