HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns

December 18, 2006, Herald Journal

Some very merry high-tech holiday gift ideas

By MARK OLLIG

What holiday gift can you get for the high-tech computer-guru?

This seems to be a familiar question for some of us at this time of year.

Here it is almost Christmas and I am still not done shopping.

Every year I promise myself that I will not wait until the last minute to finish the gift shopping, and yet I feel that I am destined to be one of the “chosen ones” inescapably made to wait until the last minute to finish my holiday shopping.

We had enough notice that the holidays were getting closer didn’t we?

Do you have a “computer person” you will be buying a gift for this year?

Well, here are some “interesting” gift ideas that might be on someone’s wish list.

There are some pricey “luxury high-tech gifts” that I would like to mention (notice I said “mention” not that I will actually be buying them) for the upcoming holidays.

Now a mouse pad (no, not a fancy penthouse for mice) is usually not thought of as a luxury gift . . . most of the ones out there came with the PC or was free when you opened a bank account someplace. A mouse pad is a must-have for a computer user. I have one that has a nice gel pad with that soft felt-cloth on it. My wrist rests comfortably on it and I am able to float the mouse over its smooth surface effortlessly, thus allowing me to point and click with the best of them.

I think the mouse pad I bought costs ten dollars. Now here comes the “professional-grade” mouse pad called the “Surface.” The price? Only $50. So who would want to buy a $50 mouse pad? The answer is “Gamers.” Yes Gamers – they are a special group out there who are more or less addicted to playing endless computer games over and over again.

They need a good mouse pad to rest their over-worked wrists on. So why is the Surface so expensive? In part, it’s because of its “machine-billed” aluminum base, non-skid rubber feet, and a two-sided, two-textured “mousing” surface. It’s also got custom graphics and logos on the surface. I found that one of the favorite web sites for Gamers supplies is at http://www.func.net/, where you can find the Surface.

This year I purchased a new notebook computer. I needed a laptop case to carry it around in. I picked out the first one I found in the store that would hold the notebook. The one I have is a “Targus Notepac Deluxe Notebook Case” which cost me around $45. For this column I went to the online website store where I purchased this notebook case and found out that there is a $30 rebate.

Of course the rebate is being offered long after I purchased the case. Is it just me or does this happen to you too when you buy something – the next time you see it for sale it has a much lower sales price than you bought it for, or like in this case (no pun intended) this case has a rebate.

The luxury computer notebook case you might want to consider is from Zero Halliburton, which makes a specialized series of aluminum cases that should safely protect the computer notebook of the most vigilant of computer notebook users.

The Digerati DZ7-LSI computer notebook case features a shock-absorbent foam interior, chrome latches, and a few dividers to keep everything neatly organized. Some models even offer wheels. I wish I could add the photo of it in this column as it looks like a case James Bond might use for one of his high-tech gadgets. The price for this computer case is $445. Zero Halliburton’s website is online at: www.zerohalliburton.com.

Here is one for your iPod listening favorite out there. Now we know that today’s earphones are really called “earbuds” right? And who likes having those floppy earbuds that most of the time end up falling out of your ears? You can go out and buy some nice earphones or earbuds for $30 or $40 but we are looking at those luxury high tech earbuds, so go all out (if you can) and drop $900 on a pair of UE-10 Pros from Ultimate Ears.

To make these super-high-quality in-ear listening devices, the company takes a wax mold of your ears, which they use to custom-make your earphones. These are the same earphones that musicians use onstage, although most are wireless. You don’t need the wireless module though. The price? Only $900 from Ultimate Ears, online at: www.ultimateears.com.

Might the high tech person out there want a better computer monitor? Well, who doesn’t appreciate a high quality LCD display monitor? A company called Eizo Nano, has a 21.3” monitor called a ColorEdge CG210-N. This monitor offers several features for color accuracy and control, including a custom-designed ASIC chip (that’s an application-specific integrated circuit for the rest of us) and it offers 14-bit color processing. These types of monitors are clearly designed for professional use, but don’t let that stop you. For only $1,679 it can be under the tree this year. Eizo Nanao is at: www.eizo.com.

What was my first electronic high-tech holiday gift?

Christmas of 1983 I was given an electronic computer chess set. It so fascinated me that I ended up playing chess all night against the computer. I think I won a couple times.