Cool Stuff: Your 2008 Holiday Gift Guide

18 economical, expensive, and just plain weird tech gifts for your friends and family

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Computing

Computers are considered tools rather than toys, but those of us who are into tech still appreciate a truly cool piece of engineering. Whether it's the latest top-of-the-line, no-holds-barred Apple Mac Pro or the smallest ultramobile PC that can run Windows Vista, there's somebody on your gift list who wants one. And if they're stuck with a legacy machine, an inexpensive Bluetooth adapter might be just the thing.

On a Budget: Iogear Bluetooth 2.0 USB Micro Adapter

If you want to give a gift that there's a higher-than-average chance the giftee won't have, wrap up an Iogear Bluetooth 2.0 USB Micro Adapter.

It is surprising, given how widespread Bluetooth has become, to realize how few PCs and laptops are Bluetooth-equipped. The Iogear gizmo makes it easy to remedy that omission. It's a lima-bean-size bump on the end of a USB connector.

Iogear Bluetooth 2.0 USB Micro Adapter

Iogear Bluetooth 2.0 USB Micro Adapter

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Your giftee can stick it into a USB port, install its software and connect to Bluetooth headsets for VoIP applications like Skype. It's also handy for stereo headphones (how many times have you caught your media player's earbud cord in your coat zipper?), Bluetooth printers and other peripherals.

The Micro Adapter is a Bluetooth 2.0 device that works with both PCs and older Bluetooth-less Macs, and has a range of 30 feet. It's under $20. Buy two, and give your old laptop Bluetooth as well.

-- David DeJean

Bluetooth 2.0 USB Micro Adapter from Iogear Inc.

Street price: $16 - $28  |  Tech specs  |  Store locator

Phone: 866-946-4327

Summary: An inexpensive and convenient way to add Bluetooth to your portable and not-so-portable devices.

Over the Top: Apple Mac Pro

Sometimes it's not the thought that counts, it's the price tag. And though prices of desktop computers have dropped to practically nothing lately, if you really want to make an impression, you can still manage to spend the kind of money that would turn heads even at an AIG sales meeting.

Apple Mac Pro

The Apple Mac Pro

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The quickest, easiest way is to put a really big Mac on your menu: Go to Apple.com and order up a Mac Pro desktop with two 3.2-GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon processors, 32GB of RAM, 4TB of internal storage, an Nvidia Quadro FX 5600 1.5GB graphics card, a 16x dual-layer SuperDrive and two Apple Cinema HD 30-inch flat-panel displays.

Throw in some software, along with a few other goodies -- such as an Apple wireless keyboard, an AirPort Extreme Card, Aperture 2 image editing software, Logic Express 8 music editing software and, of course, the AppleCare Protection Program (just in case something goes wrong) -- and your shopping cart total comes to $23,592.

You could save $1,799 if you bought just one 30-inch display -- but what the heck, the graphic card supports two. Besides, you're saving $100 by buying only one SuperDrive. And with the economy in the shape it's in, saving a little money is the right thing to do.

-- David DeJean

Mac Pro from Apple Inc.

Price: $2,799 (basic), $23,592 (completely tricked out)

Tech specs  |  Store locator  |  Phone: 800-MY-APPLE

Summary: Load up this Mac Pro and you've got yourself the ultimate Apple machine.

Off the Wall: Willcom D4 ultramobile PC

If good things really do come in small packages, then the Willcom D4 ultramobile PC may be the best gift you give anybody this Christmas. The D4 is, according to the manufacturer, the smallest device with a QWERTY keyboard that is capable of running Windows Vista Home Premium SP1.

Willcom D4 ultramobile PC

The Willcom D4 ultramobile PC

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And it is small -- about 7.5 by 3.25 by 1 inches, the size of a large candy-bar phone, when it's all folded down. Opened up, the screen slides up and tilts forward to resemble a micro-miniature laptop, with a 1024-by-600 touch screen and 64-key keyboard.

It also gets credit for being the first device to run Intel's 1.3-GHz Atom processor. The Willcom D4 comes with 1GB of memory, a 1.8-inch 40GB disk, a 2-megapixel camera, a Bluetooth 2.0+EDR, a microSD slot and Wi-Fi.

Besides being a very small Vista computer (assuming you want a very small Vista computer), the D4 is also a cell phone, which explains why it's being marketed by Willcom, a Japan-based wireless company. It's actually a rebranded version of Sharp's WS016SH, and while originally produced for the Japanese market, it is available in the U.S. for about $1,400 from a variety of online retailers.

-- David DeJean

D4 ultramobile PC from Willcom Inc.

Street price: $1,399  |  Tech specs

Summary: If you're one of the 10 or so Vista fans around, here's the ultramobile PC for you.

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