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All You Really Wanted for Christmas

Did you get what you wanted this holiday season? If not, it’s time to treat yourself.

By David Connell

You didn’t get what you really wanted for the holidays this year did you? Maybe you got a sweater, or some gift certificates to Chili’s, but you didn’t get anything wireless, bound in extravagant leather, or—dare we say—useful for your business. In that case, it’s time to treat yourself to what you really wanted. Here are 11 suggestions for your post-holiday list.

Firefox Web Browser (free download)
www.getfirefox.com
This new browser includes all sorts of great applications like a pop-up blocker; tabbed browsing that allows you to open several webpages at the same time, then click through them at your leisure; a built-in RSS reader and a search window that gives you instant access to the Google, Amazon, Ebay and Dictionary.com. But the best part is Firefox isn’t as susceptible to nasty viruses and spyware as Internet Explorer, providing greater security as you surf the web.

D-Link Wireless Pocket Router ($99)
www.dlink.com
When you’re staying at the Comfort Suites, the last thing you want is to be tied to the “work station.” But, while high-speed internet connections are becoming ubiquitous in modern hotels, wireless “hot spots” have not. To bridge this technology gap, pick up the Pocket Router, which allows you to set up a wireless network anywhere there’s a broadband internet connection. You can surf the ‘net wirelessly and—if working late with colleagues—share documents wirelessly and provide high-speed internet access for everyone in the room, all from a device no bigger than a PDA.

Mont Blanc Diaries and Notes Collection (Prices vary)
www.montblanc.com
Mont Blanc is one of the most respected names in writing instruments and its white-star logo is a sign of quality and prestige. This is why your clients will be doubly impressed when you pull out one of these notebooks to record your next appointment. Made of Sellier leather—a specialty of French saddle-makers—these notebooks come in a variety of sizes, from pocket diaries to full-size notebooks, and can accommodate various Mont Blanc refills including calendars and organizers, which are sold separately. To truly set yourself apart add a matching pen holder.

Nintendo DS ($149)
www.nintendods.com
Talk about fun—the Nintendo DS, released in late November, is the latest portable video game console to marry staples of wireless technology—touch screens, voice recognition and WI-FI connectivity—to gaming. The DS features two screens that allow players to view the action at different angles and literally touch the screen to manipulate games. It also allows up to 16 players to compete over a wireless network or internet connection. Before we get completely away from business, the PDA-like functionality and connectivity of the Nintendo DS have many looking at business applications like email and instant messaging and wondering if this is the first device that finally brings work and play together.

XM Satellite Radio with Delfi XM SKYFi 2 (hardware, $99; XM subscription, $9.99 per month)
From your car, to your home, to your office, XM Satellite Radio and the Delfi XM SKYFi 2 receiver will ensure you never, ever run across static again. XM has hundreds of channels ranging from jazz, to rock, bluegrass, country, talk radio and virtually anything in between. Into Frank Sinatra? Check out “Frank’s Place” over on channel 73. Like Cerebral New Age? “Audio Visions” on channel 77 has you covered. There are even audio books, radio drama and local traffic and weather from several major metropolitan areas. With the SKYFi 2 (and “adaptor packages” that cost $49.99 each) you can take your XM receiver anywhere you want to go, plugging it into cradles that connect to your car and home stereo, so you never miss a beat—or chapter, as the case may be.

Iomega 250 Gig Network Hard Drive ($379.95)
www.iomega.com
OK, let’s talk business. If you have two or three computers running on a local network at the office, chances are you’d like to have a central repository to store shared documents. Perhaps you’ve called an IT consultant (or your computer-crazed nephew) about this and they mentioned the word “server.” Perhaps you immediately slammed the phone down. Don’t worry, the Iomega network hard drive is you answer. Simply plug it into your network and use it to store all your shared files. All users will be able to “see” it from your network, and at 250 gigabytes, it should provide plenty of room to grow. The drive also comes with auto-backup software for your most critical documents and security features that let you lock down select files or the entire drive.

Fisher FVDC1 CameraCorder ($799.99)
www.fisherav.com
Have you been trying to decide which you’ll buy next: a digital camera or a digital camcorder? Well, you can stop deliberating, because the Fisher CameraCorder is both. This sleek device is what James Bond would use on his family vacation. It combines a fully functioning camera and camcorder in a device no bigger than a cell phone. On the camera side, the device takes 3.2 megapixel digital still photos with a 5.8x optical zoom lens and can store close to 4,000 photos, depending on resolution. As a camcorder, it records at a 2Mbps bit rate and can store up to 151 minutes of video, again, depending on resolution.

Toshiba Qosmio AV Notebook ($2,599-$2,999)
www.qosmio.com
Personally, I’m not sold on the name, but I am definitely sold on the concept. Toshiba’s new laptop is a four-in-one machine that functions as a television tuner, DVD player, digital video recorder and PC. The Qosmio machines come in 15-inch and 17-inch varieties and the new Windows XP Media Center installed. To avoid the PC part, the device also has the QosimoPlayer, which allows users to watch television and DVDs and listen to CDs without booting up the computer. But don’t confuse this with a glorified portable TV. The Qosimo comes with Bluetooth installed—allowing you to share information wirelessly with compatible devices—an 80 or 100 gigabyte hard drive and 512 megabytes of RAM. All of these should keep your PC applications humming. However, you may want to install another 200 megabytes of RAM to get the Qosimo cranking at top capacity.

Philips HDRW720/17 ($599.99)
www.phillipsusa.com
TiVo was the must-have consumer electronics gift last year and this year, Philips took the miracle box with the funny name a step further, integrating TiVo functionality with the permanence of a DVD recorder. The HDRW720/17 allows users to pause, rewind and fast forward live TV. It will also record your favorite programs on a 120 gigabyte hard drive. But, for that Simpson episode you absolutely must share with your grandchildren, you can also burn programs onto a DVD. The box also uses Philips’ I.LINK system, allowing users to set up an at-home production studio for home videos and photos. This system puts the final nail in the coffin of videotape.

Samsung LT-P468W LCD Screen TV ($9,999.00)
www.samsungusa.com
At 46,” Samsung boasts that this is the largest LCD TV on the market, and it may well be the last television you’ll even need to purchase. It is the first flat-panel TV on the market that uses a true 1,920 x 1,080 pixel resolution, the highest standard of high-definition television and the standard being adopted by the major networks for their HDTV offerings. For films, the television carries JBL speakers and SRS TruSurround XT technology that simulates the surround sound experience, meaning you won’t have to purchase separate home-theater equipment. Oh, and scratch what I said about “the last TV you’ll even need to purchase.” Samsung already has a 57” LCD screen in development.

Ford Hybrid Escape (Four-Wheel Drive MSRP starts at $28,595)
www.fordvehicles.com/escapehybrid
Until this year, hybrid vehicles—made by Toyota and Honda—have been, well, pretty wimpy-looking cars. But Ford changed all that with the introduction of the Hybrid Escape, the first, full-hybrid SUV. The four-wheel drive version of the truck gets 33 miles per gallon in the city, and 29 MPG on the highway—the higher city economy is a result of the engine switching to electric power at slower speeds. It has a fairly stylish interior with a functional on-board computer that provides an interface for the stereo, optional GPS and fuel-economy gauges, so you can monitor exactly how many gallons you’re saving. But the real gadget is under the hood—in the form of a 155 horsepower gas-electric engine.


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