Gadget Gift Guide 2009

(Family Features) – Not sure what to get the gadget-lover in your life? This quick gadget guide will give you the scoop on what to look for so you can spread some holiday cheer.

E-book Reader

What it is: A small, portable device that lets you download entire books, newspapers and magazines in digital format. Made to mimic ink and paper publications, you can read with ease any time, anywhere. You’ll find a range of prices and services with Sony Reader, Amazon Kindle, Cool-er, iRex iLiad and Bookeen Cybook.

What to look for: Long battery life and an easy to read screen. The reader should be easy to carry and must be readable even in bright sunlight. Note that some e-readers must download materials by being connected to a computer, while others can do it wirelessly. Think about loading a few of the recipient’s must-read books onto the reader as an added surprise.

Who to buy it for: Travelers, gadget-lovers, busy book lovers.

Cell Phone Signal Booster

What it is: A small electronic device that reduces dropped calls and improves cell phone signal by capturing the stronger signal from the outside and amplifying the signal indoors. According to the zBoost “State of the Cell Signal” survey, 70 percent of cell phone owners experience problems with cell phone service, including dropped calls, poor signal reception or dead zones in their homes. A signal booster, like zBoost, can make those problems a thing of the past, as well as increase signal and speed of aircards, EDGE and 3G technology.

What to look for: Make sure the signal booster meets the needs of the intended user. Think about:

  • How much mobility will they need – will they be working at their desk or within a larger area?
  • How many phones or devices need signal boosting, one or several?
  • Where does the reception need to be improved, indoors or in a vehicle? The zBoost-ONE PCS, for example, is a the industry’s first one piece cell phone signal booster. It works with PCS carriers like Sprint or Metro PCS. Place the unit in the window, plug it in and enjoy all of the voice and data functionality on a PCS phone up to 1200 square feet.
  • For more cell phone signal booster options, visit

Who to buy it for: Road warriors, home office workers, rural or urban dwellers.

Bluetooth Headset

What it is: A wireless headset that lets you talk on the phone hands-free. You can find headsets from $20 and up.

What to look for:

  • Make sure the headset runs the same version of Bluetooth that the user’s phone does.
  • If they wear glasses, look at in-ear headsets rather than those that go over the ears – glasses and a headset can get cumbersome.
  • For extra clarity, consider a headset with a boom microphone – one that extends from the headset toward the mouth.
  • Headsets with good noise cancellation can make conversing in busy, noisy areas a lot easier. 

Who to buy it for: Phone fanatics, road warriors.

Pocket Camcorder

What it is: A pocket-sized digital video recorder that can go anywhere, making it easy to record events and special moments. Video is usually very easy to download to computers and the Web. Camcorders such as Flip from Pure Digital, Kodak’s Zx1 and Creative’s Vado are affordable options.

What to look for:

  • Resolution – Digital camcorders come in standard definition and high definition (HD). Standard definition offers video quality fine for viewing on a computer or a non-HD TV, and will usually cost less than HD. High definition produces wide-screen video suitable for viewing on an HD TV.
  • Think about how the recipient will be using it and then consider options such as image stabilization, audio recording and photo features, which let it be used like a digital camera.

Who to buy it for: Proud parents, college students, travelers.

Something for Everyone on Your List

Mobile Mom

Upgrade mom’s cell phone to a smart phone to help her manage family life with ease. If a smart phone isn’t in the budget, but she still needs a way to connect while on the move, look into a personal mobile email device, such as a Peek Pronto, that lets her text and send emails from anywhere.

Digital Dad

Forget socks and ties. Get him something that will help him stay in touch while at work, on the road, at the ball field or at home – a zBoost cell phone signal booster will let him get calls, texts, emails and pictures no matter where he is.

Road Warrior

Know someone who’s on the road all the time? Make their drive easier with a GPS, more pleasant with a satellite radio subscription or safer with hands-free phone accessories.

Gadget Chick

According to the recent “Women & Digital Life” study conducted by the Solutions Research Group, when women were asked if technology was a “guy thing” – an overwhelming 77 percent replied that it was not! Get your gadget girl a netbook, pocket camcorder or an e-book reader to keep her geared up and on the go.


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