It's the most wonderful time of the year


So it’s about time that I write my Christmas technology column for this year. Now, I usually do a list on ideas on what I might get my co-workers for Christmas, but this year I’ve decided to break the norm. This year I’ll be writing about what I want for Christmas.

If any of you have a techy/geeky person on your list, these might be on their wishlist as well. That’s right, no USB rear-end warmer for Point Editor Darin McCann this year. Besides, the upstairs offices are hotter than the Sahara on any given day.

Smartphone/PDA phone.

At the top of my list is this must-have gadget for any person with too many things to do and too little time to do them. It keeps them organized and keeps them in touch with the real world (at least in theory).

Now, I have a decent phone, the Motorola ROKR E1, but it lacks in many areas. I have a PDA, but do not have a charger for it. So this year I want a new phone. And I figure why not kill two birds with one stone.

My first choice would have to be the HTC TyTN. The TyTN is not available in the U.S. under the HTC brand, but Cingular does carry it under their own brand, as the Cingular 8525. This phone was just recently released and is a major update to Cingular’s 8125 (also known as the HTC Wizard).

The phone features high speed Internet access with worldwide 3G, using Tri-Band UMTS and Quad-Band EDGE. This means high speed access up to 384 kbps. The emergence of 3G technology was expected to bring in high demand for video telephony, but with 3G rolling out in 25 countries around the world so far, this has not been the case.

It also means that you can simultaneously use voice, data and e-mail. And it means that when roaming ’round the world — provided your coverage plan provides international coverage — you’ll have no problems connecting from just about anywhere with a cellular signal.

The TyTN/8525 has a slide-out keyboard, a jog wheel for easier one-handed operation of the phone and a touchscreen with dual handwriting recognition areas. It has a dedicated area, like many PDA’s of old, for handwriting recognition, or you can scribble notes anywhere on the screen. From reviews I sought out, the keyboard is very easy to use, with its wide keys, unlike other phones that have the keyboard at the bottom rather than running the full height of the phone.

The phone uses Microsft Windows Mobile 5.0 with Messaging & Security Pack and Direct Push for e-mail, calendar, contact and tasks synchronization.

It has Bluetooth 2.0, so it is able to use all the new Bluetooth devices, and is still be able to use older Bluetooth devices as well. The Bluetooth module used in this phone also supports the A2DP protocol for Bluetooth stereo headphones. Very cool.

The main reason I mention the HTC brand is because HTC is the manufacturer and their phone has one very cool feature that Cingular’s 8525 is missing – a front mounted VGA video camera for video chat and e-mail. And as far as I can see, the only thing missing from both phones that I think would be really cool is built-in GPS. Although you can always use an external Bluetooth GPS unit.

So Santa, if you’re listening, this is on the top of my list this year!

Computer

What could be sexier than an Apple laptop? Thin, light and powerful. The design is second to none.

That’s right, I’m talking about the MacBook Pro. With its 17 inches of bright screen real estate, what more could a geek want? I mean, come on, the machine features a 2.33Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo processor. (Let’s forget about the lower-end 2.13 dual core. I mean, really, if you’re going to spend this kind of money, might as well go all they way.)

The Core 2 Duo has two processor cores inside a single chip. It has 4 MB of Smart Cache, which is a L2 cache that can be shared between the cores when needed. It has an ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 graphics card with 256MB VRAM, built-in iSight camera for video conferencing and more, one Firewire 400 port, one Firewire 800 port, an 8X slot-loading SuperDrive with Dual Layer, built-in 802.11g Airport card, built-in Bluetooth 2.0+EDR (pairs nicely with above TyTN!), 160GB 5400-rpm Serial ATA hard drive, and, of course, let’s not forget the most important feature: Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger.

Tiger features an intuitive search function they call Spotlight, which nearly instantly will search your drive for your keywords and find anything from e-mail messages to text documents with your search terms. Tiger also sports Safari, Mail, Address Book, Quicktime, DVD Player, iCal, iLife ‘06 (which includes iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie HD, iDVD, iWeb and GarageBand), Photo Booth for using that built-in iSight camera, and Front Row, which a media center-like software.

For those who don’t know, Mac OS X is based on Unix, so what could be better for that tech-geek on your Christmas list?

All that, and to kick it off, you can even run Microsoft Windows on it! Using Apple’s BootCamp application, you can install you’re very own licensed copy of Windows.

Bluetooth GPS receiver

The TeleType GPS Bluetooth Receiver weighs just over 3 ounces and uses three AAA batteries. The TeleType gets a good strong signal and turns your PDA into a GPS system. This makes getting lost that much harder. And, at $189 for a Bluetooth GPS system, the price is just right. This is a small, relatively affordable gift for that techie to compliment the above mentioned TyTN/8525 or as an add-on to an existing Bluetooth-0enabled PDA.

Game console

I’m sure you figured this was coming. Cue up the introduction audio clip…

Dun Dun DUUUN!

PlayStation 3. Why did I pick the PlayStation 3, you ask? Simply because the games are said to be as good as the new XBOX 360 games and the engineers haven’t had time to milk the graphics system of the brand new game console. That and Grand Tourismo HD, when it finally releases.

And if the PS3 doesn’t do it for your tech-geek, there is always the XBOX 360. It’s certainly been proven and the bugs have been worked out. Plus it has the cheaper HD-DVD player add-on available if HD movies are in your future.

Bluetooth headphones

I’m all about wireless this year. So, high up on my Christmas want list is a pair of Motorola Bluetooth HT820’s. These Bluetooth headphones use the A2DP Bluetooth protocol, which goes nicely with the TyTN/8525, and you can buy different adapters for listening to your computer, iPod and more. Plus they pull double duty as a wireless headset for hands-free phone calls. Truth be told, I had a pair of these once, but my ROKR doesn’t have the A2DP, so I ended up returning them. They worked great as a headset for the phone and connected with wires for listening to music, but the whole reason for buying them was to be wireless.

And, finally, for my last gift, I know I said this was about me, but what kind of friend would I be if I didn’t mention my best friend? For Point Editor Darin McCann, I would suggest this little gem to get his creative juices flowing while sitting on his cold behind, stumped on what to write in his zany column each week: a USB powered lava lamp!

And even if that doesn’t stimulate his brain cells, it should at least provide some mild entertainment until some poor employee walks into his office and offers themselves up for ridicule without even knowing it.

So that, my friends, is my Christmas list for this year. And maybe an item or two will make it onto your shopping list for that special tech-geek in your life. Until next time…