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Infrastructure // PC & Servers
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David  DeJean
David DeJean

More Gift Guidance? Here You Go

Picking the items for the Holiday Gift Guide can be a contentious process. I wrote it this year, and I got overruled on some really cool stuff I wanted to get in.

Picking the items for the Holiday Gift Guide can be a contentious process. I wrote it this year, and I got overruled on some really cool stuff I wanted to get in.Every year we spend a lot of time talking about what the categories should be, and even more going back and forth on why this great new thing is cooler than that great new thing. This year some things I really liked got left out -- some of them, like the Meridian iRIS, for good reasons, and some, like the VTech Kidizoom, not. So here's where I get the last word: Four more great gifts to give or get this holiday season:

VTech Kidizoom

If you have a kid on your list, give them a digital camera.

I love digital cameras, but the editor nixed this one because it's for kids, and the Gift Guide doesn't have a category for kids. I said, "But this is for big kids, like me." But she wouldn't buy it. This colorful camera scores high as both a toy (includes tic-tac-toe and a couple of other age-appropriate games), and as a camera. It takes .3-megapixel still images and includes a built-in flash, and shoots video, too. Kids can edit images on the 1.8-inch color LCD screen, adding frames and other elements to their pictures, then display it all -- stills, videos, and even play the games -- on a TV. The Kidizoom has an SD slot for more storage, and takes four AA batteries: buy extras. It lists for $59.99 and you can order it from

IronKey Secure USB Key

The IronKey is a thumbdrive on security steroids.

The IronKey is more than a thumbdrive, it's a portable security system. It locks down sensitive files and passwords with hardware encryption and advanced Internet protection software and services for securing your passwords and Web browsing. And if an IronKey is lost or stolen, the data is still protected -- and a replacement can even be restored from an encrypted backup. Portable applications can be run from the IronKey, and its Secure Sessions service works like a VPN, but without having to install and configure anything. The waterproof, tamperproof IronKey is available in capacities of 1 Gbyte ($79), 2 Gbytes ($109), and 4 Gbytes ($149) from

Meridian's iRIS iPod video dock

The Meridian iRIS iPod video dock scrubs up compressed video for presentation on big screens.

The only reason this one didn't make it into the Gift Guide was that it's not actually shipping yet, so you can't buy it for holiday giving. But it's an announced product, so here's the perfect gift from Meridian, the British maker of high-priced, high-end audio and video gear -- a device that bridges the gap between the iPod and the home theater. The iRIS upgrades videos from iPod quality to 1080p via an HDMI interface. scrubbing out blocky low-res artifacts with digital signal processing technology to deliver a buffed-up hi-res image. (It also offers other output options including component, S-Video and composite video, and coax and optical digital-audio, and headphone and line-level outputs for audio). When it finally does ship, the list price is expected to be $379. Maybe you could give somebody an iRIS iOU? For more information you can download a PDF from

Banana Guard Case

The Banana Guard. For the person who has everything, including lunch.

It's not as important as peace on earth or goodwill among all nations, but . . . nobody likes to eat an ugly banana, right? So here's the answer. The Banana Guard safely stores and transports one banana. It was designed to fit all bananas with left-hand bends (And it's compatible with right-bent bananas if you turn them over before putting them into the case.) The Guard closes securely, it's perforated to promote the circulation of air and prevent premature ripening, and it's dishwasher safe for easy cleaning. At $41 it may seem like a pricey accessory for a snack that already comes in its own wrapper, but ask yourself, what would no more mashed or bruised bananas be worth to someone you love this holiday season? Go for it at

(Wait! After I posted this entry I got a note from a reader who found the Banana Guard for sale on the Web for a pittance -- or it would be, if bananas had pits: check and be prepared to part with only $6.95, and take your choice of six colors! What a bargain! Save even more and buy a five-pack for $29.95!)

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