Gadget Zone: geek-o-matic gift ideas for youself or friends

James Careless —

laptop-w-speakers-FI

Hi-performance speakers work with up to three different devices

The Gadget Zone has even more ideas for harried holiday shoppers and some new additions from yesterday’s array. If you have read the first batch and  want to skip down, just scroll past the Bissell cleaner. If this is your first look, enjoy it all from the top:

Laptops are portable, practical – and usually come equipped with relatively indifferent speakers. This is where Logitech’s new Z600 high performance wireless speakers can help. These pair of sleek towers connect via Bluetooth to laptops, smartphones, or tablets – and can be configured to work with up to three different devices. They can also plug in by wire into devices with 3.5mm audio jacks. A plug-in USB transceiver comes with the speakers; plug it into a non-Bluetooth device’s USB port (such as a desktop PC), and you’re connected! The self-powered Z600 set comes with onboard Power, Bluetooth Connect, and Volume controls. $159.99 at www.futureshop.ca and www.bestbuy.ca.

Christmas gifts for techies and down-to-earth folks

Oki MC562w prints up to 27 colour pages per minute.

Oki MC562w prints up to 27 colour pages per minute.

Laser printers seem to be a dime-a-dozen these days; low-end printers, that is. The downside is that these low-end lasers are inefficient (and therefore expensive) when it comes to using consumable products such as toner and drums. They also lack the speed and robustness to do serious large-job printing for a home or small office. This is where the Oki MC562w can be a lifesaver: Available for $749 at www.okidata.com, the MC562w is a serious office printer that can print up to 27 colour pages a minute (31 monochrome pages/minute), and also comes with built-in scanner, printer, and fax. The MC562w connects by either wired or wireless LAN, and is very easy to set up – and it is Oki-tough. In fact, this writer’s last Oki office printer lasted so many years without requiring anything beyond regular consummables, that I felt like throwing it a wake when it did finally pack it in. Highly recommended!

Smart phones and tablets can be fragile; that’s why protective skins make good sense. However, there’s no reason why these ‘skins’ can’t also be eye-catching as well.

Controller skins for PlayStation 4s and XBox 360

Controller skins for PlayStation 4s and XBox 360

Protective skins for iPhones, iPads, Galaxy S4s, BlackBerry Z10s, Nexus tablets + more.

Protective skins for iPhones, iPads, Galaxy S4s, BlackBerry Z10s, Nexus tablets + more.

That’s certainly the concept behind the many skins offered by dbrand (www.dbrand.com), which makes protective skins for iPhones and iPads, Galaxy S4s, BlackBerry Z10s, Nexus tablets, and even controller skins for PlayStation 4s and XBox 360s. Skins can made in multiple colours, and from materials such as carbon fibre, titanium, and leather. Prices vary depending on unit size, including $9 for an iPhone skin to $25 for a larger iPad 3 skin. Find this proudly Canadian company at www.dbrand.com.

Cat Mate Elite doors

Cat Mate Elite doors

Winter is here, which can be a real problem for family pets such as dogs and cats. Thankfully, the pet-loving people at www.PetDoors.com sell a full range of pet doors with magnetic two-way flaps that let pets in, but keep cold and snow out. PetDoors.com makes pet door inserts for doors, walls, and windows; even panels that can easily be put into sliding door frames and removed in a second. You can even get Cat Mate Elite doors with an electronic reader that scans your cat’s injected microchip or wearable Elite I.D. Disk to unlock the door; keeping unwanted animals outside!

Bissell steam cleaner

Bissell steam cleaner

Speaking of pets, cats and dogs can make some serious messes in anyone’s home. That’s why I am a big fan of Bissell steam cleaners; a big, big fan! Right now, the Bissell Deep Clean Essential Cleaner is available at Canadian tire (www.canadiantire.ca) for $199.99. This lightweight, upright machine comes with an onboard heater to keep cleaning water hot, a wand for cleaning furniture and hard-to-reach areas, and large capacity tanks to hold water, cleaning fluid, and waste water. Believe me, my many-cat-and-dog houses would have been condemned by Public Health years ago, were it not for my Bissell’s ability to make the nastiest messes (and I do mean nasty) disappear without a trace. And yes, it cleans up human-caused messes too.

THE RECENT NEW STUFF:
Longtime readers of the Gadget Zone know that I am a big fan of the C. Crane Company.
If  listening quietly is a priority fore the person you’re buying for, consider Sony Wireless Stereo Headphones (model MDR RF985RK) from C. Crane.

sony wireless stereo headphones accessories

sony wireless stereo headphones accessories

sony wireless stereo headphones front

sony wireless stereo headphones front

For US$109.95, your giftee gets full fidelity wireless (900 MHz) stereo headsets that operate up to 45 metres away from their transmitter/charger base. The headset base can be plugged into a TV, stereo, computer, or any other audio device they like to use. Sony Wireless Headsets are adjustable and the foam ear cushions are comfortable for long periods of listening.

Doctor Who

Doctor Who

The Gadget Zone is a keen watcher of pop culture, which is why we`re aware that 2013 marks the 50th year of the long-running BBC sci-fi series Dr. Who. Well, to mark the occasion, BBC Home Entertainment has gone all-out to create and market Dr. Who-related gifts! They include the Blu-ray/DVD of the much anticipated 50th anniversary special’ Dr. Who: The Day of the Doctor’ ($37.48 Blu-ray/$30.98 DVD), plus‘Dr. Who. The Doctors Revisited’ DVDs featuring full stories from Dr. Whos 1-4, 5-8, and 9-11 ($49.98).

Dr-Who ornaments

Dr-Who ornaments

That’s not all: There are all sorts of Dr. Who items available such as 11th Dr. Who Christmas ornaments, (The Dr. and his sonic screwdriver), Dr. Who shirts and hoodies, TARDIS slippers, a Dalek beanie, Dr. Who watches, TARDIS nightlights; even an inflatable evil Dalek robot! All of these and much, much more Dr. Who merchandise is available through www.bbcdoctorwhoshop.com. (Yes, they do have a Canadian site.)

Keurig-MINI-plus

Keurig-MINI-plus

Last Minute Gift Alert: I know I mentioned the Cuisinart Keurig Single Serve Coffee Machine (at www.canadiantire.ca for $299.99) in my last column, However, I just received a super-cool stripped-down machine from Keurig directly that is also worth talking about. The Keurig MINI Plus is a basic Keurig that is great for the office, cottage, or other small space where getting a perfect cup of coffee is important. As well, the Keurig MINI Plus comes in a range of eye-catching colours such as Platinum, Like Green, Cobalt Blue, White, Midnight Black and – my favourite – Red. A steal at $59.99 at Canadian Tire and other major retailers; details at www.keurig.ca.

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