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12/21/2004
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'Tis The Season (Gadget Season, That Is!)

TechWeb Editor Stuart Glascock apparently isn't too old to have a long, last-minute list of electronic toys that he wants Santa to deliver.

Dear Santa:

I know you're real busy and it's getting kind of late, but I've been good, really I have.

I'm not asking for much this year, just a new Blackberry (I've used my clunky old black & white version 1.0 one so much the keypad is worn out and the little scrolling-trackwheel-doohickey sticks and skips.) I'd also like a camera phone, a lightweight wireless laptop, GPS wristwatch, Tablet PC, Home Media Center and a color printer.

Ok, Santa, so you're thinking this is a bit much, but I can use all this cool stuff for the greater good of humanity -- or at least the greater good of this human. After all, these are productivity-enhancing, empowering tools. Come on, big guy, it's not like I've listed a private plane or a hot air balloon or something completely ostentatious and impractical like a Hummer.

But seriously, if you're a last-minute shopper and if there's still anyone on your list who suffers from an incurable fondness for high-tech gadgets, gizmos and gear, you are in luck. There's never been a wider array of gee-whiz tools and toys. They range from snazzy wireless e-mail solutions to jazzy camera phones and functional form factors like Tablet PCs. There's just no lack of innovation in consumer electronics.

Here's a quick glance at a few of the top items reviewed recently by the hands-on pros across The TechWeb Network.

Blackberry series 7100

The Research in Motion Blackberry is still the most phenomenal wireless e-mail device, and with the inclusion of a mobile phone, it's an even more amazing mobile solution. It is perfect for most enterprise networks, small businesses and home users.

Media Center PC

Microsoft has been pushing the concept of converging PCs and home entertainment systems for quite some time. With the October release of Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, the heretofore concept stage gains some traction. Media centers can consolidate home-based PC, TV, music and photo-display systems. A number of original equipment manufacturers are on board, bringing lower prices and increased selection. It's a can't-miss gift for any consumer electronics fan.

Digital Cameras

Millions of Americans have discovered the excitement of digital photography. Quality is going up while prices are coming down. It seems like everyone is a digital shutterbug "- and why not. Digital cameras and printers are also finding more and varied roles in businesses of all sizes.

Color printers

CRN's Test Center offers a look at three color printers designed for small businesses. Check out their take on Hewlett-Packard's Business Inkjet 1100d, Xerox's Phaser 8400 and Lexmark International's C510.

Camera Phone

Ok, frankly, I'll admit. I haven't quite fully grasped the absolute, practical necessity of camera phones, but I'm intrigued. Apparently, camera phones are now a majority of phone sales, and phone vendors keep designing new models. Messaging Pipeline editor John Dickenson says the most important thing about camera phones is using one.

Tablet PC

The slate computer form-factor is here today, and it's picking up steam in specialty markets from medicine to law enforcement. What's more, they've put fun back hardware and taken the PC out of the box.

Need more reviews? We've got tons of them. Check out our newest site -- Personal Tech Pipeline.

For even more gadgets on the go, Mobile Pipeline offers a savvy selection.

Need more facts on specific products: Product Finder has the low down on all of them: laptops, tablet PCs, handhelds, Smartphones and more.

Need to drill down even more before making a purchase decision? Turn to Geeks On The Go, a special mobile gadgets section brought to you by editors at Network Computing.

Happy reading. Happy holidays.

Don't forget to leave some cookies out for the big guy in the red suit.

Stuart Glascock is editor of TechWeb.

The TechWeb Spin TechWeb's editors are busy assigning and editing and linking and otherwise creating the content you see on TechWeb.com and the Pipeline sites, but we wanted the chance to tell you what we see and what we think about it directly. So, each week, The TechWeb Spin will bring you the informed insight and unique perspective of a different TechWeb editor: Fredric Paul, Scot Finnie, Tim Moran, Stuart Glascock, Mitch Wagner, and Cora Nucci. We hope you like it, and even if you don't we hope you take the time to tell us what you think about it.

Check out The TechWeb Spin Archive.

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