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Hardware & Infrastructure
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Personal Tech Guide

Last-minute gifts for the techies on your list

Optoma's MovieTime DV10 digital projectorOptoma's MovieTime DV10 digital projector turns any space into a home theater. Just plug in the $1,300 projector, point it at a wall, and enjoy the fully integrated DVD player and speakers with surround sound. One tip: For best picture quality, buy a projector screen.

Crumpler's computer bagsThere's much to love about Crumpler's computer bags. Take the Luncheon. Its nifty vertical styling, choice of (not too) bright colors, and ample internal space with pockets big enough for an MP3 player, a few files, and a safely padded 15-inch laptop make it a great gift for the fashion-conscious techie. At $95, there are lesser-priced bags. There also are lesser bags.

Palm's Treo 650Palm's Treo 650 packs power and functionality into a petite package. It runs $149 or $199, depending on service provider, and features a full keyboard, a 320-by-320 transflective display, Bluetooth, and storage for music and photos. Just below the surface lies the Palm PDA, along with a host of apps. Even technophobes can handle this one.

Sony's 50-inch Grand Wega rear-projection HDTVSony's 50-inch Grand Wega rear-projection HDTV (model KDS-R50XBR1) is arguably the best large-screen HDTV on the market. Sony uses its proprietary Silicon X-tal Reflective Display technology to power this baby. The set also uses a high-level resolution (1920-by-1080 pixels), which should give it staying power as HDTV standards evolve. For those who can afford the $4,000 price tag, it's a no-brainer.

RedOctane's Guitar Hero for Sony PlayStation 2RedOctane's Guitar Hero for Sony PlayStation 2 is a visceral, fever-inducing experience that stays in your blood for days. The premise is pure genius. You play lead guitar through a thunderous progression of classic rock. The best part is the $70 game's custom controller: a 3-foot-long plastic guitar featuring five fret chords, a strum bar that simulates strings, and a whammy distortion bar. So put Guitar Hero at the top of your holiday list and prepare to unleash your inner Hendrix.

Panasonic's PV-GS35 mini-DV camPanasonic's PV-GS35 mini-DV cam is an excellent value at about $400, but it's about more than just a low price. The camera features a whopping 30x optical zoom, and its image quality bests that of the competition. If you're looking for the best midrange mini-DV cam value, wrap this up for someone special.

Canon's Pixma iP8500Canon's Pixma iP8500 photo printer uses the eight-color ChromaPlus ink system to produce outstanding-quality photos at a nice speed. The $300 printer can supply two-sided prints and is Mac compatible.

Creative's Zen VisionIf you find the hype around the video-playing Apple iPod a bit hard to take, Creative's Zen Vision portable audio/video player will feel like a breath of fresh air. In addition to its colorful 3.7-inch screen and easy-to-navigate interface, the $399 Zen Vision lets you transfer and play a host of video formats. This is one iPod alternative that doesn't force you to compromise.

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