IN PICTURES: Cool Yule favourites - 20 techie gifts we like

Well, hello, here's an answer (or three) to all your Christmas shopping problems

  • ioSafe Rugged Portable hard drive, $US199-$US399 ... Most people will never run into the extreme conditions that this external hard drive can survive, but it’s nice to know that your data is safe should you ever find it crushed, dropped, placed in water (up to 20 feet), on fire or shot at with a shotgun. The solid aluminum (or titanium on some models) casing provides outstanding protection, and the company offers data recovery services up to $US5000 should something actually go wrong.

  • Diamond Multimedia V-Stream, $US106.99 ... One of the coolest ways to stream content from your PC to a TV is this system. Plug the transmitter into a computer’s USB port, plug the receiver into an HDMI port on your TV, and your TV becomes a projector for your computer. This lets anyone watch Internet TV services on their TV. The small size also makes it great for travelers that don’t like what the hotel TV is offering.

  • Bluetrek Speaky Bluetooth car speakerphone, $US70 ... Every other Bluetooth car speaker phone we’ve seen is a flat square device that attaches to the driver’s side visor. That’s fine, but if you want to have some more fun yet still have the same cool technology from a Bluetooth speaker phone, check out the Speaky. It looks like a tiny fat baby (or comics character Ziggy), but inside it has the latest tech to keep your hands free for driving while talking on the phone.

  • Epson MegaPlex MG-850HD projector, $US799 ... Sure, you could project things like PowerPoint presentations on this, but we prefer projecting movies and TV shows from our iPad onto a larger wall or screen. The 720p-supported projector provides a great picture and built-in dock streams from an iPhone, iPod or iPad as well as PC/Macs or even a USB drive.

  • iDAPT Charging Station i4, $US60 ... As more homes collect multiple smartphones, music players and other gadgets, keeping the batteries charged becomes a nightmare of power cable clutter. This docking station frees up the cable by providing removable power tip adapters that allow for up to four devices to be recharged at once without the unsightly cables cluttering up everything.

  • ThinkGeek’s My First Bacon plush figure, $US14.99 ... Any true fan of the Internet knows that bacon makes everything better. Why not show that love with My First Bacon, a plush figure that tells you what it is (“I’m bacon!”) at the push of a button. Not much tech here, just pure bacon fun.

  • Griffin HELO TC iOS helicopter, $US49.98 ... Remote-controlled flying toys are not necessarily a new invention, but when you can control the copter with your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, that changes things. With infrared signaling, you can control the helicopter’s throttle and elevation with your thumbs, and steering via the phone’s accelerometer.

  • Sonos Play:3 Internet speaker system, $US299 ... This multiple-room speaker and Internet music system once cost thousands of dollars, but the price has gone down and the technology has improved. Play any music from practically anywhere around the world (including Internet music services) or from your own home (access your entire library). The built-in speakers produce amazing sound, and you can connect multiple speakers to the network for multi-room coverage.

  • Looxcie 2 wearable video camera, $US150 ... Many wearable video cameras aim to let you film your action, but the Looxcie is a bit different – instead, it lets you share the events you’re watching with other people – the system’s new Looxcie Live app lets you broadcast live to friends, who can watch what you’re watching via this wearable headset with 480p video resolution.

  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 with Verizon Wireless 4G LTE service, $US530 (plus data) ... If you’re looking for a tablet that’s not an IPad 2, this Android-based wireless tablet should be on your list. From a technical standpoint, it’s got many of the same (if not better) features and specifications than the Apple competitor, and there should be enough apps within the Android Marketplace to satisfy your needs to customize the device to your particular needs. The blazing fast 4G LTE data service should keep you busy consuming your apps and content rather than waiting for it like on 3G networks.

  • Columbia Omni-Heat Electric Jacket, $US850 ... Forget about normal winter jackets, this one keeps you warm as well through the power of electricity! OK, more like a battery pack in the back of the jacket, but it’s still like an electric blanket that you can wear out in public.

  • Fanny Wang On-Ear Luxury headphones, $US115-$US170 ... She’s not a real person, in case you were wondering, but rather an “iconic representation of the merging of technology and fashion.” Anyway, if you’re looking for a great pair of headphones that will let you crank up the bass without losing the muffling sound, as well as a great fit, you should check these out. Bonus points if you don’t giggle when you talk about them with your friends.

  • Roku 2 XS, $US99.99 ... The best Internet-connected TV set top box keeps getting better year after year. This year’s model features a much smaller size, the ability to connect to multiple Internet TV services (Netflix, Amazon on demand, Hulu Plus, NBA and NHL TV, and more!), and the ability to play Angry Birds via a gesture-controlled remote control.

  • Seagate GoFlex Satellite external hard drive, $US199.99 ... This external hard drive provides storage, but the wireless connectivity provides a lot more. With an associated iPad app, you can store more of your media on the Satellite instead of the internal iPad storage (letting you buy a less expensive model), and then stream it to the iPad from here.

  • Apple MacBook Air, $US1300 ... If you’ve never considered a Mac before, or are turned off by the price (there are other notebooks that are cheaper), the best reason to change your mind is the latest MacBook Air. The light (under 3 pounds), fast (1.7GHz dual-core i5 with 4GB or RAM and 128GB of storage) and slick notebook will make you (or your giftee) very happy during the holidays.

  • Discovery Bay Games Atari Arcade, $US59.99 ... If you miss the excitement and action from the early ‘80s in those classic Atari video games, you can relive them without dumping quarter after quarter into a machine – instead, pop your iPad into this docking station and get four-buttons and a joystick along with the Atari’s Greatest Hits app and relive your youth. Or, if you’re younger, find out what all of us old folks were doing when we were young.

  • Jawbone Jambox, $US199.99 ... Bluetooth speaker systems come and go, but never before have we found one that produces great sound, is extremely portable, and oh-so-stylish. The Jambox will play music wirelessly from your phone, will provide great sound for games or movies from your iPad, and when a call comes in, it turns into a speakerphone with 360-degree sound and built-in microphone. With a choice of four colors, you’ll find one that fits your style and your audio requirements.

  • iHealth Blood Pressure Dock, $US100 ... If the holidays give you a lot of stress or if you need to check your blood pressure on a regular basis, why not use your wicked cool iPad to help you out? This cuff and dock system connects to your iPad to provide you with regular blood pressure readings, which you can then track and report back to your doctor.

  • iFrogz EarPollution CS40S headphones, $US39.99 ... You may think an over-the-head style for headphones is too bulky or uncool, but banish those thoughts. Why? The CS40S headphones are amazingly comfortable. Wear these for hours and you’ll never get ear fatigue that you get with other headphones, plus the 40mm bass driver will make your music sound smooth.

  • Hard to believe, but once again it’s time to put together our holiday wish lists. Here are 20 of our favorite products submitted and tested and “Cool Yule Elf” approved.

  • Acer Aspire TimelineX (model AS3830T-6417) notebook, $US597.89 (as tested) ... If you need or require a Windows 7 notebook rather than a Mac, you can’t go wrong with this Acer model. This notebook is thin (about one-inch thick), light (about four pounds) and fast (2.1GHz Intel i3 processor, 4GB RAM, 500GB hard drive). The inclusion of an HDMI port and USB 3.0 port makes it a rarity, but a good one, among today’s notebooks. All of this and it’s less than $US600!

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