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Monday, November 22, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 65

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'Tis the season for high-tech gifts

By Brandon H. Franks
Daily Cougar Staff

As it gets closer to the time we'll hear bells jingling and the relatives start swarming around the house, there's one thing we all have to face: shopping.

These days, it's really hard to give someone a present like a sweater or socks and say it came from the heart. So why not give them something that's unique, or at least something cool?

When it comes to cool, there's nothing better than electronics, and this year there are several interesting gadgets someone won't be able to live without. And even if you don't have to worry about getting gifts, maybe you'll find something to add to your own Christmas list this season.

For starters, take the CD Shower Companion Water-Resistant Stereo from The Sharper Image. This little gadget not only lets you listen to your CDs in the shower, but once you're done bathing, you can take the music anywhere because the player has a stand and fits in a small space. It's perfect for people on the go who take showers and love music (and who doesn't that describe?). Available for $189 from The Sharper Image.

You've probably heard a lot about MP3s, the technology that lets you download your favorite music from the Internet. Give it a try this Christmas with the AudioVox Portable MP3 Player (retail price: $169.95). It comes with a 32-megabyte imbedded flashcard that can hold nearly an hour of music, a multimedia card port for an additional 32MB optional flash card and the ability to upgrade its software online. A number of other MP3 players are also available; check your local electronics store to find out more.

For the home entertainment enthusiast, try Sony's create-your-own home theater scheme. All you have to do is link to www.sony.com and browse through selected products like televisions, DVD players, audio equipment, satellite systems and even Internet devices.

Once you've decided on what you like best, you can set up your dream system online, print out a "wish list" and take it to a Sony dealer, who will start making your dream home theater system real.

Prices will vary depending on what options suit you. Kids, don't ask for everything on your list at once. Start with something sensible, like a 100-inch TV.

If all else fails, you can always fall back on getting your friends a video game system (and then inviting yourself over frequently to help them break it in).

The Nintendo 64 and Sony PlayStation both sell for about $99 and have a good array of games, but the PlayStation has a little better selection. The Sega Dreamcast, the new kid on the block, goes for $199 and has terrific arcade graphics and a good -- and growing -- selection of high-quality games.

Be warned, though: Both Sony and Nintendo are coming out with new systems late next year. If you already own a PlayStation, or know someone who does, you'll probably want to wait for Sony's PS2, which will have a chip allowing you to play the older PlayStation games. Keep that in mind for next year's wish list.

But when it comes to electronics, this is just the tip of the iceberg. This Christmas, there are a ton of gadgets to choose from -- DVD players, PalmPilots (a very handy organization tool for college students who seem to have no time) and even mobile phones with access to the Internet.

And hey, if you can't decide what to get, don't worry: The Sharper Image, Best Buy, Circuit City and all the others offer gift certificates. It may not be the most high-tech gift, but it's always a perfect fit.
 

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