- The Washington Times - Monday, December 17, 2001

By the time you read these words,we'll be at the end of Eid-al-Fitr, the conclusion to Ramadan, andHanukkah is winding down, too. Only Christmas and Kwanzaa loom ahead -although that's enough for some gift buyers to worry about.

What to buy? What to give? What to covet? (Covet? Well, there's probably a morediscrete word, but, hey, YOU know what, in your heart of hearts, youreally desire.) Some more thoughts, then:

Notebook computer: My choicefor notebook gift of the season is the Apple Computer TitaniumPowerBook G4. It'll cost you about $2300, because I don't believe anyoneshould buy a notebook PC without wireless networking, and the AirPortwireless card for the $2,199 low-end PowerBook model adds $99 to theprice.

To those who say, "Hey, Kellner, I can get two Windows-basednotebooks for what you want me to spend on a Mac," I'd reply that whilethis may be the case, the Titanium PowerBook G4's sleekness andcapability more than make up for this.

This product - which Apple hasrecently "refreshed" to include more speed, more memory (a promotionwill double the amount of RAM on specified models) and the new, improvedand really cool Mac OS X v.10.1. (The only OS I know of with a redundantname). The G4 I have, which has a "slower" (500 MHz) processor, a mere256 MB of RAM and, oh, yes, a DVD-ROM drive, is good enough for anysituation I've encountered. The 15.2-inch (diagonal) TFT color screen isgreat for watching a DVD movie, and there's a nice headphone jack on theleft side of the unit.

Regular readers will know that I've sung thepraises of Mac OS X v.10.1 before, and the new Microsoft Office.X forMacintosh is a worthy product in its own right, offering very goodversions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and "Entourage," a personalinformation manager and e-mail package. (This software, sold separately,lists for $460, although upgrade and other deals are available.) And, Isuppose, with enough RAM and hard disk capacity (you can go up to 1 GBof RAM and 48 GB of hard disk space), you can even run a Windows"emulator" such as SoftPC and thus use your favorite Windows apps onthis device.

But in an era when too many notebook computers arevirtually indistinguishable from each other, and when creativity seems alost art, I gotta give Apple high marks for this product(https://www.apple.com/powerbook), which doubtless will still be thecoolest looking notebook PC next Christmas, as it is for thisone.

Desktop computer: Here, I'll go with a Windows-based system, andthat is the Pavilion series from Hewlett-Packard. You can find them inmany stores, including Best Buy and Costco, and in all sorts ofdifferent configurations using AMD Athlon and Duron processors, or IntelCeleron, Pentium III and Pentium 4 CPUs.

Pricing ranges from $599 to $949 for the basic PCs, depending on processor; monitorsare sold separately. Bundles - PC, monitor and printer - range from $869to $1499, again, depending on processor and other options. You can alsoconfigure your "own" Pavilion with the options you want in terms ofmemory, hard disk and the like.

What I enjoy about HP's Pavilion lineis its utility, its placement of USB and serial ports on the front ofthe machine (as well as the rear) and the sturdiness of their models.I'd prefer seeing a FireWire (IEEE 1394) port on these computers - andso would those into digital video and other multimedia tools - but suchports can be added to customizable Pavilion models for around $50, andin my view that's a worthwhile addition.

You can do far worse thanbuying an HP Pavilion this holiday season, and anyone who receives oneshould be pretty happy with the choice.

Write to Mark Kellner in careof The Washington Times, Business Desk, 3600 New York Ave. NE,Washington, D.C. 20002; send e-mail to [email protected], or visit thewriter's Web page, www.kellner2000.com. Talk back live to Mark onwww.adrenalineradio.com every Thursday from 8 to 9 p.m., EST.

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