- The Washington Times - Monday, December 19, 2005

Time is running out on finding gifts before the Dec. 25 arrival of Christmas and Hanukkah, and you may feel stumped for computer-related presents.

Not to worry. Almost anything from the Apple Store will be “hot” this year. The famous IPods are perhaps the holiday gift of the season, whether it’s the IPod Nano, which packs up to 4 gigabytes of music into a tiny player, or the slim-but-larger 30 GB and 60 GB video IPods.

Prices range from $199 to $249 for the Nano and $299 to $399 for the video IPod. If you can find one, any would make a great gift.

Accessories for the IPod are also welcome, as are gift cards to Apple’s ITunes online music store. All can be picked up at the Apple retail outlets, and the players and accessories are showing up in a wide range of outlets.

As far as computers go, Apple’s desktop IMac G5, reviewed here a couple of weeks ago, is the kind of gift anyone would like to see at the holidays. A traveler might well enjoy one of Apple’s PowerBooks, either the 12-inch or 15-inch displays are compact enough and travel well.

Even if, as is widely rumored, Apple announces its Intel processor-based line on Jan. 10, the latest Macs will have enough horsepower and software support to run for quite some time.

HP’S notebooks and desktop computers remain among my personal favorites.

They are rugged, dependable and have features that users likely will appreciate. The Pavilion dv4000 notebook computer, favorably reviewed here about six months ago, will cost $1,703 directly from www.hp.com, after rebates, and packs 1 GB of RAM, an 80-GB hard disk, and enhanced video processing along with a 15.4-inch superbright display.

However, the HP Web site indicates such models will ship after Dec. 25, so your intended recipient may need to be a little patient, albeit with a great reward to come.

HP’s Media Center PCs, which also received praise from this reviewer, are in the $800 range for a model that includes a TV/FM radio tuner, Windows Media Center software and enough capabilities to handle most tasks.

I like the solidness of the system, which I’ve had running daily for quite some time, functioning as a TV recorder and media hub. You’ll need to add a monitor and speakers, of course, but you won’t be disappointed with this product. These also might not arrive before the holidays, but here, too, patience will pay off.

PDAs still are appealing. Palm’s TX hand-held one is $299, has built-in WiFi and 128 megabytes of RAM built in; you can add more storage with SecureDigital cards.

The operating system Palm uses is simple, elegant and efficient.

It will work with Macs and PCs. And there’s a raft of outside applications for such devices; you can customize a Palm to fit just about any situation. Details of this highly recommended product are at https://www.palm.com.

When and as you buy and install a new item, read the instructions — at least the little “cheat sheet” provided with most products now — and proceed carefully. Most computer setups are automated, even painless, these days — Apple excels in this regard, but HP’s installation process isn’t too difficult, either. But go slowly and you will enjoy the holidays, and your new computer, even more.

• E-mail MarkKel@aol.com or visit https://www.kellner.us.

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