image: Segway
A great new invention - or destined for the scrap heap of technology history? The Segway is on sale now at Amazon.com.
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msnbc.com

What do you get the person who has any and every gadget in the world? The quick answer is you go full-tilt and get them something they could only dream about.

InsertArt(1715805)I’D HAVE TO SAY that after an exhaustive search, the number one tech-savvy gift of this year is the soon-to-be-released Segway Human Transporter. Whether you’re a technophile or technophobe, Segway is just plain cool! In case you missed any of the hype over the past few months, the Segway is the creation of inventor extraordinaire Dean Kamen — whose new creation is backed by some of the most famous dot-com entrepreneurs of the day.

What you need to know is that the Segway is a 21st century, two-wheeled, electric scooter. You stand on the little platform and just lean a little. The Segway’s gyroscopes and electronics do the rest to keep your balance and propel you forward, backward or to the side at a maximum speed of 12.5 miles an hour. Steering is done with light touches to the handlebars. The Segway stops when you stand straight up.

Segway can supposedly support a 250-pound person and up to 75-pounds of gear. A number of locales have passed laws to allow Segway to operate on sidewalks (unlike bicycles, skateboards and the like) - but there are still some places where you’ll have to ride it in the street.

So, how can you get one? Segways are currently and exclusively available on Amazon.com. The price: a somewhat steep $4,950.00 plus tax and shipping. But, I did say it was for the tech-savvy person who has nearly everything. Amazon is asking for a non-refundable deposit of $495 in advance of when the Segway begins shipping on March 1, 2003 on a first-come, first-served basis. By the way, Amazon is limiting sales to only two Segways per customer.

THE LATEST, GREATEST, NEWEST

Once you get past the Segway — the list of gifts for the tech-savvy is nearly endless.

I could prepare lists of the best and newest digital or video cameras, or flat-screen TVs, computers, PDAs, cellular phones, MP3 players, stereo components or home theater systems. You name it — you can always find lots of ways to spend lots of money on the latest/greatest/newest. You can also go out and find the lowest priced items in each category such as $29 printers, $39 VCRs and $99 PDAs — but remember — you usually get what you pay for and not much more.

So, in this year of tight money, the best advice I can give is to go out and buy a gift that compliments items that the tech-savvy person on your shopping list already owns. Unless they tell you the exact name and model number of some exotic thing they want, and you can actually afford, why don’t you try one of these suggestions:

For your PDA lover: How about a new or extra stylus? No matter whether it’s for a sub-$100 device, or the latest color/802.11b/Bluetooth/expandable monster — the devices are nearly useless without a stylus — and we all know how easy it is to lose that little blunt-nosed pen. So, why not order an extra one? Or a set? Or better yet, how about a pen/stylus combination from one of the big pen makers? One location I’ve located on the Web is http://styluscentral.com where it looks like you can find styli of all types - plus a large selection of PDA accessories.

For your writing addict: What about a nice fountain, or ballpoint pen? Seriously, I know many people who spend hours a day on their computers and PDAs who find great joy and happiness by writing notes with a beautifully balanced writing instrument on a quality piece of paper. And, if your tech-savvy person has a good pen, how about another one. Or a pen case? Or some beautiful ink? Not necessarily expensive, but should be well received.

For your portable MP3/CD/DVD owner: All of these devices have one thing in common. They all come with headphones. Here’s a great idea: buy a better set of headphones. You could go all the way and spend more than $300 for a pair of Sennheiser HD 600 headphones, but all you need to shell out is twenty bucks.

image: Koss phones
Koss' KSC 50 headphones for portables sell for less than twenty bucks. They put some $200 headphones to shame.
Koss’ KSC 50 and KSC 55 headphones sound fantastic and have a manufacturers’ suggested retail price of $19.99. One warning — after listening to these your garbage can will be filled with all those cheap headphones you are throwing away.

Software for your hardware: Obviously, a well chosen music CD or DVD movie is always appreciated. Same for that desperately wanted computer program or video game. But, if your computer has a CD or DVD burner — or maybe it’s a new deck in your hi-fi system — why not give a gift of blank disks? Just make sure you know the exact type of discs you need before you buy.

More hardware for your hardware: What about an extra wireless card for the computer expert with an 802.11b in their home? Take it from me — you can always use an extra card for that new laptop or PDA.

image: AC Lab II
You're looking at a 6-foot long AC cord that costs $499. PS Audio's AC Lab II is one of a series of products that improves the quailty of your electricity - makes stereos sound better and TV look better. You can spend a lot more for other items!
Or, how about a new optical mouse? Or a wireless one? Or a wireless keyboard? Or a new computer monitor? Or a spiffy new video game controller for your Xbox/PlayStation/GameCube fan? An extra memory card for your camera or PDA? Even an extra ink or toner cartridge for that new printer may not sound like a flashy gift — but it will be greatly appreciated. Same for hi-fi freaks — anything from a phono stylus brush to a high-tech AC cord will be accepted as a thoughtful gift.

Deals, deals, deals: Flip side of an economic downturn
For all portable device owners: You can never have enough batteries. If devices you own need special batteries, an extra one or two make a great gift. Think about your laptop as well as your video/digital camera.

If your devices use regular batteries, go out and buy an armful. Warehouse stores sometimes sell 48-packs at great prices. Believe me, your tech-savvy gift-takers will appreciate all of them. Plus, think in terms of rechargeable batteries (with an AC recharger). This time of year you’ll find them packaged together. An extra AC adapter and/or a nice case for the device are also nifty gift ideas.

Something completely different: What about a digital camera for a film camera fanatic? Or a film camera for your digital-only aficionado? Or a Polaroid camera for instant prints?

How about a shortwave portable radio for your MP3 addict? Or a small, portable LCD TV for your home theater expert? Or a new-fangled coffee maker, home coffee roaster, bvarbecue/smoker, smoothie machine or even a George Foreman grill? A digital watch you never have to wind? Or even a watch you have to wind every day? Actually, any small, inexpensive, properly targeted gift might just hit the spot.

And these few ideas just barely scratch the surface. The bottom line in gifts for the tech-savvy people on your holiday list can — but doesn’t necessarily need to be expensive. All you have to do is look around at what’s there already — take some notice — and you’ll come up with the perfect gift.

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