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PCs and Peripherals for Computer Geeks
How to make PC people feel warm and fuzzy

By Jim Fisher

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Every year it's the same thing: my grandparents don't know what to get my father for Christmas, so they get him a card with cash. He opens the card, looks up, smiles and says "Condensed computer parts! Just what I wanted. Thank you!" This has happened every year for at least the past decade, which makes it great fodder for psychologists looking to find patterns in human behavior.

However amusing this anecdote may be, there are times where you want to get your favorite computer geek something that he or she can unwrap. For these folks, there's nothing that compares to tearing into the paper during the holiday season and finding a new laptop, LCD monitor, hard drive or some other piece of computer goodness hidden beneath. So what do you get your loved one this year?

How about a brand new notebook computer? There is one constant law in computers: there is always something faster and newer coming out. That laptop that your husband has been using for three years now? Neolithic compared to what's available today. B&H carries a wide variety of PC laptops from such recognized names as Acer, HP, Panasonic, Sony and Toshiba. We've even put together some money-saving kits for the holiday season. These kits are available in two flavors, Intro and Travel, and offer savings of $50 to $100 depending on notebook model. The kit contents vary slightly, but each will include a carrying case and 3-year international warranty from Mack.


No more fumbling around when plugging in USB devices

You might also want to consider a new LCD monitor. ViewSonic has recently released two models, the 19" VX1945wm and the 22" VX2245wm, with stunning widescreen graphics, built-in speakers, an integrated iPod dock, an 8-in-1 memory card reader and a 4-port USB 2.0 hub. At first look you might be saying "That's interesting, but do you need all of that on your monitor?" Think about it this way, how many times have you seen your loved one fumble around plugging and unplugging cables for the iPod, digital camera, web camera, flash drive, PDA, printer or any other number of USB devices you may have kicking around the house? Here you'll be able to sync the iPod, download pictures directly from your memory card and connect up to 4 USB 2.0 devices simultaneously: all without connecting and disconnecting cables. More importantly, each monitor features a widescreen aspect ratio and high resolution to deliver a crisp, clear and bright image. It's certainly worth consideration if that old CRT monitor is still taking up space on your desk.

The first computer I owned had an 89 megabyte hard drive. Today we live in a world of digital video and music downloads, 10-megapixel digital cameras, digital video cameras and high-tech computer games. These items can pile up pretty quickly and eat up gigabytes and gigabytes of space. What better to store them on than an external hard drive? LaCie makes a 250 GB drive that can be connected via USB 2.0, FireWire-400 or FireWire-800. This gives you a good amount of storage and allows you to connect it to practically every computer on the market today. If 250 GB isn't enough, you can go high-end and get the My Book Pro Edition by Western Digital. It features an astonishing 1 TB capacity with integrated RAID functions.


WD's 120GBs for the road
LaCie's 250GB drive
WD's huge 1 Terabyte Hard Drive

If you're looking for a portable drive to use with a laptop consider the Passport by Western Digital. This 2.5" drive features a USB 2.0 interface and 120 GB of storage capacity. It can be powered from the USB port on your laptop and is extremely light-weight and compact. It features a sharp looking glossy black design with a blue power indicator that also blinks to indicate drive activity. B&H has a great price on this unit.

You may also want to share your home movies with friends and family. The simplest way to do that is with a DVD burner. Sony makes the DVDirect MC3, a stand-alone burner that allows you to burn videos onto DVD directly from a digital video camera. It can also read Memory Stick, SD, Compact Flash and xD memory cards and burn DVD slideshows of still images from digital cameras. To add to its versatility, the drive can be connected to a computer to act as a standard DVD burner.


Burn DVDs directly from your camcorder or digital camera

You might also want to consider a DVD burner with LightScribe. This technology allows you to print disc artwork onto special LightScribe DVD and CD media using the laser in the burner. LaCie makes an external 16x speed burner with this technology. It connects via USB 2.0 and is in LaCie's popular d2 housing. It includes all the software you'll need for disc burning and printing.


Give the gift of wireless networking

You can also give the gift of wireless networking. B&H stocks a wide variety of wireless networking products including routers, adapters, bridges and access points. The Linksys WRT54G is the keystone to building a wireless network in your home. The router connects to your cable or DSL modem via a standard Ethernet connection. It allows wireless transfer speeds of up to 54 Mbps. It also features 4 standard 10/100 Mbps Ethernet jacks for wired connections.


JBL's Creature II speakers also come in Black, Aluminum and White

Now, if your favorite computer nerd already has everything on this list, and I'm sure that's a possibility, you're left in a bit of a pickle. If you don't want to go to the gift card route, consider a new set of speakers for the computer. Speakers are an often overlooked accessory. They'll add aural depth to music, movies and computer games. Consider the Creature II speakers by JBL. They feature an interesting design and 2.1 channel output with 40 watts of power.

Hopefully this guide has helped you pick out the perfect gift. If not, there is always the option of condensing the computer gear into the form of a B&H gift card.


Still not sure? Try these related gift categories:

- Macs, Windows PCs
- Hard Drives & Storage
- Computer Monitors
- Printers & Scanners
- Mice & Keyboards
- WebCams & Systems
- Firewire & USB Components
- Wired & Wireless Networking

- Headphones, Speakers, Headsets & Mics
Please email feedback on this article, or suggestions for future topics, to emailfeedback@bhphotovideo.com.