Mobile Computing: Holiday Gift Ideas

It's December, and you're squirming.

You're squirming because it's gift-giving time again, and you're not sure what gadget to give your spouse/significant other/best friend/favorite family member. Or, even more alarmingly, you're squirming because you don't know what gadget to ask for from them.

So stop squirming and keep reading. Here are a few of my favorite things from the past year, as well as gifts I'd be happy to unwrap. (Note to editor: Business-related gifts are tax-deductible.)

Favorite Mobile Accessory

PowerHouse Technology's Migo software lets you carry your Microsoft Outlook contacts, e-mail, calendar items, application files, and other data on your keychain, with the Migo USB thumb drive.

Migo software works with other portable devices, too, including competing USB thumb drives and Apple iPods.

Not only do you have your backup with you, but you can also access your data on other PCs, without leaving a trace behind on the borrowed computer. The easy-to-use software alone is $30 for the personal version or $50 for the professional; Migo USB drives with the software preinstalled range from $40 for 256MB to $170 for 2GB.

For more info, visit the Migo site, and read my review of the Migo in "Peace-of-Mind Backup."

iPod Accessories

Favorite: A Mini Cooper convertible, and I'm only half joking. A $150 iPod adapter is an optional accessory for this sporty subcompact. (I do mean subcompact; the trunk is approximately the size of a Hummer cup holder.) The adapter feeds your iPod playlists through the car's stereo system. The tunes sound great, though you're limited to accessing only five iPod playlists, and the stereo's display doesn't show song title or artist. Plenty of cars today have iPod adapters--but for my money, none are as fun to drive as a Mini Cooper convertible. New models start at $21,450.

Second Favorite: The SD IHome IH5 alarm clock. iPods have a built-in alarm clock feature, but they must be connected to speakers for this to work. The IHome IH5 alarm clock serves as an iPod stereo system and dock/recharger, includes FM/AM radio, and produces good sound for the price (about $100). One quibble: When pressed, the clock's Alarm Set button chirps. The idea is to reassure you that the alarm has been activated, but if someone in the room is trying to sleep, it can be annoying.

Smart Phone I'd Like to Receive

With new wireless handsets coming out almost daily, the flip-phone Motorola Razr V3 is by no means the newest kid on the block. But I've yet to see a sleeker, sexier cell phone (3.4 ounces, 3.9 by 2.1 by 0.5 inches); if I hadn't just bought a phone a few months ago, this baby would be mine.

You can get the Razr V3 in silver from Cingular Wireless and T-Mobile. Cingular also offers a very sharp-looking black, and T-Mobile has a wild-looking magenta. (In my humble opinion, black is the coolest color.) With either carrier you'll get voice, e-mail, instant messaging, Web access, Bluetooth, a built-in digital camera, a speakerphone function, and video playback. But most of all, you'll get envious looks--and that's what truly matters in a cell phone, isn't it?

The Razr V3 is available from Cingular for $150 with a new two-year contract, but the carrier is currently offering a $50 rebate. T-Mobile sells the Razr V3 Magenta for $250 with a new one-year contract; the silver Razr V3 is currently discounted to $200.

PDA I'd Want to Unwrap

Compared to Dell and Hewlett-Packard, Palm had some catching up to do in terms of offering a reasonably priced PDA with built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. And though I haven't tested the Palm T|X, Palm appears to have finally caught up.

The T|X is a stylish handheld with a beautiful screen and ample storage (128MB, about 100MB of which is usable) that also lets you listen to MP3 files. It lists for $299; our Product Finder has the latest prices.

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