'Tis the season for digital gifts

If you or someone you know is a computer user, 'tis the season to be thinking about some neat digital gifts.

I just made a visit to MicroCenter to see what is selling this holiday season and found that there are a lot of goodies in all price ranges for computer users of all ages and skill levels.

Greg Gilles in the hardware department said that low end devices are selling briskly. The Sony RX-850 has video editing capability and the Sony W10 is in short supply. He also said that PDA's (personal digital assistants) like the new low cost Palm are selling rapidly as are LCD flat screen displays.

In the networking department, wireless is the big thing. Home networks of multiple computers and/or laptops can be connected with wireless routers and interface cards.

For the hard to shop for person, DVD writers are coming down in price and are great for storing home video movies or large data backups. Unfortunately, there is still a lack of DVD standards, so you have to be a little careful in what to purchase.

Digital photography and peripherals should be big sellers this holiday season. The MicroCenter people like the Canon S30 or S40 cameras at 3 and 4 megapixels respectively while I have been drooling over the new Nikon digital cameras, in particular the 4 megapixel Nikon Coolpix 4300.

To go along with these cameras both Hewlett-Packard and Epson have new lines of mid price photo printers. The Epson Model 960 is a hot seller and is in short supply. It uses six color ink cartridges and will print edge to edge on sheet or roll paper. HP has the new Model 7550 with an archival ink cartridge with an estimated 65 year print life when using HP photo papers. Both these printers primarily are aimed at those who want to take maximum advantage of digital photography.

In the software department there is something for everyone. Hot sellers for home use are the greeting card packages. The Hallmark programs are very popular and are in short supply while the shelves are stocked with many greeting card programs from other developers. And for gifts, there are shelves of games for everyone. Zoo Tycoon by Microsoft at $29.99 lets users build there own zoo and is for the 9-16 crowd. Other hot sellers for kids are the many Disney movie related games as well as "The Wild Thornberry" by Nickelodeon at $24.99.

If you have a serious gamer in the family, the hottest seller is "Age of Mythology" an interactive, multiplayer game by Ensemble Studios at $49.99. This can be played on the Internet with other players. And there are row upon row of other games for all ages.

With the economy still a little soft, it also is a good time to look at manufacturers like Dell for holiday specials. They are offering extra goodies with some models and free shipping for refurbished computers. Look at for the latest deals.

While there might not be a lot of exciting new things in computing for this holiday season, there still are a lot of good gift ideas for yourself or others. So visit MicroCenter or shop online and fill everyone's stockings with digital goodies and have happy holidays.

If you would like to hear more about holiday gift ideas or other computer topics, visit "Coffee and Computers" at the Tustin Area Senior Center, 200 S. 'C' Street, any Friday morning starting at 9 a.m. Bring your questions or just come in and visit.

In the mean time, keep the neurons happy, synapses snapping and enjoy computing.


Dr. Art Holub is a long time resident of Tustin and teaches computer and Internet courses at the Tustin Area Senior Center and the Tustin Adult School. Visit his web site at: This column is written to address the computer adventures and concerns of older adults. If you have comments, questions or suggestions for future columns, Email HIM at:

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