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TMO Gift Guide - Gifts Cheap on Price; High in Value

by , 7:00 AM EST, December 7th, 2004

It happened as a kid. It happens as an adult. You're asked every year, "What do you want for Christmas?" You respond with some expensive idea that is immediately shot down with a cold chuckle and you move on to more economical ideas that can easily be found in the back of a 24-hour grocery store.

But fear not, my Mac friend! You might not realize it, but there's plenty out there that can quench your thirst and still fit on your dear friends credit card, not matter what their spending limit. Here's five simple, inexpensive ideas, many that will fit in that old ratty Christmas stocking you haven't washed since 1954.

A Real Page Turner

Product: Mac OS X Panther Timesaving Techniques For Dummies
Manufacturer: John Wiley & Sons Publishing
Price: US$24.99 ($16.49 - Amazon)

Don't judge this book by its title. It's no dummies book. Whether you read it from cover-to-cover or pick it up now and then, you're going to learn something new on every page, guaranteed. It's well written, well laid out, and gives little hints at every turn to make using Mac OS X a breeze. Each technique is only about three pages, but what you'll learn from each one is worth the price of this 500-page gem. This book is one of the top five best Mac books of the year.

More Like a 'Missing Bible'

Product: Mac OS X: The Missing Manual, Panther Edition
Manufacturer: Pogue Press/O'Reilly
Price: US$24.99 ($20.96 - Amazon)

Yea, it's another book, but it's a Pogue book, and that makes all the difference. Remember the original Mac Secrets book? There was something new to learn and entertain you on every page. This book follows that tradition to the letter. It ebbs and flows through features and techniques of Max OS X but without all that 'techie talk'. Pogue breaks it down in a writing style only he can deliver - like Julia Child explaining chicken fricassee and coq au vin, but with a Dan Aykroyd flair, constantly yelling, "Save the liver!" If only his New York Times columns were this good.

THIS is a speaker!

Product: SoundDock Digital Music System
Manufacturer: Bose
Price: US$299 (From Bose direct)

Nothing against the Altec Lansing iPod speakers, but they sound like a tin can compared to the Bose SoundDock Digital Music System! Yes, it's much more expensive, but if you compare this product side by side with the Altec speakers at an Apple retail store, I'll bet the farm you'll walk out $299 lighter, but a lot happier. Bose thought this speaker system through and it shows in the design and the sound. My favorite things about this system - apart from the rich sound - is the fact it's not thick and bulky and both the iPod and iPod mini fit in its cradle with no extra hardware. A real iPod addition!

An Even Better Mousetrap

Product: Logitech MX1000 Laser Mouse
Manufacturer: Logitech
Price: US$79.99 ($66.49 - Amazon)

Still using Apple's wireless mouse? Get with the times, man! For the same price, you can get the state of the art! The Logitech MX1000 is a USB mouse and the world's first laser mouse that won't collect dust bunnies like its roller-ball cousin. A 3-hour charge will prime the battery for 21 days of surfing. Never played with a scroll wheel on a mouse to surf Web pages? With a little practice, you'll wonder why you never switched before. I've actually played with this mouse and it fits like a glove and puts the Apple wireless mouse to shame.

Style and Four Megapixels to Boot

Product: Olympus Style Verve
Manufacturer: Olympus
Price: US$349.99 ($309.94 - Amazon)

It's a rule...Mac and iPod users can only buy things that are as classy as their Apple products. Few come as good looking as Jonathan Ive's designs, but the Olympus Style Verve digital camera comes closest. You'll rave about the six colors it comes in (white, silver, red, orange, blue, black). I'm impressed with its cool shark-fin shape and nifty lens cap, which snaps open automatically when you power up. The 4.0-megapixel beauty has a 2-frames-per second (fps) burst mode and a 15-fps movie mode, but only a 2x optical zoom. All in all, not bad for a point-and-shoot beauty.

Check out our other 2004 Gift Guide's, too!

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