101 great gift ideas. (computer-related gifts)(includes related article) (Buyers Guide)
by Tracy Mygrant, Danielle Best
What can you get for the computer users on your gift list who seem to have everything? The perfect gift might not be the obvious one. Here's a list of ideas--some off the beaten path and some off the wall--that will lose those holiday blues. You don't have to break the bank to get interesting and useful computer gifts. This list contains gifts in every price range, including both hardware and software.
1. Parent's Guide to Educational Software for Young Children: Compiled by the educational team at Edmark. Tells how to select developmentally appropriate software while balancing technical considerations. Lists additional resources. Free. Edmark, 6727 185th Avenue NE, P.O. Box 3218, Washington 98073-3218; (206) 861-8200.
2. Panic buttons: Save your keyboard when the urge to smash it against the wall arises. $3 for a set of two, $30 for 12 packages of two each. Computer Museum Store, 300 Congress Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02210; (617) 426-2800.
3. Templates: Quick help for those times when keypresses escape you. Color coded, nonglare, UV coated, stackable, and easy to use. Custom templates and decals also available. $3.50 each, $33.00 for 10, $79.00 for 25 (no mixing allowed in sets). Max Data, 625 North Gilbert Road, Suite 104, Gilbert, Arizona 85234; (800) 292-4629.
4. ChocWare Diskette: Pure milk chocolate disk. $4.50. See 2 for order information,
5. Disks in bulk: Always a great gift. Prices usually include sleeves and labels and run anywhere from $0.49 to $1.25 apiece, depending on how many you buy. Check out your office supply stores, computer supply retailers, and computer catalogs for the best prices.
6. Disk cases: Hold either 80 3 1/2-inch or 100 5 1/4-inch disks and stop you from asking, "Now where did that disk go?" Locks included. $4.95 for 3 1/2-inch case and $7.48 for 5 1/4-inch case. MidWest Micro, 6910 U.S. Route 36 E, Fletcher, Ohio 45326, (800) 972-8844.
7. Fellowes New Document Holder: Easily attaches to the side of your monitor to be used as a convenient copy holder. Its pact size makes it a practical way to keep messages, reminders, and information in clear view. List price, $5.99. Fellowes, 1789 Norwood Avenue, Itasca, Illinois 60143; (800) 955-3344 or (708) 893-1600.
8. Computer wimp poster: "COMPUTER WIMP: 166 Things You Should Know Before You Buy a COMPUTER!--or before you give up on the one you have." 23 x 31 inches. $7. See 2 for order information.
9. Murphy's Computer Law poster: Contains adages such as "Every task takes twice as long as you think it will take, If you double the time you think it will take, it will take four times as long." 23 x 31 inches. $7. See 2 for order information.
10. Antiglare filter: A 14-inch filter that relieves eye stress for comfortable, glare-free viewing. $15. Disk Count Software, P.O. Box 3, Carteret, New Jersey 07008; (800) 448-6658.
11. Surge strips: Steel cases that house multiple outlets and protect equipment from electrical surges. Come in handy if you ever run out of places to plug things in. Can be found in most supply or hardware stores and computer catalogs.
12-14. Quick help with Windows, Word for Windows, and Excel for Windows: 101 Essential Windows Tips--$9.95, 101 Essential Word for Windows Tips--$9.95, 101 Essential Excel for Windows Tips--$9.95. Order through local bookstores or direct from COMPUTE Books, c/o CCC, 2500 McClellan Avenue, Pennsauken, New Jersey 08109. Send cover price plus $2.00 shipping and handling per book in the U.S., $4.00 per book in Canada, and $6.00 per book elsewhere.
15. Business Forms for the Fax and Copier: This book provides 64 professionally designed tear-out forms for faxing, memos, notices, greetings, and more. $9.95. Hello Direct, 140 Great Oaks Boulevard, San Jose, California 95119-1347; (800) 444-3556.
16-17. Smack 11 and Data Dog: Stuffed versions of your computer ready to suffer the wrath that you can't afford to take out on your PC. And they even come with owner's manuals. $10 each. See 2 for order information.
18. Multicolored propeller beanie and cap: For S, M, L, and XL propeller heads. $11.50. See 2 for order information.
19. Discalculator: A solar-powered calculator in the shape of a 3 1/2-inch floppy. $12.95. See 2 for order information.
20. Dust Control Cleaning System (for computer and home/office electronics): Includes two six-ounce cans of STATX high-tech cleaner and dust repellent (which also repels static electricity), a ten-ounce can of Tornado dust remover, and two lint-free wipes with LintBlock. Also cleans keyboards. List price, $14.99. STATX Brands, 1110 Lake Cook Road, Suite 150, Buffalo Grove, Illinois 60089; (708) 520-0007.
21. Discoasters: Coasters willing to entertain any glass you bring home. Look just like 3 1/2-inch disks, except they're a lot more colorful. $15 for a set of six. See 2 for order information.
22. Fractal T-shirts: 100-percent cotton shirts with full-color fractal images. Choose from two designs: Nautilus Shell/Newton's Julia or Candy/The Jewel. $18. See 2 for order information.
23. COMPUTE subscription: One-year subscription to the practical computing magazine. $19.94 in U.S., $32.04 in Canada, and $29.94 elsewhere. COMPUTE, P.O. Box 3245, Harlan, Iowa 51537-3041; (800) 727-6937.
24. F-1: A tabbed, flip-over reference pad for organization and fast retrieval of information, offering left- or right-side mounting on a computer monitor. List price, $19.95. Husco Engineering, 17 Calvin Road, Wilton, Connecticut 06897; (800) 752-3181 or (203) 762-3181.
25. Fax Kleen: Are you getting snow on your incoming faxes? It's caused by oily residue in the fax machine. Running a Fax Kleen sheet through the machine removes the buildup, so your faxes are clear again. Ten sheets per box. $19.95. See 15 for order information.
26. Computer floor stand: Holds your computer case vertically on the floor to free up desk space. Adjustable base fits standard PC cases from 4 inches to 7 1/2 inches wide, $19.95. JDR Microdevices, 2233 Samaritan Drive, San Jose, California 95124; (800) 538-5000.
27-30. Service and repair kits: MidWest Micro sells a useful repair kit for $23.95 that contains 23 tools, including antistatic strap, vacuum, cleaning fluid, screwdriver bit/handle, flat screwdriver, tweezer, crimp, wire cutter, cleaning stick/pad/disk, and more. Also available are a computer cleaning kit for $12.95, a cleaning kit for 3 1/2-inch disk drives for $23.95, and a cleaning kit for 5 1/4-inch disk drives for $19.95. See 6 for order information. But check around--you can get them almost anywhere computer supplies are sold.
31. Wave of the Future poster: A 23 x 36 inch computerized, digitized version of a print created by the nineteenth century artist Hokusai. $25. See 2 for order information.
32. Laser paper with a twist: Unique laser paper products that range from the ornate and oriental to the rugged and recycled. Call (800) 272-7377 for a free catalog. PaperDirect, P.O. Box 618, 205 Chubb Avenue, Lyndhurst, New Jersey 07071-0618; (201) 507-5488.
33-34. VIRUSCAN and CLEAN-UP: Anti-virus programs that are sold separately but work well together. VIRUSCAN scans your system for infections, and CLEAN-UP removes them. What a team! A home-use license is $25 for VIRUSCAN and $35 for CLEAN-UP. Products come bundled for business users. Prices differ for business and network users. McAfee Associates, 3350 Scott Boulevard, Building 14, Santa Clara, California 95054; (408) 988-3832.
35. Adjustable footrest: Raises feet to reduce stress and ease back strain. Continually adjusts to body position. List price, $29.95. Computer Coverup, 2762 North Clybourn Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60614; (800) 282-2541.
36. ROM LC 1 (CD-ROM laser lens cleaner): Cleans the optical lens of CD-ROM drives. List price, $29.95. AudioSource, 1327 North Carolan Avenue, Burlingame, California 94010; (415) 348-8114.
37. cardsNOW: Designs and prints custom business cards. Includes enough cardstock for 250 cards, but you can order more at affordable prices. List price, $39. Topitzes and Associates, 6401 Odana Road, Madison, Wisconsin 53719-1158; (800) 233-9767 or (608) 273-4300.
38. How to Buy and Price a Used Computer: A reference book showing where to find equipment and how much you should expect to pay for it. Provides thousands of product listings, as well as names and phone numbers of used-computer dealers, a directory of hardware and software manufacturers with customer service numbers, and a list of major applications with prices. $39. Orion Research, 14555 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, Arizona 85260; (800) 748-1984.
39. Hexabacus: A handcrafted hexadecimal abacus in natural wood finish that helps you add and subtract hex numbers up to eight digits or 32 bits. $39.95. Amziod, 40 Samuel Prescott Drive, Stow, Massachusetts 01775; (508) 897-5560 (voice) or (508) 897-7332 (fax).
40. KidDesk: A DOS utility for children ages 3 to 8. Graphical menuing program gives kids their own desktop. Kids can launch programs with access to only those parts of the hard disk that you specify. $39.95. See 1 for order information.
41. Destiny 1: Numerology program that prints out a 20-page numerology chart, including a 12-month forecast. Compatibility mode shows strengths and weaknesses in relationships. List price, $49.95. PM Ware, 346 State Place, Escondido, California 92029-1365; (800) 845-4843.
42. Spreadsheets: Bed linens printed like computer paper, complete with tractor-feed holes. Twin size, $45.95; queen size, $59.95; two standard pillowcases, $19.95. See 2 for order information.
43. Just Grandma and Me (CD-ROM): The first in a series of Broderbund Living Books, animated storybooks filled with talking characters and interactive play. Based on Mercer Mayer's children's book of the same name. List price, $49.95. Broderbund Software, 500 Redwood Boulevard, P.O. Box 6121, Novato, California 94948-6121; (415) 382-4400.
44. Millie's Math House: Program that teaches early math skills to children ages 2 to 6 through animated characters, colorful graphics, music, and digitized voices. Reading not required. List price, $49.95. See 1 for order information.
45-50. Online service subscriptions: PowerVision: $79.95 for membership kit. $18.95 per month. Two hours of free connect time every month, with a connect charge of $0.09 per minute after the first two hours. PowerVision, 324 West Wendover Avenue, Suite 200, Greensboro, North Carolina 27408; (919) 275-9809. America Online: Free membership kit and no sign-on fee. $7.95 per month, Five free hours the first month, then two free hours for subsequent months, with a connect charge of $6.00 per hour after the free hours are used. America Online, 8619 Westwood Center Drive, Vienna, Virginia 22182; (800) 827-6364. CompuServe: $49.95 for membership kit that includes a $25.00 usage credit. $7.95 per month for unlimited access to about 30 basic services. Other services are available on an hourly basis. CompuServe, 5000 Arlington Centre Boulevard, Columbus, Ohio 43220; (800) 848-8199. GEnie: No membership kit or sign-on fee. $4.95 per month for unlimited, non-prime-time access to basic services. GEnie, 401 North Washington Street, Rockville, Maryland 20850; (800) 638-9636. PRODIGY: $49.95 for membership kit that includes the software. $12.95 per month for unlimited access, day or night. PRODIGY, 445 Hamilton Avenue, White Plains, New York 10601; (800) 822-6922. DELPHI: No membership kit or sign-on fee. $10.00 per month with four free hours per month. $4.00 per hour thereafter. An alternative plan costs $20.00 per month with 20 free hours ($1.80 per hour thereafter). DELPHI, 1030 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138; (800) 695-4005. To sign on, dial (800) 695-4002 with your modem.
51. The Sleeping Beauty: Divided into pages, this multimedia storybook is linked to illustrations, a recorded voice that reads to a child, and a dictionary that explains difficult words. List price for the CD-ROM, $49.95. Several other classic children's books are available in multimedia format. Ebook, 32970 Alvarado-Niles Road, Suite 704, Union City, California 94587; (510) 429-1331 (voice) or (510) 429-1394 (fax).
52. Sprout: Virtual vegetables? Not quite. Sprout helps you plan your vegetable garden, providing graphical tools, a database of gardening wisdom, and lots more. Just the thing for the midwinter blues--and just ahead of the seed catalogs! House and railroad planners also available for the same price. $59.95. Abracadata, P.O. Box 2440, Eugene, Oregon 97402; (503) 343-2324.
53. Sports Adventure: Covers the history of sports from the invention of baseball in 1869 to present using multimedia techniques. Includes Sports Illustrated photography and text contributed by sports journalists and authors. List price, $59.95. Knowledge Adventure, 4502 Dyer Street, La Crescenta, California 91214; (800) 542-4200.
54. Custom Greetings Kit: Lets you make holiday greeting, cards for friends, customers, and business prospects. Includes 15 predesigned, laser-compatible Christmas and Hanukkah cards with matching envelopes, ColorFoil transfer sheets., envelope seals, Avery label production software, two sheets of clear laser labels, and red, green, and gold envelope seals. $65.95. See 32 for order information.
55. The History of the Grammy Awards (multimedia CD-ROM): A full database of winners and nominees, as well as more than 250 pictures and 45 minutes of sound. List price, $69.95. Compton's NewMedia, 2320 Camino Vida Roble, Carlsbad, California 92009; (800) 532-3766.
56. Jungle Safari: Focuses on African habitats: plains, tall grass, rain forest, and riverfront. Illustrates how animals interact with the environment. Uses text, sound, and animation, List prices are $79 for multimedia CD version and $59 for floppy disk version. Orange Cherry New Media, P.O. Box 390, Pound Ridge, New York 10576; (800) 672-6002.
57. Poetry Processor: Perfect for rappers, songwriters, poets, or teachers. Contains everything you need to write formal poetry, from sonnets to villanelles. Includes form editor, rhyming dictionary, and much more, $89.95 ($69.95 until January 1, 1993, for COMPUTE readers). NewManWare, 141 Sheffield Avenue, #2-C, New Haven, Connecticut 0651 1; (212) 439-4777.
58. AUTOWORKS: Get to know your car better. Automotive engineering made fun. List price, $79.95. Software Marketing, 9830 South 51st Street, Building A-131, Phoenix, Arizona 85044; (602) 893-2400.
59. BODYWORKS, An Adventure in Anatomy: Explores the systems, structures, and functions of the human body with detailed full-color graphics and a database of facts, descriptions, and explanations. List price, $79.95. See 58 for order information.
60. Roger Ebert's Movie Home Companion (CD-ROM): Contains the cumulative works of movie critic Roger Ebert from 1986 to 1992, with more than 1300 movie reviews and 80 interviews with stars and directors. List price, $79.95. Quanta Press, 1313 Fifth Street SE, Suite 223A, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55414; (612) 379-3956 (voice) or (612) 623-4570 (fax),
61. PANTONE Process Color Imaging Guide 1000: A fan-format guide of 1000 PANTONE colors. Gives a visual comparison of how a color appears onscreen and how it will look when printed. Helpful for desktop publishers who use service bureaus for color printing. List price, $85. PANTONE, 55 Knickerbocker Road, Moonachie, New Jersey 07074; (800) 222-1149 (for nearest dealer).
62. SpinRite II: A utility that keeps your hard disk healthy. Checks the disk, repairs and/or flags bad sectors, recovers data, and increases disk speed. List price, $89. Gibson Research, 35 Journey, Aliso Viejo, California 92656; (714) 362-8800.
63. Talking Classic Tales: Five illustrated fairy tales with digitized narration. The Frog Prince, Rumpelstiltsken, The Elves and the Shoemaker, The Queen Bee, and Puss in Boots. List prices are $89 for multimedia CD version and $59 for floppy disk version. See 56 for order information.
64. Software Carousel: Load up to a dozen programs or files into memory at once and switch among them with a keystroke. List price, $89.95. SoftLogic Solutions, One Perimeter Road, Manchester, New Hampshire 03103; (800) 272-9900.
65. Shareware Grab Bag: Contains 6500 shareware and public domain software programs at a little over half a cent per program. List price, $99. ISLOTECH, 6520 Edenvale Boulevard, Suite 110, Eden Prairie, Minnesota 55346; (612) 934-4239.
66. Lappac 5 Deluxe Case: Oxford nylon case for small to mid-size laptops. Combines a carrying case, briefcase, and portfolio into a single portable system. List price, $99. Targus, 6190 Valley View, Buena Park, California 90620; (714) 523-5429.
67. Universal Notebook Case: Carrying case for notebooks. The computer compartment has Velcro straps and an extra layer of foam padding. The other compartment has adjustable/removable dividers to fit other equipment. List price, $119. See 66 for order information.
68. AUTOMAP: Helps plan road trips for the fastest, most scenic, or most convenient route with hundreds of up-to-date color maps. List price, $99.95. See 58 for order information.
69. First Electronic Jewish Bookshelf: An electronic version of general-interest Judaica featuring two volumes of The Jewish Book of Why and an encyclopedia of Jewish knowledge among many other titles on history and Jewish contributions to music, art, and culture. List price for the CD-ROM, $99.95. ScanRom Publications, 555 Chestnut Street, Cedarhurst, New York 11516; (516) 295-2266 (voice), (516) 295-2240 (fax), or (516) 295-2409 (BBS).
70. Portable Power Plug: Plugs into your cigarette lighter to give you 140 watts of AC power on the road. Great for laptop and camcorder owners. $99.95. Home Automation Laboratories, 5500 Highlands Parkway, Suite 450, Atlanta, Georgia 30082; (404) 319-6000.
71-72. The Writer's Toolkit for Windows and The Writer's Toolkit for DOS: Seven writing aids, including The American Heritage Electronic Dictionary and Roget's II Electronic Thesaurus. List price, $129. Systems Compatibility, 401 North Wabash Avenue, Suite 600, Chicago, Illinois 60611; (800) 333-1395 or (312) 329-0700.
73. Disney Animation Studio: Full-featured animation program that utilizes state-of-the-art techniques. Adding audio is a snap if you have The Sound Source, Sound Blaster, or Tandy Sound. List price, $129.95. Walt Disney Computer Software, 500 South Buena Vista Street Burbank, California 91521; (800) 688-1520.
74. Follow the Reader: Lets youngsters create, record, replay, and print their own stories while sharpening reading and computer skills. See 73 for order information.
75. Stunt Island: Hollywood stunt directors helped Disney create this combination flight simulator/movie-making program. Fly, film, edit, and show stunts with 40 aircraft and over 600 set-styling objects to choose from. See 73 for order information.
76. Lotus 1-2-3 for Home: A personal financial analysis spreadsheet. Includes a set of 50 customized application templates to help manage household financial matters such as college costs and refinancing a mortgage. List price, $149. Lotus Development, 440 Lincoln Street, P.O. Box 100, Worcester, Massachusetts 01653; (800) 343-5414. WORD FOR WORD Professional 5.1: Automatically converts files from one format to another without losing the original document's special formatting. Works with over 90 different word processor, spreadsheet, and data formats. List price, $149, Mastersoft, 6991 Camelback Road, Suite A-320, Scottsdale, Arizona 85251; (800) 624-6107,
78. Gigabyte Gold: More than a gigabyte of virus-free shareware and public domain software on CD-ROM. Contains more than 120,000 recent files organized into 100 subjects, including CD-ROM utilities, and an index to 49 other CD-ROMs of shareware and public domain software containing almost 2 million entries. List price, $169. CD-ROM Users Group, P.O. Box 2400, Santa Barbara, California 93120; (805) 965-0265.
79. Crosspoint Autoswitcher: This automated secretary answers the phone on the first ring and routes calls to fax, modem, answering machine, or you as appropriate. $199. See 15 for order information.
80. Presentation Task Force: 3500 pieces of clip art designed to work with over 60 DOS, Windows, and OS/2 applications. List price, $199. New Vision Technologies, 38 Auriga Drive, Unit 13, Nepean, Ontario, Canada K2E 8A5; (613) 727-8184.
81. Premier Leather Case: Combines a leather briefcase and a laptop carrying case with four fully lined document sections, a zippered portfolio section, and a padded computer compartment. List price, $299. See 66 for order information.
82-84. Stacker 2.0: A data compression product that instantly and safely doubles hard disk capacity. Ideal for those who are constantly in danger of running out of disk space. List prices are $149 for Stacker 2.0, $249 for Stacker AT/16, and $299 for Stacker MC/16. STAC Electronics, 5993 Avenida Encinas, Carlsbad, California 92008; (800) 522-7822 or (619) 431-7474.
85. Jumbo 120: Backs up 120MB with data compression onto one data cartridge. Can back up 80MB in about 20 minutes if you also purchase a TC15 dedicated controller card for $129.95, List price for the tape drive, $250.00. Colorado Memory Systems, 800 South Taft Avenue, Loveland, Colorado 80537; (800) 845-7905.
86. Ready-to-assemble computer furniture: Costs 25 to 50 percent less than preassembled furniture. A variety of pieces at various prices. Sauder Woodworking, 502 Middle Street, Archbold, Ohio 43502; (800) 523-3987.
87. BigmOuth PC voice mail system: Centralized message retrieval system allows you to send and receive messages. Features call processing, auto-dialing, and a phone book/database. List price, $295. Talking Technology, 1125 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 101, Alameda, California 94501; (800) 934-4884.
88-89. Amiga 500 512K system: Plays better videogames than a Genesis but has hundreds of serious applications available, too. Buy the 520 modulator and hook it to your TV, and the kids and spouse won't fight you for your PC. Pick up a copy of Kids and the Amiga ($16.95; see 12 for order information) to go along with your purchase. $499.00 (though widely available for $299.00) with mouse, disk drive, and windowed multitasking operating system. Commodore Business Machines, 1200 Wilson Drive, West Chester, Pennsylvania 19380; (800) 662-6442.
90. FileSafe minicartridge series: A line of tape backup subsystems based on the DC2000 minicartridge technology. Data compression for up to 304MB of storage per cartridge. Priced from $315 to $935. Mountain Network Solutions, 240 East Hacienda Avenue, Campbell, California 95008; (800) 458-0300.
91. Panasonic's KX-P2123 dot-matrix printer: Ideal for budget-conscious small business and home office users who desire the benefits of quiet technology, high-quality output, and color capability at a low price. List price, $419.95. (800) 742-8086 (for nearest dealer).
92.The Complete Communicator: A voice/data communications board that turns your PC into a voice mail service, a fax, and a modem. List price, $499. The Complete Communicator Gold, packed with additional fax and scanning features, is available for $699. The Complete PC, 1983 Concourse Drive, San Jose, California 95131; (800) 229-1753.
93-94. CD Express: Everything you need to get started with CD-ROMs. Includes an NEC CDR-25 CD-ROM drive, complete interface, speakers, and ten CD-ROM software titles for $499. Multimedia Gallery: Everything you need to get started in multimedia--an NEC CDR-74 CD-ROM drive, complete interface, NEC audio board, speakers, headphones, and six top multimedia titles for $999. NEC Technologies, 1255 Michael Drive, Wood Dale, Illinois 60191; (800) 826-2255.
95. ScanMan Color: Powerful 24-bit color hand-held scanner that provides virtual page scanning, automatic scan stitching, color image-editing software, and much, much more. List price, $699. Logitech, 6505 Kaiser Drive, Fremont, California 94555; (800) 231-7717.
96. The Microsoft Office for Windows: Four business applications in one package. Microsoft Word for Windows (word processing), Microsoft Excel for Windows (spreadsheet), Microsoft PowerPoint for Windows (presentation graphics), and Microsoft Mail Windows Workstation (electronic mail for PC networks). List price, $799. Microsoft, One Microsoft Way Redmond, Washington 98052; (800) 426-9400.
97. Logitech Fotoman: A portable, automatic-flash, digital camera that downloads photos to your PC. Comes with a host of image-editing tools. List price, $799. See 95 for order information.
98. Media Vision Pro 16 Multimedia System: Contains everything you need to convert a 286, 386, or 486 PC into a multimedia PC system. Includes a complete NEC CD-ROM drive kit; multimedia tutorials, applications, and demonstrations; Compton's Multimedia Encyclopedia; and more. $1,195.00. Media Vision, 47221 Fremont Boulevard, Fremont, California 94538; (510) 770-8600. Also available is the Sound Blaster Multimedia Upgrade Kit from Creative Labs, featuring the Sound Blaster Pro sound card, CD-ROM drive, MIDI kit with sequencer software, Windows 3.1, Microsoft Bookshelf, Microsoft Works for Windows, and more. 799.05. Creative Labs, 1901 McCarthy Boulevard, Milpitas, California 95035; (800) 998-5227.
99. Okidata OL400 LED Page Printer: Highly recommended if you're in the market for a basic, entry-level laser printer that can be upgraded as your printing needs increase. List price, $1,099. Okidata, 532 Fellowship Road, Mt. Laurel, New Jersey 08054; (800) 654-3282.
100. SNAPplus: Lets you capture, edit, and record video from your VCR, camcorder, or any other video source. A video capture board and VGA card all in one--something that desktop publishers can really appreciate. List price, $1,295. Cardinal Technologies, 1827 Freedom Road, Lancaster, Pennsylvania 17601; (800) 233-0187.
101. The Notepad 386SX-20 leather notebook computer: Designed with the discriminating executive in mind. Comes with a matching portfolio case; a 9600-/2400-bps fax/modem; a 40-, 60-, or 80MB internal hard drive; and more. List price (with a 40MB hard drive), $2,499. Lighthorse Technologies, 4105 Tolowa Street, San Diego, California 92117; (800) 443-3446 or (619) 270-7399.
If you want to see more gift ideas in the entertainment area, check out "The Top 25," the entertainment feature in this issue, and Test Lab for multimedia products.
When All Else Fails ...
Ask the sales associates at your local computer store if gift certificates are available. Also, check with resellers who normally put out catalogs that show you what they have in stock.
Ten Things to Know Before You Buy
Whether you're buying for a computer-loving friend, spouse, teenager, or youngster, you need certain information to make an intelligent choice. The following list specifies ten information bits you may need handy to purchase software or hardware compatible with the individual's computer system. Call a local dealer for guidance on which of these ten to investigate and to help answer these questions if you'd rather not ask the person directly. 1. What kind of computer is it? 2. Is the processor a 286, 386, 386SX, 86, or 486SX? 3. How many megabytes of RAM does the system have? 4. How much hard drive space does the system have, and how much is unused? 5. Does the system have XT, AT, or MCA bus architecture (or 8-bit, 16-bit, or 32-bit bus cards)? 6. Are there any bays available for an internal backup system, 3 1/2- or 5 1/4-inch floppy drive, or CD-ROM drive? 7. If you're buying a tape backup system, how many megabytes of data does the person need to back up? 8. What kind of software does the person like (productivity, games, education)? 9. If you're buying software, does the person need a package that suits a DOS or Windows environment? 10. Does the software provide mouse support, and does it require a sound card, modem, or CD-ROM drive?