Cool Stuff: Your 2008 Christmas Gift Guide

18 economical, expensive, and just plain weird tech gifts for your friends and family

Acoustibuds have just hit the market and aren't available everywhere, but you can get them at, and they may find their way into other retail outlets in time for the holidays.

-- David DeJean

Over the Top: InFocus IN1102 projector

Gift-giving is tough when the giftee is a media freak. These people tend to be hardware-obsessives who are way ahead of you. There's almost nothing you can give them for a reasonable amount of money that they haven't already given themselves. So do the obvious: Spend an unreasonable amount of money on something truly superb: the InFocus IN1102 projector.

InFocus has been the conference-room Cadillac of video projectors for years, and the recently released 1102 is the baby of the family. It lists for a breathtaking US$1,199, but it's the real deal: 2200 lumens, 1800:1 contrast ratio, 1680 by 1050 maximum resolution, and image size from 28 inches diagonal at 3.9 feet to 304 inches at 39 feet, just in case they want to do auditorium shows. It's got necessary features like USB connectivity to laptops (PCs and Macs), wireless remote and digital keystone correction.

At 2.75 pounds and 2.5 by 8.3 by 7.1 inches, the InFocus IN1102 is not exactly pocket-size, but it will fit in a carry-on -- and give great, no-compromises media when it gets there.

-- David DeJean

Off the Wall: Eco Media Player

If you're trying to go greener with your gift-giving this year, here's something that will help: a hand-powered media player. Turn the crank on the Baylis Eco Media Player for one minute, and it will play audio for 45 minutes or video for about half that time.

Sleek is not a word you would apply to the Eco. In fact, it's a 4.5-by-2.5-by-1-inch, 6-ounce handful of clunky, mostly because of its built-in generator and crank. But it's also a big bunch of clever. It's actually a dual-power device -- its lithium-ion battery charges from USB as well as the hand-crank. There are 4GB and 8GB versions available, and both include a standard SD slot for expansion.

On the audio side, the Eco supports MP3, WMA, WAV, OGG and AAC files, and also includes an FM radio tuner. Its 220-by-176-pixel screen will display AVI and WMV files (it comes with conversion software for other formats) and photos.

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