The Gadget Q&A
Gadget gifts for all types
Not every tech-lover on your list is dying for an iPad. Here are some suggestions to help you sort it all out.
The WingStand lets you use tablets and phones comfortably with a keyboard. (Wingstand.com photo)
A: Something cool and unusual that he or she wouldn't think of. It gets tricky because you don't want to blow out your bank account, and because one person's "cool and unusual" is another's "dire and dreadful."
So buying a phone, tablet, video game system or laptop for someone is great if you know the model your gadget lover wants. But if you don't, you can always bring oohs and ahhs with just the right accessory that adds more joy to your gift recipient's favorite toy.
THE iPHONE 4 FREAK:
The Kogeto Dot ($79; kogeto.com) definitely fits the description of "something cool and unusual that he or she wouldn't think of." It's a plastic lens that snaps over the iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S and lets the phone capture video in 360 degrees, video that can be easily shared on Facebook, Twitter or by email.
If you receive a video that someone shot while walking through Times Square, you can spin the point of view around (via click-drag on a computer or by swiping the video on your phone). Watch the LED billboards on the left, then pivot your view to see the person behind the camera, then pivot again to see other tourists and traffic on the right. To get a sense of what I'm yammering about, check out kogeto.com/dotspots.
It's great for someone who loves to shoot videos on the go (it's awful in low-light situations) and you'll get a kick out of seeing their videos in a whole new way.
THE TABLET TOTER:
The WingStand ($14.95; wingstand.com) is a humble idea that packs a lot of wow. Two curved pieces of sturdy plastic sit on a tabletop or other flat, horizontal surface and hold that new tablet at a comfortable reading angle. The WingStand designed to be used with a portable keyboard that makes your tablet or phone feel more like a laptop, but it looks and works great by itself.
The viewing angle doesn't adjust, but the WingStand is stable and securely holds a tablet or phone even while the device is being swiped. The two parts snap together so they aren't easily misplaced. This is one find your gift recipient soon will be thanking you for over and over.
THE COMPUTER CAPTAIN:
Know someone who has high-speed Internet but won't go wireless, so the computer is stuck in the same room as the modem? Give that person freedom with the Netgear Powerline AV 200 Adapter Kit ($76.75; amazon.com). Plug one adapter into an outlet near the modem, then plug the other adapter into an outlet in any other room in the house; then connect the modem to the first adapter and the computer to another adapter and just like that, instant high-speed network.
So if the modem and computer have always been in the living room, now the modem can stay put and the computer can go to the bedroom, kitchen, even the bathroom (stay away from that tub, though!). A powerline connection is fast, compared to a wireless connection, so web pages load nearly instantly, and there are no settings to fool with, and the AV 200 lets you press a button to secure your data from would-be snoopers.
The AV 200 is on sale because a newer model is expected soon, but it's a great way to give a little more freedom of movement to someone with high-speed Internet but no wireless setup.
Do you have a tech question? Send a note to Eric Gwinn at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include your name, location and a way to reach you if we need more information -- and your question, of course.