It's that time again. That's right--time to take 10 deep breaths to ward off the Christmas-gift shopping jitters. If that doesn't make you feel better, maybe the following list of Home Tech toys will. Santa's gone electronic in the '80s, so why shouldn't you?
Our gift suggestions focus on the slightly unusual, and prices (we give retail; shop for discounts) range from $14.95 to the stratospheric. The information numbers are for manufacturers, who may--or may not--be able to help out if you can't locate these products.
PIXIE PICS. Why should the grown-ups have all the fun with camcorders? Now there's a special one made for kids--Fisher Price's "Pixelvision" system. The PXL-2000 uses a standard high-bias audiocassette that only captures 10 minutes worth of black-and-white-only images. The $225 outfit includes two-pound, prefocused camcorder, built-in microphone and even a tiny TV to hook the camcorder into for playback. Information: (716) 687-3000.
RUNNING WITH THE PACK. For your jogging/hiking friend who owns a portable CD player, CD/Mate of Burbank makes a handy-dandy compact disc carrier that can be attached to the player. The company has recently replaced its six-CD carrier with one that packs along 10 discs in fleece-lined pockets. This allows the user to leave bulky "jewel boxes" at home and gives one-handed access. The surface is black polyurethane, the cost $14.95. Information: (818) 500-8303.
PHONE-Y HAL. Once upon a future time, HAL was a spaceship computer that talked--deceitfully at times. Now it's a much smaller, relatively silent gadget with numbered yellow dots that your gift-getter can punch to program a VCR over the phone. Of course, if your friend's like the rest of us, he/she probably hasn't quite licked the problem of programming a VCR the regular way. However, HAL features a "home mode" that may make that easier, too. Made by Advanced Video Dynamics, HAL is ready to serve humanity for $199. Information: (215) 630-6400.
JUST IN TIME. Time marches on after Christmas, with lots of hours to fill by watching videos. Why not make the experience both enjoyable and educational for your giftee by giving one of Nelson/Embassy's "The March of Time" gift packs? Each one contains six tapes chockful of those incredible shorts Time magazine put together for movie theaters back in the '40s and '50s. More like abbreviated documentaries than newsreels, these views of a past America are utterly fascinating. The newest six-pack focuses on World War II. Packs run $150 or tapes can be bought individually for $24.95. Information: (213) 285-6000.
HEY, BIG SPENDER. What you've seen so far isn't worthy of bestowing on your spoiled loved one? How about a VCR? No, not just any VCR, but one of those new, sharper-picture Super-VHS models. And not just Super-VHS, but digital Super-VHS. The digital part is what distinguishes RCA's Model VPT695HF from most others in this new category. Like other Super-VHS decks, RCA's has most of the high-end goodies you'd expect--MTS decoding, hi-fi stereo sound, an index system and so on.But it also features the special effects that only digital circuitry can provide, like jitter-free freeze-frames and mosaic/solarization "painting." All for a mere $1,300. Information: (317) 267-5000.
SUPER GIFT: THE SEQUEL. Now your friend has a Super-VHS VCR but he/she still isn't satisfied. "Where are the prerecorded cassettes to rent for this thing?" he/she yells. To avoid this ugly scene maybe you'd better inform the ingrate that regular VHS tapes can be played on all Super-VHS decks, too. If that's not enough, also purchase--whew, this is getting expensive--a Super-VHS camcorder for this hard-to-please person. One like Hitachi's VM-6000A--a full-sized model that, besides features such as HQ circuitry and auto focus, also has a self-timer that allows the user to get into the action. That'll be $1,700, thank you. Information: (213) 774-5151 or (800) 262-1502.