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Visions of Toasters and iPods Dance in Their Heads

This year's picks, available online as well as at Apple's new retail stores, are sure to please anyone. Except maybe Bill Gates.

November 29, 2001|JIM HEID | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

There's no place like Mac for the holidays--especially this year, with Apple shipping some particularly squeal-worthy products.

And this year, you have more choice of where to do your Mac shopping. Yes, you can shop online at the Apple store (http://www.apple.com/store) or from online retailers such as MacConnection (http://www.macconnection.com). But you might have more fun if you trek to one of the three Los Angeles-area Apple retail stores. You'll find well-stocked Apple carts at Glendale Galleria, at Northridge Fashion Center and at Newport Beach's Fashion Island. Get directions to these and other Apple stores at http://www.apple.com/retail.

With that, here's my list for the North Pole. I'll admit my dream gifts are a bit pricey, but I've also included some inexpensive picks that may be more compatible with our humbug economy.

The iBook: Combining good performance and a stylish, compact design, the iBook portable computer is one of Apple's 2001 success stories. Its size and weight make it a great choice for students and frequent fliers. And it's Apple's best laptop value--the titanium-clad PowerBook G4 is faster and has a bigger, better screen, but costs $2,100 to $3,200.

The $1,299 entry-level iBook is swell, but the $1,599 model is faster and has a built-in CD burner. The $1,699 model tops the line, packing an optical drive that burns CDs and plays back DVDs. You can throw in Brenthaven's $79 Mobility 1 carrying case to keep the iBook's icy-white case free of scratches.

The iPod: If the Mac owner in your life loves music, you won't find a better present than the iPod, Apple's new portable MP3 music player.

It's tiny and easy to use, and with a capacity of about 1,000 tunes, it can hold almost every Christmas song that Perry Como ever recorded. At $399, the iPod is about twice as expensive as many other MP3 players, but its design makes those players look like 8-track tape decks.

Note that the iPod requires a Mac with a built-in FireWire jack. Every current Mac has one, as do most models made within the last few years.

If you're in doubt, sneak a peek at the ports on your prospective recipient's Mac: The FireWire ports (there are two on most Macs) are labeled with an icon that looks like the letter Y.

Some OS X-ware: Most serious Mac enthusiasts are jazzed over Mac OS X, the latest version of Apple's operating system software. A fine choice for Mac-heads who have been very, very good is Microsoft's $499 Office v. X for Mac. It's the latest and best version of Microsoft's venerable business suite and is the single most important set of programs yet released for Mac OS X.

After something less serious or less expensive? Consider an OS X game. Aspyr's $34 "Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2" is a frighteningly accurate skateboarding simulator. Apple's online store is selling it and two more OS X games, "Baldur's Gate" and "Age of Empires II," as a bundle for $99.

And if your Mac enthusiast is lost in the complex new landscape of OS X, give a copy of "Macworld Mac OS X Bible," by Lon Poole and Dennis Cohen (Hungry Minds, $39). It's the definitive book on OSX.

A tiny USB hub: Many add-ons--scanners, printers, digital cameras, even some speakers--connect to the Mac's Universal Serial Bus ports. When you have more devices than you have ports, you need a USB hub.

The $33 T3Hub from Dr. Bott (http://www.drbott.com) packs three USB ports into a case that's smaller than a pack of gum. Available in three colors, it's a great stocking stuffer for hardware-laden Mac users.

A new toaster: If your recipient's Mac contains a CD burner, feed it a copy of Roxio's $89 Toast 5 Titanium. Toast provides far more control over the CD-burning process than does the software that accompanies the Mac.

There you have it. Enough gift suggestions to please anyone, except maybe Bill Gates.

*

Jim Heid is a contributing editor of Macworld magazine. He can be reached at jim@jimheid.com.

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