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  12-19-03 | This column originally appeared in the Houston Chronicle.


Last Minute Gift Ideas


By Bob LeVitus

With the number of shopping days dwindling, if you’re still stuck on what to buy the Mac enthusiast in your life, here are a few mostly inexpensive gifts, most of which can still be ordered via their Web sites and received in time for the holiday.

Let’s start with a tip: The Apple Store online is offering free 2-3 day shipping on all qualifying orders until December 27th. So you can order just about anything they sell and have it in time for Christmas or Chanukah. The Apple Store carries a lot of cool stuff, including all of the items in today’s column.

So let’s start with a biggie—if you really love that special someone, you’re going to want them to have the very best: A Power Mac G5 Dual 2GHz with a 23-inch Apple Cinema HD Display. Who wouldn’t love that?

Another drool-worthy Apple gift is the iSight video camera and iChat AV software, so you can teleconference with other Mac users any time you like.

If you really love them, but not to the tune of five grand, there’s always an iPod, a fine gift any rational human will adore. With prices starting at $229 (for a refurbished 10GB model), it won’t decimate your budget, either.

What’s that you say? Your loved one already has an iPod? Well then, you’re in luck, because there is no shortage of excellent accessories and add-ons for iPods.

iPods and automobiles go together like peanut butter and Nutella™, but for maximum mobile listening enjoyment, you’ll need a few additional items.

For one thing, you need a way to listen to your iPod through your car stereo system. If the car has a cassette player, the Sony CPA-9C Car Cassette Adaptor is probably the best (and certainly the cheapest) way to go. If your ride is cassette-less, you’ll have to opt Griffin Technology’s iTrip, which lets you play your iPod through any FM radio. I’ve tried ‘em all and I still think the C. Crane Digital FM Transmitter ( is the best one out there. But it’s twice the price ($79.99) of the iTrip, and requires batteries or a cigarette lighter adapter. The elegant little iTrip, on the other hand, uses power supplied by the iPod, so it never runs out of juice (though your iPod might…).

You’ll need a place for that iPod in the car, and the best thing I’ve tried so far is the Belkin TuneDok, which cradles your iPod gently with an Air-Grip suction cup, and mounts in any available cup holder in your car. Finally, consider the XtremeMac iPod Car Charger, for times when 8 to 10 hours of battery life just isn’t enough.

There are a ton of other wonderful accessories for the iPod—so many, in fact, I’m planning another whole column about them soon—but since I’m running out of space, here is one last idea for poor souls without an iPod.

If your loved one loves to have fun, there’s nothing quite like the just-released Halo, from MacSoft. We were beta testers; my 11 year-old son, who mastered the XBox version of Halo in days and still plays it often, says the Mac version’s multiplayer modes (which include free Internet game matching) “kick butt.” Needless to say, I like it pretty well, too.

Apple Power Mac G5 Dual 2GHz: From $2,999.
Apple Cinema HD Display:
Apple iSight:
Apple iChat AV: $29.95 (free with OS X 10.3 Panther)
Apple iPod:
From $229 (refurb) and from $299 (new)
Sony CPA-9C Car Cassette Adaptor:
Griffin iTrip:
XtremeMac iPod Car Charger:
Halo, from MacSoft
: $49.95

Bob LeVitus is a leading authority on Mac OS and the author of 41 books, including The Little iTunes Book and Mac OS X for Dummies, 2nd Edition. E-mail comments to

Copyright © 2003 Bob LeVitus

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