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Kindle is a hard-to-get gift

At $140, the Kindle has become one of the hottest gift items for the holiday. So much so, Amazon has cut off Christmas sales to Canada and Europe, promising it would get them to non-US buyers sometime in February.

If you are not in the US, you have to look elsewhere for a gadget presents. Here is where to get some ideas of Christmas gifts.

One of my favourite sites for reviews is CNet.com. Its holiday gift guide breaks presents down by price range and type, for all the different gradations you sort family and friends into. If you just want the best, click on the editors' top picks.

They recommend Seagate's FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-portable hard drive, which has 1.5TB of space and is a good way to start 2011, with fresh memory, so to speak. They call the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W350 “a sweet little wide-angle compact”. Personally, I also recommend the Sony line of compact cameras based on their Zeiss lens and superior colour rendition. Sony compacts provide superior colour saturation in many cases, compared to the dullish rendition provided by other cameras.

For video, they recommend the Panasonic HDC-SD60S, but avoid paying list price or then it becomes overpriced for the value.

PC Magazine (www.pcmag.com) is another must visit for the desperate.

Their gift guide also breaks down the choice into categories, with the best reviewed sitting near the top. Among the site's recommendations are the “best products of 2010”. These include the iPad and iPhone of course. In the desktop category, PC Mag recommends the Apple iMac 27-inch (Core i5). There is no need to say anymore. Apple wins hands down in many categories for power, sleekness of design and innovative features. In the laptop category, the Sony Vaio VPC-Z116GXS is recommended for being the “lightest and most powerful ultraportable money can buy”. The features include a backlit keyboard, high resolution screen, and support for multiple SSD drives.

In the netbook category, the editors pick the Toshiba Mini NB305-N410.

It “remains the netbook that gives you the most for the least amount of money”. That sounds good to my pocketbook. For the Apple fan in all of us, I recommend heading over to Macworld (www.macworld.com) where, as is typical, you will find a listing of gifts for the do-gooders in addition to the usual gift guide.

Their first choice is to contribute to the Blacksmith Institute, which uses the money to clean up all that electronic waste that gets dumped in the poorer countries of the world, posing a great hazard to people.

As with many of these organisations, you can make a donation in someone's name.

If you want the satisfaction of getting something while giving something, try the solar-powered BoGo Light from SunNight Solar.

Purchase one light for $60 or $30, and SunNight sends another to a developing region. This is a smart company. According to Macworld, the company originally made only an orange light, then released one in pink to prevent men from stealing the gadgets from female villagers.

Other choices of charitable gifts are available from MacWorld, including making a donation to One Laptop Per Child, my favourite. For $200 you can send a hand-cranked laptop to a school or a child.

Finally, I must say a word about Which? (www.which.co.uk), the UK's consumer organization that publishes unbiased reviews and does not take advertising. The organisation is very thorough.

First, I would give a subscription to a friend, instead of an actual gadget, especially if that friend is constantly buying equipment. Rather than buying something expensive they may already have or don't want, you will be helping them make the right choice. A subscription provides access to the online database, which is rich with reviews and recommendations.

If you are looking for a free guide for your own gifts, simply sign up online for a free test membership and access the reviews. That's my tips for Christmas. Hope they helped and have a great holiday season.

Send any comments to elamin.ahmed[AT]gmail.com

Holiday gift in demand: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos displays a Kindle

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Published December 22, 2010 at 1:00 am (Updated December 22, 2010 at 6:54 am)

Kindle is a hard-to-get gift

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