The New Media Gift Buying Guide

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The Holiday Season can be one of the most annoying times of year for those who need to purchase gifts for people like me.

What do you get the modern business person who by night checks out gadget and tech blogs like Engadget and Boing Boing, and by day looks for that brief interlude to escape the office and troll the aisles of Best Buy or the Apple Store? How do you put a smile on the face of someone who spends hours sniffing for a prime Wi-Fi connection to download the latest apps and goodies from the Internet?

The list below will give you some ideas to please the person in your life who loves anything that has buttons on it.


Sure they have a desktop computer at the office and a laptop for on-the-go. They might even have an iPhone, but do they have a Netbook?

These ultra-portable mini laptop computers are brand new and all the rage. They’re certainly not powerful enough to run all of the major applications we’ve become accustomed to, but they are amazing for surfing the Internet, checking your email and futzing around on Facebook. They usually weigh in at around two pounds and have screens less than nine inches wide. These are not meant to replace a laptop, but are cool and fun for doing Web stuff (and act as a great back-up computer for travel). I have the Acer Aspire One, but other brands include Asus, Dell and HP. They range in price from $300 – $600.

iPod Touch

Do they really need another iPod in their life? If they’re not interested in an iPhone but want to do more than just listen to music, the iPod Touch is the perfect gift. It is, essentially, an iPhone without the phone part. They can listen to music, surf the Web, download applications and games, watch movies and oh so much more. It’s a great little device and the touch screen is the exact same as the iPhone (boy, will they look cool). They range in price and memory size, but figure in the $300 range. I’m hoping my stocking gets stuffed with a 32 GB version this holiday season.

Sony eBook Reader

Unfortunately, the Amazon Kindle eBook reader is not available in Canada, but thankfully, the Sony eBook Reader is. While these are still nascent devices and they have some quirky usability issues, it is still an amazing gift. Being able to store hundred of digital books on this slick little reader will make them the envy of every airport lounge visitor. It’s also a perfect gift, because it’s probably something that they would never buy for themselves. It retails for about $300.

Western Digital – My Passport Elite – Portable Hard Drive – 500 GB

Most people still get excited about their little USB thumb drives, but for people who like to make sure they have all of their information with them at all times, nothing beats these slim (usually about 2.5 inches thick) and cool looking portable hard drives. The best part is, with 500 GB of storage space, it’s usually enough for an entire hard drive and iPod to be backed up – with room to spare for additional music, images and video files. They’re also light enough to always carry in a briefcase. Depending on size, you can grab one of these for under $200 and they’re available from multiple manufacturers.

Logitech 2.4 GHz Cordless Presenter

All new business types have to give presentations, whether for a client or peers. Instead of standing at the podium and clicking the down arrow on their keyboard to advance the slides, help them look like a real pro by using giving them this remote presenter. There are many different models and brands, but this one is the best. It has a great grip and feel, but the best feature is a digital countdown timer that will notify you with a silent vibration when you have five minutes left and when your time is up. It also works from a distance if, for example, your laptop has to be set up at the AV table in the back of the room. It costs about $80.

Samsonite Pro-DLX 2 computer backpack

One walk through the departure level at any airport and you’ll notice more and more professionals trudging along with backpacks instead of briefcases. This Samsonite pro rocks. It’s small enough to fit the essentials, but with more than enough room for a laptop, power cable, mouse, iPod, files, magazines and more. It looks great and carries well. Save your loved one’s back this holiday season while making him or her look oh-so Silicon Valley. It retails for about $150.

Allsop Notebook Cool Channel Platform

More and more people use a laptop as a main computer. And, if you’re at all like me, you’re probably doing stuff on your laptop at home while the television plays a similar role to the wallpaper in the background. The problem is, these laptops tend to heat up and this can do as much damage to the computer’s innards as it can to your private parts (nobody likes hot nuts). This pad is perfect because it offers a nice angle and is not powered by the laptop USB, like other laptop cooling platforms are. You can grab one and saved your loved one’s essentials for about $25.

There’s also nothing wrong with giving something a little more analog, like a book. In the past little while, these five books recently hit the shelves and all of them are worthy of your loved one’s time and attention:

Outliers – The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell.

Tribes – We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin.

The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging by the editors of The Huffington Post and Arianna Huffington.

Reality Check – The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your Competition by Guy Kawasaki.

Remix – Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy by Lawrence Lessig.

Happy shopping and don’t forget that if you want to avoid traffic, elbows in the shopping malls or trampling by the mobs hunting down the elusive $99 Blu-Ray DVD player, you can always fire up your own computer and shop for everything online.

What’s on your wish list?

The above posting is my twice-monthly column for the Montreal Gazette and Vancouver Sun newspapers called, New Business – Six Pixels of Separation. I cross-post it here with all the links and tags for your reading pleasure, but you can check out the original versions online here:

Vancouver Sun – A few gift suggestions for those ‘new business’ types in your life.

Montreal Gazette – Holiday cheer for the gadgeteer.


  1. Look for the Mio P560, available in Canada through This little PDA contains all the features of the IPod Touch, plus an integrated GPS and MS Office suite, plus integrated voice recorder.
    You can also turn it into a free cell phone through Skype and the built-in Wi-Fi.

  2. The one book I’ve get to pick up which is on my wish list is Back Of The Napkin by Dan Roam.
    My other two wishes would be like Sebastien, getting a Kindle (or even just making it available in Canada). Everybody could use a 2nd netbook while we’re at it.

  3. Love, love, love your ideas and links!! Most of these little gifts can be modified for the holidays too with the substitution of red and green for the ribbons and other trimmings.
    Thanks for sharing!

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