DIGITAL GEAR - Nifty and inexpensive holiday buys

Great gift ideas for the holiday season

If you have trouble finding cheap buys during the holiday shopping season, here are some inexpensive gadgets that could make for great gifts. Oakley will soon ship the sleek Split Thump sunglasses, which have removable headsets and an MP3 player that supports songs from iTunes. For plant enthusiasts, Thirsty Light is offering a lollipop-shaped gadget that measures moisture and alerts users when a plant needs watering. For homebodies, the USB Putt Returner, a minigolf set powered by a USB port, is a game gadget where users can test their putting skills.

Thumping MP3 sunglasses

If sunglasses define your looks, Oakley's Split Thumps offer plenty of substance with their sleek design, built-in MP3 player and removable headset. In fact, these updated sunglasses look better than their predecessors, where headsets looked like antennas popping out of a martian's head. This version has removable speakers and buttons that better align with the sunglasses' sleek design -- it's hard to locate the headsets on the side panel in a quick glance. These sunglasses are targeted at anyone who wants to look cool, according to the company, but are ideal for physically active folks like runners, cyclists or skiers. You can load music from iTunes and play back music in MP3, WMA and WAV formats on the sunglasses. They will be available on November 26, priced between US$249 to $399.

Thirsty Light

Thirsty Light is like a thermometer for plants -- it measures the moisture levels in a plant's soil and has an LED light that blinks when a plant needs to be watered. When placed in soil, the lollipop-shaped device has a sensor that measures the soil's electrical resistance every second, and the LED blinks when the plant is overwatered or needs watering. The gadget helps keep plants appropriately watered, the company claims, and it works with every plant.

For US$9.95, it could be a lifesaver for dying plants. It is available at thirstylight.com. If you have cacti, it obviously may not be needed.

Duracell's new hack at rechargeable

Battery rechargers have been available for years, but Duracell has tweaked its recharger design a bit to make it affordable for batteries in portable products like digital cameras, MP3 players, portable gaming systems and cell phones. In addition to charging normal nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries, the Mobile Charger has a USB port that portable electronics plug into to charge built-in rechargeable batteries. The Mobile Charger plugs into a wall outlet or a car adaptor. It is available for US$24.99.

USB Putt Returner

If the weather's nasty outside, power up your laptop and sharpen your minigolf skills with the USB Putt Returner. Plugging the gadget into a USB port activates the gadget, and a tiny putter can be used to aim a miniature golf ball to a hole inside the Putt Returner. If you strike a hole-in-one, the ball is automatically returned.

Powered by the USB port, this set comes with the Putt Returner gadget, a putter and six miniature golf balls. It's available at DrinkStuff for US$21. As it ships out of the UK, there could be additional shipping costs, and delivery may take some time.

Fujitsu's new laptop

Fujitsu in November introduced the LifeBook S6510, which packs the latest hardware and security features into a lightweight frame. Targeted at professionals, the system comes with a 14.1-inch widescreen system and weighs just 4 pounds (1.81 kilograms).

It also includes the trusted platform module, a chip that stores authentication data including encryption keys, digital certificates and passwords to protect data on PC. Microsoft's Windows Vista OS supports the TPM platform to encrypt and authenticate data.

Prices for the LifeBook S6510 start at US$1,529. A basic system runs Windows Vista Business OS and comes with Intel's Core 2 T7250 Processor, 1G byte of RAM, an 80G byte hard drive, Gigabit Ethernet, a DVD/CD-RW drive, wireless 802.11 a/b/g/n capabilities and TPM security capabilities.

It is available on Fujitsu's Web site.

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