2008 Geek Gift Guide: 18 Toys to Make a Techie Happy

Eighteen economical, expensive, and just plain weird tech gifts for your friends and family.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Page 5
Page 5 of 12

He comes equipped with a color LCD screen, which creates the animated "face"; four infrared sensors so it can avoid obstacles (and, hopefully, your pet cat); a built-in microphone so you can make voice memos; 64MB of built-in memory; and an SD memory card slot. You can even change Mr. Personality's personality using the included PC software, and download more from WowWee's Web site.

Mr. Personality isn't a cheap companion -- he lists at $300 and needs six C batteries in order to tool around your home. But isn't that a small price to pay for your own robotic stand-up comedian?

-- Barbara Krasnoff

Mr. Personality from WowWee Group Ltd.

Street price: $244 - $300  |  Store locator  |  Phone: 800-310-3033

Summary: Hey, didja hear the one about.... You didn't? Then try Mr. Personality, the wise-cracking home robot.

Digital photography

These days, almost anyone can produce photos that look professional -- if they have the right equipment. If you want your friends or family members to have the right imaging stuff, make sure they have a really great camera and a really great photo editor. And for an extra thrill, you can give them the ability to show off in three dimensions.

On a Budget: IrfanView

If you've been into digital photography for more than a week, you know that you need photo editing software, an essential tool for removing that ugly green skin tone or cropping your ex-boyfriend out of the image. You could try the $700 Photoshop CS4, which is so complicated it will upgrade to CS5 before you learn to use it. Or you can get IrfanView, a free toolbox of digital photography utilities.

Click here to view Geek Gift Guide slide show.

IrfanView was created by Irfan Skiljan, who calls the software a photo viewer. But it is much more. For example, I recently sent 50 TIFF images, all about 50MB, through the IrfanView batch conversion utility.

I asked it to resize the pictures to 300 dpi with the long dimension at 1600 pixels; to apply moderate sharpening; to "auto-adjust colors"; to rename the files; and to output them in JPG format. I could have also asked it to crop, flip or rotate; convert to black and white; adjust brightness, contrast, color saturation or color balance; or a half-dozen other things.

That's a huge amount of processing, but it took just 160 seconds, or about three seconds per image, on my midrange Dell desktop. It's the sort of thing you might want to do when preparing photos for production of a book (as I was), for uploading to a Web site, or for downsizing and making bulk improvements to your images before archiving them. Or when you simply want to make your ex disappear.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Page 5
Page 5 of 12
Discover what your peers are reading. Sign up for our FREE email newsletters today!