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Computerworld's 2012 holiday gift guide

By Computerworld staff
December 6, 2012 06:00 AM ET
FinderCodes tag
A FinderCodes tag (credit: FinderCodes).
Click to view larger image.
FinderCodes Electronics Lost & Found Kit

Electronic gadgets make tempting presents, but they're easy to lose. The FinderCodes kit won't keep your friends from misplacing their phones, laptops or other devices, but it will increase their chances of getting them back.

The FinderCodes system is based on a set of tags with QR codes that you can attach to valuable items. Anyone who finds a lost item can scan the code with their smartphone or enter it at the findercodes.com website.

FinderCodes then notifies the object's owner that someone has found it and provides a way for the finder to contact the owner. The company will even reward the finder (with a FinderCode product) if they share their story.

The Electronics Lost & Found Kit comes with two tags with rings for attaching to key rings, bags, cameras and so on, plus five adhesive tags for phones, laptops and the like. FinderCodes also sells kits designed for travelers, pet owners, students and more, each with different selections of tag formats and sizes.

-- Jake Widman

Price: $25
Summary: The FinderCodes Electronics Lost & Found Kit might help your friends get their lost gadgets back.

Fling Mini

You've noticed your friends playing games on their smartphones, but something seems to be missing. What could it be? Right -- they don't have joysticks! Remedy that by giving them a Fling Mini for the true arcade experience.

Fling Mini
The Fling Mini (credit: Ten One Design). Click to view larger image.

The Fling Mini attaches to a smartphone screen with little suction cups; there are two Fling Minis in a pack. You position the thumb-controlled buttons over the joystick controls displayed on the screen. The coiled-spring design automatically returns the buttons to the home position after a maneuver.

The Fling Mini works with iPhones, iPod Touches and Android smartphones. (Ten One also makes a larger Fling joystick for tablets.) The company has helpfully compiled a list of more than 200 games that are supposed to be compatible with the Fling mini. (Perhaps an app store gift card would make a nice accompanying gift.)

You might also like: ThinkGeek's iCade 8-Bitty wireless game controller ($24.99) offers another way to get hands-on with smartphone games. About the size of a smartphone, the 8-Bitty connects via Bluetooth and provides a D-pad and eight buttons that will be familiar to any old-school handheld gamers.

-- Jake Widman

Summary: The Fling Mini gives your smartphone gaming friends a pair of physical joysticks to make it easier to play. Joysticks to the world!

Crumpler All and Sundry bag

Modern-day digital life requires a lot of tech support. And we don't mean the call center, hand-holding type; we mean the assortment of cables, plugs, adapters and so on that's required to keep all our devices running. The resulting rat's nest can make packing a nightmare and finding the right item upon arrival even worse.

Crumpler All and Sundry bag
The All and Sundry bag (credit: Crumpler).
Click to view larger image.

That's why your traveling gadget-hound friends will be forever grateful that you eased their pain with the Crumpler All and Sundry bag.

The All and Sundry will keep all their accessories together in one accessible location. The roughly 12-x-5.5-x-2-in. bag has a zipper in the middle so it's easier to get at the contents than if it were a deep, dark pouch. Alternatively, the sides can be folded back and snapped together to create two separate compartments.

The All and Sundry is waterproof and comes with a lifetime "Til Death Do Us Part" guarantee that provides repair or replacement to the original owner.

You might also like: Skooba Design's SkoobaWrap ($14 - $19) looks like a sort of gadget diaper: a padded square cloth that has scratch-free nylon on one side, a tricot "Velcro-compatible" material on the other and hook/loop closures at the four corners, making a protective cushion you can fold or roll around almost anything. The SkoobaWrap comes in three sizes, from 12 x 12 in. to 22 x 22 in.

-- Jake Widman

Price: $30
Tech specs  |  Store locator  |  Phone: (718) 384-3020
Summary: The Crumpler All and Sundry bag will give your friends a way to carry all the cables and adapters needed for the other gifts in this guide.

GoSmart Stylus

Even your skinny-fingered friends will appreciate a GoSmart Stylus to go with their touchscreen device.

GoSmart Stylus 200 and 300 series
The GoSmart Stylus 200 and 300 series (credit: GoSmart).
Click to view larger image.

Unlike common rubber-tipped styli, which only work when held at a reasonably upright angle and can obscure the icon or text box you're trying to tap, the GoSmart styli have open, wheel-shaped tips (coated with Teflon to let them glide smoothly) so you can see the target between the spokes. The connector between the tip and the aluminum shaft is flexible so that the circular tip can stay flat on the tablet even when the shaft is practically lying on the tablet.

GoSmart offers two varieties of stylus. The 200 Series looks like a traditional pen and has a clip for carrying it in your pocket. The 300 Series trades the clip for a rocket ship-like four-finned cap that keeps it from rolling off your desk and lets it stand on its own. The 300 series also has magnets that will keep it attached to the side of an iPad or any other magnetic surface.

-- Jake Widman

Price: $24.95
Summary: The GoSmart stylus allow touchscreen fans to sign, draw and doodle with ease.

Wireless Wipes

Do we really need to trot out the statistics about how many germs our cell phones and smartphones harbor? Let's just say that a little disinfecting goes a long way toward keeping E. coli, staph and other creepy crawlies off your loved ones' mobile devices -- and away from their faces.

Wireless Wipes
Wireless Wipes in three scents (credit: Wireless Wipes).
Click to view larger image.

That's what Wireless Wipes are for. These alcohol-based antibacterial wipes dry fast, leaving behind a clean screen and some peace of mind. They're available in three scents -- green tea cucumber, rosemary peppermint and pomegranate citrus -- and come in resealable pouches that are easy to carry around, making them useful for ATMs and computer keyboards and mice too.

You can find individual pouches of 12 wipes for sale at various online retailers and brick-and-mortar stores, usually for around $4 to $5, or you can buy packs of 3 pouches (36 wipes total) directly from the company for $10.

-- Valerie Potter

Phone: (855) 699-4737
Summary: Keep bacteria off your loved ones' phones (and leave a fresh scent) with these handy wipes.

Read more about Hardware in Computerworld's Hardware Topic Center.



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