Cool stuff: Your 2009 holiday gift guide

Find the best HDTVs, laptops, smartphones and some surprise goodies to give this year

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More great gifts

We couldn't resist including 10 more gifts that fall outside our five main categories. Here you'll find everything from lovely extravagances to simple stocking stuffers. These gifts are in no particular order, other than that the pricier items are toward the beginning and the less expensive items are toward the end.

ContourHD Camcorder

ContourHD Camcorder

(Click to view larger image)
ContourHD Camcorder

The Flip UltraHD and other inexpensive camcorders are all very well, but if you've got friends or family members who are into skiing, snowboarding, parachuting or just bicycling along a mountain path, you're going to want something that's rugged, well-constructed and hands-off. The ContourHD Camcorder is made for sports enthusiasts who want a record of their adventures.

The 4.3-oz. camera comes with a variety of mounts so that it can hang off goggles, helmets, handlebars or the side of a car. It uses a large, easy-to-handle-with-gloves-on sliding button that turns it on and off, and dual lasers let users align the 180-degree rotating lens so it's pointing where they want it to point.

According to vendor Twenty20, the ContourHD is water, shock, vibration and impact resistant, and the rechargeable battery will provide up to 3 hours of shooting time.

There are currently two models: the ContourHD ($280) for casual users and the ContourHD1080p ($330) for video mavens who want to get the absolute highest-quality shots.

And if you want to see what kind of video we're talking about, check out the ContourHD community site -- it features a bunch of user-uploaded videos that make you feel as if you were there (and, in some cases, grateful that you weren't).

-- Barbara Krasnoff

ContourHD from Twenty20 Inc.

Price: $280  |  Tech specs  |  Phone: 866-397-6920

Summary: Show off your adventurous spirit with this rugged, wearable camcorder.

DNA Art Portrait

Looking for something unique to give this year? How about a personal portrait of your giftee's DNA pattern? DNA 11 extracts the DNA from a sample you send in, places it on a gel, captures an image from the gel, enhances and customizes the image with colors you choose, and prints it on canvas. The original DNA sample is destroyed.

DNA Art Portrait

Two DNA Art Portraits, along with Kiss, Fingerprint and Mini DNA Portraits (Click to view larger image)

Prices start at $199 for an 8 x 10-in. Mini DNA Portrait framed in glass; full-sized DNA Portraits start at $390 and quickly go up as you choose larger sizes and other options.

For instance, a signed 36 x 54-in. gallery-stretched DNA Portrait for one person, along with a downloadable high-resolution digital version of the image, costs $890.

Split-screen DNA Portraits for 2 to 4 people are also available starting at $650. And if you're not wild about the look of the DNA Portraits, DNA 11 also offers Fingerprint Portraits starting at $190 and Kiss Portraits starting at $290.

Of course, you'll need to collect a DNA sample before the portrait can be made. This might ruin the surprise, as it's rather hard to swab the inside of someone's mouth without attracting her attention. Fortunately, you can simply send a gift box containing a DNA-collection kit or even a gift certificate to leave all the choices to the giftee.

-- Valerie Potter

DNA Art Portraits from DNA 11 Inc.

Price: $200 - $1,400  |  How it works  |  Phone: 866-619-9574

Summary: Celebrate your giftee's individuality with a unique DNA Art Portrait.

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7b QuietPoint Active Noise-cancelling headphones

Having been a big fan of the industry-leading Bose QuietComfort headphones for many years, I've tried and rejected many other noise-cancelling models.

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7b QuietPoint headphones
ATH-ANC7b QuietPoint headphones  (Click to view larger image)

Then I put Audio-Technica's QuietPoint ATH-ANC7b to the test in several settings over a two-month period. I found them to be the first headphones that rival the Bose models in comfort, noise-cancelling ability and sound quality. Here's the kicker: The going street price for the ATH-ANC7b ($150 - $200) is significantly less than the comparable $300 Bose QuietComfort 15 set.

So are there any trade-offs? Not many. Both models have cushy foam ear covers and headbands, but the Bose product is a bit cushier with softer ear cups. The ATH-ANC7b is slightly bigger overall, but not by enough to matter. Both models use a single AAA battery and sport an on/off button.

Unlike the QuietComfort 15, the ANT-ANC7b lets you listen to music with the power switch in the off position; however, the sound quality is noticeably degraded. Both come with a zip case containing essential converters; the Bose case is slightly smaller when all zipped up, while the Audio-Technica case offers a bit more storage for extra stuff.

In short, the differences between these two products are negligible. But the Audio-Technica headphones are the clear value leader and would make an excellent gift for any frequent flier.

-- Scot Finnie

ATH-ANC7b QuietPoint Active Noise-cancelling Headphones from Audio-Technica U.S. Inc.

Street price: $150 - $200  |  Tech specs  |  Store locator  |  Phone: 800-329-8628

Summary: Get top-of-the-line noise cancelling, sound and comfort -- for significantly less than the market-leading headphones.


Okay, you know and I know that it's nearly impossible to track all the store receipts, bills, notes, business cards and other assorted pieces of paper that we collect over the course of a typical week. If you're really, really organized, you might be able to produce them again when tax time rolls around.

NeatReceipts scanner

NeatReceipts mobile scanner

(Click to view larger image)

Or, if you're a normal person, you can just get yourself -- or the person in your household who handles the budget -- the NeatReceipts mobile scanner and digital filing system.

The NeatReceipts package consists of a sleek 10.6-oz. USB-powered scanner and accompanying software. You simply feed your documents through the scanner, and the software (there are separate packages for PCs and Macs) uses OCR to read the documents, pull out relevant information and organize the data in a database that will let you easily check your expenses, contacts or tax records.

It's amazingly quick and simple; if you've been on a shopping trip, just pull out your receipts and feed them into the scanner, and you've got a record of what you bought and when. It's not a bad business-card tracker either.

If your giftee is a serious business player, you might want to upgrade from the $200 mobile scanner to a more heavy-duty device: the $400 NeatDesk package offers a scanner equipped with an automatic document feeder, two-sided scanning and the ability to handle up to 50 letter-sized documents at a time.

-- Barbara Krasnoff

NeatReceipts from The Neat Company

Price: $200  |  Tech specs  |  Phone: 866-632-8732

Summary: Know someone who needs a little help tracking bills and receipts? NeatReceipts can help keep him organized.

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