Cool Stuff: Your 2007 Holiday Gift Guide

More than 50 amazing gifts for the technology lovers in your life

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Seven Under $50

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Not everyone's getting a plasma HDTV this year. Try these budget-conscious gifts instead. USB Chocolate MP3 Player

Everyone's got an iPod. But how many people do you know with a Chocolate MP3 Player?

USB Chocolate MP3 Player, courtesy of Brando.

USB Chocolate MP3 Player, courtesy of Brando.

This tiny music player is more or less the size of an Apple iPod Shuffle. It's brown, with a white top that features four cryptic symbols for controlling music -- forward, back, volume up, volume down -- represented by two people, a dog and a rooster (hey, don't ask us -- we just report on these products, not design them).

The USB Chocolate MP3 Player ($39) holds 2GB of music, and weighs just 12 grams. It plugs into your USB port for both music transfer and recharging.

The USB Chocolate MP3 Player is tiny and looks awesome. Just don't eat it.

—Mike Elgan  

USB Chocolate MP3 Player from Brando Workshop

Price: $39

Summary: The tiny USB Chocolate MP3 Player plugs into your USB port for both playing music and recharging.

USB-Powered Mini Greenhouse

This $20 kit comes with soil, seeds, software and a USB-powered greenhouse pod. The software has a calendar, so you can track events in the life of your marigolds. The USB cable powers a grow light, which points down from a height-adjustable arm.

USB-Powered Mini Greenhouse, courtesy of Geeks.com.

USB-Powered Mini Greenhouse, courtesy of Geeks.com.

Of course, you can reuse the Mini Greenhouse, using your own soil and seeds to grow herbs, other kinds of flowers or just about anything. The light will stay on as long as the computer is powered up and the Mini Greenhouse is plugged in.

—Mike Elgan  

USB-Powered Mini Greenhouse from Geeks.com

Price: $20 | Phone: (760) 726-7700

Summary: Nurture a green thumb with the USB Powered Mini Greenhouse, a PC-powered environment for growing flowers on your desk.
Yubz Talk Online, courtesy of Yubz.

Yubz Talk Online, courtesy of Yubz. Yubz Talk Mobile and Yubz Talk Online Remember those giant landline telephone handsets back when landline handsets were the only kind? No? A company called Yubz does. Yubz Talk Mobile ($45) connects to your cell phone. When a call comes in, you press a button on the old-school handset to answer the call. It's just like a tiny Bluetooth earpiece, except it's not tiny, it isn't an earpiece, and it isn't Bluetooth. The handset comes in black, red, white, yellow, orange and pink.

For the same price, the company also sells a VoIP version for Skype or other Internet telephone services (including Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger, MSN, AIM Express and others). It's a retro handset with a cable that terminates in a USB connector. Just plug it in and use it as your VoIP handset. It comes in black, red, white and yellow and works with both PCs and Macs.

—Mike Elgan  

Yubz Talk Mobile and Yubz Talk Online from Yubz

Price: $44.95 | Where to buy | Phone: (866) 533-9829

Summary: The Yubz Talk Mobile and Yubz Talk Online retro handsets take you back to the days when everyone used giant landline telephone handsets.
Singing Alarm Clock, courtesy of Edmund Scientific

Singing Alarm Clock, courtesy of Edmund Scientific. Identiflyer Singing Alarm Clock There are thousands of different alarm clocks out there, and most have one thing in common: They all wake you up to a hideous, unpleasant noise. But who wants to start each day with an electronic buzz, brassy clanging sound, or something that sounds like a busy signal?

The Identiflyer Singing Alarm Clock ($30) does the opposite: It wakes you up to the pleasant sound of birds singing. And you get to specify exactly which birds. The clock comes with a song card, which shows pictures of nine birds on it. You slide it into the clock's holder, select a bird, and go to sleep. You can even choose a rooster.

You can accessorize, too, with additional cards featuring songs from a variety of categories. Choose from "Birds of Prey," "Forest, Forest Edge, Field & Meadow," "Lakes, Rivers, Marsh & Wetlands, Seashore," "Eastern Yardbirds, Birds of the Night," or "Western Yardbirds, Birds of the Night." This is music to the ears of hardcore Audobon Society bird nerds and laypeople who just like the sound of birds singing.

if you choose, the alarm will also, play a short bird song on the hour, or on command.

—Mike Elgan  

Identiflyer Singing Alarm Clock from Edmund Scientific

Price: $29.95 | Phone: (800) 728-6999

Summary: Wake up to the pleasant sound of birds singing with the Identiflyer Singing Alarm Clock.

USB Roll-Up Drum Kit

Everybody secretly wants to play the drums. Trouble is, drum sets are huge, loud and expensive. But now you can play the drums anywhere -- even at your desk at work. The USB Roll-Up Drum Kit ($42) is about the size and shape of a dinner table placemat. It plugs into your PC and gives you a complete, programmable electronic drum set with five playing pads, each representing a different drum or cymbal.

USB Roll-Up Drum Kit, courtesy of Brando.

USB Roll-Up Drum Kit, courtesy of Brando.

The kit comes with 50 percussion sounds, 20 preprogrammed percussion sets and 100 preprogrammed percussion beats. A three-level learning feature will teach you how to play. You can select the play-along option if you want to play to your MP3 files. You can even record your beats and annoy people with them by sending the sound file. The package comes with drum sticks and software.

—Mike Elgan  

USB Roll-Up Drum Kit from Brando Workshop

Price: $42

Summary: Play drums anywhere on a set the size of a placemat with the Roll-Up Drum Kit.
iPhone/iPod 8-in-1 FM Transmitter, courtesy of USB Fever.com.

iPhone/iPod 8-in-1 FM Transmitter, courtesy of USB Fever.com. iPhone/iPod 8-in-1 FM Transmitter with Remote This handy $40 gadget 8-in-1 FM Transmitter with Remote connects an iPod to a car. It has a dashboard cradle for just about any iPod or iPhone. It charges the iPod via the cigarette-lighter plug and lets you play music through car speakers.

You can connect to your car sound system with the included 3.5mm line-in plug. If you don't have one of those, connect via FM, and the frequency is displayed on a small screen on the cradle.

It comes with a remote control unit. You can have it in any color you like, as long as you like white or black.

—Mike Elgan  

iPhone/iPod 8-in-1 FM Transmitter with Remote from USB Fever.com

Price: $39.99

Summary: This handy device connects an iPod to a car sound system.
USB Doomsday Device Hub, courtesy of ThinkGeek.

USB Doomsday Device Hub, courtesy of ThinkGeek. USB Doomsday Device Hub The USB Doomsday Device Hub ($50) looks and works like a nuclear missile launcher. You need to flip the first, then the second switch -- and then only authorized personnel with the key can open the safety cover to press the Big Red Button. (The device makes a "boom" noise.) Co-workers will naturally assume the user of this Armagaddon hub is some kind of evil arch villain bent on world domination, which is nice.

Oh, and it also turns one USB hub into four, so you have more places to plug in all those gadgets.

—Mike Elgan  

USB Doomsday Device Hub from ThinkGeek Inc.

Price: $49.99 | Phone: (703) 293-6299

Summary: The Doomsday Device Hub is a four-port USB hub that looks like a nuclear missile launcher.
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