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TECH THE HALLS HOLIDAY GIFTS THAT WILL DAZZLE.

Byline: Redmond Carolipio Staff Writer

IT'S NOW crunch time for holiday shoppers.

People started flooding the stores the day after Thanksgiving, and many of the items on their lists are gadgets and tech toys.

While it's nearly impossible to hit every item that's out there, here's a list of things you should definitely try to check out as you're roaming the shopping landscape for electronic goodies.

THE NEW IPOD: This will probably be the default gift item for a legion of those who say, ``When in doubt, check out Apple.'' Launched in mid-October, this version of the company's moneymaker can play video, which is something the other 6 million-plus iPods sold in the past year can't do. Used in conjunction with the latest version of iTunes, it allows users to download hours of video, including episodes of TV hits like ``Lost'' and ``Desperate Housewives,'' which can be seen on a good-size screen.

XBOX 360: Yes, it's a game console, but it's also part of the Microsoft push to pull more casual players into the fold, as well as signal the next generation game system as a potential unifying social force. Gamers already know what kind of juice its hardware has, but it will also win points with other consumers with its cosmetic assets, like its friendly look and removable faceplate. You can also plug other gadgets into it - that includes your iPod and PSP. The core system, without the hard drive, costs about $299. The one with all the bells and whistles included is about $399.

SONY ERICSSON W800: Motorola's ROKR isn't the only phone that can play music. Sony actually has a series of phones that can do the same thing and more - they just don't have iTunes or any commercials with dancing shadows. I tried out the w800, which comes with all the other trimmings - a 2-megapixel camera, Bluetooth wireless capability, FM radio and Sony's signature Memory Stick. All the elements work together seamlessly, and fielding calls while listening to tunes is handled with ease. You can find it online at www.sonystyle.com, or by visiting a Sony Style store.

NOKIA 770 INTERNET TABLET: The essential purpose of this device is to give users fast access to all kinds of Web content without actually having to whip out a laptop. It features a stylus and a decent-size touch screen, so your hands and eyes will thank you. Aside from just checking e-mail, you can download and watch videos as well as listen to Web radio. The tablet will cost $350 and is available online at www.nokiausa.com.

SLINGBOX: Available from Sling Media (www.slingmedia.com) and most retailers for $249.99, this device that resembles a Wonka-size candy bar essentially turns your Internet-capable PC into a television, granting you the ability to watch any show you want no matter where you are.

SPRINT PPC-6700: This is a combo PDA/phone unit that comes loaded with Windows Mobile 5.0 software, which includes Microsoft Office stuff such as PowerPoint and Outlook. It also has Wi-Fi capability, a 1.3-megapixel camera and the nifty feature of a sliding keyboard that provides more thumb room than a BlackBerry or Treo. It's available at Sprint stores and online at www.sprint.com for roughly $500.

MATTEL'S VIDSTER: If you want to bolster your child's inner Spielberg but don't want to expose any of your equipment to drool or the unique battle damage that only kids can dish out, this junior camcorder is made of durable plastic and costs about $80. It's got pretty simple features but also allows children to edit film as well.

SOLITUDE NOISE-CANCELING HEADPHONES: These have been available for a while, but these are ideal for frequent air travelers who want to block out ambient noise. The Solitudes offer up to 18 decibels of active noise cancellation, and they niftily fold into a ball when not in use. At $199, they are less expensive than some of the other noise-reduction products out there. You can find them available online at www.protravelgear.com.

SONY CYBER-SHOT DSC-N1: This is a compact 8-megapixel digital camera which also packs a 3-inch touch-screen display. Perhaps its biggest asset is its ``album'' feature, which lets you store up to 500 images that can be used for slide shows, complete with music and sound effects that the camera already offers. You can find this for roughly $500 on www.sonystyle.com or at any Sony Style stores.

PANASONIC PLASMA TV: TVs are definitely in demand this season, and if you're looking for a plasma high-definition television, Panasonic ranks near the top in almost every category. The 50-inch Panasonic TH-50PX50U (sorry, no cute name) was at the top of Consumer Reports' plasma list in both quality and price ($4,800). Another one to check out is the 42-inch TH-42PX5OU, much less pricey at $2,800 and just as good as the larger model.

GMINI 402 CAMCORDER: This combo device is from Archos, based in Europe but with an office in Irvine. This can hold up to roughly 80 hours of video as well as thousands of songs and photos. I got to try it out at the Portable Media Expo in Ontario, and it didn't take me long to figure out the interface. You can find it online at www.archos.com for about $400.

CAPTION(S):

4 photos

Photo:

(1 -- color) IPOD

(2 -- color) MATTEL'S VIDSTER

(3 -- color) GMNI 402 CAMCORDER

(4 -- color) PANASONIC PLASMA TV
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 5, 2005
Words:913
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