Stocking Stuffers Go High-Tech

If stockings are hung by your chimney, real or virtual, with care, here are a few ideas for gadgets and goodies to fill them with that will be sure to please.

Microsoft Zune

Microsoft's new 80GB Zune music player seems to be outselling the Apple iPod Nano, at least for the moment. A Thanksgiving week report noted a shortage of the new Zune media players ($249) on the Web and in retail stores, suggesting it gave Apple a little run for consumer's money. Don't expect it to last though.

Zunes should be back on retail and virtual shelves very soon, so these sleek-looking Wi-Fi enabled music players are an option for your stocking if you're ready to fork over some big bucks.

TuneBuds

For that special someone who already has an iPod or music player, check out Griffin's new TuneBuds ($19.99), earphones that are both comfortable and sound great so you can listen in style. They are noise-isolating, lightweight and available in six designer colors (silver, pink, light green, blue, light blue and red) so you can match whatever player you're carrying that day.

iTrip Auto

Taking the music on the road? Make sure to get an iTrip Auto SmartScan ($79.99) from Griffin. It's a redesigned iTrip so no more fumbling around with your FM dial trying to tune into the right station to play your tunes. The FM transmitter plugs into the car's 12-volt/cigarette lighter, scans the radio dial for you, finds the three clearest FM frequencies and saves them as presets that you can recall at any time with a single button. It charges your iPod at the same time so you've got a full battery when you arrive at your destination.

DYMO Personal Labelmaker

For that gadget hound with a drawer full of tangled electrical cords and AC power packs, a label maker is a must. The DYMO Personal Labelmaker ($39.99) lets you label just about anything: cords, files, CDs, shelves, storage containers, even your Christmas stocking. The portable labelmaker features a large keyboard and screen so you can see what you're typing and labels are available for paper, plastic and iron-on.

'Halo 3' Flash Drive

Is there a "Halo" fan in your life? Let Master Chief protect his data. Mimoco has a line of mimobot designer USB flash drives that make great stocking stuffers.

The "Halo 3" Mimobot Series 1 features Master Chief, Red Spartan and Blue Spartan. They'll be preloaded with series-specific content, "Halo"-related media, wallpapers, screensavers, as well as unpublished pages from the Marvel Halo comics, sections from the "Halo 3" strategy guide and excerpts from the upcoming Halo novel. The "Halo" series is available in 1GB ($49.95), 2GB ($69.95) and 4GB ($109.95) capacities.

Open It!

Lastly, no stocking would be complete without the perfect tool to help you open all those plastic-encased electronic items that are harder to open than a bank vault. The Zibra Co. in Mooresville, N.C., has put an end to "package wrap rage" by developing the Swiss Army knife of scissors, called Open It! ($11) It's a combination scissor-box cutter-snipper; it even has a built-in pair of screwdrivers.

The Open It! looks like a pair of gardening shears with some serious cutting ability. They can snip through plastic as well as those wire ties that take forever to unfurl as your child is screaming trying to get the toy that is bound to the cardboard. A tiny screwdriver set is tucked away in one handle, which might have come in handy the other day when I fouled the screw on the battery compartment of a kid's digital camera. The other side houses a retractable knife that not only slices through presents that come in cardboard boxes, but also lets you slice open CD and DVD packaging. Open It! comes in five colors and is so versatile, it will be used all year round.

I think I may get one for my mom. Don't tell!

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