The Great Gift Divide

Gift ideas for the high-tech and low-tech people on your list

November 27, 2005|By KATE SHATZKIN | KATE SHATZKIN,SUN REPORTER

For all the shopping categories of the holiday season - career climber, kid-who-has-everything, coffee snob - today there are two basic camps of givers and receivers: Those who think the cool gadget of the moment is so yesterday, and those who break out in hives at the mention of USB or MP3.

Is there anything out there from the way things used to be - back when analog was new, words were read on paper, and music played on vinyl - that would please your tech-phobic cousin? If you're the one who still hasn't gotten a cell phone and never uses your ATM card, how can you surprise your teenager with the latest video game player?

Of 7,726 consumers polled last month by the National Retail Federation, 56 percent hoped to get CDs, DVDs, video games and books this year, and nearly 40 percent had consumer electronics on their holiday wish lists. But more than half also said they wanted clothing and accessories.

So we've pulled together a list of two types of gifts - high-tech and low - to help bridge this holiday digital divide. Along with new gizmos, we found classic gifts that have been brought up to date in their own ways, from a carry-on bag that helps you get through today's airport security to a new - gasp - illustrated version of a timeless guide to English composition.

The list is far from comprehensive, but it's a small start at helping us all get along.

THE GAME ENTHUSIAST

High-tech: If your gamer wishes he could take his GameBoy wherever he goes, Nintendo's tiny, limited-edition Game Boy Micro will make it possible. It's skinny enough to slip into a pocket, yet plays any of the more than 700 games in the Game Boy Advance library. $99.99. Available at a variety of stores and online sources, including Best Buy, Circuit City, Sears and Target, and gamestop.com.

Low-tech: Pottery Barn's Poker Cube and Book deals your recipient in on the poker trend. It includes four sets of casino-grade poker chips, two decks of cards and four dice that stack in a wood case, with a pebbled leather cover that can be monogrammed for an additional charge. $119 at potterybarn.com.

THE DOG LOVER

High-tech: Rover's always roving, leaving his owners to roam the streets calling his name. Perhaps they can relax with the Global Pet Finder, a global-positioning system device that straps to a dog's collar - and text messages or e-mails the owner with the pet's location. $349.99 plus activation fee and monthly service plan, at globalpetfinder.com.

Low-tech: Goose down is showing up on accessories as well as coats and comforters this year, and now it can keep a dog stylish and warm. Eddie Bauer's Goose Down dog coat, $44.50, can be found in black, dark orange or ruby at Eddie Bauer stores or eddiebauer.com.

THE WORDSMITH

High-tech: She loves The New Yorker, but hates the piles of back issues waiting to be read. With The Complete New Yorker : Eighty Years of the Nation's Greatest Magazine, she can search every page of more than 4,000 issues of the venerable magazine on DVD-ROM. $100. At bookstores such as Borders and Barnes & Noble and online at newyorker.com and amazon.com.

Low-tech: The Elements of Style, the little manual by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White known as the Bible of English grammar and usage, long has urged readers to "make every word tell." Now illustrator Maira Kalman has brought pictures - worth a thousand words each, so it's said - into this new hardcover edition. The Elements of Style Illustrated (Penguin Press, 2005, $24.95) can be found at bookstores such as the Ivy Bookshop, 6080 Falls Road; Barnes & Noble, and at amazon.com.

THE GRANDPARENTS

High-tech: With Kodak's EasyShare Picture Viewer, grandparents can show their friends 150 digital pictures of vacations and family, loaded on to a palm-sized device that can be brought right to the bridge table. It can also be used with a memory card for even more capacity, and can be connected to a photo printer. $79.95. Available at Staples, CompUSA, Best Buy, Office Depot, Ritz Camera and pcconnection.com.

Low-tech: Who needs a gadget to boast? The Personalized Brag Bag has compartments for eight photo prints and room for up to 20 names in the center, so Grandma can show off her extended brood wherever she goes - without asking permission. $18.76, at walmart.com.

THE FREQUENT FLIER

High-tech: He jets around the world, but can't bear missing the home team's game or the favorite show he faithfully TiVo'd. With the Slingbox by Sling Media, a broadband network connection and a Windows XP-based personal computer or laptop, the frequent flier can take his television anywhere. $249.99. Available at Best Buy, Circuit City, CompUSA and Radio Shack and slingmedia.com.

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