Cool Stuff: Your 2008 Christmas Gift Guide

18 economical, expensive, and just plain weird tech gifts for your friends and family

Over the Top:Canon EOS 5D Mark II digital SLR camera

If you really want to spend this season, you could go for the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III SLR digital camera: US$7,999 with free shipping but no lens. On the other hand, you don't need to bust your FDIC-insured savings account to buy a digital SLR camera that would bring smiles to a pro picture-taker at National Geographic.

For less than half that price -- US$2,699 without lens -- you can get the brand new and amazing Canon EOS 5D Mark II digital SLR camera. In some ways, it's better than the venerable 1Ds Mark III.

Skip this if you are not a spec head: 21-megapixel, full-frame sensor; 14-bit A/D conversion; 9-point focus with 6 assist points; ISO speed range of 100-25,600; exposure metering in 35 zones; new ultrasharp LCD monitor; 3.9 frames per second shooting; state-of-the-art DIGIC 4 image processor; and built-in automatic sensor cleaning.

Translation: This is one awesome camera, with performance unimaginable a few years ago at any price. It may exceed the capabilities of your lenses, let alone your skills as a photographer.

Oh, I almost forgot -- you can make home movies with this camera. Seriously.

-- Gary Anthes

Off the Wall: Minoru 3D Webcam

You think having a conference with a colleague using a webcam is futuristic? Wait until you try it in 3-D -- using the Minoru 3D Webcam.

Designed for 3-D Web chat, the Minoru (Japanese for "reality") has two cameras spaced the same distance apart as human eyes, creating a stereoscopic effect.

"This creates an anthropomorphic look that means users tend to look into the eyes of the camera as they light up," says the maker, Promotion and Display Technology Ltd. in Manchester, England. Anthropomorphic is right -- the Minoru looks like the latest take on one of Pixar's cartoon robots.

The webcam has a multiposition stand that can sit on a desk or monitor. Viewers wear special colored glasses to see the 3-D image. It will sell for under US$100 when it ships in December, according to the company.

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Computerworld Staff

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