It's getting down to the wire, and you still don't have a holiday present for your favorite gadget lover. Don't fret. Here's a list of last-minute gift ideas that's sure to please even the hard-core techie, no matter how much electronic gear he or she already totes around. And remember: High-tech doesn't have to mean high cost. With a little creativity, you can find inexpensive ways to give something special.
Think beyond products. Techies invariably pay monthly bills for services. Maybe it's a cellular-telephone account or online access. If the service provider doesn't provide gift certificates, just make out a check for the monthly fee and put it in a festive card. Most online and Internet services charge about $20 a month.
Cleaning supplies for electronics are always appreciated. Dusty monitors and dirty portable phones are recurring problems. Make sure you buy antistatic cleaners, such as those made by PerfectData, that won't mess up delicate electronics. Many office-supply stores carry them but you can check out which ones on the Web at www.perfectdata.com or by calling 805-581-4000.
$50 and under
Portable computer users don't often think of locking up their expensive machines, but they should. Notebooks are far more vulnerable to theft than desktop machines. One answer is a cable and lock from companies such as Secure-It. Various models start at $30. More information is available by calling 800-451-7592.
$100 and under
Upgrade a computer's sound with a new speaker package, such as PCWorks from Cambridge Soundworks. The two mini-speakers and subwoofer provide great sound for an incredible price - $99.99. You can order directly on the Web at www.hifi.com/PCWorks.html or by phone, 800-367-4434.
If your computer buff hasn't hooked into video yet, consider the color QuickCam from Connectix. Easy to plug in to either a PC or a Macintosh, this ball-shaped camera records still or moving pictures along with audio so you can make your own movies or send video e-mail. $100 after rebate. Find more information at www.connectix.com or by phone, 800-950-5880.
$200 and under
For the latest in portable gadgetry, give the Rex from Franklin Electronic Publishers. It's a digital organizer that lets users download their schedules and address files from their computer and carry them around in a shirt pocket. The credit-card sized device has a small screen and five buttons to navigate the information. Make sure to get the 256-kilobyte version and find out whether your gadget-lover keeps her schedule on a desktop or portable computer. $150. Check it out on the Internet at www.franklin.com/rex or call 800-266-5626, although it may be difficult to get it before the holidays.
$300 and under
Your techie friends probably have digital cameras already. But do they have a digital photo developer? Aztech Labs sells a $260 internal drive, the DPD-100, that can turn the output of any digital camera into a good-looking photo. An external drive, the DPD-200, is also available. More information is available at www.aztechca.com or by phone, (510) 623-8988.