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Ask Santa for these smart desktop add-ons

Globe and Mail Update

Here are the very latest in peripherals for your computer, from printers to flash drives to Internet phones.

Canon Pixma MP830

All-in-One Printer


A combination printer, scanner, copier and fax, this unit has a couple of nice features you won't find in every all-in-one machine. It does two-sided printing, and it can print on CDs. Its scanner also includes a sheet feeder to make it easier to fax or scan multiple pages. The MP830 uses five ink colours and has basic photo-editing functions built in.

Dell Photo All-in-One Printer 955


This one does it all: printing, copying, scanning and faxing. The sheet-feeder makes it easier to send multi-page faxes and can also come in handy for scanning. The unit has four separate slots for digital-camera memory cards, promising compatibility with most late-model cameras. Its LCD display screen flips up for easier reading.

Epson Stylus RX580

All-in-One Printer


A printer, scanner and copier combination that does a nice job of printing photos but also gives a solid performance when printing ordinary documents. It can also print on printable compact discs, using a special tray insert that allows the disc to slide into the printer without bending, and comes with software that makes it easy to design and print your CD label.

Hewlett-Packard Photosmart A716 Compact Photo Printer


This compact printer is designed to do one thing well: print photos. It accepts either 4-by-6 inch or 5-by-7 inch photo paper (an advantage over some compact units that take only the 4-by-6 size), and its built-in photo editing and retouching software lets you crop your snapshots to the desired size and fix problems such as "red eye" and poor contrast. A notable feature of this particular model is its ability to connect to your TV set so you can display photos from a memory card inserted in the printer on the big screen as you work with them. And the A716 has slots for most types of digital camera memory cards.

Lexmark X8350 Office

All-In-One Plus Photo Printer


This is another multifunction unit that does it all, including fax as well as the more common printing, copying and scanning functions. As befits a machine with faxing capabilities, it has a sheet-feeder along with flatbed scanning capability — handy for scanning multi-page documents as well as faxing them. Its flip-up LCD display is convenient, and its selection of memory-card slots providing compatibility with various cameras is second to none. Lexmark is also about to release the X9350, which adds wireless networking, two-sided printing and the ability to add a second paper tray; it will retail at $349.

Vonage V-Phone

$49.99 (has $20 instant rebate)

This is a clever accessory for anyone on your gift list who uses Vonage, Canada's Internet-based phone service.

The V-Phone is a soft phone on a universal serial bus (USB) memory key that plugs into any computer and makes it possible to dial and receive phone calls through Vonage (you need a Vonage subscription, sold separately). The software is on the memory key, so there's nothing to install on the computer, and a headset plugs directly into the thumb-sized device (the headset supplied is a basic one, but you can substitute any headset with a standard connector). The Vonage V-Phone lets you take your phone number anywhere there's a computer with a high-speed Internet connection and a USB port.

Targus Wireless Laser Rechargeable Notebook Mouse


Wires are a nuisance, and never more so than when using a laptop in a tight space. Targus's wireless mouse eliminates the wire from laptop to mouse by substituting a small wireless transmitter that plugs into one of the computer's USB ports. As well as being wireless, this mouse is comfortable to use, smooth scrolling and with a classy black-and-grey finish.

Motorola PC850

USB PC Adaptor


For the road warrior, or anyone else who likes to listen to music from a laptop but doesn't want to carry decent speakers and hates being tethered to the computer by wired headphones, wireless headphones are the answer. This adaptor lets you stream music over a Bluetooth short-distance wireless connection from your PC to Motorola's Bluetooth Stereo Headphones. It can also be used with the same headphones to carry on an Internet phone conversation using a service such as Skype.

Bluetooth's range is enough to cover a large hotel room without worrying about where you position your laptop, and the headphones have built-in controls to adjust volume, pause the music and go forward or back a track.

SanDisk Cruzer

Titanium USB Flash Drive

About $100

If there's someone on your gift list who doesn't like carrying a laptop and frequently visits locations such as branch offices where there are PCs available to borrow, this two-gigabyte drive — smaller than your thumb — could be the best way to work remotely.

Any USB drive will let you carry files around, but this is one of a new breed called U3 drives that also lets you take U3-compatible software with you and run it from any personal computer. It can load e-mail, calendar appointments and to-do tasks from Microsoft Outlook onto the USB drive so they're accessible from any PC you plug the unit into. It also comes with software for Skype, the popular Internet-based phone service, so it can turn any PC into an IP telephone.

LG Electronics Flatron Flat-Screen Monitor


Flat-screen monitors have become common enough that they don't seem as futuristic as they did a few years ago, but if you know someone who wants to find a cool-looking monitor under the tree, check out the 19-inch, 1,280-by-1,024-pixel Flatron. The first of a new "Emotion" line from LG Electronics, it's black with a red ring set into the base; its essential electronics are contained in a separate unit that can sit behind or beside the screen.

Special to The Globe and Mail

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