If the stratosphere is too high for your budget, come down to Earth with a good book. Try any of David Pogue's highly regarded computer how-to books.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983

T e c h n o f i l e
Fabulous iPod speakers and last-minute gift ideas

Dec. 21, 2008

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2008, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2008, The Post-Standard

   Last-minute shopping blues got you down? Here are some suggestions, ranging from spectacular iPod speakers to worthy books.
   The speakers are Micropod SE models from Scandyna, a Denmark hi-fi manufacturer known for its cool Scandinavian style. They're not cheap -- a check of the few U.S. stores that carry them turned up deciBel Audio at www.decibel.com, where they're $850, with 3-day shipping -- but they sound fabulous.
   The Micropod SE speakers are paired with a docking station that has a built-in charger -- with adaptors for all current iPod shapes and sizes -- along with a credit-card size remote control.
   The speakers look like small bowling balls sliced in half, with an "eye" stuck on top of each half-globe. Set into the center is a small but hefty full-range speaker. A tiny high-frequency speaker, or tweeter, takes up the "eye socket."
   The visual effect is stunning, but even more startling is the sound. The Scandyna Micropod speakers pumped out a prodigious amount of clear, balanced audio, lacking only the thump-thump of the lowest bass notes. You can buy a matching Scandyna subwoofer if you need that last octave.
   You can find out more about the Scandyna speakers at www.podspeakers.com.
   If the stratosphere is too high for your budget, come down to Earth with a good book. Try a nearby Barnes and Noble store (or www.barnesandnoble.com) for any of David Pogue's highly regarded computer how-to books.
   If your gift recipient is a current or potential Vista user, look for "Windows Vista : The Missing Manual." If the lucky recipient is a Mac maven, consider "Mac OS X Leopard : The Missing Manual." For someone on the fence, look for "Switching to the Mac : The Missing Manual, Leopard Edition."
   I'm biased on the next subject, but I do feel that the best good book is THE good book. And the best way of reading it might be through the Sword project, which makes Bibles and related texts available for reading and studying on your own computer. I've enjoyed the Mac version of Sword for years.
   Get your version of choice from the Crosswire Bible Society at www.crosswire.org. (The Crosswire Web site was not responding when I checked it in mid-November. Keep trying if you have trouble reaching it.)
   Finally, if your gift-receiver has a portable music player if any kind, it's time for earbuds that can't fall out. Philips makes the SHS3200 earphones, which sport two ear-hugging hangers. Get them at www.buy.com for about $7.