BOSE QUIETCOMFORT 2 NOISE-CANCELING HEADPHONES ($299) Based on technology designed for commercial pilots, Bose’s QuietComfort 2 is the only way to fly in peace. Microphones in the ear cups monitor sound on the outside while the AAA-battery-powered internal circuitry compensates to keep that Radiohead ringing in your ears clear as a morning bell. The cans are also ergonomically canted to mold to the contours of the head, and the wire can be detached for those who truly want to live within the sounds of silence. All of a sudden, six hours in coach doesn’t seem that bad.
PHILIPS DIGITAL CAMERA KEY RING ($99) Taking pictures with this tiny 1.3-megapixel camera is literally a snap: You rotate the translucent orange or blue ring, power it up, and reveal the lens. After firing off a few hundred shots, pop off the bottom and plug it into a USB port to download the images (it works with Macs, too, but at a lower 640x480-pixel resolution). Or, if you’re not artistically inclined, forget the photos and use it as a 64-megabyte storage device, making it a hassle-free way to carry MP3s, term papers, or, ahem, those ”special” images you download late at night.
HP DVD MOVIE WRITER DC3000 ($399) Since the dawn of DVD, man has searched for a way to digitize his VHS tapes. Many products have tried to bridge the analog gap, but none are as easy to use as HP’s converter-and-burner-in-one. Drop a blank DVD into the tray, plug a VCR or camera into one end, and connect the Movie Writer to a PC with at least 10 GB available memory. The two-step capture/burn process is supplemented by DVD-authoring software for adding on-screen menus and chapters. Goodbye, bulky tapes! Hello, shelf space!
SONY MICROMV HANDYCAM CAMCORDER ($1,200) Or: ”Honey, they shrunk the camcorder!” Packed inside a body not much bigger than two decks of cards is a 2-inch LCD swivel screen (good), an i.Link interface for digitally transferring images to a PC (very good), and a Carl Zeiss 10X optical lens (very, very good). The one-megapixel videos are saved onto hour-long microtapes less than half the size of a MiniDV cassette. And if that’s not enough, the MicroMV has a USB streaming feature that lets it double as a Web-conferencing tool. Note to Santa: We were very good this year.