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In Pictures: Cool Yule goodies

Peruse through Network World's 2012 version of the cool yule tools. And get some great ideas for a totally tech present.

  • Sometimes you just want a bunch of tech heroes to save the day. Luckily, they are here. The Cool Yule Elves have been bitten — not by a radioactive spider, but rather the holiday gift guide review bug. Our team of editors and writers have pored over more than 150 different gadgets and gizmos to assemble this holiday gift guide. We guarantee it will make you a hero and make your gift recipients smile as they open the box.

  • Kindle Fire HD (7-inch), by Amazon If you’re in the market for a 7-inch tablet, you now have many choices with offerings from Google (Nexus 7) and Apple (iPad Mini), among others. But we were most impressed with the Kindle Fire HD, which offers a fantastic interface, outstanding sound (via Dolby Digital) and media content offerings that rival the other two tablets. With a price tag starting at $200, this device should be on your short list. $200

  • Plantronics BackBeat Go wireless earbuds The biggest issue with corded earbud headsets when working out is the tendency for your arms to pull the cord out, creating a nasty drop for your music player and interrupting a good walk/run. With these wireless earbuds, you can work out without worrying about knocking out the cord, and they also provide great sound to keep you in the zone. $100

  • Apple iPhone 5 The iPhone continues to get better — the latest version offers LTE wireless access, a larger screen, faster processor, faster graphics, improved battery life and 802.11n Wi-Fi. If you haven’t upgraded your iPhone in a while (or if you’ve never owned one), this is the one to get (at least this year). $200

  • Samsung Galaxy S III Like Coke vs. Pepsi, in the battle of smartphones it’s iPhone vs. the Galaxy S III. Just like your personal preference determines your choice of cola, so does your choice of smartphone. Among other features, we love the S III’s large 4.8-inch AMOLED screen, the 1.5GHz processor and 8-megapixel camera that can shoot 1080p video. $200

  • Libratone Zipp speakers Wireless speakers seem to be the rage this year, and we were highly impressed with the portable Zipp speakers with changeable, zippable covers. The speakers produce great 360-degree sound via Apple’s AirPlay feature, as well as a direct Wi-Fi mode that can play without being connected to an internal WLAN. Bravo! $450

  • Slingbox 500 The company that brought us a way to watch our own TV whether we were in the bathroom or 10 time zones away is back with an updated version. With HDMI support and built-in Wi-Fi, the Slingbox is back and better than ever. Never miss your own TV content (whether live or stored on a DVR) — you can watch on your phone, tablet or any Web browser. $300

  • Earloomz GL-500 Star Wars headset At less than $20, this is the perfect stocking stuffer for any “Star Wars” fans on your list, providing them with a hands-free Bluetooth headset that doesn’t need a knowledge of the Force to operate. $18

  • Monster Inspiration headphones Want to be ahead of the curve in the high-end headphone space? Missed out on buying your Beats? Get ahead of the trends with these headphones, providing great-quality sound and a style that is unique. Customize your look and feel with these through changeable headbands, and take them along for the ride when traveling. $300

  • ThinkGeek iCade 8-Bitty game controller As gaming moves away from large consoles to more mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, you still need a controller that can move Pac-Man or your spaceship left or right without needing to use your thumb or finger. This Bluetooth controller makes game play on a phone or tablet 300% better. $30

  • GoSmart Stylus 200 Series Sometimes you get tired of smudging your finger all the time on your smartphone or tablet, and want to have the feel of a pen for handwriting, drawing or other apps that need a delicate touch. This stylus may look bizarre, but it’s got the accuracy that those apps need. $25

  • Jabra Solemate wireless speakers We absolutely loved the high-quality sound and range of these Bluetooth speakers, and setting them up didn’t require a Ph.D. in wireless technology. The rubber-soled bottom prevents slipping as well as helps produce excellent bass sound. $200

  • Autodrive USB flash drive While you may never be able to afford a Porsche 911 Carrera, you can buy this version, which not only is a cool die-cast car, but also provides 8GB of storage space via a USB port that pops out from the back. Working headlights also blink when data is being transferred. An awesome stocking stuffer for someone (giant bow not included). $15

  • Black Swann RC Stealth Our favorite remote-control helicopter this year not only lets you fly around the office or outdoors to harass friends and co-workers, but the embedded VGA camera lets you take video of them as well. Remember that perfectly level flying is the goal here. $100

  • Marshall Headphones Minor earphones At first glance these large earbuds may frighten you off, but they produce outstanding sound quality and provide a great seal for keeping outside noise away from your eardrums. $60

  • Tely Labs telyHD Connect this device to your HDTV and then make free Skype video calls to friends and family. HDMI output from the camera produces a greater picture than a tiny laptop webcam, and your whole family can sit on the couch instead of crowding around a tiny laptop during video chats. $250

  • Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 This ultrabook features many different flexible positions for operating — it’s a notebook, tablet, viewing screen and more. Running Windows 8, this allows users more new ways of computing than they thought possible with older systems. $1,000

  • NuGreen Flexible Neck LED Desk Lamp Replacing a traditional light bulb with smaller LED lights, this desk lamp not only reduces energy needed to light your desktop, but also reduces heat output. The touch-enabled on/off switch makes us happy, too. $70

  • Plantronics GameCom Commander headset Serious gamers will appreciate the audio quality, voice capabilities and customization features that personalize this headset. We appreciated the flexibility with its cords that let you use this for watching movies, sitting on an airplane or just chilling out to listen to tunes. $300

  • Pure Contour 200i Air wireless speakers This small yet powerful speaker system supports Apple’s AirPlay wireless streaming technology, giving you room-filling sound while letting you play music from your mobile devices (iPhone, iPod, iPad). This system looks good enough to store on a shelf or bookcase in any room without screaming “gadget!” $230

  • Google Nexus 7 tablet Apple and Amazon may get all the 7-inch tablet headlines, but gift-givers should at least consider this tablet from Google. This slim, light and fast tablet has a gorgeous screen, a complete array of software and apps, and works as a great portable video player. You’ll absolutely be thrilled after using this for about three minutes. $200

  • Motorola Droid Razr M (Verizon Wireless) If the iPhone 5 or Samsung Galaxy S III doesn’t appeal to you, try this model, which is smaller than the Galaxy S III and less expensive than the iPhone 5. Featuring 4G LTE access, a 4.3-inch AMOLED screen, Android 4.0.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich) operating system, and built-in Google Chrome browser. $100

  • Samsung Smart Camera With built-in Wi-Fi and GPS and an amazing 21x optical zoom, you might ditch the smartphone and start bringing this along the next time you need to capture some cool shots. Video recording at 1080p also helps, along with innovative software on the camera that can shoot in tons of different modes. The camera even has a nice video slideshow/movie creator, giving studio-quality videos based on the photos and videos you take. $380

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