There's virtually no end to cool tech toys

For the London Free Press - December 12, 2011 - Read this on Canoe If you are looking for a gift to buy someone who seems to have or want the latest tech products, here are some suggestions.

If they have an iPhone or iPad, get a gift card to the Apple app store. The recipient will be able to choose from a long list of items, ranging from music and apps to car mounts.

Many accessories are available for smartphones and tablets. For someone who is partial to classic arcade video games, such as Missile Command, ThinkGeek sells the iCade Arcade Cabinet that turns an iPad into a table top arcade game complete with joystick and buttons.

For the musically inclined, an external microphone to use with the GarageBand iPad app might be appreciated. Or an Amplitude iRig to plug a guitar into an iPad or iPhone to turn it into a mobile amplifier/effects studio.

Smartphone cameras are getting so good that they can replace point and shoot cameras. Adapters are available, such as the Glif for an iPhone, that will mount a smartphone to a tripod just like a real camera.

Some day using your cell phone as your credit card will seem as normal as using a debit card today. Smartphones are becoming equipped with technology called near-field communications, or NFC, that will allow the phone to act as a digital wallet. All one has to do is to hold the phone near a card reader. NFC and digital wallets have been in trials for several years.

But we don't have to wait for NFC. You can, for example, get a Starbucks gift card that can be used by a smartphone app to pay for your Starbucks purchase.

Smartphones and tablets are all controlled by touch. The screens are capacitive, meaning that your fingers have to actually touch the screen to work it. That's fine until you want to use it with gloves on in the cold. But there is a solution to that. You can buy gloves made with conductive fibres that work with touch screens. Or Twittens brand gloves that let you expose you thumb and forefinger to operate a phone or camera.

If you are buying for the adventurous sort, consider a GoPro HD Hero video camera. It comes with mounts to attach it to a helmet, wing, surfboard, bike or pretty much anything.

High-definition video content is available online from various sources, or might reside in files on one's computer. Much better, though, to watch it on a big screen TV than a small computer screen.

There are many ways to stream content to a TV from Internet-based services or a computer. Depending on what the individual's technology of choice is, options include Apple TV, Roku (which you may have to import from the U.S. until sometime in 2012), or even an Xbox. Some Blu-Ray players also include this ability.

If price is no object, check out the "Expensive Gifts" category at The rocket belt, or the working TRON light cycle would no doubt be appreciated.