Top 10 Gifts for Networking Gurus

By Joseph Moran | Posted December 12, 2008

Useful technology products always make great gifts, especially during the holiday season. If you're looking for gift ideas for friends or loved ones, or even for yourself, check out the guide.

All 10 items have built-in Ethernet or Wi-Fi networking (or both), and each one can help someone on your list make better use of a home network in some way.

Note that prices listed are MSRP, but many items can be found at lower prices, particularly from online retailers.

HP Mini 1000 ($399 and up)

Small and lightweight netbooks like HP's Mini 1000 make excellent traveling companions for computing on the go, but these very same qualities make the 2.5 pound Mini 1000 a worthwhile alternative to a full-size notebook for basic computing chores and wireless Internet access around the house.

Logitech Squeezebox Boom ($299)

Logitech's Squeezebox Boom network music player streams music and other audio content wirelessly from your PC or a host of Internet-based services. Since it has an integrated 30-watt amplifier and speakers, you can put it pretty much anywhere, and the built-in alarm clock can wake you to a different sound every day of the week.

Netflix Player by Roku ($99)

If you want to give a Netflix member an alternative to waiting for discs to come in the mail, check out Roku's Netflix Player. Inexpensive and easy to set up, it will stream Netflix movies to a TV set via Ethernet or Wi-Fi, and there are no monthly fees aside from the Netflix membership.



Netgear WNHDEB111 Wireless HD Gaming Kit ($199.99)

The Netgear WNHDEB111 Wireless HD Gaming Kit consists of a pair of wireless bridges that offer an easy way to give Ethernet-only devices a high-quality wireless link to your home network. The WNHDEB111 is especially handy for networking living room A/V technology (including many of the items in this list), and since it uses 5 GHz 802.11n, it won't interfere with existing 2.4 GHz networks.

See our review, here.





Thomson GE 28310EE1 Cordless Phone ($179.99)

Skype's VoIP service is a great way to make long distance or international phone calls on the cheap. The Thomson GE 28310EE1 offers a way to use Skype without having to be tied to a PC. Better yet, since this DECT-based cordless phone (which won't interfere with Wi-Fi networks) simultaneously connects to your network (via Ethernet) as well as a standard telephone wall jack, you can use the same handset to make and take both Skype and landline calls.




Tivo HD ($299.99, plus up to $12.95 per month service fee)

The TiVo HD DVR, which works with cable TV or an over-the-air antenna makes recording your favorite shows easy. But connect it to your home network (via Ethernet, a wireless adapter is optional), and you'll be able to do things like download movies from Amazon.com, stream them from Netflix, or listen to music from a Rhapsody account plus remotely program it from any browser.

Slingbox Solo ($179.99)

The Slingbox Solo can be a godsend when you want to keep up with your favorite TV shows while away from home, but this place-shifting device can be very handy even when you're not traveling. Since the Slingbox can stream video and audio to any PC via an Ethernet connection, it lets you watch something from a cable box or DVR even if someone is using the attached TV to play video games or watch a DVD.

Pricier versions of the Slingbox add support for multiple A/V devices and HD-quality streaming.

SmartParts SPX8WF Digital Picture Frame ($149.00)

Digital picture frames get more popular with each passing year, but the SmartParts SPX8WF gives you something most digital frames don't: 802.11g Wi-Fi compatibility. After you connect the 8-inch SPX8WF to the network — which you can do using WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) — it can access and display snapshots stored on your PC. The SPX8WF also comes with a pre-assigned e-mail address that you or your friends and family can use to send pictures directly to the frame.

Sony PlayStation 3 (80GB, $399.99)

When you add the Sony PS3 game console and Blu-Ray disc player to your network via Ethernet or Wi-Fi, it can also be used to stream media from your PC, rent or buy downloaded movies, download games, and browse the Web. That connectivity also lets you take advantage of interactive and downloadable content offered by BD-Live-compatible discs, a feature some stand-alone Blu-Ray players lack.

T-Mobile @ Home ($39.99 plus $10 per month, with qualifying mobile plan)

T-Mobile @ Home provides home phone service via a broadband Internet connection that can be a cost-effective alternative to a conventional landline. The flat $10 monthly fee includes unlimited nationwide calling, voice mail and caller ID, and there are two hardware options, so you can either use T-Mobile's wireless router or keep your own.

Adapted from PracticallyNetworked.com, part of the EarthWeb.com Network.

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