ACCESSORIZE: Gadgety gift ideas for the holidays

OK, so you've got your tablet, you've got a case, you're ready to go. Right? Wrong. Sometimes you need some additional materials, whether it's a nice stylus, a mouse or a keyboard or other fun gadget.

Holiday gift guide 2012

A quick guide to Network World's favorite gifts

This category is compiled with a bunch of gift ideas for items that are cool and that go along with other, bigger items (notebook, tablet, etc.). Many of these would make great stocking stuffers for the holidays.

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Note: Products are listed in no particular order or preference. Prices are also rounded-up estimates from either the product's website or Better deals may be offered online during the holiday season.

Targus Ultralife wireless mouse


Wires are so yesterday. Targus piles on to the wireless trend with its Ultralife wireless mouse. As you unclutter your workspace, the Ultralife wireless mouse is a breeze to get started. Especially since you don't have that Christmas day letdown where a AA battery is actually included. In fact, it took longer to get the two-button mouse out of the packaging then it did to set up.

After installing the battery in the back of the mouse, just put the tiny receiver into your laptop's USB port and you are good to go. The mouse uses laser sensor technology with a 1200 DPI optical sensor. The only issue with the receiver is keeping track of it. If you don't keep it in your laptop at all times, then you'd think it is like finding one of those pump needles to blow up balls - a proverbial needle in a haystack. Targus ingeniously makes the receiver able to attach to the bottom of the mouse via a magnet to quell such fears. The only downfall is at almost $50, it seems a bit pricey than other wireless mice on the market.

- Ryan Francis

GoSmart Stylus 200 Series


I've been searching for a stylus that would let me take notes and sketch on my iPad with the same ease I have with pen and paper. I want something that is well balanced, responds well to the tablet surface, maintains contact regardless of my hand position or speed, and allows precision.

The GoSmart stylus is my current favorite, and I've tried many. Initially, I was put off by the delicate, spiraled wire tip that looks quite fragile. The machining on the stylus is very sleek, and I didn't see a way to replace the tip. The packaging needs some more detail! A visit to the site reveals that the Teflon-coated tip is indeed replaceable for $6. And it is fundamentally sturdier and more flexible than it first appears.

Bolstered with that info, I gave it a bit of friendly abuse and was happy to see it held up well. The very thin wire is twisted into a flat disk shape with an open center. This allows you to see EXACTLY where the stylus will touch the iPad and allows for very precise line connections (if you're drawing, you'll know where to connect lines, for example).

When not in use, the magnetized barrel clings to the iPad and is a nice feature. Pricing is reasonable at $25, unlike some I've researched at $40 and up. This would make a great stocking stuffer for your favorite artist-nerd. (Note to Santa: I've already ordered mine).

- Mary Lester

Das Keyboard Model S Professional keyboard


Das Keyboard continues to be one of my favorite peripheral companies - a few years ago they launched their all-black keyboard, which had no labels and was something that touch-typists like myself could brag about their skills. The company followed this up with its Professional line of keyboards, with mechanical keys that make the "clicky" sound, which should remind users of the "golden days" of typing on an electric typewriter or early computer models.

The latest version released this year is the Model S Professional, which continues to make improvements to the keyboard system. The German-engineered mechanical key switches are gold-plated, continuing to give tactile feedback that should appeal to hardcore typists. Other features include a USB 2.0 hub (the keyboard attaches to your computer via USB) that can power additional devices, and Media Control buttons that give you quick access to volume control, mute, stop, pause and "next track" or "previous track" for music applications.

Another nice feature is an extra-long USB cable - this model has a 6.6-foot cable that can help you place your keyboard more efficiently (if you like keyboarding farther away from your computer), or if you just want to have less clutter on your desk.

While the keyboard works with PCs and Macs, they do make a special Mac version. In my tests of this model (the PC one), the inclusion of a blue Function key made it more difficult for me to do the copy/paste keyboard commands I was used to with a previous keyboard. This slowed me down on some of my functions, but eventually you figure out the proper finger combinations. Knowing that there's a special Mac version that addresses this would be helpful if you are buying this for a Mac user.

If you want the benefits of the keyboard but don't want the clicky keys (I gotta admit, at times the clicking can get noisy), a "soft" version is available for $135.

- Keith Shaw

Targus Ultralife Stylus


If you own a smartphone or tablet and are sick of getting fingerprints on the touch display all the time - or if you're using a drawing app and want a little bit more control of your strokes (let's face it, using your finger to draw things ends up making everything look like fingerpainting), then you'll want to pick up a stylus.

The Targus Ultralife Stylus is part of its new Ultralife design - the stylus here uses a soft rubber nub that makes contact with any capacitive touch device - you can use this with your smartphone, tablet or even a touch-based display (if you're using Windows 8 with touch). A bronze finish makes this more stylish than a plain-old plastic stylus, and the design lets you use this in two ways - you can hold like a pen (if you're using this with a smartphone or tablet) or hold the end of it like a musician's baton (useful for notebook or display monitor touchscreens).

A small magnet on the inside of the stylus lets you attach it to your tablet if you are prone to losing these types of things, but we found this most useful for our tablet - our phone was too small for attaching it like that (plus, our cover got in the way).

- Keith Shaw

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