Cool gifts for geeks, 2011: Computer, notebook and tablet tech treasures

Computers and notebooks and tablets, oh my!

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Killer Wireless-N 1103 Wi-Fi adapter for notebooks, by Bigfoot Networks

This is for serious gamers only, or those network-heads that REALLY enjoy getting as much performance out of their wireless adapters as possible. The Killer Wireless-N 1103 Wi-Fi is a high performance network adapter aimed at giving gamers better performance when gaming, but also when doing tasks such as HD video, voice or streaming audio. The card is only sold as an integrated offering with PC notebook vendors, so for our guide we were sent a Mythlogic Pollux 1400 Series notebook with the Killer Wireless-N 1103 installed.

The card includes an Advanced Stream Detect feature that automatically classifies and prioritizes low-latency requiring network traffic, and also includes a Visual Bandwidth Control application. This is techie nirvana, allowing users to manage bandwidth and tune their upload/download allocations for individual online applications. I don't think Grandma will be using this app. Other features include a PC Monitor app that gives you PC, CPU, frame rate and ping data, and a quick speed test button that sends you to Speedtest.net for a quick Internet bandwidth test (to remind you about how bad your cable company's Internet may be - or is that just me?).

If you're serious about making sure that network traffic for your gaming (or other high-priority app) isn't being bogged down with other things (especially as we add more and more devices to our network that might also want bandwidth), then getting this adapter installed in your next gaming notebook is worth a look. And check out the wares from Mythlogic, too, the notebook they sent was pretty nice as well.

Cool Yule rating: 5 stars
Price: Available as an upgrade to third-party notebooks, prices vary (Mythlogic upgrade was an extra $41).
Reviewed by Keith Shaw

SeeThru cover for MacBook Pro (15-inch version), by SpeckThere are two reasons why the SeeThru was a lifesaver for my new MacBook Pro. First, I'm using the notebook at home surrounded by my three children, who despite their best efforts, often have sticky fingers and like putting their fingerprints all over the computer. Second, Macintosh notebooks have become so mainstream with people at tech conferences, airports and coffee shops that the colored case gives my notebook a uniqueness that others don't have, at least in terms of its color.

The case is easy to assemble, it comes in two pieces, one for the top and the other for the bottom. The hard shell plastic (polycarbonate) protects the notebook from scratches and scuff marks, yet the design includes access to all needed ports, as well as vents for heat dissipation. The shell also has rubber feet to give the notebook extra stability. Six color options allow you to personalize the device even more.

Cool Yule rating: 5 starsPrice: $49.95Reviewed by Keith Shaw

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This story, "Cool gifts for geeks, 2011: Computer, notebook and tablet tech treasures" was originally published by Network World.

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