If you don't think a digital camera can be a holiday stocking stuffer, then you haven't been to Walgreens lately.
Take the Argus BeanSprout ($18). There's a lot of value packed into this tiny gadget, which fits comfortably in your palm, weighs just a few ounces and is available in yellow, red and blue.
The digital camera's most impressive features include a water-resistant rating, a built-in carabiner clip to hook on to your backpack or belt, and the ability to shoot 1.3-megapixel photos in "high quality mode."
Connect it to your computer via the supplied USB connection and it'll also operate as a web cam. You can download photos to your computer using that same USB cord. The camera can take as many as 208 photos in low-res mode or as few as 28 in high-resolution.
Environmentally conscious types will be pleased - the BeanSprout is lead-free and uses a lithium rechargeable battery, plus Argus donates one percent of the price to an environmentally friendly cause.
This is an awful lot of camera for the price, but don't expect great quality in the images its captures. The BeanSprout is all about ease of setup and ease of use.
For about the same price, Walgreens also carries the Aries Digital 3-in-1 Camera ($20). The "3-in-1" designation means it can take up to 79 still photos, shoot short video clips or be used as a web cam. I purchased this model because of its built-in LCD preview screen, which the BeanSprout does not offer.
The Aries has 8 MB of internal memory and operates on two AAA batteries. Unfortunately, I can't tell you much more about it because after inserting two different pairs of new batteries, I could never get the camera to work.
If you're more fortunate than me, this gadget has lots of features for a relatively low price. But I'm returning my Aries in the morning.
Think Geek (thinkgeek.com) is a great online source for stocking-stuffers. High on my list, just for their coolness, are:
* Laser-Guided Scissors ($18), which use a laser-generated line to help you make precise, straight cuts.
* Cool Shooters Ice Shot Glasses ($8), a silicon rubber mold that creates four shot glasses of solid ice. Now that's a cool stocking stuffer!
Got a gadget question or a high-tech toy to recommend? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org