stuck for last-minute gift ideas for your tech-friendly pals? Been putting off shopping because of marathon sessions in front of the TV playing Ico or Metal Gear Solid: 2? Instability in the tech scene remains, and dot-coms -- at least those still left -- continue to collapse at an alarming rate, leaving, in the case of Excite, for example, millions of users screwed. Tech toys continue to sell at a blinding rate, however, particularly now. The difference is that there's a focus now on proven gadgets rather than freakishly bleeding-edge toys that might be obsolete come February.
The following are the top-selling tech toys of this holiday season. Those really stuck on the couch should note that while many Net businesses have already stopped accepting holiday orders, online mail-order giants like Amazon.com, CDnow.com and gifts.com will deliver your stuff by December 25 if you order by this weekend.
The well-wired person on your gift list will thank you. Happy holidays.
DIGITAL CAMERAS Hardly new, but the difference now is the price. You can get a good digital camera for anywhere from $300 to $2,000, ranging from cheap, entry-level models to print-ready cameras. If you're shopping online, Amazon.com has slashed prices on all digital cameras.
IPOD Apple's MP3 player is a thing of beauty, a shapely, cassette-sized monster that can copy a complete CD in less than 10 seconds. The lineups of people buying iPods at computer shops around town over the past few weeks suggest Apple's got a winner.
XBOX You're probably tired of hearing about the XBox or being bombarded by Microsoft's endless advertising campaign. The hype is real, though, and wild games like Halo prove it. When you're tired of the fruitcake and forced family get-togethers, this 8-pound box of plastic and wires will seem like the best $500 you've spent. If you're giving one away, buy two.
METAL GEAR SOLID: 2 The game that the PlayStation 2 was invented for. This adventure epic is more believable than most Bruce Willis movies and will take over your life if you let it. Play with caution.
CODE-FREE DVD PLAYERS Really want to see those original Japanese or Italian DVDs that aren't available here? Come home from a trip to Hong Kong with a bootleg copy of The Lord Of The Rings? This machine's your ticket. Code-free DVD machines play everything, not just North American DVDs, and cost anywhere from $300 to $900. Cheapie models are available through underground retailers around town -- Chinatown's a first stop -- but a better bet is to go to a site like www.codefreedvd.com and mail-order a machine that's guaranteed to work.