Airtime

Can you gift me now?


By Carlo Longino

It's that time of year again when gadget lust can be easily justified simply as hankering to fill a holiday gift list. In case you've had any trouble coming up with any suitable suggestions from the mobile realm, or can't think of anything for that cell-crazed person in your life, I've got several suggestions.

Let's get the geek gift out of the way early: the Nokia 770 Internet tablet. It's not a phone; it's not a PDA; it's an "Internet tablet". You could call it a PDA if you wanted, just to annoy the Finns, but it's essentially a big touchscreen made for Web browsing and e-mail either via Wi-Fi or a mobile phone using Bluetooth. The kicker for the 1334 h4x0rs in your life is that it runs Linux, so it should be fairly hackable, and plenty of applications are being ported to it. Nokia's also said it will have an OS upgrade in the new year that will give the 770 VoIP and IM functionalities as well.

After the jump, one for the ladies, an EVDO pick, affordable mobile music and the ultimate accessory...

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Next, for the ladies, or dudes that like pink, is the magenta Motorola RAZR, available from T-Mobile. It's the same RAZR everybody knows and loves, but in tasty metallic magenta (or pink if you don't have Crayola 64-color vision). These are supposedly in short supply, so if you can't find one (or you're cheap), go for a standard/pass silver version, then hop on over and pick up a Vaja leather case in pink for $55. Then, when pink isn't cool anymore, you can replace it with one of their 35 other colors.

Battling pink for status as the new black is, um, black. Sprint's got that one covered with the Samsung MM-A900 it's selling, a half-inch think lump of blackaliciousness. It's got a 1.3-megapixel camera, Bluetooth, QVGA display, and it's also one of Sprint's "Power Vision" phones, meaning it uses their EV-DO network to access all kinds of content like streaming audio and video.

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EV-DO on its own for a laptop is pretty cool: 400 to 700 kbps data speeds, and now wide coverage. Since it's a cellular service, though, the carriers want to tie a single account to a single device, to a single user. But for those times when you feel like sharing, you can grab a router that takes an EV-DO card and shares its connection via Wi-Fi to multiple users. The Junxion Box — bane of Verizon Wireless — has been out for a while, but at $500 to $700, those better be some pretty good friends you let use it. Kyocera, though, has got its KR1 Mobile Router that performs essentially the same functions for about $200. That doesn't include the EV-DO card to stick in or a handset to connect, though.

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Mobile music is hot right now, or at least it's supposed to be. But if you're not into the $2.50 per song some phone companies wants to buy a track right from the phone, and just want to listen to your own damn music, Sony Ericsson's got you covered with its Walkman phones. There's the W600 that's currently available from Cingular, a cool little swivel phone with a megapixel camera, FM radio, landscape-mode gaming, 256 megs of memory and EDGE for (relatively) high-speed data. Its older brother, the W800, is only available directly from Sony Ericsson or from third-party dealers, and while it's got a more traditional candy bar design, it's got quite a few more features. It loses the EDGE functionality, but replaces it with a 2-megapixel camera (that's about the best currently available) and a Memory Stick Pro Duo slot that supports up to 1-gigabyte cards.

That leaves the ultimate gift. Well, the ultimate gift if you have a flip phone and are quite possibly the laziest person in the world: the cell phone opener. Because opening it yourself if so, you know, strenuous, and also because the Japanese have never found anything that couldn't better be done by a machine. On tap for Christmas 2006: the cell phone closer.

Carlo Longino is a writer and analyst that follows the mobile industry. He's co-editor of MobHappy, and also an analyst for Techdirt. He can be reached at carlo@mobhappy.com.

Read more Airtime. The column appears every Tuesday on Gizmodo.