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You can still keep it local when giving the gift of technology

A few ideas for technology gifts that appeal to Central Texans

Omar L. Gallaga
ogallaga@statesman.com

For the past few years, we've been recommending some of our favorite tech products for anyone on your holiday gift list, no matter where in the world your gift recipient might be. This year, we thought we'd keep it a little more local, with tech products that are either especially suited for Central Texans (or far-flung, homesick Texans) or that were developed around Austin.

Here are some of the products we're recommending, along with the reasons these make good gifts for locals.

Sony PlayStation 24-inch 3D Display

Too small to be the center of a home theater, but just right for desktop gaming, this new display from Sony ($499) is well-matched to play some of the newest 3-D enabled games for the PlayStation 3, including "Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception" and "The Ico and Shadow of the Colossus Collection." It also can be used to watch 3-D Blu-ray movies or pretty much any other high-def content with its HDMI and component inputs. It comes bundled with a pair of active-shutter 3-D glasses and the game "MotorStorm: Apocalypse." And it's got one feature that most 3-D TVs and monitors don't: it can split the image on some games so that two players sitting side-by-side each see a different image. You'll have to buy an extra pair of glasses for that, though.

More info:us.playstation.com/ps3/accessories

Why we chose it: For dorm-dwelling gamers, this is a versatile, beautiful-looking TV that can also double as a computer monitor. It can be used to play some of the games Sony Online Entertainment works on in Austin like "DC Universe Online" or 2012's "Starhawk," developed by LightBox Interactive.

Striiv, Fitbit and Jawbone Up

A couple of different tech elements - cheap sensors, wireless technology and ever-shrinking semiconductors - have made wearable devices a reality the past few years. For the fitness industry, that means a boom of products like Striiv, an egg-shaped keychain pedometer that also includes a "Farmville"-like game that can issue you walking, running and stair-climbing challenges. Fitbit is a more straight-ahead clip-on fitness monitor that can track your motion as well as your sleeping pattern. And the recently introduced Jawbone Up has elements of both products and comes in the form of a colorful wristband that can vibrate and wirelessly sync information to the Web. ($99 each.)

More info:www.striiv.com ; www.fitbit.com ; www.jawbone.com/up

Why we chose them: With the hike-and-bike trail and so much local outdoor stuff to do, even hard-core techies need to get off the couch or computer chair.

FanVision

The most hard-core sports fans (who also happen to be early adopters) will appreciate the tech behind FanVision ($199, plus renewable season subscriptions), a portable device that marries the thrill of being in the stadium with getting the instant replays, commentary and real-time stats on a 4.3-inch screen you take to the game. NFL, NCAA college football and F1 racing are the first sports to be compatible with FanVision. and although the Dallas Cowboys and Texas Longhorns aren't part of the roster yet, the company says it's working on expanding the selection of teams.

More info:www.fanvision.com

Why we chose it: This device is powered by technology from Austin-based Freescale Semiconductor Inc.

Amazon Kindle Fire

No one in the tech industry was surprised when Amazon finally announced a color tablet to add to its e-book empire. What nobody expected was the surprising price of the Kindle Fire ($199), a 7-inch tablet geared more for viewing videos and listening to music than just reading books. Less than half the price of the cheapest iPad 2, the Fire also has an innovative Web browser called Silk and access to services like Hulu Plus and Netflix.

More info:amazon.com/kindlefire

Why we chose it: It's a good way to enjoy Austin-shot movies and listen to music from local musicians on a tablet device that's much less expensive than an iPad.

Skinit

A wide variety of Longhorns logos are available to slap on pretty much any tech devices you could own at Skinit.com, which offers cases and covers for cellphones, computers, tablets and even game consoles. (Prices vary.) If the enormous library of designs on the site don't grab you, you can even design your own.

More info:www.skinit.com

Why we chose it: With prices as low as $15, it's a relatively inexpensive way to help someone protect his or her gadgets and do it in style.

Motorola Droid RAZR

Fast, capable smartphones running Android software are now so ubiquitous that it's hard to tell them apart. The RAZR ($199 with a two-year contract) does so with an incredibly slim body, a rich, 4.3-inch display and 4G LTE data speeds on Verizon's wireless network. It's a worthy iPhone alternative.

More info:motorola.com

Why we chose it: Austin was one of the cities chosen to get access to Verizon's high-speed LTE data network back in September, making the RAZR one fast phone.

Universal Remote Control MX-350

The future promises great, functional remote controls that work right from our tablet devices or smartphones. Unfortunately, none of the ones we've tried work as well as the trusty, plastic, button-laden remotes of yore. So why not splurge to get someone's remote control situation resolved once and for all? Mike Hall, owner of Austin's 360 Digital Systems, a home theater/home automation company, recommends the consumer line of remotes from Universal Remote Control Inc. "Hands down these guys are the king of remote controls," Hall says. From the basic MX-350 ($149 plus installer fees) all the way up to the color-screen MX-880 ($499), they all use RF technology as well as IR. That means you can control your devices no matter where you are in the house or where the remote is pointed.

More info:universalremote.com

Why we chose it: We can't think of a lot of tech problems that annoy us as much as dealing with programming a stack of remote controls. This is one of those situations where it's best to call in the professionals.

Dell XPS 14z

With tablets on the rise, laptop makers are aiming for thinner, lighter designs (and black, bulky laptops are out; these days its silver and sleek). Enter Dell's XPS 14z (starts at $999), which is less than an inch thick, has a 14-inch screen (despite having the same dimensions as a 13-inch laptop) and the beefy power and speed of a larger laptop. It's got a DVD drive and promises nearly seven hours of battery life, all at a reasonable 4.3 pounds.

More info:www.dell.com/xps

Why we chose it: Compared with Apple's popular MacBook Air and Pro models, this laptop measures favorably in performance and price, but was developed by the home team, Round Rock-based Dell Inc.

Ultimate Ears Custom In-Ear Monitors

Yes, they're pricey ($399-$1,350), but hear us out! For pro or semi-pro Austin musicians used to laying out cash for music gear, these don't seem so exorbitant. The price of a custom model includes a visit to the audiologist to create a mold that's used to create earbuds that perfectly fit the wearer's ear. For performances, a well-calibrated set of these means the musician doesn't need to rely on eardrum-shattering stage monitors. They come with a rugged roadie box and a cleaning tool, and the earbuds can be swapped out among the different Ultimate Ears monitor sets.

More info:www.logitech.com/ue

Why we chose it: Austin is full of working musicians and audiophiles who deserve the best sound in their ear canals.

'The Gunstringer'

One of the weirdest-looking, oddball video games to be released this year from a local developer also turned out to be one of our favorites. Austin's Twisted Pixel (which was recently acquired by Microsoft Studios) used the capabilities of the Xbox 360 Kinect motion sensor to power, "The Gunstringer" ($40), a unique blend of Wild West shooting and puppetry. The overachieving studio also developed a downloadable add-on that pays homage to the full-motion video classic "Mad Dog McCree."

More info:www.thegunstringer.com

Why we chose it: If the game weren't fun enough, it also features a very recognizable Paramount Theatre as the setting for its opening. And it spotlights lots of Austin acting, voice and game development talent.

Nintendo 3DS

Nintendo's struggling portable console, which accomplishes the stupefying feat of displaying 3-D without glasses, got off to a slow start because of a lack of great games and a high price point. Nintendo cut the price and is pushing more top-tier games like "Super Mario 3D Land" and "Pokemon Rumble Blast."

More info:nintendo.com/3ds

Why we chose it: Austin's Retro Studios did work on the new 3DS game "Mario Kart 7," which debuts in December.