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Christmas 2009 buyers' guide: gadgets on the go

Satnavs and laptops: give a gift that keeps on movin'

PC Advisor chooses the perfect technology gifts for road warrior: satnavs and laptops.

Christmas 2009 buyers' guide: On the go…

Whether you want to be able to stay in touch with the office or keep up to date with online news stories, having a highly portable laptop at your disposal is usually the most convenient option. Netbooks, with their admirably lengthy battery life, low weight and modest price tags, have proven extremely popular. More personalised models have started to appear, and the two models we outline below are sure to find favour.

Ferrari is one of the most iconic brands around – its bright red livery is hard to miss. Acer has been producing high-specification adrenaline-fuelled laptops bearing the legendary racing team’s colours and logo for the past three years, but this is the first Ferrari-emblazoned mini laptop it’s offered.

Powered by an AMD Athlon X2 dual-core processor, the £399 Acer Ferrari One netbook has a 1366x768 LED display, 4GB of RAM, a 160GB hard drive and a 2GB ATI Radeon HD 3200 graphics processor.

Dolby stereo speakers, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 3G connectivity and three USB ports also feature. The 285x204x30mm netbook comes with either Windows 7 Home Basic or Home Premium preinstalled.

This £299 Asus Disney-branded MK90 netbook is another eye-catching model – the blue version for its smart livery and understated Disney logo; the pink edition for its super-sweet look-at-me cuteness.

The ‘boys’ edition gets our vote, powered by the usual Intel Atom N270 processor and primed with 1GB of RAM and a 160GB hard-disk drive. The ‘bump-proof’ MK90 has Wi-Fi for web access, but concerned parents will be able to monitor and control sites and applications that can be used, by time, location, duration or type of app – perhaps disabling instant messaging, for example.

Sleek and sophisticated

For a more sophisticated lightweight laptop, Apple’s MacBook Air remains the ultimate in desirability. You can choose between a 120GB hard-disk drive or a pricier solid-state disk model that has no moving parts and is completely silent in use. The lightest model weighs just 1.39kg, which is very light for a laptop with a 13.3in screen.

This revised version of the 19mm-thin MacBook Air uses nVidia graphics and has an improved 1280x800 display. It’s still light on USB ports and has no optical drive or SD Card reader, though – and it’s pricier than Windows ultraportables with better specs. Even so, it’s already a classic among Macs.

TomTom Start satnav

By now, most of us have at least had a play with a satnav, even if we’ve not gone as far as buying one. Satnav prices are low and capabilities impressive these days, though, and even market leader TomTom is trying to tempt erstwhile refuseniks with its entry-level £119 TomTom Start.

With just two buttons to worry about, a 3.5in touchcreen, full UK and Ireland maps and a preinstalled list of speed cameras, it’s neither as advanced nor as complex as some satnavs. IQ Routes assist with efficient routing depending on the time of travel and likely traffic levels and maps can be kept up to date by periodically plugging into the PC and accessing the TomTom portal.

Christmas 2009 buyers' guide: Driving a hard bargain

The launch this year of GPS apps from the big satnav companies has been big news. If you’re looking to impress an Apple iPhone owner, we suggest getting them iTunes vouchers to spend on CoPilot for their smartphone.

At £26, it’s the best value of the three mainstream satnav options out there – TomTom and Navigon being the others – and is £40 cheaper than its rivals. You’ll need to budget for an iPhone docking cradle for the car though – CoPilot comes as a download from the App Store.

CoPilot is one of the most respected and longest-established names in navigation software for mobile devices and maker ALK has got the balance between information and clear onscreen and verbal instructions just right. You can load up thousands of points of interest if you wish; it’s also straightforward to switch them all off and just drive.

INDEX:

PC Advisor Christmas 2009 technology buyers' guide

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