'Twas the month before Xmas and people in business
Were looking for gifts, a few with some whiz-ness —
Something for desk, travel, play, style, or gear.
Things fun, useful, and smart — some not too dear.
But there's more to the season than just spending dough.
We're all part of this world — we should help make it go
By giving back to our schools, aiding people in need,
Making small contributions, just planting a seed.
As we race toward the future at speeds that bump many,
Season's greetings to all — may all be in fast company!
To contribute your suggestion of ways to give back or to learn how others give back, visit http://www.fastcompany.com/givingback
Remember the quaint old days of home video? You'd record Junior's birthday party and play highlights for Grandma on the VCR. With digital video, you can post highlights to the Web! Compact and powerful, the Sony DSR-PD1 digital video camera is a leading-edge professional tool for graphic artists and multimedia developers. It's also a blockbuster gift for the filmmaker in your life ($3,000).
Talk about good things in small packages! The REX PC Companion is the smallest contact manager around. It tracks up to 2,500 contacts, appointments, and memos — and fits in your shirt pocket ($129 to $159).
At last, a videoconferencing system that doesn't require computer hardware. With the ViaTV Phone, all you need is a TV and a telephone. Once the audio call is connected, you start the video call by pressing a button ($499).
Chances are, the "person who has everything" already has a PalmPilot. But the Pilot achieved fame as an electronic organizer. Its next great application is email. So the PalmPilot modem makes a great accessory. This lightweight device snaps easily to the bottom of a Pilot. Find a phone line, press a button, and download messages ($129).
Tired of colleagues (or spouses) who spend hours surfing the Web? Here's a gift that lets them surf while they sleep! The Audible Player downloads audio-based content from publishers, media outlets, and business-conference organizers — more than 10,000 hours of spoken-word programming, from Peter Drucker's book Managing for the Future to NPR's "Car Talk" ($249).
Sony DSR-PD1; Price tag: $3,000; Point of sale: Call Sony (800-686-SONY) or visit the Web http://www.sel.sony.com .
REX PC Companion; Price tag: base model: $129; high-capacity model: $159; Point of sale: Call Franklin Electronic Publishers (888-REX-6400) or visit the Web http://www.franklin.com/rex .
ViaTV Phone; Price tag: $499; Point of sale: Call 8x8 Inc. (888-VIEW-8x8) or visit the Web http://www.viatv.com .
PalmPilot modem; Price tag: $129; Point of sale: Call U.S. Robotics (800-881-7256) or visit the Web http://palmpilot.3com.com/palm .
Audible Player; Price tag: $249 (includes $75 worth of free downloads); Point of sale: Call Audible Inc. (973-890-8799) or visit the Web http://www.audible.com .
Do you know someone who simply refuses to ask for directions? Then give him — it's always a him — the Tripmate global positioning system (bundled with Street Atlas USA 5.0). Tripmate's receiver picks up signals from orbiting GPS satellites. The CD atlas has street maps for the entire United States ($149).
If it has to be mobile, it had better be rugged. The AP-12 Organizer protects important CDs — from software to music ($5.99).
Lots of travelers worry about staying in touch. Not those with Digital DJ. It's a portable radio with a tiny LCD screen that displays news, sports scores, and real-time stock quotes ($139 plus monthly fee).
What's worse on a plane — a chatterbox in the next seat or scratchy sound on the movie? Try the Koss qz/2000 noise-reduction stereophone, which does what its name implies. Attach the eq/30 equalizer — and voila, movies in style ($129.99; $29.99).
The Voice Clock makes waking up on time as easy as saying the time. Users set the time, day, date, and alarm simply by speaking ($75).
Tripmate; Price tag: $149; Point of sale: Call DeLorme Mapping (800-452-5931) or visit the Web http://www.delorme.com .
AP-12 Organizer CD case; Price tag: $5.99; Point of sale: Call Case Logic Inc. (800-447-4848) or visit the Web http://www.caselogic.com .
Digital DJ; Price tag: $139 plus monthly fee; Point of sale: Call Digital DJ Inc. (888-600-4226) or visit the Web http://www.digitaldj.com .
qz/2000 noise-reduction headphones and eq/30 equalizer; Price tag: $199.99; $29.99; Point of sale: Call Koss Corporation (800-USA-KOSS) or visit the Web http://www.koss.com .
Voice Clock; Price tag: $75; Point of sale: Call Voice It Worldwide Inc. (800-846-3000) or visit the Web http://www.voiceit.com .
Every year Montegrappa, the Italian pen company, creates a limited-edition model. You may be tempted to smoke the 1997 edition, Montegrappa's Cigar. But put away your matches: it writes like a dream ($759). Timberland's new line of dress shoes, the MetroWeatherbuck collection, lets businesspeople climb the corporate ladder in the same footwear they use to hike a trail ($135).
Looking for a gift that combines style with utility? Try the Sky Runner computer bag. This handsome case has 64% more capacity and is 40% lighter than most cases ($79.99).
Help a colleague get organized — and have a laugh. Dilbert Personal Organizers include a tabbed month-view calendar, contact pages, plus a generous supply of humor from Scott Adams ($15 to $50).
Is that cigar-pen too trendy? Then uncap the Aurora Optima, modeled on a 1930s design ($385).
Give the skiers in your life a watch that looks great at the office — and helps them move faster on the slopes. The Swatch Access works as a digital lift ticket at more than 300 resorts around the world ($50).
Montegrappa's Cigar; Price tag: $759; Point of sale: Call Seattle Pen (800-477-7367) or visit World Pen on the Web http://www.worldpen.com .
MetroWeatherbuck collection; Price tag: $135; Point of sale: Call Timberland (800-445-5545) or visit the Web http://www.timberland.com .
Sky Runner bag; Price tag: $79.99; Point of sale: Call Kensington Microwave Ltd. (800-535-4242) or visit the Web http://www.kensington.com .
Dilbert Personal Organizers; Price tag: $15 to $50; Point of sale: Call Day Runner Inc. (800-643-9923) or visit the Web http://www.dayrunner.com .
Aurora Optima; Price tag: $385; Point of sale: Call Kenro Industries Inc. (800-741-0005).
Swatch Access; Price tag: $50; Point of sale: Call Swatch (800-U4-SWATCH) or visit the Web http://www.swatch.com .
Home computers are a hot holiday gift, and the hottest PCs sell for less than $1,000. Our choice: the Hewlett-Packard Pavilion 3100 ($999). HP's 17-inch M70 monitor is a multimedia standout ($699).
A speck of dust can damage a keyboard or disk drive. Enter the Data-Vac MicroSweep, a vacuum for electronic equipment ($24.95).
The 25-piece Computer Tool Kit includes screwdrivers, wrenches — gadgets galore for the do-it-yourself propellerhead ($39.99).
Want to give the gift of speed? Give the MouseMan+, a handy device that automates Windows 95 commands ($59.95).
Looking to make a movie? The Buz Multimedia Producer turns a home computer into a digital editing studio ($199.95).
The QuickTrieve Multimedia Storage Tower is perfect for people whose computer desktops are neater than their office desktops. It holds 16 CDs or 18 Zip disks ($9.99).
Give the gift that says no to telemarketers. When they call, the user simply pushes a button, and Easy Hang Up interrupts: "I'm sorry, this number does not accept this type of call." Easy Hang Up then — you guessed it — hangs up ($19.95).
Hewlett-Packard Pavilion 3100 and M70 Monitor; Price tag: $999; $699; Point of sale: Call HP (800 PC-HOME-1) or visit the Web http://www.hp.com .
Data-Vac MicroSweep; Price tag: $24.95; Point of sale: Call the Metropolitan Vacuum Cleaner Company Inc. (800-VAC-1602).
Computer Tool Kit; Price tag: $39.99; Point of sale: Call JDR Microdevices (800-538-5000) or visit the Web http://www.jdr.com .
MouseMan+; Price tag: $59.95; Point of sale: Call Logitech (800-231-7717) or visit the Web http://www.logitech.com .
Buz Multimedia Producer; Price tag: $199.95; Point of sale: Call Iomega Corp. (800-MY-STUFF) or visit the Web http://www.iomega.com .
QuickTrieve Multimedia Storage Tower; Price tag: $9.99; Point of sale: Call Kensington Microwave Ltd. (800-535-4242) or visit the Web http://www.kensington.com .
Easy Hang Up; Price tag: $19.95; Point of sale: Call D-Mail (800-686-1722) or visit the Web http://www.viamall.com/d-mail/6853.html .
Here's the ultimate gift for the couch potato. The Home Theater Master SL-8000 controls almost any model of TV, cable box, stereo, satellite dish, and CD player ($99.95).
Wavecom Sr. makes the whole house cable-ready. It transmits audio and video signals over distances of up to 250 feet ($249).
The consulting firm BrightIdeas helps parents choose educational software for their kids. Its gift picks: Drivin' With A Dragon (Ages 2-7, $39.95); Rainforest Escapade (Ages 6-8, $37.95); Science & Comics (Ages 9+, $39.95).
America's most popular board games (Risk, Monopoly, Scrabble) are back — and Internet-enabled. First you buy CD-ROM versions. Then you sign on to Microsoft's Internet Gaming Zone http://www.zone.com and start playing ($19.99 to $39.99).
You Don't Know Jack, the CD-ROM trivia game, took America by storm two years ago. You Don't Know Jack Huge combines the original and two sequels ($39.95).
Is someone you know getting bad breaks on the green? Give the Odyssey Dual Force Rossie 2 — the hottest putter in golf ($130).
How better to celebrate a putt than with a cigar? Carry one in a Cigar Wedge Humidor ($45).
Love him or hate him, he's here to stay. Now, with Interactive Barney, he's even gone digital ($109.95).
Home Theater Master SL-8000; Price tag: $99.95; Point of sale: Call Universal Remote Control Inc. (800-901-0800).
Wavecom Sr.; Price tag: $249; Point of sale: Call RF-Link Technology Inc. (888-2RF-LINK) or visit the Web http://www.rflinktech.com .
Drivin' With a Dragon, Rainforest Escapade, and Science & Comics; Price tag: $37.95 to $39.95; Point of sale: Call BrightIdeas Inc. (888-4BIDEAS) or visit the Web http://www.brightideas.com .
CD-ROM board games; Price tag: $19.99 to $39.99; Point of sale: Call Hasbro Interactive (800-638-6927) or visit the Web http://www.hasbro.com .
You Don't Know Jack Huge; Price tag: $39.95; Point of sale: Call Berkeley Systems Inc. (800-757-7707) or visit the Web http://www.berksys.com . 6. Odyssey Dual Force Rossie 2; Price tag: $130; Point of sale: Call
Odyssey Golf (800-487-5664) or visit the Web http://www.odysseygolf.com .
Cigar Wedge Humidor; Price tag: $45; Point of sale: Call Dennco Inc. (800-336-6264).
Interactive Barney; Price tag: $109.95; Point of sale: Call Microsoft (800-426-9400) or visit the Web http://www.microsoft.com/actimates .
A version of this article appeared in the December 1997/January 1998 issue of Fast Company magazine.