Santa baby, slip an iTouch under the tree, for me

Been an awful tough year,

Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight.

This holiday season, the little somethings that small business owners are asking Santa to slip under the tree include lightweight notebook computers, next-generation smart phones, HD cameras, and more.

With the economy in the doldrums, there’s not a whole lot to celebrate this year and not a whole lot of IT money left to celebrate with. But small business owners who’ve managed to squirrel away a little of their annual computing budget to spend on themselves or their employees before Dec. 31 have a sleigh full of electronic devices to choose from.

According to a very informal poll of several dozen small business owners, here are some of the most popular items on their holiday wish lists:

Little laptops

Sallie Goetsch, a podcast producer at The Podcast Asylum in California, wants a UMPC -- an ultra-mobile PC -- the latest in lightweight computing. Also known as a tablet PC, netbook or subnotebook, the devices run 13” or smaller, weigh just a couple pounds, have touch screens and/or QWERTY keyboards and come with built ins like GPS and Wi-Fi and a variety of options. Goetsch wants something to take to conferences and events and prefers a UMPC over a smart phone. “I never did learn how to type with my thumbs,” she says. “I’m trying to decide which one, the new HP? The EEE?”

Joe Pulizzi, owner of Z Squared Media, a Cleveland, Ohio, content marketing firm and founder of the Junta42 content marketing blog network, wants a mini laptop too. Pulizzi has a 17” Toshiba laptop in his home office, but it’s too big for the road. “Sometimes small is better,” he says. Pulizzi has his eyeona Toshiba Portege with a 12.1” display, built-in fingerprint reader, webcam, digital card reader, and 4 USB ports.


Linda Musgrove, owner of an Aventura, Fla., trade show consulting firm called Trade Show Teacher, already has a smartphone. But that hasn’t stopped her from lusting after the HTC Touch Pro, Sprint’s Windows Mobile 6.1 smartphone with a slide-out QWERTY keypad, touch screen, expandable memory, 3.2 megapixel camera, Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth support. The device will do double duty, managing Musgrove’s business and “my crazy family,” she says.

Nancy White, owner of Custom Interface, a Bingen, Wash., custom electronics manufacturer, treated herself to an AT&T Tilt smartphone as an early Christmas present. It hasn’t been pure love at first sight -- “It takes three screens to get to speed dial” -- but she does love the fact that it comes loaded with Microsoft Outlook, “so the interface with my work desktop is fantastic,” she says.

Cameras and gadgets

When it comes to gadgets, former newspaper photographer Jay Bryant has a soft spot for cameras. This holiday, Bryant, now business development vice president at Live World, a San Jose, Calif., social networking company, has his eye on the Kodak Zi6 Flip Cam in HD. The palm-sized device has a 2.4” screen and weighs 3.8 ounces and has built-in USB port and editing software. “I’m going to try my hand at video blogging,” Bryant says. “And I’m going to start recording some of my presentations to review them afterward to see how I can do better,” Bryant says. Plus, at a suggested retail price of $180, “it’s cheap,” he says.

After Andre Preoteasa, IT director at Castle Brands got himself an Apple iPod Touch, he was the most popular guy at the New York City fine spirits distributor. “Everyone in the office is asking to use it. Everybody wants one,” Preoteasa says. “It’s literally a computer in your pocket, and a very posh one.” Reviewers have dubbed the second-generation iPod Touch the iPhone’s baby brother, with many of the same features -- music and video player, Safari Web browser, email, iTunes store, etc. -- minus the ability to make cell phone calls. Prices run $270 to $400 for models with 8, 16 or 32 GB flash memory.

Travis Isaacson, senior director of organizational development at Access Development, a Salt Lake City, affinity marketing business, doesn’t want anything that fancy, just an iPod Classic with 120 GB of memory instead of the old 80 GB model he has now so he can squeeze in more of the business books he downloads from

Nov Omana, managing principal at Collective HR Solutions, a San Mateo, Calif. HR industry consultant, doesn’t like it when people sitting next to him at Starbucks or on an airplane peek at his laptop screen. So this holiday his wish list includes a pair of MyVu Shades, eyewear that looks like regular sunglasses but blocks out whatever is showing on a laptop or iPod screen for everyone except the person wearing them. The $199 device, which comes with built-in earbuds, is primarily sold as a way to watch videos in private but Omana thinks it has big potential with business travelers. “The next generation may allow us to just ‘see’ each other in a virtual world or over the net no matter where we are,” he says.

John Klebes, business development program manager at Sig Sauer, the Exeter, N.H. gun maker, has his eye on the Livescribe Pulse Smartpen, a $200 digital pen with built in microphone, speaker, display screen and tiny camera. The Smartpen can record notes in written and audio form simultaneously when used with special “digital paper” embedded with microdots. “It sounds like a very useful tool and I wouldn't turn down one for Christmas,” Klebes says.