Macworld ’s Gear Guide

Gear Guide: Part Three

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Macworld ’s Gear Guide

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How to Spot Them: They’ve got twitchy fingers, heightened senses, and the perceptible glow of satisfaction that only comes from having captured the enemy’s flag during a marathon Halo session. They’re Mac gamers, and don’t try telling them that this platform is only good for editing digital photos and building databases.

Why We Picked These Gifts: For the gamer who has everything—or at least, every cool Mac game to hit the shelves in the last month—nothing helps old games seem new again like a few hardware modifications.

What You’ll Spend: $50 to $399.

Other Ideas: Just in case there’s a game your favorite Mac gamer doesn’t own, our Game Hall of Fame looks at the best Mac games of 2004.

Satisfy a Sweet Tooth

Radeon 9800 Pro Mac Edition

If you’d like to treat a hard-core Mac gamer to the sweetest eye candy, ATI Technologies’ Radeon 9800 Pro Mac Edition card is just the thing. It supports the pixel and shading effects you’ll see in the latest games; includes DVI, VGA, and 128MB of VRAM; and even has an S-Video connector so you can hook up your Mac to a TV. There’s also a Power Mac G5-only Special Edition version that doubles the VRAM to 256MB and nixes S-Video and VGA support, but adds an ADC connector for Apple’s older Cinema Displays.—PETER COHEN

Mac Edition, $349; Special Edition, $399; ATI Technologies

What’s Your Sign?

Tapwave Zodiac

Carrying a PDA and a Game Boy just means more clutter in your backpack. Combine the two with Tapwave’s Zodiac: a full-featured Palm OS-based PDA designed for gamers, with 3-D-graphics acceleration on a big screen, a built-in analog thumbstick controller with vibration effects, and a growing library of games. Built-in Bluetooth makes wireless synchronization a breeze, though you’ll need Missing Sync from Mark/Space because the Zodiac doesn’t come with Mac software.—PETER COHEN

Zodiac, $300; Tapwave; The Missing Sync, $40; Mark/Space

Surrounded by Sound

Zalman ZM-RS6F

3-D positional surround sound is gaining traction in Mac games, thanks to M-Audio’s Revolution 5.1 card and OpenAL. Gamers looking for real 3-D sound that won’t annoy roommates or coworkers will appreciate Zalman’s ZM-RS6F Theatre 6 Surround Headphones, which use the discrete front, center, and rear inputs on sound cards such as the Revolution 5.1 to generate 3-D sound—no signal-delay trickery here, as on cheaper sets. Great for LAN parties, too.—PETER COHEN

$50; Zalman

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