Seattle Times news services The gift-buying season heads into the home stretch. Here's another round of reviews of products to add to the...

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Seattle Times news services

The gift-buying season heads into the home stretch. Here’s another round of reviews of products to add to the list of ideas.

Bose Companion 2

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Multimedia Speaker System

Here is a quick way to improve a computer’s sound quality: Replace those cheap speakers that came with it with a pair built by Bose, a company that knows how to coax big sound out of small boxes.

The Companion 2 speakers ($99, www.bose.com) use a signal-processing technology called TrueSpace to create a wider, more open sound field. The cabinets are magnetically shielded, so they can sit close to a computer monitor without causing interference.

There’s a headphone jack and volume control on one speaker and a second set of input jacks, so you also can plug in a portable MP3 or CD player.

— Ric Manning

The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal

Live365 Subscription

Internet radio is a true narrowcast medium — no matter what kind of music or other type of programming you enjoy, you probably can find an online station devoted to it.

The trouble is that most Internet radio hub sites that provide links to stations are either bereft of some of the most interesting programming available or are poorly organized.

But Live365 ($5.95 a month, www.live365.com) is a gateway to nearly 10,000 stations. You can listen to many of them for free, but a subscription eliminates commercials, provides a higher-quality audio stream and gives the user tools for organizing favorite stations.

— David Colker

Los Angeles Times

Treo 650 phone

Mobile phones run the gamut between bare-bones, just-for-talking devices to complex minicomputers that can do just about everything a desktop computer can do. Industry analysts say there is a phone for every kind of customer, from the fashionista to the power e-mailer.

For customers who want their phone to do everything, there’s the Treo 650. In addition to voice calls, the Treo offers calendar, e-mail, contacts, Web browser, a RealPlayer digital media player, instant messaging, camera and camcorder, among other services. It sells for $599 but less if the buyer signs a contract with a cellular provider: Cingular offers the Treo 650 for $399 with some restrictions, as does Sprint for $239.

— Jessie Seyfer

Knight Ridder Newspapers

Franklin Sudoku

Sudoku, an amalgamation of Japanese words that loosely translate to “single number,” is a mathematical game that swept through the United Kingdom last year and hit the United States this year. The Seattle Times publishes a new puzzle each Monday through Saturday.

The game uses numbers to test a player’s logic on a grid. The goal is to fill the empty squares so that the numbers 1 through 9 appear only once in every row, column and individual block.

Franklin’s hand-held ($25, www.franklin.com) is stocked with puzzles created by Nikoli, the Japanese publisher that first popularized the game in Japan in the 1980s. It includes a demo sequence and a button that offers a hint if you get stuck.

— Ric Manning

GlobalPetFinder

Afraid your beloved pet will dart out the door, never to be seen again?

Consider attaching a GlobalPetFinder (www.globalpetfinder.com) to your pet’s collar. The water-resistant device has a built-in global positioning system (GPS) that tracks your pet’s movements. Should your pet become lost, its GPS system can send information about the pet’s location to your computer, cellphone or PDA.

The 5-ounce device is suited for pets weighing 30 or more pounds. It costs $350 and requires a $35 activation fee plus an $18-a-month subscription.

— Deborah Porterfield

Gannett News Service