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Be sure to include iPod accessories under this year's tree

Last year, iPods were the hot ticket gift. This year, the iPod accessories are topping the lists to Santa. Online venues and store aisles are brimming with these electronic extras, and knowing which items to box up is essential to ensure a happy iHoliday.

If iPoders ask for only one thing this season, let it be "Secrets of the iPod (45h Edition)" (Peachpit Press, $15.95). A gift that doesn't require electricity or skill to figure out, the book is the first key to a full iPod experience. Attempting to safeguard against the frustrations that can accompany any electronic toy, author Christopher Breen seeks to have users truly understand their iPod.

Having written about Macintosh products for publications such as MacUser, MacWEEK, and Macworld, and a writer for Macworld's Daily Tips, Breen knows what he's talking about. By unraveling confusing codes and providing insider tips and tricks, the book is an essential musical aid. At $15.95 and sold at local bookstores and online, Brenns insight is an inexpensive gift that can lend itself to very pleasing results.

When shelling out between $150 to more than $300 for an iPod, keeping the product looking good is pivotal. Once the box is open and the toy comes out, though, scratches are inevitable. In steps iCleaner, a nonabrasive cleaning product that gets rid of scratches and ensures a shining, new-looking iPod, no matter how many Christmases have passed since it was first received.

"Your iPod will always end up scratched, no mater how hard you try to protect it," said Rolf Magener, a representative for iCleaner. "But iCleaner can get any iPod looking new again."

Available online at www.iPodcleaner.com, a 1-ounce bottle, complete with cleaning cloth, sells for $15, and can last for years.

"We recommend that you only use one drop per cleaning," said Magener. "A small bottle can last for as long as you have your iPod."

Alarm clocks are not known to be very exciting holiday presents. Homedics, however, is changing that with the iSound Spa. An alarm clock, AM/FM radio and iPod dock rolled into one package, the high-tech toy is ideal for both guys and gals. Retailing for $79.95, the clock/dock is complete with the Homedics spa signature nature sound selection, making it equally equipped to help sleepers wake up or doze off.

"It is very sleek looking, great for both girls and boys," said Kim Dresdale, public relations manager for Homedics. " It's also great for being lazy, because it projects the time on the wall. You don't even have to roll over anymore. It's perfect for both getting up or being lazy."

All iPods come with the signature ear buds. High-tech fans, however, are opting to branch out and purchase Logitech's FreePulse wireless headphones. Boasting an interference-free, clear sound without the tangle of wires, the headphones feature volume and bass control, and can pick up music within a 33-foot range.

"How many times have you dropped your iPod and the wires have yanked out, or you've thrown it into a bag and the chords get all knotted together?" asked Pamela McCracken, public relations manager for Logitech. "Really, these are about convenience. Plus, it looks so high-tech and cool."

The battery life runs for up to six hours of play time, and lightweight but durable, the headphones are made of a sturdy spring-steel. Selling for about $100, the piece itself is a steal.

"These are a brand new product. It will last a long time and holds its shape very well," McCracken said. "It's really a great deal for a pair of headphones you can have for a long time."

Though not necessarily on everyone's iPod wish list, Tiger electronic's iDog Music Companion is an entertaining toy to have around.

"With millions of iPods and MP3 players sold last year, (the iDog) is the perfect companion for owners who are young at heart and looking for playful accessories," Sharon John said, general manager for Tiger Electronics, in a press release.

Palm-sized and available in white, black, and pink, the iDog will light up and dance in rhythm to the music streaming from speakers or headphones. Suggested for ages 8 and up, the iDog retails for $29.99 and is sold at area toy stores.