The home computer has been topping wish lists of families and teenagers for many years now, but the demand keeps growing, especially since it is almost impossible to keep equipment and software updated.This has always been a safe (yet expensive) gift from a parent's point of view because, no matter how many games of Doom or Wolfenstein are on it, they can still convince themselves it is a productive gift.

This year, custom building your own computer has been a popular option. This gives the buyer the opportunity to select specific types of equipment to include such as zip drives, extra hard drive memory, extra RAM and better speakers.

This Christmas, high school seniors are often asking for presents that they will need in college, and a computer has become one of those essentials. Among graduates, laptops that can be moved, used and toted all around campus are the best bets. The recently released iMac is also a great gift for the family technophobe.

Families and teens who already own a home computer still won't be able to avoid the techno-toys this year. No matter how new a computer is, there is always software to add and upgrade and new accessories to purchase such as printers, scanners, better hard drives, sound cards, and modems.

But the computer monitor isn't the only screen that will be stared at this season. Televisions and home theaters have also become great family gifts that teens love. Many people are waiting for the new wide-screen TVs, but the new flat screen will probably be under a lot of Christmas trees. The home theater is getting a more popular addition, DVD. New digital technology will soon make the VCR system as obsolete as the eight-track tape.

A few years ago, pagers became affordable for teenagers to buy and use. Teens, however, are even upgrading in this area. Cell phones have finally filtered their way from corporate skyscrapers to student parking lots.

Although for some people it has become somewhat of a status symbol, the cell phone is another present parents and teens agree with. What parent wants to pass up the opportunity to make kids accessible to them anytime, anywhere?

This year, candy canes and clothes aren't enough for kids. Whatever Santa packs in his sleigh, he better have extra extension cords and batteries . . . and an instruction manual.

For additional coverage of hot-selling toys, high-tech product reviews and other features, please follow this link, originally published Saturday.