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Find the perfect Valentine gift for him

Think cool gadgets instead of heart-decorated boxers. By Teri Goldberg

It’s almost V-day and you’re really tempted to buy him another pair of boxers with little hearts on them or a Teddy Bear dressed up as Superman. Don’t even go there. This year, think about what he wants, which is the same things he wants the rest of the year: toys, gadgets and yes, even appliances, if they fall in one of these categories: food, sports or sex. We’ll stick with the first two.

The goal is to please him
Remember the “goal” this Valentine’s Day is to please him. What’s more important to your guy — you or the remote control device? Of course you are but the remote ranks way up there when it comes to material possessions. What takes priority in your household — a romantic night out or watching the big game?

With this in mind, check out the ABC Monday Night Football remote manufactured by Miami-based Excalibur Electronics.

Shaped like a toy football, the foam-padded device has a remote control neatly tucked inside. So sports fans can actually “pass” this remote while watching the game.

The 7.5-by-4.75-inch remote also talks. Press an icon that resembles a megaphone on the football’s surface and a recorded voice welcomes you to the wonderful world of football with the message: “Are you ready for some football?”

Otherwise, the full-functioning remote operates just like any other universal remote. It can be programmed to activate up to four electronic devices, including a television set, a VCR, a cable box or a satellite receiver.

The remote retails for $19.95, and is sold at brick-and-mortar department stores Kohl's, JC Penney and Macy's and specialty shops online Smarthome.com and Bitwise Gifts.

Another gadget from Excalibur Electronics sure to be a winner in the sports department is the ABC Sports Master. Shaped like a referee, this handheld gadget is guaranteed to make the man of the house feel like the master of his domain. The lightweight device is loaded with more than 30,000 “files” of information gathered from the World Almanac, and holds answers to more than 400 questions about boxing, auto racing and tennis and major U.S. sports leagues including the MLB, NFL, NHL, NBA, PGA.

What to know that all important stat of the moment? Search “facts & stats.” Looking for information on your favorite player? Check out “bios.” Sports Master also comes loaded with games “highlights” for each year since 1998, game rules for baseball, basketball, football and hockey, a multiple-choice sports trivia game and a stadium finder, which contains telephone and Web site information for stadiums across the country.

Prices vary significantly from a low of $19.99 at JC Penney to a high of $29.95 at the manufacturer’s Web site. Other vendors, which stock Sports Master, include Brookstone  ($25), CoolStuffCheap  ($23.95) and Improvements ($24.99.)

Poker, anyone?

Poker is everywhere these days, from the televised World Series of Poker to Bravo’s “Celebrity Poker Showdown.” If your man is a poker fan, there’s bound to be a gadget on the market to win his affection.

Learn the basics with Radica’s handheld electronic draw poker game, and then switch to low, medium or high risk strategies for more realistic play. Available at Discovery Channel, the game retails for $24.95.

Or take the Texas Hold ‘Em challenge with Sharper Image’s handheld tournament game. Shaped like a green-felt padded poker table, the Texas Hold ‘Em game was released this past holiday season and sells for $39.95.

Just released this month is Saitek Industries’ no limit Texas Hold ’Em game. The handheld game will be available soon online and at brick-and-mortar Discovery Channel stores for $49.95.

From hot dogs to high tech

Even in the era of celebrity chefs, real men still don’t eat quiche nor do they cook elaborate gourmet meals. Some don’t even boil water. Everything edible that requires cooking goes straight in the microwave. With these guys in mind, consider Hammacher Schlemmer’s Pop-up Hot Dog Cooker. It sounds kind of silly or superfluous but ever cook a hot dog in the microwave?

The pop-up toaster not only has slots for two dogs and two buns but also cooks the dogs and toasts the buns at the same time. Control knobs let you adjust the cooking time for both the dogs and the buns.

The hot dog cooker retails for $49.95 at Hammacher Schlemmer and other specialty stores, such as niftykitchen.com and Spilsbury.

If he’s not a hot-dog-eating, sports-minded type of guy, consider a subscription to Cargo, the new men’s magazine which features all the products guys want. Can’t beat the charter subscription price of $9.97 for 10 issues at the magazine’s Web site. Compare that to other cyber vendors, such as magazines.com, where 10 issues costs $12 or ValueMags.com, 10 issues sells for $15.

Even something practical is better than those cutesy boxer shorts or a plush animal.David Stern, a computer consultant in Metuchen, N.J., just ordered his first digital camera and recommends digital camera accessories, such as writable CDs or DVDs; photo printer; photo quality paper; or extra memory for camera (to increase storage capacity and photo resolution.)

If he already has printer, “treat him to a printer cable,” says Stern. “None of them come with cable now a days! ...like buying a car and having to pay extra for a steering wheel,” he adds.