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Tuesday, Oct 29th

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Top 5 gadget categories to gift this holiday season

Top 5 gadget categories to gift this holiday season

Every holiday season, the sale of consumer electronics has been consistently increasing. Everyone has at least one uber-cool gadget on their holiday shopping list either for self or home or for gifting to a dear one. Be cautious though, if that person happens to be a geek, you don’t want to gift something that is passing off or worst, fallen off the geek radar. Have a look at these top five categories and the consecutive gadgets to save you from the geek-blast. The categories that make up our hip-list are as follows.

1)  E-readers and Tablets


E-readers are selling like hot cakes. Owing to their popularity and their usefulness, they have garnered much of the tech market this year and are expected to cover more this holiday season. Also contrary to last holiday season; there is quite a variety of e-readers available this year. But before you pick one up for a friend or yourself, do consider some factors such as ‘Is the person such an avid reader to carry one for e-books or newspapers?’ If yes, then ‘Where will the person do most of the reading?’

E-readers are now available in two variants depending on the screens. One that comes with ‘e-ink screen’ and other that has a ‘LCD screen’. E-ink readers don’t have a backlight and are comfortable to read anywhere with sufficient light, even outdoors. LCD ones won’t need light but they will cause glare problems in outdoor settings which have strong light.

Amazon’s Kindle 3 is the hottest selling e-reader according to many tech-review websites. Its innovative design coupled with many tools & functions and a lower price tag than most e-readers places it at the top. It has built in Wi-Fi, a very sturdy battery life (up to 3 weeks on a single charge with Wi-Fi on) and 4GB internal memory. With such functions and a great quality, you can simply read on and on.The only drawback with Kindle is the dedicated content service or store conformity which means that you can buy content from only one source, in this case Amazon.

If you don’t want that, you can choose from other e-readers like the BeBook Neo which provides excellent quality without the lockdown and also has a user friendly touch screen interface. And if you are looking for an e-reader which offers colors, you can opt for the Pandigital Novel which has a LCD screen.


If the idea of gifting an e-reader is not so appealing, you can always present your geek with a tablet. A tablet is simply a stripped down version of a laptop where the keyboard is taken off and the trackpad is replaced by a touchscreen.

Tablets have been around for some time now but the launch of Apple’s iPad has ushered in a whole new era for them. Although many have complained about the drawbacks of iPad, it still remains on people’s wish list. For those familiar with or have used the iPhone, iPad is just a bigger, slate like version. It runs on iPhone OS 3.2 (which runs smoothly) and is capable of running all iPhone apps and games. A larger, high resolution screen enables watching videos and movies in high definition, enhancing the experience. Also with the YouTube app, watching YouTube videos is a simply a breeze. It also has a battery life of upto 10 hours, making for an extended multimedia experience.

Other tablets like the Viliv X70 EX pick up where iPad leaves off. Viliv X70 EX runs a full Windows OS giving you more productivity and freedom at the same time. If you want a handheld device that can do everything a normal PC can, then this is definitely the right choice. However don’t expect it to run your applications as smooth as your PC does, having a tablet running full OS does tend to have its disadvantages. Albeit slow, it will still give you the productivity of your laptop or PC and you won’t have to be limited to proprietary applications like other tablets. And the best part is that the Viliv X70 EX has a built in GPS.

Quickly gaining popularity among other tablets are Samsung Galaxy Tab and Hp Slate.

2) Gaming Consoles and Add-ons

‘Boy will always be boys and never part with their toys’ is an old adage that is true nonetheless. So its no wonder that even today a considerable share of gaming console buyers belongs to young adults or adults apart from the usual gamers (kids).  But what is shocking is that the number of female gamers is on a steady rise (with over 26%) as well. And that is why gaming consoles and/or their add-ons can make for a great holiday gifts this season.

Xbox 360 Slim is a new entre from Microsoft’s stables in the gaming arena which addresses most of the concerns of earlier Xbox versions; primarily that of overheating. The console is also quieter than earlier ones, comes with a bigger 250 GB hard drive, 5 USB ports and a dedicated Kinect port. Gaming enthusiasts have labeled it as one of the most popular gaming consoles this year.

Kinect is a new console add-on for the Xbox 360. Formerly known as Project Natal, Kinect is a motion controller as an answer to Nitendo’s Wii Motion Plus and Sony’s Move. But in reality, Kinect is not a controller by design but is necessarily a camera and motion sensor which is placed in front of the room and monitors the movements of the user, turning the user into a controller. This new product has taken the market by storm and hence can make for a great gift, especially for those who already posses an Xbox.

Similarly, Nintendo and Sony also have a range of add-ons to choose from. Nintendo’s Wii Motion Plus for Wii Sports is dubbed to be the best amongst them.

3) Smartphones

They are amongst the simplest and best choices as gifts but make for a tough job at selecting. Picking a Smartphone for your loved one can be quite cumbersome, given that there is not only wide varieties based on make and operating system but that a particular Smartphone might come with a particular service provider only. For example, the iPhone comes only with AT&T and the HTC EVO is available with Sprint only.

It also comes down to the choice of an operating system. Some may be comfortable with the iPhone’s operating system, the geeks like the Android OS these days and a professional may not look beyond a Blackberry; hence it is important to understand which operating system your loved one likes. Also, make sure if that person will be ready to shift service providers if that particular phone does not work with their current one.

A recent survey has pointed out that the iPhone (especially iPhone 4)still remains people’s favorite when it comes to smartphones, followed by latest smartphones from Motorola (Droid 2, Droid X), HTC (EVO4G), Samsung and RIM (i.e. Blackberry).

4) TVs

A great way to bring family and friends together in the holidays is of gathering around the TV and put on a great holiday movie. This holiday season you can take that movie experience to a whole new level with the two new variants of TVs available in the market, namely the Connected TV and 3-D TV.

Connected TV in simple terms is where TV meets the Web. You get to cozy up to your TV and at the same time you have the freedom of the internet. So the TV appears like a computer with a big screen which can show your good old TV channels and stream Netfilx and YouTube videos as well. Hence you get best of both the worlds. Some TV’s have built in apps as added functionality as well.

Google TV from Sony is the latest foray in this market. The TV comes with a QWERTY Logitech Revue remote with trackpad which makes searching the internet on your TV a lot easier. The HDTV runs on Android platform, has the Chrome browser which comes with built in Flash 10.1 beta for viewing most of online streaming content. The excellent browsing experience and functions coupled with a great HD TV makes the Google TV at par with HTPCs.

Over the last few years, 3-D movies have become a hit throughout the world.  And now these popular 3-D images will be jumping into your living room with the latest introduction of 3D TVs that has taken the market by storm. 3-D televisions add that extra dimension to your viewing experience making it life like to the eyes and providing an exhilarating experience when it comes to action sequences. But before you go pick one for a loved one, do stop and think if that person likes 3-D movies or not. Some people actually experience nausea or motion sickness or headaches with the whole 3-D experience. Also, if you are buying for self, do consider as to how many people will be watching the TV together. You only get a specified number of 3-D goggles with 3-D TVs; hence you will have to shell out extra for those other pairs.

The Samsung’s 55” 7000 Series is one masterpiece in this category that is both a 3-D enabled TV as well as a Connected TV. It promises and delivers the whole ‘larger than life’ experience. The 3D Active Glasses and the 3D TV combine to create pictures that virtually leap at you presenting you with a whole new ‘reality’ experience.

But 3-D TVs do come with a fine print attached. Recently, Samsung issued health warnings regarding the TVs. And since the product has been introduced just this year, health effects of prolonged viewing are still to be properly established.

5) Cameras

With smartphoes packing mightier megapixels with every new launch, some hardly feel the need to go for separate cameras. But mention this to a photo-enthusiast and you are sure to get a backlash. When it comes to proper photography, smartphone cameras fall short of fulfilling the needs of even amateur photographers. Hence a digital camera can make for a great holiday gift for your loved one who is a photo-fanatic. A good camera can also be a great gift for the family to capture those outdoor excursions as well as the indoor fun times, especially during the holidays.

In the compact camera category, the Panasonic Lumix DMC - FH20 seems to be one of the most popular choices this season.  The Lumix FH20 clicks great quality photos, has excellent performance (especially low-light) and a simple and nice design. It can be a great alternative to carrying a bulky dSLR as it meets most of the requirements for good photos. All in all, a great point and shoot camera for anyone’s use.

The FH20 is followed by the Sony Cybershot DSC-TX9 which is known for speedy performance, stylish looks and a multitude of features. What puts this camera amongst most popular ones are the two new shooting modes, 3D mode and Superior Auto mode which make for a fun and simple operation respectively. Among its dizzying number of features, another one that stands out is that it can capture 1080i videos at 60 frames per second. Bottom-line, a great choice for a compact camera stuffed to the brim with features if you don’t mind the price tag.

If you want more from a camera but don’t want to shell out the price for a professional one, you can pick up one from the entry-level dSLR segment. Most popular amongst them is the new Nikon D3100 which delivers excellent quality photos. The camera has new features like a 14.2 megapixels sensor, live view mode and 1080p HD video capture capability which makes it the most feature rich entry-level dSLR. Also a price tag of below $600 makes it pocket-friendly.

Another entry-level dSLR to look out for is the Sony Alpha A55. The A55 can autofocus and shoot at the same time owing to its pellicle translucent mirror which makes it a really fast camera, especially suitable for burst shooting. The 16.7 megapixels A55 is a bit expensive but nevertheless it meets the expectations when it comes to performance and quality.
To narrow down the choices for gifting your loved one (or yourself) ask yourself a few basic questions about the usability of the product. And to make the perfect choice in that particular product category, just go through some of the websites that provide detailed reviews and also let you compare the products based on features. Follow these tips and shopping for your loved one this holiday season will be just a breeze.