In case you've missed the memo, the holiday season is in full swing and about to pass us by. For those of you who still have shopping to do, you'd better get a move on; but before you hit the stores, you might want to check out this little list I've compiled to make your holiday gift giving a bit easier.
Additionally, tomorrow is Free Shipping Day
and nearly 700 retailers will be offering free shipping for products purchased online--and are guaranteeing their arrival by December 24!
Below, you'll find a list of tech gadgets at various price points, for all the different people you might need to (quickly) buy something for this year. All of these products are owned by myself, or members of my immediate family, so (for what it's worth) I can personally attest to their quality and functionality.
Category: $100 or less
Item: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
(Playstation 3 only)- I am by no means a video game connoisseur...but my Husband is...and I have to say that this one is by far the coolest game I've seen since my Super Nintendo playing days. According to the reviews (from my husband and online), Uncharted 2 is a "third person action/adventure game" with impressive graphics and online play features; but in my opinion, the best part of the game is that it makes you feel like you're watching a movie. I have actually become engrossed in the storyline without ever playing the game myself. Current retail price? Around $50.
Perfect for: the gamer, the gamer's significant other
Cheapest retailer: Walmart
Item: Apple iPod Shuffle
- In the last year, I've been through three of these--totally my own fault, not Apple's. (Who knew they'd make such a fun "play toy" for my cats?) Depending on where you purchase them and what size memory you want, they cost between $55-75. Personally, I only need the 2GB version, which still plays around 250 songs.
Who it's perfect for: the exercise buff, the Mac lover, the teenager
Cheapest Retailers: Walmart, Target
Item: SanDisk Sansa 8GB Clip & MP3 Player
-Husband has this one and despite a cracked screen (we aren't so good with taking care of our electronics), it still works just fine. The price is about the same as the iPod shuffle ($60) but you're getting more storage space, an FM tuner and an OLED screen that makes it easy to create and choose playlists. Just remember: You can't load songs from iTunes on to this one...which can be a pro or a con, depending on how you look at it.
Perfect for: the (non-Mac) music lover
Cheapest Retailers: Walmart, Amazon
Item: Sprint MiFi 2200 by Novatel Wireless
- My parents live in a remote suburb of Dayton, Ohio, where it's difficult to get cell reception or satellite TV. Fortunately, they have a Sprint wireless plan and a MiFi 2200 ($99 with a Sprint wireless contract and after a $50 mail-in rebate). The MiFi 2200 connects WiFi enabled devices to the internet and can be used on up to five different laptops, desktops or wireless contraptions. Verizon also offers a MiFi 2200
for around the same price, but once again, the key is the service contract with either service provider.
Perfect for: the tech savvy traveller, the couple in the middle of nowhere
Cheapest Retailers: Sprint, Verizon, Best Buy
Category: $500 or less
Item: Acer Aspire One 10.1" Netbook
I own this one and use it every day; and I can honestly say that it's worth every penny of the $300 asking price. While most netbooks are known to slow down when they are running multiple programs, the Aspire One functions just fine with multiple browser tabs and one additional program (think Microsoft Word) open. The battery lasts up to six hours and it's small and light enough to fit in a purse, briefcase or carry on luggage without you even noticing it's there.
Perfect for: the tech savvy traveller, the power blogger
Cheapest Retailer: Walmart
Item: Nintendo Wii
- I know that a lot of people don't consider this a true "gaming console" but I love how the Wii encourages people to be (Bii??) active! I'm a fan of Wii Fit and the Wii Tennis and Wii Boxing games (what a workout). But the real reason I think people should give the gift of Wii is because of the recent release of Wii Super Mario Brothers. I don't know about you, but Mario, Luigi, Yoshi and even Bowzer bring back such warm memories of my childhood. I have yet to play the game, but I can't wait!! The Wii console is retailing for around $200-250 these days. The Super Mario Brothers game by itself goes for between $40-50.
Perfect for: the kids, the casual gamer, the adult who wants to relive his/her childhood
Cheapest Retailer: Walmart
, Best Buy
Item: Playstation 3
- While I personally favor the Wii, Husband and his friends are a fan of the PS3 because of the online play capabilities and graphics. The features that I enjoy about it are the ability to link up to the internet (Pandora.com sounds great when we pipe it through our surround sound) and the Blu-Ray player. There's so many different PS3 consoles and bundles available. If you're asking Husband (who I consider to be a true gamer), he would say that Walmart's PS3 Gamer's Value Bundle for $389 is a good deal.
Perfect for: the online gamer
Cheapest Retailer: Walmart, Costco, Best Buy
Item: Samsung 19" LCD TV
- Some of the online reviews say this TV has sub-par sound quality, but Husband and I have been nothing but pleased with this little flat screen. It's only $189 at Costco after a $30 mail-in rebate and has a 1366 x 769 resolution, one HDMI input and one PC input.
Perfect for: the kid who's been begging for a television in his/her room
Cheapest Retailer: Costco
Item: Palm Pre Wireless Phone
- Earlier this year, I was all excited about my new Blackberry Tour...and then I went home for Thanksgiving and saw my brother's Palm Pre. The Sprint phone has both a keyboard and a touchscreen, excellent screen color quality and an unobtrusive notification system (texts, emails and calendar appointments show up at the bottom of your screen so you can choose whether to look at them or not). Another cool feature? Combined messaging, which aggregates all your correspondence with one person into a single conversation. That way you can IM someone one minute and text message them the next. Sounds a bit confusing, but believe me, it's cool! The Palm Pre retails for $149, but the key here is (you guessed it) the service contract with Sprint.
Perfect for: the social butterfly
Cheapest Retailer: Sprint
Category: Over $500
Item: Nikon D5000 Digital SLR Camera
- This is the only item I'll be featuring in the "over $500" category, because, let's face it, not many of us have this much to spend on a single gift this year. That being said, if you've got the money, this is a worthwhile investment. I loved it so much that I've already given it to Husband as his "Happy First Christmas as a Married Couple" gift.
The camera's features (as detailed on Nikon's website) include:
12.3-megapixel DX-format CMOS image sensor
720p HD video capabilities
Vari-angle 2.7 inch color LCD monitor
19 Auto-exposure Scene Modes
Continuous shooting as fast as 4 frames per second
In-camera Retouch image editing
Low noise ISO sensitivity from 200 to 3200
Some of these features don't mean much to me, but they will to the photography buff on your holiday gift-giving list. I've seen the camera body only priced as "low" as $530, but stores like Best Buy sell the camera body, a basic lens and camera case for $700.
Perfect for: the photography buff, the whole family
Cheapest Retailer: Best Buy
I hope that all of you with holiday shopping left to do will find this article helpful. This is by no means a comprehensive review of all the great tech gadgets on the market this season, just the ones I have personal experience with. Feel free to add a comment about some of the great gifts you've got on your list this year, or even better, write a review
of an item that others should purchase!
Merry Shopping and Happy Holidays!