Last Minute Holiday Gifts
Christmas is coming up fast, and Chanukah will be here in just a night. And you’ve been putting off on getting presents for your friends, family and everyone else. Well, we’ve got you covered at Gadget Review with quick gifts that won’t kill your bank account and still provide a memorable holiday experience for the whole family. Or, gifts for those you really love, really cherish, or for those who you know won’t really use them so it’s like a gift for you. Take a look!
ArcadeFreek Controller Tips
ArcadeFreek has been making controller tips for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 for a few years now, and after gaming on both consoles since they first released six and five years respectively, my original and new controllers are all completely worn out from use. The ArcadeFreek controller tips have not only saved my day; the different types of controller tips are great for different things, such as arcade games, 3rd person vs first person shooters, and even specific types of play (like sniping vs standard running and gunning). And at $10-$15 a piece, they’ll fit in the stocking, keep your wallet safe, and improve gameplay exponentially. Especially if your analog sticks are as worn down as mine.
Plantronics Marque M155
There are only a few bluetooth headsets that are worth ever looking at, let alone buying. Or giving. The Marque is one such headset. It’s lightweight, has a long battery life, and has multiple options for how to wear and use it. Plus you can answer calls just by saying “answer” when calls come through, or ignore them by saying “ignore”. And it’s so light you’ll forget you’re wearing it, even after a few hours. Just don’t lose it in the stocking!
Data security may not be interesting to most of us, but if you have to keep your data secure, or know someone who does and who’s been struggling to do so, iTwin is a simple and easy solution. Data is stored only on your computer or the computer you’re using with the iTwin USB connector. So plug one into your home or work computer, and the other into any other computer, and it’ll instantly upload (and download) whatever data you want onto that computer. That data can only be accessed with the USB connected on both ends, so it’s secure unless you lose it. Thankfully, all data has to go through iTwin’s servers, so if you lose one end it’s easy to fix: just unplug the other end, or report it to iTwin and they’ll cut it off in case you can’t unplug it.
Recording your voice or a conversation shouldn’t be so hard. But frankly, it is, and most smartphones today still don’t cut it. Especially if you’re in a noisy environment or just have too much background noise. The Alesis TwoTrack solves this by using two microphones close up to keep the unwanted sounds out and the conversation you want crisp, loud, and clear. Plus it’s very lightweight, has a long battery life, and has expandable data.
AViiQ Portable Charger
Have multiple USB-enabled devices? I know I do, with multiple phones, media players, and tablets always running through my hands for review. But even if you don’t, and just have multiple devices that need to be charged, there’s no reason to use 3/4 wall outlets. The AViiQ Portable Charger powers 3 USB devices using just one power cable, and will connect a fourth to your laptop for powering the device and transferring data. Cables can be neatly tucked away, every piece of the setup has it’s own little pocket, and it’s just a neat way to keep your cables clean. There’s no better electronics companion for the road warrior with too many devices.
I can’t say how many times I’ve had to use one of those standard, stiff power extenders. They’re great, but they are a solid piece. If more than one of your power cables are big boxes, then some of those spaces will be blocked and half of the value gets flushed down the toilet immediately. Not with the Pivot Power, which has five rotating outlets so every one can turn, giving each enough space for even massive power bricks. Closing up into a circle, the Pivot Power may not seem like a great gift, but if you know someone who complains way too much about their cabling system, they may think you’re crazy for such a gift, but they’ll be thanking you five minutes after opening it.
Apple iPod Nano
The iPod Nano is great, in case you didn’t already know. We looked at it this year and last, and it’s still excellent. Several storage and color options, FM radio, decent battery life, and now the option to use it as a watch? Sounds like a winning gift every time.
Hitachi G-Drive Slim
When it comes to the Macbook Air, one thing you don’t want is to pack along hardware with it that looks like crap. Hitachi’s G-Drive Slim is not only one of the thinnest external hard drives you can purchase, it’s the best looking one by far. Using a USB 2.0 connector, it’ll work with any Mac immediately, no reformatting required (though with Windows-based PCs you’ll need to tinker a bit). But it really doesn’t matter what computer you use the G-Drive Slim with, because the size and design are just so great that you can throw it in your pocket when on the go, but then you wouldn’t be able to show it off.
Under the tree
OnLive Microconsole + Wireless Controller
OnLive, the streaming game service, is not only available on computers, built directly into TVs, and as a microconsole. It now works on Android smartphones and tablets (and soon will work on iOS devices too). So however you want to play, either on the road, at home, at the office or wherever, you can. Throw their new wireless controller into the mix, which can connect to most devices via Bluetooth or to a computer or microconsole with the included USB dongle, and now that experience comes with a gamepad so you can kick back and enjoy. No need for a high-end or $300+ console.
The Samsung Chromebook may not have looked like it was gift-worthy, but if you think so then you read my review wrong. The Chromebook is great for one very specific audience: non-computer savvy people. It has all the bells and whistles anyone could need, all the simple functionality and cutesy features that make computing fun, and all the basic requirements to do just about anything a new user could want. Plus it’s cheap, is updated regularly by Google, and has a very good build and design. Tech-savvy users may not appreciate it, but its a great alternative to buying a Mac for 2-3X the price.
The Kobo Touch isn’t just your typical eReader. It’s a fun and superbly designed piece of hardware that stores all the books you’ll ever need, for a low price of $100. The contoured back is easy to grip, the touch screen is perfectly sensitive, the software is impeccable, and the design is as minimalist and beautiful as has ever been seen on an eReader. But it’s also the little things, like how putting the Kobo in sleep mode has a cartoonish face sleeping. The Kobo Touch is the greatest reminder that reading is about fun, enjoyment, excitement, and shouldn’t be dulled on an electronic device.
Philips Fidelio AS111
When it comes to speaker docks, the Philips Fidelio AS111 reigns supreme in the reasonably-priced range. With a clock, alarm function, special app for Android, Bluetooth, and a solid speaker, for $99 the Fidelio AS111 is the perfect bedside companion. It’ll charge your phone, play music, tell time, be your personalized alarm, and do it all looking sleek.
For your favorite person ever
Playstation 3D Display + Extra Glasses
It’s the gift I wouldn’t expect to see, and you probably wouldn’t either. A 3DTV that’s specifically made for gaming, for the PS3, and works with two people looking at one screen and seeing two different images…the Playstation 3D Display is 3D tech at it’s finest.
Xbox 360 Limited Edition Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Console
It’s the gift that keeps on giving. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is already the biggest game this year, and every one of your friends is playing it. Up the ante with the full MW3 Xbox 360, which features a 320GB hard drive, two custom-painted new (with the improved D-pad) wireless controllers, and of course the game. The stunning paint job worked wonders for the photoshoot, and it looks just as good in real life. Whether it’s for yourself or a friend, a big hard drive and an awesome-looking Xbox is the way to go. This bundle does not disappoint.
It’s rare when someone tells me what products are good. But a few weeks back I had a contractor say that he installs the Sonos Play: 3 in nearly ever house he works on. People cannot get enough of the incredible sound system. Not only does it boast some of the highest-quality sound you can get on a speaker system, it features over-the-air music controls through your phone. Plus you can set up multiple Play: 3′s around the house and they’ll all work together, giving you a housewide sound system. You may think one’s enough, but after you get it, you might just change your mind about that.
Macbook Air + Thunderbolt Display
I can think of no better gift than the most expensive one on the list: a Macbook Air combined with a Thunderbolt Display. The MBA is a kickass machine, and the Thunderbolt Display practically turns the laptop into a desktop with a giant screen, high-speed data transfer over Thunderbolt, and enough connectors to make you forget that yes, it’s a laptop dock. And when you’re ready to go, just unplug two cables and be on your way. There is no more impressive display of proper computing solely on a laptop than Apple’s latest Macbooks combined with the Thunderbolt Display, and the MBA line is just the best you can get for it’s price.