TechCast Reviews Holiday Gift Guide for 2008
This year, TechCast Reviews has prepared a special holiday gift guide for potential prezzies for friends, family or yourself.
The guide is split in to different price brackets to help you with your festive budget. Prices for products have been obtained from a variety of sources and they’re likely change as the holiday season gets closer so make use of those price comparison engines and sites that offer voucher codes for discounts. It’s going to be a budget Christmas this year for some of us, so every penny saved counts!
Up to £50
Tomy Guitar RockStar
Tomy’s Guitar RockStar has a long way to go before it can compete with the likes of Guitar Heroe or Rock Band on our favourite console platforms, but it’s a good alternative. Guitar RockStar features a guitar head with a sensor that detects when virtual strings are being plucked. At under £15 its great value for the credit crunch season, and for those who don’t think it will deliver on the authentic experience of playing a real guitar, you can plug in a 3.5 mm cable to a speaker system or a set of headphones for some serious jamming. Freestyle or play alongside some of the built-in tunes to hone your skills of being a true ‘guitar hero’.
UNIEA U-Feel for iPod Touch
Protect your iPod Touch during the cold and wet season by putting it inside the U-Feel case for the iPod Touch. Featuring a hard-shell exterior, this sleek case will protect your iPod from the harsh winter season. The polycarbonate case provides complete protection without limiting access to your iPod. Even with your iPod in the case, you retain full access to the screen.
Keep your notebook cool with the Matias iRizer with its adjustable design that allows you to use your notebook on a variety of surfaces from your desk to your lap.
Western Digital 160GB portable hard drive
For all of your portable storage needs, take a look at the Western Digital hard drive featuring a stylish and compact enclosure packing a 160GB 2.5-inch drive. Storage prices have dropped considerably over the past year and this holiday season they’re going for less than £50 for 160GB of pure media joy.
iomega 500GB external prestige drive
Looking for a bit more room to store family pics and videos? Or perhaps its time to do a bit of hard drive housekeeping? 500GB seems to be the magical storage figure that’s offering some of the best prices per gigabyte right now. So check out the 500GB iomega prestige drive at an incredible sub-£50 price point. Start the New Year with a clean install of your favourite OS.
Up to £100
The second generation Jawbone is smaller and lighter, meaning you can get the b best Bluetooth headset without compromising on comfort. Check out the new Jawbone for all of your Bluetooth headset needs. Especially important if you’re going to be on the road visiting friends and family.
Philips Living Colours LED Mood light
Available in a full sized version that can create 16 million colours with its nifty iPod scroll wheel-esque remote and see-through design. This lamp can help light up your life with a bit of warmth. A new mini version is also available that can do up to 256 colours.
iPod Nano 8GB
There hasn’t been a Christmas where the iPod hasn’t dominated the mp3 charts. The latest generation of iPod Nano feature a fresh range of colours and great all round feature set making it the best in-class media player on the market today. This one will be a big seller this Christmas and you can even get it laser engraved by Apple, just be wary that this does add extra time to shipping so make sure you place your order early.
Up to £200
This one’s definitely a big hit for the kids. Pleo will keep everyone pre-occupied with its cute laugh and playful attitude. Just make sure it doesn’t get neglected and it’ll stay a happy chappy. The Pleo is this years hottest robot toy.
The Nintendo Wii has dominated the scene ever since its launch and even now retailers are still seeing shortages for this massively popular console that has been a hit worldwide. If you see one, don’t hesitate or blink, just hand the cash over because if you don’t then somebody will. The Wii will be a great bit of entertainment for the family and the Christmas parties.
AKG K 601
For the audio enthusiasts, here’s a special treat for you. My recent test of the AKG K 601 revealed that it’s one of the best set of headphones in this price bracket. With its open back design and auto-adjusting head strap, it’s comfortable and delivers impressive audio quality.
The 360 is still the number one console for hardcore gamers out there. The collection of holiday games is endless with A-rated titles such as Gears of War 2, Call of Duty: World at War and Fallout 3, there’s plenty of titles out there to keep your thumbs busy. The recently released NXE software also introduces some new fun elements to the 360 platform with more family friendly games. There’s three Xbox models to choose from with various bundles attached to each so choose carefully and shop around for the best deal. My recommendation is to forget the Elite model and go for the 60GB Xbox 360. It’s the best priced model and should give you plenty of room to store your games and media. The 360 is this years TechCast Recommended console.
Forget the bulky camcorders, get a Flip Mino to record this years holiday season. It’s relatively cheap at just over £100 and will do great quality video that is both quick and easy to use. Getting the video from it doesn’t require any special software or require you to be a genius either. It’s just a simple point and shoot camera that gets the job done.
iPod Touch 8GB
Having already used this as a Birthday gift already, I can’t recommend the iPod Touch enough. Without doubt in my mind that this is the best portable entertainment device in existence today. It’s conquered the music and video landscape and is an impressive contender in handheld gaming market. This jack and master of all trades is TechCast’s number one holiday gift pick for 2008.
Logic3 SoundStage 5.1
If movies are more your thing or perhaps even parties, then nothing beats the Logic3 SoundStage 5.1 speaker system. It features more woofers than you can count and will raise the roof if you want it to. Incredibly loud and impressively good quality, the SoundStage will make sure the beat keeps going.
Up to £500
As far as Netbooks go, the Asus N10J is the best example I’ve seen so far. It’s got great build quality and has an impressive spec sheet for less than £500. If you travel frequently or just need something that is portable, lightweight and well-built, then the N10J should be on your watch list.
Forget the 5.1 sound systems. Who wants to deal with all those cables and re-arranging the living room anyway? The T12 from British-made Orbitsound pumps out plenty of volume thanks to its spatial soundbar and dedicated sub woofer. Perfect for this seasons Christmas DVD movie collection or console gaming sessions. It’s nicely finished up with an iPod dock for playing your favourite tunes. For undistorted quality audio, look no further than the Orbitsound T12, which has recently been reduced to £249. A bargain considering when I reviewed this it was at £349.
Asus MK241H 24-inch
For the bedroom or for the office, the Asus 24-inch display offers 1920 x 1080 resolution to cater for your vast array of media this Xmas. Featuring HDMI, DVI and VGA connectivity, the Asus monitor is perfect for gaming or movies, and of course to calculate how much you spent in January.
Up to £1000
HP 30-inch widescreen LCD display
A true geek will have a 30-inch LCD display on their desk. Consolidate all of those external displays you have with just one gignormous screen featuring 2560 x 1600 resolution. There are alternatives from Dell and Apple, but the HP is a good alternative with a feature set to cater for all your display needs. Just make sure your graphics card is up to scratch before putting your order in for one of these and of course the desk space…time to wash those empty coffee cups.
20-inch iMac 2.66GHz
The iMac is iconic for being a refined all rounder desktop computer. Perfect as a family computer with its combination of sleek space-saving design and ability to run both Leopard and Vista. If you’re looking for a new desktop machine, make sure you stop by an Apple Store to check it out.
Up to £2000
15-inch MacBook Pro 2.563GHz
A new unibody design that is both green and elegant. The new MacBook Pro offers a balanced combination of performance, thanks to its Core 2 Duo and NVIDIA graphics 2-for-1 combo chips, and style with its new unibody design.
Alienware Area-51 X-58
Dubbed the benchmark destroyer, the Alienware Area-51 X-58 is Alienware’s flagship machine. For the ultimate desktop gaming experience, look no further than the Alienware Area-51 X-58. Featuring the brand new Core i7 processors and the latest SLI configurations, not even Crysis will make it sweat. Make sure you have a similarly decent display or television to attach to the computer though! Prices start at £1327 so you should have change left over to spend on a high resolution monitor that will do this machine justice. Depending on your configuration, you can very easily break the £2000 barrier.