With the holidays quickly approaching, it’s time to catch up on the latest gadget releases before you start shopping for everyone on your list. Here’s a look at some of the tablets, smartphones, and game consoles on the market.
Apple’s iPad Mini with retina display
Microsoft’s Surface 2
Details: It’s a pricey option in a competitive tablet market, but the Surface 2 has its pros. The keyboard is comfortable for typing, according to Tech Lab columnist Hiawatha Bray, and the operating system has improved over the original version of the machine.
Amazon’s Kindle Fire HDX
Details: The Kindle Fire HDX is both cheap and portable. It has convenient access to the Amazon store and integration with Amazon Prime subscription for book-borrowing and videos. The screen is high-resolution and the device comes with live “mayday’’ video support 24/7.
Google’s Nexus 7
The Nexus 7 has access to a variety of games, utilities, and other software for Android devices. One drawback is that it doesn’t work with the wide collection of apps made for the iPad.
Sony’s Playstation 4
Details: Sony is hoping to win over gamers with immersive, realistic game worlds and easy online sharing with friends to follow the PlayStation 3, which debuted in 2006.
Sony is also including 22 games in the PlayStation 4 launch to appeal to a wide range of fans of genres ranging from military shooters to sports simulations to family-friendly adventures. It also comes with apps like Hulu and Netflix that may appeal to nongamers.
Microsoft’s Xbox One
Roku is a device that enhances the streaming process beyond just Netflix and Hulu Plus. It streams over 1,000 channels of Internet content. It has been called a “budget-streaming’’ device, making watching TV so easy, it’s justifiable to cut the cable service altogether. Roku devices start at $50, and the fastest box is $100. Roku does not support iTunes, but you can tap the Amazon Instant video store. It also offers a PBS and PBS Kids channel.
Cost: Starting at $93.45
Apple TV lets you stream most of your favorite cable channels and all of your video content on iTunes to your HDTV.
Orb Audio Mini-T Amplifier V-2
Details: More people are watching their favorite shows and movies on their PC, so why not gift them the PC equivalent of an audio surround sound system. The standard speakers provide ample sound to fill a room, and there’s even a separate subwoofer included.
Jawbone’s Jambox speaker
Details: Jawbone’s tiny Jambox speaker packs some serious punch. It’s portable and wireless, making it perfect for keeping on a shelf in the dorm or taking it outside. Jambox connects to both MP3 players and laptops, so you can watch movies with high-def sound and even download apps to improve and customize the speaker’s performance. And speaking of customization, there are almost limitless color combinations to choose from.
Details: This lens by Sony attaches to most smartphones and turns it into a 10x zoom camera. You can then use Apps to edit and share the photos you took instantly online.
Mini 5 camera
Details: The Mini 5 camera is an all-in-one scanner, webcam, and document camera that takes up about as much space as a pen when it’s folded up. It can plug directly into your computer via USB or, for longer reach, by cable. The Mini 5’s capabilities expand even more with software that allows you to digitally organize business cards, track receipts, and upload info directly to Facebook, Evernote, Dropbox, or YouTube. It’s perfect for video calling family back home or sharing notes with classmates.
Acer’s C720 Chromebook
Details: Hiawatha Bray says the Acer’s C720 is unlike a typical laptop, especially because of its speed. One reason for the Chromebook’s quickness is its use of a Google operating system, instead of Microsoft Corp.’s Windows.
There’s also a new “entry-level’’ model called the Chromebook C720-2848 that’s nearly identical to the C270. That laptop costs $199.
Apple’s MacBook Air
Details: Apple’s MacBook Air was the only one of its laptops to get a makeover at the June Worldwide Developers’ Conference this year. CNET.com calls the laptop’s trackpad “the industry’s best.’’ The site also highlighted the longer battery life — great for students who are constantly on the go — and $100 price cut as significant improvements on one of Apple’s most popular laptops.
Apple’s iPhone 5s
The new phone is one of two phone models created to replace the iPhone 5. Its design is similar to the previous model, but includes new colors and new features. Apple is calling it “the gold standard of smartphones.’’
Nike’s Fuelband SE
Details: This activity tracker includes Bluetooth that syncs with the iPhone 4S and later models in real time. Fuelband does not have an app for Android devices.
Features real-time syncing called “Win the Hour,’’ which encourages frequent movement by sending notificatons about how active you’re being to Fuelband’s display or to an iPhone.
FitBit’s Force wristband
Details: This is another wireless wristband that tracks your daily activities, like steps, stairs climbed, and calories burned. It’s the first-ever wristband fitness tracker to include an OLED display.
Stepped Diamonds on the Go Charger
Details: This mobile portable battery charger is ideal for charging small devices when there’s no wall outlet nearby. The design gives this stocking stuffer a fashion forward look.
Seagate Backup Plus
Details: This portable hard drive is small enough to carry with you and back up your files anytime. With it’s size, it’s surprising to find out that the Seagate Backup Plus gives you 1TB of storage.
CPS400 Laptop Case
Details: This gift is perfect for a traveler who wants to breeze through the airport security line. Cocoon Innovations’s CPS400 Laptop Case features a shaped case that includes a rubberized compartment to individually secure each gadget. It also holds laptops as large as 15 inches.
Twelve South HiRise Adjustable Stand
Details: Consider this adjustable laptop stand with silicone-lined arms for the ergonomically friendly person on your list. It’s compatible with MacBook Pro and Air models.
Lenovo’s IdeaPad Yoga 13
Details: The IdeaPad Yoga 13 by Lenovo can convert from a laptop to a tablet to a mini movie theater in a snap. With a 13.3 inch screen and 1600×1900 resolution, the Yoga 13 is not only easy to transport, but sharp. The touch screen gives it an edge over other laptops on the market as well.
Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch
The device is meant to act as an extension to a smartphone by alerting users to incoming messages and calls on its display screen. Its strap, which comes in six different colors, can be used to shoot photos and videos.
Lepow’s Moonstone power bank
Details: Busy students will never again be without their iPhones, cameras, or other devices with Lepow’s Moonstone power bank. The compact device features two USB ports and one micro USB port and will adapt its power output depending on which device you’re charging up and how much of a charge it needs. The Moonstone itself can be recharged over 500 times — almost three years of use — before it wears out.
Livescribe’s Echo and Sky smartpens
Details: The Echo and Sky smartpens by Livescribe bring note taking to a whole new level. Both pens allow you to record audio while writing notes. You can then replay bits of audio simply by tapping on words in your notebook as long as they’ve been taken on Livescribe paper. Notes can be transferred via USB cable if you’re using the Echo or Wi-Fi with the Sky. The Sky pen is also compatible with Evernote.
Details: The Tocky alarm clock by Nanda Home will never let you hit snooze and sleep through your wake up call again. That’s because it not only buzzes you awake, but rolls off the table so you literally have to get out of bed to hit the snooze button. That’s half the battle right there. It also lets you record custom sounds or upload music from an MP3 player.
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